DOES THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH ACCEPT THE BAPTISM OF OTHER CHRISTIAN CHURCHES?
Yes. In baptism we are adopted as members of the Body of Christ, the Christian community. As it is said in the Episcopal baptism liturgy in the Book of Common Prayer (BCP), "There is one Body and one Spirit; There is one hope in God’s call to us; One Lord, one Faith, one Baptism; One God and Father of all" (BCP, p. 299). While we may worship and serve within a particular Christian denomination, our baptism is an initiation into the one Body of Christ.
WHAT IS THE BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER?
Our worship follows the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. This prayer book is a direct descendant of the liturgies from the Church of England and the Ancient Church. It forms not only the framework for all our worship, but for our theology as well. It is steeped in Scripture and profoundly spiritual language. The entire book can be found online here. Anyone wishing to discover other versions of the Book of Common Prayer can go here to find them. This site offers a great deal of information about Anglicanism (the church tradition that has grown out of the Church of England).
WHO MAY RECEIVE COMMUNION IN THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH?
Any baptized person, regardless of denomination, is welcome to receive Holy Communion.
WHAT IS “CONFIRMATION” IN THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH?
Confirmation is an opportunity for baptized Christians to "express a mature commitment to Christ, and receive strength from the Holy Spirit through prayer and the laying on of hands by a bishop" (BCP, p. 860). Confirmation offers us the opportunity to renew our baptismal vows and reaffirm our commitment to Christ.
IS THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH A "BIBLICAL" CHURCH?
Yes. We believe that God inspired the human authors of the Bible, and we believe that God continues to speak to us through the Bible. We look to the Holy Spirit for guidance when interpreting Scripture and applying it to our lives. When our clergy are ordained, they declare the “Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God” and affirm that the Holy Scriptures “contain all things necessary to salvation” (BCP, p. 526).
The Bible is central to Episcopal worship. The Book of Common Prayer bases its language, liturgy, and instruction on the Bible. The Psalms are found in their entirety in the BCP.
In our Sunday services, there are no fewer than two substantial readings from Holy Scripture. A typical Sunday morning service may include a reading from the Old Testament, the Psalms, the Gospel, and a New Testament Epistle. Our Bible readings follow the Revised Common Lectionary, which provides a systematic way of covering Scripture over a three-year period.
WHY DO EPISCOPALIANS RECITE CREEDS?
Creeds are statements crafted by Christian communities that express our most basic beliefs about God. The Episcopal Church uses two ancient Christian creeds in worship, the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed.
Creeds are said collectively in worship to affirm the outline of the Christian story and express the communal belief of the Church. We say these creeds together both in our immediate congregational context and in fellowship with Christians throughout the ages.
WHY IS THE "BREAKING OF THE BREAD" A REGULAR PART OF OUR SERVICES?
The “breaking of bread” is known by several names in Christian churches: Holy Eucharist, the Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion, the Divine Liturgy, and Mass. Most Episcopal congregations celebrate Eucharist every Sunday. Some Episcopal congregations celebrate Eucharist on weekdays as well.
Christ commanded his followers to remember his life, death, resurrection, and ascension through the breaking of bread. The Episcopal rite of Holy Communion is both a memorial and a sanctifying sacrifice. When we participate in the breaking of bread, we are also nourished for our Christian journey so we may await Christ’s coming again (BCP, p. 363).
WHAT ARE THE ORIGINS OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH?
As a church in the apostolic tradition, the Episcopal Church traces its origins to Jesus Christ through the written and oral traditions of generations of Christians before us. In more recent tirms, the Episcopal Church traces its lineage to the Church of England. The Episcopal Church is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Click here for a more detailed account of our history.
WHAT DOES THE WORD EPISCOPAL MEAN?
The English word episcopal is derived from the Greek episkopos, which means bishop.
Bishops in the Episcopal Church are elected by representative government and consecrated through the laying on of hands by the Presiding Bishop and other bishops present at the ordination.
In their consecration, bishops are reminded of the tradition they inherit (“the faith of patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, and those of every generation who have looked to God in hope” [BCP, p. 517]) as well as their more immediate pastoral duties.
WHAT CAN CHURCH OF THE ASCENSION AND THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH OFFER ME?
We offer an opportunity for joyful worship rooted in Christian tradition and Scripture. There are also opportunities for service, leadership, and stewardship within the parish and beyond. As part of this Christian community, you can expect to be both comforted and challenged.
Our answers to frequently asked questions are informed by the catechism of the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) and its liturgical rubrics as well as An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church: A User-Friendly Reference for Episcopalians, Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.