The Episcopal Church

A THINKING PERSON’S CHURCH: 
The Episcopal Church is particularly suited for those people who like to think for themselves. In the Episcopal Church the priest does not preach at or talk down to the people in the pews. Instead, the priest invites the people to think with him or her. As a result, the Episcopal Church is a church of dialogue in which people are encouraged to make their own faith journeys.

 
HOW DECISIONS ARE MADE IN THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH: 
Decisions are made by a conscientious examination of three different elements: (1) Scripture, (2) Tradition and (3) Reason. To these three elements a fourth is often added: Experience. For example, the act of Infant Baptism became an issue debated in the Church. In making the decision to baptize infants, the Church first looked to Scripture. The New Testament tells us that entire families were baptized, this rite would have included infants. Tradition tells us that the Church continued this practice because of the high infant mortality rate. Reason and Experience tell us that God adopts us as children of God not by anything we know or do, but by God’s grace alone. Hence Scripture, Tradition, Reason and Experience support Infant Baptism, and it is incorporated into the life of the Anglican Communion.
A WORLDWIDE CHURCH: 
The Episcopal Church in the United States of America is part of the Anglican Church or Anglican Communion—the worldwide Church of England. The Episcopal Church is one of the 38 independent, self-governing, national and regional churches which make up the Anglican Communion. Some 70 million Anglicans represent a variety of races, languages, cultures, and political conditions. We include more than 64,000 congregations in 164 countries.
GOD’S GRACE BESTOWED THROUGH WORD AND SACRAMENT: 
Episcopalians believe that God’s grace (God’s love, blessing, forgiveness) is given through God’s Word (the Bible) and through the receiving of the Sacraments. As one hears and reads the Bible, that person is enlightened and thereby receives God’s blessing. As one hears the Bible read in worship and hears biblical teachings in sermons and classes, that person is enlightened and receives God’s blessing. In addition God’s grace is given by receiving the Sacraments (visible signs and acts which transmit God’s blessing). There are two major sacraments: Baptism and the Holy Eucharist (Communion) and five lesser sacraments: Confirmation, Marriage, Penance (Confession of Sin and Absolution), Unction (Anointing the sick with oil and the Laying on of Hands for Healing), and Ordination (the grace of God given to those being ordained to become ministers in the Church).