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What Do Episcopalians Believe?
Publication Date:
5/22/2006
Pages:
0
Session(s)
2
Product Type:
Internet Download
Adult Study, Adult Study
Product Number:
TC0086

The Episcopal Church in America comes from a tradition, Anglicanism, that marks a middle way between the Reformed Protestant and Roman Catholic traditions. While it continues to use many elements of Catholic liturgy, the Church of England long ago rejected the authority of the pope and of a central authority over the beliefs of worshipers in favor of a questing belief that values reason and tradition as well as Scripture. Archbishop Rowan Williams, the symbolic head of the Anglican Communion, describes the Anglican tradition as a variety of Reformed thinking that may have rejected a pope but was satisfied with a church order grounded in the historic ministry of bishops, priests, and deacons and with the classical early Christian formulations of doctrine about God and Jesus Christ. Today, the sister churches of the Anglican Communion number some eighty million worshipers, many of them in countries south of the equator, where Anglicanism is thriving.

Since its formation following the Revolutionary War, the American Episcopal Church has been tremendously influential; while a relatively small denomination in terms of its worshiping members, more than one-fourth of all American presidents and more than half of all Supreme Court justices and members of congress have been Episcopalian. The Episcopal Church has also been a powerful force among American churches in promoting peace and justice work, at times losing members and donations for its principled stands for the poor and minority populations. Stereotyped as a wealthy and frigid denomination (as, indeed, some Episcopalians are), many Episcopal churches and individual worshipers are nonetheless deeply involved in social justice work, helping the homeless and addicted, contributing to disaster relief, fighting the death penalty, and otherwise seeking a world where privilege will no longer matter.

The Episcopal Church now represents a body of worshipers who are extremely diverse in terms of their theological, cultural, and political beliefs. Evangelical, liberal, and Anglo-Catholic Episcopalians may differ on such currently challenging issues as the ordination of women and homosexuals, but their ability to find common ground in the Book of Common Prayer may yet be the salvation of the church.

Greg Garrettis the author of We Get to Carry Each Other: The Gospel according to U2; Stories from the Edge: A Theology of Grief; The Gospel according to Hollywood; and Holy Superheroes!: Exploring the Sacred in Comics, Graphic Novels, and Film.He is a novelist, a professor of English at Baylor University, writer-in-residence at the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest, and a licensed lay preacher in the Episcopal Church.


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