What is means to be Episcopalian
The Episcopal faith understands God as Trinity (Three in One and One in Three), follows Jesus Christ and welcomes and encourages others to join us in following Jesus. We seek to carry out lives of compassion and charity, and to spread the good news of the Gospel to a world that is hungry for God. Among the many expressions of Christianity in the world today, the Episcopal Church holds a unique place. We are a church that is traditional and democratic. Our worship holds strong scriptural roots, expressed as prayer, sacrament, music, word and deed. We believe in meaningfully serving and interacting with our wider community, and in taking active roles in easing suffering and aiding social justice. We celebrate and hold to our traditions and the discernment of truth, and strive for open-mindedness and careful consideration of the complex world around us.
The Episcopal Church is an international entity made up of dioceses not just in the United States, but also in Central America, Haiti and the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe. It is governed by a body called General Convention which meets every three years. General Convention was established in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania after the American Revolution and during the same period the United States Constitution was being drafted in the same city. Our governance reflects the spirit of the period. Like the United States Congress, General Convention is bi-cameral (two houses) and is made up of the House of Bishops (comprised of all of the Bishops of the Episcopal Church) and the House of Deputies (made up of equal numbers of clergy and lay deputies elected by each diocese). All policies, rules and positions of the Episcopal Church are democratically determined by General Convention operating, we pray, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Between General Conventions, the business of the Episcopal Church is conducted by an Executive Council made up of elected bishops, priests, deacons and lay people representative of the different regions of the church. Each diocese of the Episcopal Church is governed by a bishop accountable not only to the Episcopal Church, but also to regional diocesan conventions and diocesan governing boards that consist of lay people and clergy working together. Click here for more on the history of the Episcopal Church.
The Episcopal Church is part of the Anglican Communion. Each branch of the Anglican Communion is autonomous and self-governing. The Archbishop of Canterbury is a spiritual head of the Anglican Communion.