“I would not open windows into men’s souls” – Elizabeth I
The quote above well sums up the Episcopal tradition of faith. Of first importance to us is the idea that Christianity can only exist within community; one cannot follow Christ all by oneself, but must take the journey with others. At the same time, we also recognize that each individual has their own relationship with God and that there is a need to include all of our perspectives and experience of God within the Church. It matters more to us how one lives than what one believes. And it matters most that we come together in Common Prayer before our God. Unlike many other churches, the Episcopal Church does not have a confession or belief statement unique to itself that defines Episcopal belief. Instead, we base our life upon the Baptismal Covenant in which we affirm the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit as One God in the words of the Ancient Apostle’s Creed and also commit ourselves to godly life.
The Episcopal Church seeks to discern God’s will for us through the combination of Scripture, Tradition, and Reason. This formula, known as the “three-legged stool, helps us to understand how to apply our faith in an ever-changing world by holding on to what is eternally true and good and separating it from what is merely fashionable or trendy.
The Baptismal Covenant
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.
I will, with God’s help…
…Continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers.
…Persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord.
…Proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ.
…Seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself.
…Strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.