What does the Episcopal Church believe?

The Episcopal Church is the American branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion . We worship formally but joyfully, and we have bishops who are the senior pastors for a large area called a diocese.  A local congregation is typically led by a priest who works with a group of lay leaders called the vestry. The word "episcopate" means "office of bishop," and so the role of the bishop is important to who we are. St. Elizabeth's is in the Diocese of Northern Indiana, and our Bishop is the Right Reverend Edward S. Little.

The Episcopal Church has familiar forms of worship found in the Book of Common Prayer, and so if you visit another Episcopal church, you will recognize the liturgy. You might think that if we can agree on liturgy from one congregation to another, we also have a common set of social and political views, but this is not the case. There are those who disagree in our pews.

On certain points however, we agree. We believe that Holy Scripture is the revealed Word of God and contains everything necessary for salvation. To understand the Bible, we rely on "the help of the Holy Spirit, who guides the Church in the true interpretation of the Scriptures." In terms of doctrine, we believe that the Nicene Creed is a sufficient statement of the Christian faith

The Episcopal Church is also a sacramental church. We understand that "[t]he sacraments are outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace." Episcopalians believe that Holy Baptism and the Holy Eucharist are sacraments, and they are part of every Christian believer's experience. In the Episcopal Church, any baptized Christian may receive Holy Communion.

Christians experience God's grace in many ways however. The Episcopal Church formally recognizes five other sacramental rites. They are confirmation, ordination, holy matrimony, reconciliation of a penitent (confession), and unction (anointing of the sick). We believe these are consistent with the teaching and traditions of the Church, although they are not "Sacraments of the Gospel" since they were not directly instituted by Christ. These last five sacramental rites are not required for salvation, and God's grace is present in our lives outside these sacraments.

(Quotations are taken from the section "An Outline of the Faith" from the Book of Common Prayer pp. 846 - 862. This is a good resource in general if you have more questions.)

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