History & Theology of the Episcopal Church
Do I have to believe certain things to belong?
Christianity is nearly 2000 years old. Throughout the years, there have been many disagreements about what an individual is to believe. As Episcopalians and as members of the Anglican tradition, we draw on the ancient Christian Creeds to inform our faith. Those creeds are the Apostles, Nicene, and Athanasian. These three creeds contain the core of our beliefs, and the rest is personal piety. In other words, the Anglican tradition typically takes the middle road when it comes to beliefs that are not foundational to being a Christian.
Who does God love?
God loves you and everyone God created. As you might have sung as a child, “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so…” Scripture is the story of God’s self-revelation to His creation, and it shares how all God has ever wanted was to be in a relationship with us. Ultimately, we know that we are loved by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
What is the Trinity?
The Trinity is one God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
What informs our faith?
Scripture, tradition, and reason: These three priorities are often referred to as the three-legged stool of our faith.
What do we mean by “scripture”?
The Holy Scriptures, commonly called the Bible, are the books of the Old and New Testaments.
What do we mean by “tradition”?
The Episcopal Church has inherited ancient traditions from apostolic times, as well as historical customs, laws, practices, and values that have become part of the common life of the church.
What do we mean by “reason”?
Reason is both the intellect and the experience of God that illuminates scriptures and tradition as they relate to our common lives, ministries, and contemporary situations.
What is a sacrament?
A sacrament is “an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace, given by Christ as sure and certain means by which we receive that grace” (BCP, p. 857). In the Episcopal Church, we recognize seven sacraments: Holy Baptism, Holy Eucharist, Confirmation, Marriage, Reconciliation, Healing, and Ordination.
I have already been baptized in another church. If I become an Episcopalian, do I need to be re-baptized?
No. Once you have been baptized with water, in the name of the Trinity, you have been received by adoption into the family of Christ (not into a particular denomination) and that need not…in fact, should not…be repeated. This is true even if you were a tiny baby when you were baptized. If you wish to make a public, adult, affirmation of faith, you may choose to be confirmed, reaffirmed, or received into the Episcopal Church.
What are confirmation, reception, and reaffirmation:
Confirmation is a sacrament, in which an individual presents him or herself to the bishop to make a mature commitment of faith. In short, confirmation is saying, “I claim my faith as my own, and I choose to practice it here and now in this place.” This sacramental act is for those who have never been confirmed in any denomination.
Reception is for those that have been confirmed in another denomination, but want to be received into the Episcopal Church.
Reaffirmation is for those confirmed in the Episcopal Church that want to reaffirm their life in faith within the Episcopal faith.
What are the liturgical seasons?
The Christian calendar divides the year into six liturgical seasons: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost. The season after the Day of Pentecost is often called “Ordinary Time,” although this term is unofficial and does not appear in the Book of Common Prayer. Every season has a designated color, which is displayed on clergy vestments and altar veils during that season.
• White signifies purity and joy and is used during the Christmas and Easter seasons as well as on All Saints’ Day and other joyous occasions such as weddings. White is also used during funerals because death is viewed in relation to Christ’s resurrection.
• Purple and blue signify penitence and patient waiting and are used during Advent and Lent. These colors also suggest royalty, indicating that during Advent we await the return of Jesus Christ, the King of kings and the Lord of Lords.
• Red symbolizes the fire of the Holy Spirit and is used on Pentecost Sunday and for the ordination of bishops, priests, and deacons. It also signifies the blood of Christ and is used in the festival of martyrs.
• Green suggests hope and growth and is used during the weeks after Epiphany, Trinity Sunday, and Pentecost.
What is the Episcopal Church?
The Episcopal Church of the U.S.A. (ECUSA) is the American branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion — a “daughter” of the Church of England. It came into existence as an independent denomination after the American Revolution. Today it has between two and three million members in the United States, Mexico, and Central America.
What is the Anglican Communion?
The Anglican Communion is an inheritor of 2000 years of catholic and apostolic tradition dating from Christ himself, rooted in the Church of England. When the Church of England spread throughout the British Empire, sister churches sprang up. These churches, while autonomous in their governance, are bound together by tradition, Scripture, and the inheritance they have received from the Church of England. They together make up the Anglican Communion, a body headed spiritually by the Archbishop of Canterbury and having some 80 million members, making it the second largest Christian body in the Western world.
What does “Episcopal” mean?
“Episcopos” is the Greek word for “bishop.” Thus “Episcopal” means “governed by bishops.” The Episcopal Church maintains the three-fold order of ministry as handed down by the Apostles — deacons, priests and bishops — in direct descent, via the laying on of hands, from the original Apostles. By the way, “Episcopal” is an adjective: “I belong to the Episcopal Church.” The noun form is “Episcopalian”: “I am an Episcopalian.”
Have more questions about what Episcopalians believe? Then click HERE.
About St. Paul’s
What is worship like at St. Paul’s?
St. Paul’s uses a traditional liturgy that includes Holy Eucharist on most Sundays. Our 8:00a service is Rite I with no music, except on high festivals like Easter. Rite I means that there is more use of Elizabethan language. Our 10:30a services is Rite II with music. Rite II means that it is still traditional in nature but uses a more current vernacular.
Are children welcome in the service?
Absolutely! Children are always welcome at all Sunday services. While it may not seem that children understand the worship service, they do experience the rhythm and beauty of the liturgy and begin to learn about our faith through their participation. We have worship bags for children that contain various activities they can do while in the pews. Also, children ages 6 months to 4 years old are always welcome to go to the nursery which is open 9am to after the 10:30 service. Children ages 4 and up at the 10:30a service are invited to go to children’s chapel during the sermon if they so desire. All of these options are available and good for whatever best meets the needs of your family.
Can children receive communion?
Yes. All baptized Christians are welcome to receive communion. In the end, this is a parental decision. No matter whether you child receives communion or not, a Holy Communion Workshop is offered periodically in order to help learn more about the sacrament. If your child will not receive communion then they are welcome to receive a blessing at the rail by crossing their arms across their chest.
If I want to be a part of St. Paul’s, why should I become an “official” member and what is the process?
As St. Paul writes in many of his Epistles, the universal Church is the Body of Christ. We live out our part as members of that body. Therefore, membership is not a must but it is good to make a commitment or covenant that says, “This is where I am living out my faith… I am a part of you and you are a part of me.” It is not a marriage, but it is also not a decision that should be taken lightly. If you wish to become a member then know that you are always invited and we look forward to that conversation. Please email a member of our clergy or our Hospitality Coordinator.
When did St. Paul’s begin?
A group of Episcopalians gathered in Katy, TX for the first time for worship on September 14, 1958. At Diocesan Council in February 1959, St. Paul’s was admitted as a mission of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas. Then at Council in 1986, St. Paul’s was made a full parish of the diocese.