The Episcopal Church

What is the Episcopal Church?

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The Episcopal Church is the American off-shoot of the Church of England. It is a part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, which is an international association of churches in full communion with the Church of England. The word Episcopal comes from the Greek ‘episkopos’ which means ‘an overseer’. This translates to our practices by having bishops who provide oversight to churches in a geographical area called a Diocese. We are part of the Diocese of Arizona.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, (currently The Most Reverend Justin Welby), is the figurehead of the worldwide Anglican Communion, which is composed of more than forty different global churches (including The Episcopal Church). While the Archbishop of Canterbury often reflects views and polity that are similar to the Episcopal Church, we are not commanded by him but are in relationship with him and therefore the broader Anglican Communion. Resurrection Episcopal Church is under the leadership and authority of the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona.

What does the Episcopal Church believe? Like Christians everywhere, we believe in Jesus Christ, as expressed in the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds. We believe in the Holy Scriptures, which we understand through the lens of both God-given reason and the traditions of the Church as it came before. We believe that the Sacraments, particularly Baptism and Holy Communion, are outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace, given by Christ as sure and certain means by which we receive that grace (BCP 857). These beliefs are held in common by Episcopalians. The Church also values intellectual freedom and individual conscience in matters of faith.

Is your church Protestant or Catholic? Both/and! The Episcopal Church represents a “middle way” between Protestantism and Catholicism. Anglicans participated in the necessary reforms of the Church in the 16th century. However, we attempt to follow the ancient, apostolic Church’s organizational pattern, with local or national congregations organized under the leadership of their own bishops.

What are worship services like? Our worship services are liturgical, which means they follow a set pattern of prayers, readings, and responses from week to week from forms found in The Book of Common Prayer. We actively participate in worship with these prayers and responses. You will notice that there can be times when we are invited to sit, stand, or kneel in worship. This might be new to you (don’t worry if it is!), but over time you can develop a pattern that feels authentic to your worship. Like to stand up to pray? Great! Like to kneel to pray? Great! There isn’t one right way and there’s room for you to explore and discover what feels connecting to you. We celebrate Holy Communion (also known as Holy Eucharist) at our Sunday worship services. All persons are invited to receive Holy Communion at every service.

How diverse is the Episcopal Church? Episcopalians/Anglicans come from every race and culture. The worldwide Anglican Communion is composed of about 85 million people, worshiping in 165 countries around the world. There are Anglicans on every continent. The Episcopal Church in the United States & surrounding territories has about 2 million members.

What is the Book of Common Prayer? The Book of Common Prayer, our guide to worship, is a collection of ancient and modern prayers for public worship and private devotions. It was first produced in 1549 by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer when the Church of England was first born. It allowed the people of England to participate in worship services in English rather than Latin which was a substantial shift from the Roman Catholic tradition which ruled the country to that point. It is also a treasured literary masterpiece–one of the greatest books ever published in the English language. Each Church (including the Episcopal Church) of the Anglican Communion uses its own adaption of the Prayer Book. 

Where can I find more information on the beliefs and practices of the Episcopal Church? Most of this information comes from The Episcopal Church. You can find much more on their site http://www.episcopalchurch.org. You may visit the site of The Episcopal Church in Arizona at www.azdiocese.org. 

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