Episcopal Q&A

One of the greatest things about being Episcopalian is that there are all different kinds.

The Episcopal Church is descended from the Church of England and is part of a family of churches (the Anglican Communion) that share that heritage. Some people see similarities between the Episcopal Church and other churches, especially the Roman Catholic Church. For more about those similarities and differences, check out this podcast interview with Trinity's pastor, Bryan Cones.

Q. Do Episcopalians believe in the Bible?

A. Yes. Some Episcopalians read the Bible literally while others see it as something that requires new interpretation with the passage of time.  Either way, we take it very seriously, and we believe that it has much to tell us about who God is, who we are, and how God wants us to live.

Q. Do Episcopalians believe in Jesus?

A. Absolutely we do.  We believe, like most other Christians, that Jesus is the clearest picture God has ever given us of who God is.  God loves us so much that God came to be one of us, and when we turned against him, crucified, and killed him, God used it as a way to conquer death forever ... not just for himself, but for all of us.

Q. Do Episcopalians believe in sin?

A. Yes, but we also believe very much in a forgiving God.  "Sin" is just a churchy word for "missing the mark" or "turning away."  God knows that we won't always get everything right, and God is always waiting for us when our greed, busy-ness, and self-centeredness get us off on the wrong track. 

Q. What makes Episcopalians different?

A. There are two things that make us different from many other denominations.  One is that we usually celebrate Eucharist or Communion every Sunday.  If you're not used to that, it can seem strange at first, but we see it as a great way to worship and the perfect way to remember all that God has done for us.

The other thing that makes us different from many churches around is that we don't have a "confession" or list of things that everyone must believe. Our shared faith is pretty basic: We believe the word of God can be found in the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. We affirm the Nicene Creed as a sufficient summary of Christian faith, and the Apostles' Creed as the "symbol" of faith we profess at baptism; we celebrate baptism to welcome new members and Eucharist as the weekly act of praise and thanksgiving for the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. And we organize churches with the ministry of bishop as a sign of continuity with the faith of the apostles.

Q. What's a typical service like?

A. At most Episcopal Churches, a typical Sunday service has two parts: the Word and Communion.  The Word is where we hear Scripture readings, reflect on their meaning in preaching, and offer our prayers for any in need.  Communion is where we give thanks to God over gifts of bread and wine, and then share them as Jesus commanded us to do.  

Q. What kind of music do Episcopalians use?

A. All kinds.  Some Episcopal churches only use the hymnal with an organ and choir.  At Trinity, we have an amazing organ and very talented choir. The music is very special and people enjoy what it brings to the service. 

Q. Can anybody come?

A. Yes! We believe that God does not restrict anyone from coming to God's table, so neither do we.  All are allowed to come and worship, and all are allowed to take Communion with us.

Q. What role does gender play?

A. We believe God created human gender in all its variety in God's image and therefore do not discriminate.  Women, transgender, and non-binary persons can have any role in the Episcopal Church that men can, including serving deacons, priests, and bishops.  

Q. What about LGBTQIA+ persons?

A. We believe that God does not exclude anyone from God's table, so all are invited to take part in the life of our church and celebrate the different gifts that God has given us. We treasure the gifts of every person and family, and believe God's image in people is best expressed in our fullest variety.