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Frequently asked questions

Q

What is the Episcopal Church?

The Episcopal Church of the U.S.A. (ECUSA) is the American branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion -- a "daughter" of the Church of England. It came into existence as an independent denomination after the American Revolution. Today it has between two and three million members in the United States, Mexico, and Central America, all of which are under jurisdiction of the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori.

Although it subscribes to the historic Creeds (the Nicene Creed and the Apostles' Creed), considers the Bible to be divinely inspired, and holds the Eucharist or Lord's Supper to be the central act of Christian worship, the Episcopal Church grants great latitude in interpretation of doctrine. It tends to stress less the confession of particular beliefs than the use of the Book of Common Prayer in public worship. This book, stands today as a major source of unity for Anglicans around the world.

Q

How did the Episcopal Church get started?

There have been Anglicans in what was to become the United States since the establishment of the first English colony at Jamestown. Following the American Revolution, some reorganization was necessary for those Anglicans who chose to remain in the new country, as the Church of England is a state church which recognizes the monarch as her secular head (obviously, not a popular idea in post-Revolutionary America!). Thus the "Protestant" Episcopal Church of the U.S.A. was born (the word "Protestant," used to distinguish the Episcopal Church from the Roman Catholic Church, which is also "episcopal" in its organization, has since been dropped from the official title). There were some rocky periods, especially in the early days of the church, when bishops of the established Church of England were reluctant to consecrate new bishops who would not recognize the reigning monarch as the head of the church. That's all water under the bridge, however, and the Episcopal Church is now fully "in communion" with the Church of England, and with other Anglican churches throughout the world.

Q

What is an Episcopalian?

An Episcopalian is someone who belongs to the Episcopal Church.  The word " Episcopal"  means church governed by bishops. The local church are called "parishes" which are governed by an elected group of ordinary people called the " vestry" , who help to lead the church and make important day to day decisions.  The pastor of the church is called "priest",  can be a man or woman and can marry and have a family .

Q

What makes the Episcopal faith different from other faiths?

The Episcopal Church knows that every individual's journey towards God is unique and personal. Sometimes called " the thinking person's church", the Episcopal Church encourages you to think for yourself and to seek guidance from God through prayer, worship, meditation, reading and any other method that works for you.  Each of us is precious in God's eye.