What is Our Purpose at St. Matt's?
The purpose of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.
We do this through worshiping God, educating ourselves and our children, caring for each other and serving our neighbors, sharing faith stories with others, and caring for all our resources (our time, treasure, and talent).
As disciples of Jesus, we aspire to open our hearts to the community. With love for God and neighbor, we offer restoring, caring hands to send forth the Good News to all with passion and determination
What is the Episcopal Church, anyway?
The Episcopal Church (TEC) is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, a network of denominations united by their common history and fellowship with the Church of England. TEC is divided into nine provinces and has dioceses in the U.S., Taiwan, Micronesia, the Carribbean, Central and South America, as well as the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe and the Navajoland Area Mission. The Episcopal Church describes itself as being "Protestant, yet Catholic." It is the nation's 14th largest denomination.
The church was organized after the American Revolution when it separated from the Church of England, whose clergy were required to swear allegiance to the British monarch as Supreme Governor of the church of England, and became the first Anglican Province outside the British Isles.
The Episcopal Church was active in the Social Gospel movement of the late nineteenth century and since the 1960s and 1970s has played a leading role in the progressive movement and on related political issues. For example, in its resolutions on state issues the Episcopal Church has opposed the death penalty, and supported the civil rights movement and affirmative action. Some of its leaders and priests marched with civil rights demonstrators. The church calls for the full civil equality for all people regardless of age, race, gender, ability, or sexual orientation. On the question of abortion, the church has adopted a nuanced position. About all these issues, individual members and clergy can and do frequently disagree with the stated position of the church.
The Episcopal Church ordains women to the priesthood as well as the diaconate and the episcopate. The previous Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church is Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first female head of a national church in the Anglican Communion.
What Do Episcopalians Believe?
Episcopalians are united by worship and the three-fold source of authority which includes Holy Scripture, Tradition, and Reason. The Episcopal Church seeks to follow a "via media" or "middle way" between Roman Catholic and Protestant doctrine and practices. In this sense it is both Catholic and Reformed, seeking the middle ground between extremes.
Because of its "middle way" approach, the Episcopal Church encompasses a wide latitude of beliefs and practices where everyone can find their "place" within our community of faith. A gift of the Episcopal Church is its willingness to tolerate and comprehend opposing viewpoints while at the same time stressing unity in worship and diversity of beliefs. We take seriously our belief that all are welcome!
The Episcopal Church publishes its own Book of Common Prayer (BCP), containing most of the worship services (also called liturgies) used in the Episcopal Church. Because of its widespread use in the church, the BCP is both a reflection of and a source of theology for Episcopalians.
The center of Episcopal teaching is the life and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The basic teachings of the church, or catechism, include:
Jesus Christ is fully human and fully God. He died and was resurrected from the dead.
Jesus provides the way of eternal life for those who believe.
God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ), and God the Holy Spirit, are one God, and are called the Holy Trinity ("three and yet one").
The Old and New Testaments of the Bible were written by people "under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit." The Apocrypha are additional books that are used in Christian worship, but not for the formation of doctrine.
The two great and necessary sacraments are Holy Baptism and Holy Eucharist.
Other sacramental rites are confirmation, ordination, marriage, reconciliation of a penitent, and unction (anointing of the sick)
Belief in heaven, hell, and Jesus' return in glory.
Emphasis on living out the Great Commandment to love God and neighbor fully, as found in Matthew 28:18-20.