What We Believe
Christian - First and foremost, we believe in Jesus Christ. This is expressed through our weekly worship in the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed. We believe that the Holy Scriptures contain all things necessary for our salvation. We share these creeds, these Holy Scriptures, and the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper with Christians from every denomination, every part of the world, and every age of history. It is in this sense that we are part of the one, holy, 'catholic' (or 'universal') church, begun by Christ and His twelve Apostles and continuing to this day.
Anglican - As an historically Anglican church, we accept as normative the 39 Articles of Religion as published in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. We do not enforce these as absolute beliefs, but we do look to them as guidelines that define what it means to be Anglican. We express our beliefs through the historically Anglican worship found in our Book of Common Prayer. We share these theological guidelines and this historic worship with Anglican Christians throughout the world. As members of the world-wide Anglican Communion, we believe the church is bound together in unity by our relationships to Anglicans in other countries, our common heritage of worship and theology, and by our special relationship of communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury. Our beliefs and worship bind us together as Anglicans, but they also differentiate us from other world-wide fellowships of Christians such as the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox churches of the East, and most Western Protestant churches. Although we agree on many points with these and other churches and accept them as authentically Christian, we believe that the Anglican tradition of theology and worship, going back to the earliest days of Christianity in the ancient world, contains important and powerful truths that have sometimes been neglected. As children of the Protestant Reformation, we walk the middle way (in Latin, the Via Media) between medieval Roman Catholicism and other reformed groups such as Lutherans and Calvinists. We call ourselves 'Protestant' because we still 'protest' against some of the abuses of the medieval Roman Catholic church and because we do not accept the authority of the Pope. Yet we consider ourselves 'catholic' in that we continue traditions of doctrine, worship, and practice handed down to the English church when it was still part of the one catholic church.
Episcopal - As the American branch of the historic Anglican Communion, the Episcopal Church USA has always believed that the church should be governed by bishops (the Greek word for bishop is episkopos). However, we also stress the importance of non-ordained people having a voice in ministry and in church government; we believe in the necessity of the sacraments, and the need for Christians both lay and ordained to influence American culture for the better. Our Prayer Book embodies our beliefs in ways that are distinct from, yet complementary toward, other Anglican churches around the world. For instance, the Baptismal Covenant (found in the Book of Common Prayer pages 304-307) is a uniquely American liturgy that combines the ancient Christian idea of baptism with traditionally American covenant theology. (For more information, see N. T. Wright 's lecture "New Perspectives on Paul" on covenant theology and baptism.)