What is the Episcopal Church and what do Episcopalians believe? The Episcopal Church, USA (ECUSA) is the official organization of the Anglican Communion in the United States. Most of the earliest colonists to America were Anglican Puritans and the Anglican Church became the established church of Virginia, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia during the colonial period. After the American Revolution, the Anglican Church in America formed an independent body in 1789 and called it the Protestant Episcopal Church. On the website, the ECUSA is described as a “middle way between Roman Catholic and Protestant traditions.” Like the Catholic Church, the Episcopal Church upholds the sacraments as essential to salvation, and like Protestant churches, it denies the supremacy of the Pope as the vicar of Christ on earth.
The word “Episcopal” comes from the Greek word that is usually translated “bishop” and points to the church’s understanding that a bishop is the primary shepherd of the church. Under the Episcopal form of government, the bishop’s authority is equal to that of the Apostles and follows a line of succession by the laying on of hands in ordination. Priests come under the authority of the bishops and are responsible for the teaching and administration of the local churches. Throughout the history of the ECUSA, their doctrine and practice have been generally in line with that of the Anglican Church.
What Do Episcopalians Believe?
We Episcopalians believe in a loving, liberating, and life-giving God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As constituent members of the Anglican Communion in the United States, we are descendants of, and partners with, the Church of England and the Scottish Episcopal Church, and are part of the third largest group of Christians in the world.
We believe in following the teachings of Jesus Christ, whose life, death, and resurrection saved the world.
We have a legacy of inclusion, aspiring to tell and exemplify God’s love for every human being; women and men serve as bishops, priests, and deacons in our church. Laypeople and clergy cooperate as leaders at all levels of our church. Leadership is a gift from God, and can be expressed by all people in our church, regardless of sexual identity or orientation.
We believe that God loves you – no exceptions.
To read more about what Episcopalians believe click here.
The Visitors' Center at the national website for the Episcopal Church is a good place to learn about the episcopal tradition. There you will find an introduction to the Episcopal Church and its ways.
While intended to introduce the Episcopal Church to those unfamiliar with its beliefs and traditions, this site will also be of interest to persons presently attending an Episcopal Church. It can serve as a nice refresher for why we do ...what we do.
To learn more about what to expect when you visit an Episcopal church click here.