“The Episcopal Church offers a thoughtful approach to religion. It believes faith involves a measure of reason as well as emotion. Its doctrine is designed to point out, not dictate, the response to God’s continuing revelation. The focus is on God’s love and the invitation to respond in mature freedom, in thanksgiving, and in loving devotion. Basic beliefs are expressed in the Book of Common Prayer and especially in the Catechism.
The Episcopal Church teaches that morality is positive, rather than negative. It is rooted in Jesus’ summary of the law; ‘to love God with heart, mind and soul and to love one’s neighbor as oneself.’ The focus of Christian morality is not on laws and restrictions but on a free and mature response to God’s love and in responsibility to our neighbors.”
These words come from the Website of St. Luke’s on the Lake in Austin, Texas which has one of the best Newcomer’s pages in the church. It includes this summary of what Episcopalians believe.
“Episcopalians believe in One God,
the Father who creates us and all things,
the Son who redeems us from sin and death
the Holy Spirit who renews us as the Children of God
Episcopalians believe the Holy Scriptures to be the Word of God and to contain all things necessary for salvation. We believe God inspired human authors and continues to speak to us through the Bible.
Episcopalians affirm that salvation is the end of our separation from God and the beginning of a new relationship with God and one another. The Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds are basic statements of our beliefs in God. “The Episcopal Church has more than 2.4 million members in over 7,500 congregations in 109 dioceses situated in 16 countries. It is a member of the world-wide Anglican Communion with 77 million members in 166 countries.”
From The Episcopal Café website www.episcopalcafe.org
The Episcopal Church came into being in 1784 through the consecration of its first bishop, Samuel Seabury, by bishops of the Episcopal Church of Scotland. The formal establishment of the Episcopal Church came in 1789 with the church’s first General Convention and adoption of its constitution and canons.
The General Convention is the primary governing authority in the Episcopal Church and—because of the church’s origins—reflects the structure of the U.S. Congress. The Convention is composed of a House of Deputies (lay and ordained deputies from each diocese) and a House of Bishops (all active and retired bishops). The Convention meets every three years to enact legislation, elect representatives to its governing boards and agencies, issue statements on matters of public policy and faith, and strengthen fellowship between its members and its Anglican, ecumenical and interfaith partners.
The president of the House of Bishops—known as the Presiding Bishop—also serves as the chief executive of The Episcopal Church, which is officially incorporated as The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society. The Episcopal Church headquarters is located in New York City, but there are field offices in Washington D.C. (Office of Governmental Affairs); and New Bern, North Carolina (Office of Pastoral Care).
As of 2005, The Episcopal Church numbers 2.4 million members worshipping and witnessing in 7,680 congregations organized in 111 dioceses. The dioceses are organized in nine provinces for mutual support, consultation and coordination of ministry with offices and governing bodies of The Episcopal Church.