Worship > The Episcopal Church
The Episcopal Church is home to millions of Christians. We are part of the “one, holy, catholic and apostolic church;” we are a place where people bring their hopes, questions, and curiosity before God. We are committed to justice for all people, and we strive to welcome everybody. The Episcopal Church is distinguished by standing in both Protestant and Catholic tradition, and our reliance on Scripture, Tradition, and Reason in interpreting God's Word.
The Episcopal Church is part of the world-wide Anglican Communion, present in over 160 countries. We allow for congregational, local and national authority in our decisions as a church. We believe that all ministries flow from the waters of baptism, and we value and honor the ministry of everyone in our congregations. The Episcopal Church ordains women and men (both married and celibate) as priests, deacons, and bishops. The rector is the priest in charge of a parish, and is called to that position by the congregation. A governing board, the vestry, is elected by the congregation to oversee the finances of the parish.  Everyone in our church has a ministry – teaching Sunday School, taking part in healing prayers, singing in the choir, volunteering to serve people in need, caring for the building, praying for strangers and friends, doing God’s work in the world and in the church.
The sacraments are outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace, given by Christ as sure and certain means by which we receive that grace. Baptism and Eucharist (“Mass”) are the two great sacraments, clearly instituted in Scripture. Episcopalians celebrate the Mass in ways similar to the Roman Catholic and Lutheran traditions. Other sacramental rites which evolved in the Church over the centuries – and which we still practice -- include confirmation, ordination, holy matrimony, reconciliation of a penitent (confession), and anointing with holy oil (unction).
Episcopalians acknowledge the Bible as the Word of God and completely sufficient to our reconciliation to God, and we believe that what the Bible says must always speak to us in our own time and place. We encourage people to study the Bible, and on Sundays we read from the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), Psalms, Epistles and Gospel.
Churches have for 2000 years experienced God and Jesus’ love, and what they have learned through the centuries about the Bible is critical to our own context. We draw from the tradition of the first Christian churches, as well as the traditions of the Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant churches. The traditions of the Church in interpreting Scripture connect all generations of believers together and give us a starting point for our own understanding. At Messiah we combine ancient traditions (including incense on high holy days) with new traditions
Episcopalians believe that every Christian must build an understanding and relationship with God’s Word in the Bible, and to do that, God has given us intelligence and our own experience, what we call Reason. Reason is located in our heart as well as our head. Based on the text of the Bible itself, and what Christians have taught us about it through the ages, we then work to sort out our own understanding of God’s Word as it relates to our own lives.