The Episcopal Church is a denomination (or, community) within the Christian faith (just as Baptist, Lutherans, Methodists, etc. are also communities of Christianity.) Our origins date back to sixteenth-century England when new ideas about Christian community, worship, and communion swept across much of Europe. What emerged in England was Anglicanism. The Episcopal Church is simply the name of the branch of Anglicanism in the United States.
The Episcopal Church is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and traces its heritage to the beginnings of Christianity.
We’re following Jesus into loving, liberating and life-giving relationship with God, with each other and with the earth, seeking every day to love God with our whole heart, mind and soul, and to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:36-40). Just like Jesus.
We celebrate our unity in Christ while honoring our differences, always putting the work of love before uniformity of opinion.
Our threefold sources of authority are Scripture, Tradition, and Reason.
1. The Bible: We believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God and contains all things necessary for life with Jesus and to guide us in living holy lives. While the Bible is our sacred text, we acknowledge that it is an ancient human document, full of all the contradictions and inconsistencies of humanity. We seek in Scripture spiritual inspiration, historical grounding for our faith, the teachings of Jesus and of the Hebrew prophets before him, and guidance for our own life of prayer and service. We expect that people will interpret scripture using their minds, their hearts, and following the teachings (traditions) of the church … and that they will not be afraid to struggle with some of the difficult and contradictory texts in the Bible as they make moral and ethical decisions.
2. Tradition: We are part of the ancient lineage of Christianity and members of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Our principal celebration, the Eucharist, is modeled on Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples and the communal meals of the earliest Christian communities. In our governance, we recognize both the ministry of bishops, who serve in the line of apostles, but we also believe in “the priesthood of all believers,” the teaching that divine wisdom and inspiration are equally accessible to every Christian.
3. Reason: We do not believe the Spirit stopped speaking when the last page of the Bible was recorded. We believe that God granted us the gift of reason to see the influence of the Holy Spirit through our own experiences, the experiences of our community and the experiences of Christians down through time. We also believe the natural sciences play a role in making clear the divine design. Our church has reasoned its way to several decisions that were controversial when first made, but some of which have become less so over time. We believe that issues such as whether to use birth control are matters best left to the informed individual conscience. We know that there is grace after divorce and we do not deny the sacraments to those who have been divorced and remarried. We ordain women as deacons and priests. We believe that same-sex relationships can show forth God’s love as truly as relationships between a man and a woman. We believe that all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression are made in the image and likeness of God.
The Diocese of Washington
Historically, bishops oversee the Church in particular geographic areas, known as dioceses. Each bishop and diocese, operating through a local annual council, determine the character of life and work in that diocese within a set of general decisions made by a triennial General Convention of The Episcopal Church. These decisions are formalized as canons, or rules that govern. Each diocese elects and sends clergy and lay representatives to the General Convention.
We belong to the Diocese of Washington, which includes congregations, schools and other ministries are located in four Maryland counties–Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s–as well as the District of Columbia. We are approximately 45,000 people in 89 congregations, and we’re learning together what it means to follow Jesus and to be the church in our time.
We are proud to be Episcopalians, stewards of a rich spiritual tradition that speaks powerfully to the questions of this age. We experience God through both heart and mind, in mystical experience and in community, in prayer, service and striving for justice. Ours is an expansive, generous understanding of God that invites rising generations to know, love, and follow Jesus, and also to be respectful and open to the insights of other faith traditions. You are welcome here. Click here to learn more about the Episcopal Diocese of Washington.
Meet our Bishop: The Rt. Rev. Mariann Budde.