New to The Episcopal Church?

As Episcopalians, we are followers of Jesus Christ, and both our worship and our mission are in Christ’s name.  The Episcopal Church welcomes all who worship Jesus Christ, in 111 dioceses and regional areas in 17 nations. The Episcopal Church is a member province of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

The mission of the church, as stated in the Book of Common Prayer’s catechism (p. 855), is “to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.” As part of that mission, we’re following Jesus into loving, liberating and life-giving relationship with God, with each other and with the earth as the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement.  We seek every day to love God with our whole heart, mind and soul, and to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:36-40).

What to expect during a worship service at an Episcopal church

Episcopal churches use liturgy in our worship from the Book of Common Prayer and other resources, so the prayers and service forms do not change a lot from week to week. Typical services will have readings, prayers, hymns and a sermon. In every case, while a priest leads the service, the congregation participates extensively—singing hymns and speaking or singing prayers, the creed, responses, and psalms.

The Book of Common Prayer provides a fixed framework, but not a rigid one. The details vary from church to church and are a matter of tradition and taste. The main Sunday service is Holy Eucharist (also known as the Mass, or Holy Communion). Holy Eucharist always has two parts:

The Liturgy of the Word. In the first half of a worship service, we hear readings from the Bible and then a brief homily interpreting them and exploring how to live as a Christian in our world. The congregation prays the Nicene Creed (written in the fourth century and explaining Christian belief ever since then). Then we pray together (for the world, the church, those in need), we confess our sins, and greet one another with “peace.”

The Liturgy of the Table. In the second half of the service, the priest stands at God’s table (or the altar), greets the congregation, and begins the Eucharistic Prayer, a prayer that tells the story of our faith. The priest blesses the bread and wine on the table and offers it to God’s people. In receiving the consecrated bread and wine we become united in Christ’s sacrifice and experience the promise of eternal life with God in Christ.

In the Episcopal Church, all baptized Christians are welcome to receive Holy Communion. We believe that through baptism, a person joins God’s church, no matter what congregation or denomination is sponsoring them.  


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