The word “Episcopal” refers to government by bishops. This historic tradition continues the work of the first apostles in the Church, guarding the faith, unity and discipline of the Church, and ordaining people to continue Christ’s ministry. An Episcopalian is a person who belongs to the Episcopal Church, one branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
As Episcopalians, we believe:
- 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. It was adopted in the 300s by the early church founders and is said every Sunday in Episcopal churches around the world. Read the creed.
- We’re a peculiar people whose spiritual arc bends more toward boundless hope and a reasonable faith than hardened surety and entrenched absolutism.
- The Episcopal tradition is founded on the affirmation that Jesus Christ is Lord. We believe that Christ’s transcendent presence in the Holy Spirit continually informs who we are.
- When King Henry VIII of England separated the Church of Engaland from the Roman Catholic Church, he wanted all liturgical books written in English. The Book of Common Prayer was established in 1548 as the official worship book for the church. Episcopalians often refer to it as the BCP.
- Our primary identity is as a liturgical community. Orthodoxy for us focuses on right worship, not right belief. Our life of prayer shapes our beliefs and behaviors.
- We constantly seek to hear the Spirit moving among us as changes in our understanding of Christian belief and practice are seen through additional revisions to the Book of Common Prayer.
- The Episcopal liturgy is the “work of the people.” That is what liturgy means. It is communal worship connected to our daily life and work as ministry.
- Catechism means the teachings and beliefs of the church; they’re outlined in the Book of Common Prayer.
- Our Episcopal tradition represents the continuous tradition of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. The Episcopal Church has often been called a “middle road,” a via media, between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism.
- Although we have ordained leaders (including the bishops that give us our name – Episcopal) the ministry of all believers is central.
- Still have questions? Send a question to the Rev. Laura Sheridan-Campbell, DMin
The Episcopal Church has 2 million members in 7,500 congregations in the United States, the Virgin Islands, Haiti, Europe and other areas around the globe. In the Diocese of San Diego (one of five dioceses in the state), we have 20,000 members in 45 congregations. We also have 5 schools, 2 college ministries, a refugee support network, a retirement home, a social service agency and more than 500 ministries that reach out to help make our communities better places. We are part of the global Anglican Communion, which has more than 80 million members.