Episcopal Diocese of Virginia
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The Episcopal Church

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Like all Christ-centered denominations, the Episcopal Church strives to help each individual develop a close and personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Our core belief is rooted in the fact that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, lived on earth without sin and died for the sins of all. He will come again to judge the living and the dead and His kingdom will have no end.

What distinguishes us as Episcopalians includes:

We are part of the world-wide Anglican Communion.

Holy Communion is offered every Sunday at most Episcopal churches.

  • We follow the liturgies outlined in the Book of Common Prayer.
  • We are a lectionary based denomination which means that an Old Testament lesson, a Psalm, a selection from one of Paul's letters and a Gospel lesson are assigned for each Sunday.

All baptized Christians, regardless of their age or denomination, are welcome to receive communion.  Persons who are not baptized Christians can receive a blessing from the priest during communion.

 

ESSENTIALS

 

The Episcopal Church is made up of approximately 2 million worshipers in about 7500 congregations across the United States and related dioceses outside the US.   In the Diocese of Virginia, we are part of a community of more than 80,000 Episcopalians in 181 congregations.  Having its roots in the Church of England, the Episcopal Church is also an Anglican Church and is therefore is distinguished by the following characteristics:

  1. Protestant, Yet Catholic: Anglicanism stands squarely in the Reformed tradition, yet considers itself just as directly descended from the Early Church as the Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox churches. Episcopalians celebrate the Mass in ways similar to the Roman Catholic tradition, yet do not recognize a single authority, such as the Pope of Rome.
  2. Worship in One’s First language: Episcopalians believe that Christians should be able to worship God and read the Bible in their first language, which for most Episcopalians in the United States is English. The Book of Common Prayer, which serves as a supplement to the Bible in our worship, has been translated into many languages, so that all Episcopalians may worship God in their native tongue.
  3. The Book of Common Prayer: Unique to Anglicanism, the Book of Common Prayer is the collection of worship services that all worshipers in an Anglican church follow. It is called “common prayer” because we all pray it together throughout the world. The purpose of the prayer book is to provide the core of the instructions and rites for Anglican Christians to worship together. The prayer book explains Christianity, describes the main beliefs of the Church, outlines the requirements for the sacraments, and in general serves as the main guidelines of the Episcopal life.

 

SCRIPTURE, TRADITION, AND REASON

 

welcomeWhile Christians universally acknowledge the Bible (or the Holy Scriptures) as the Word of God and completely sufficient for our reconciliation to God, what the Bible says must always speak to us in our own time and place. The Church, as a worshiping body of faithful people, has for more than two thousand years amassed experiences of God and of loving Jesus, and what they have said to us through the centuries about the Bible is critical to how we understand the Bible in our own context. The traditions of the Church in interpreting Scripture connect all generations of believers together and give us a starting point for our own understanding.

Episcopalians believe that every Christian must build an understanding and relationship with God’s Word in the Bible, and to do that, God has given us our minds and our experiences which we refer to as reason.  Based on the text of the Bible itself, and what Christians have taught us about it through the ages, we then must sort out our own understanding of the Bible as it relates to our lives.