The Episcopal Church
An Episcopalian is a person who belongs to The Episcopal Church. Our denomination is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry is the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church. This means that he is the overseer of 2.1 million Episcopalians in 7,500 congregations which encompasses churches in the United States and 16 countries including Taiwan, Micronesia, Honduras, Ecuador, Columbia, Venezuela, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and churches in Europe, (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland). In the Spring of 2018, Bishop Curry preached the sermon at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. He is also an advocate of the Jesus Movement in our Church.
The word “episcopal” refers to governance by bishops. The historic episcopate (bishops) continues the work of the first apostles in the Church: guarding the faith, unity and discipline of the Church, and ordaining men and women to continue Christ’s ministry. Each bishop works with elected clergy and lay leaders in the diocese to determine the character of life and work in that diocese within a set of general decisions established by The Episcopal Church. The Episcopal Church, itself, is governed by General Convention which meets every three years for worship and legislation. This body establishes rules, known as canons, and it also considers a wide range of issues facing the Church. Each diocese elects and sends clergy and lay representatives to the General Convention.
In the Diocese of Rhode Island (which covers the entire state), we have more than 15,000 members in 52 congregations. We also have college and young adult congregations, two Episcopal-affiliated schools, a nursing home, elder housing, affiliated and partner social service agencies and dozens of ministries that reach out to help make our communities better and more caring places to live.
What Episcopalians Believe
We believe that
- the Holy Scriptures are the revealed word of God, which inspired the human authors of the Scripture, and which is interpreted by the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
- the Nicene Creed is the basic statement of our belief about God.
- the two great sacraments given by Christ to the Church are Baptism and the Holy Eucharist.
- The teachings and beliefs of the Episcopal Church are articulated in an “Outline of the Faith” in our Book of Common Prayer
The Episcopal Church follows the “via media” or middle way in our theology and discussions because we believe that, whether or not we agree on a particular topic, we all are beloved by God and can have thoughtful and respectful discussions. There are no prerequisites in the Episcopal Church … everyone is welcome.
The Episcopal Church celebrates diversity of people and worship styles, yet all worship follows the form set out in the Book of Common Prayer. We are known for our engaging and beautiful worship services. For those who have grown up Roman Catholic, the service, known as the Mass, Eucharist or Holy Communion, will be familiar. For those of reformed tradition or those with no religious tradition, we think you may find a spiritual home in a church that respects its tradition and maintains its sense of awe and wonder at the power and mystery of God. We honor tradition and strive to live by the example of Jesus Christ, welcoming the stranger and the outcast, helping our neighbors and offering love and forgiveness.
The Anglican Communion
The Episcopal Church is part of the Anglican Communion. It includes 70 million members across the globe in 165 countries, all of which find their roots with the Church of England. In the worldwide Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury occupies a special position by virtue of history and tradition, but he does not hold a governing position. Bishops from the Anglican Communion meet regularly for the Lambeth Conference in Canterbury. Collegiality among bishops is the substitute for authority, and communal discernment is the substitute for decision-making power. Episcopalians and Anglicans across the world share a commitment to the Five Marks of Mission as a framework for ministry.