The Episcopal Church
The Episcopal Church grew out of the Church of England in the wake of the American Revolution. Today, it is a part of the worldwide Anglican Communion which comprises 38 provinces in 165 countries under the spiritual leader of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The word Episcopal is derived from the Greek episkopos, meaning bishop, indicating that we are governed by bishops; but lay people, bishops, priests, and deacons all share authority and work together in the life of the church as it continues in the mission of God.
The Book of Common Prayer
A little bit of Latin: Lex orandi, lex credenda, which translates loosely as "the law of praying [is] the law of believing, and even more loosely as “as we worship so we believe.” Episcopalians worship using The Book of Common Prayer, which shapes our beliefs more than doctrinal formulations. Our worship is grounded in ancient traditions, in which—through symbols, scripture, sermon, sacred music, and a holy meal (Eucharist)—we remember the teachings, ministry, and sacrifice of Christ.
Richard Hooker’s Three-legged Stool
Our theology is formed from three sources: scripture, tradition, and reason, leading the great Anglican theologian Richard Hooker to describe it as a three-legged stool.
Episcopalians do not interpret the Bible literally. Rather, we acknowledge that scripture is the Word of God which contains all things necessary for salvation, but also that it was written by human authors who were inspired by the revelation of God in their particular time and context. We rely upon the Holy Spirit to guide us as we interpret scripture in a way that makes sense to us in our time and context.
Our tradition, our way of being, extends to our origin in the religion of Abraham. But it is the stories and the customs that developed from the time of the first Christians that provide a foundation from which we can find common ground and by which we can come together in a common understanding of what it means to be a child of God and a part of God’s greater family.
Last, but not least, Episcopalians honor the intelligence, the ability to reason, that God has given to human beings.