Frequently Asked Questions
What Is An Episcopalian?
Episcopalians | Plural Noun /iˌpiskəˈpālēənz/
The Episcopal Church is: Part of God’s One, Holy catholic (universal) Church in the whole World!
The name of our church comes from the Greek word Episcopos, which means, “bishop” or “overseer.” The leaders of our church are called bishops and we are called Episcopalians. All Episcopalians have bishops.
What Do We Believe?
Three important things show us the way to understand our God and our world.
- Scripture–We believe that God and God’s people can speak to us through the Holy Bible. All the things we need for a good life are in there.
- Tradition–We are a church with many old stories. Some of these stories connect us to Jesus and the things he taught us. Some of the stories help us understand what other people think about God and Jesus.
- Reason–The Episcopal Church does not have a human-made set of rules for being God’s people. We believe that in our life with God, we should use our minds–we should think about the Bible, tradition and our own experiences.
What Is The Episcopal Church?
The church is the people of God. The church is not a building where people go to worship God. The church is all of God’s people.
God’s people work in the world to help other people know about God’s love for all people.
All of God’s people do God’s work. Some people are chosen to be leaders in the church. These people receive special training and education. They are “ordained.” This means they have been chosen by God and by the church to lead. They are called deacons, priests, and bishops.
Other people do God’s work every day in everything they do. They are “baptized.” This means that they are part of God’s great family that we call the church.
What Is The Structure Of The Episcopal Church?
Many decisions in the Episcopal Church are made by a system of elections done by people elected to represent others.
The leadership of the church is organized in a way that comes from our tradition.
There is one bishop, called the Presiding Bishop, who is the leader of the whole Episcopal Church. This Presiding Bishop leads and serves the church. He or she does not command the church. The current Presiding Bishop, also known as the Primate, is The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori. Click here for further information on the Presiding Bishop.
There are bishops who lead the dioceses of the church. A “diocese” is a geographical area, like a state or a county. Each diocese has a least one bishop. St. Philip’s is a member church of the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas. Our Bishop is, The Right Reverend James Stanton, and Suffragan (assistant) Bishop The Right Reverend Paul E. Lambert. Click here for further information on our Diocese Bishops.
A diocese has many member churches. They are called parishes or missions. The priest who leads a parish is called the rector; a priest who leads a mission is called the vicar. Our vicar is Reverend Barbara S. Kelton.
The council of people who make decisions for a parish is called the vestry. With the rector, these people take care of the business of the church.
Each diocese has a convention that does the business of the diocese. The clergy and other elected church members make decisions at these conventions.
Every three years, there is a national General Convention. At this convention, elected representatives from each diocese meet to make decisions for the whole of the Episcopal Church.
What Is The Book Of Common Prayer?
The Book of Common Prayer belongs to everyone in the Episcopal Church. The word common used in the title of this book means, belonging equally to, or shared alike by–as in a common interest, or a common good. In this book, you will find the words for the many different ways that Episcopalians worship God.
Some of the worship services are used every day, like Morning Prayer and the Holy Eucharist. There are other worship services that are used for special times, like weddings and funerals.
Also, you will find prayers written there. There is a prayer for almost any situation in the Book of Common Prayer.
There is even a section of songs, called Psalms. Psalms are songs used by God’s people for thousands of years to give God worship and praise.
The Book of Common Prayer is at the center of the Episcopal Church as a church that worships God. You can find this book in any Episcopal Church, no matter where you go!
© (c) 1994, Forward Movement Publications, Spotlight Series #2.
What Is The Anglican Communion?
As Episcopalians, we are members of The Anglican Communion. The Anglican Communion is the gathering of Anglican and Episcopal churches from around the world. Today, the Anglican Communion comprises more than 80 million members in 44 regional and national member churches in more than 165 countries.
The Episcopal church is part of the Anglican Communion, and is comprised of 110 dioceses in 16 nations.
The Episcopal church, established shortly after the American Revolution, has its roots in the Anglican Church. The Anglican Church, known as the Church of England, had a strong following in colonial America. But when the colonies won their independence, the majority of America’s Anglican clergy refused to swear allegiance to the British monarch as was required. As a result, the Episcopal Church was formed.
The vibrancy of the Anglican Communion reflects the lives of its congregants and their commitment to God’s mission in the world.
© (c) Copyright 2012 The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, The Episcopal Church
How Do I Become A Member of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church?
You may become a member of St. Philip’s by baptism, transfer, confirmation or reception.
Baptism: The Episcopal Church considers Baptism to be full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body the Church. Anyone who has been baptized in any church or denomination has been validly baptized.
Those who have not been baptized become members of the church through baptism. Children who are being baptized need sponsors (called “godparents”). Parents may sponsor their own children. Sponsors should be active member of a church.
Transfer: Those who have already been baptized become members by transferring from another church or denomination (See Reception below).
Confirmation: Adult members become confirmed members through the sacrament of confirmation. Confirmation involves prayers and the laying on of hands by an Episcopal Bishop.
To be confirmed, one must attend a series of Inquirer’s Classes. These classes are usually held in the fall. Young people must be at least fifteen-years-old. It is not necessary to be confirmed to be an adult member in good standing at St. Philip’s. However, confirmation is required for eligibility to vote and to serve in almost all elected offices in the church and some appointed offices as well.
Reception: Those who have received the laying-on of hands by a Bishop of some denominations may be received into the Episcopal Church by a Episcopal Bishop and have the privileges of a confirmed member.
If you would like to become a member of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, please fill out the Communicant Information Form, located in the narthex/foyer of the church and place it in the priest’s mailbox.
Would you like to know more about the Episcopal Church? “I Am an Episcopalian” is a video presentation series, hosted by The Episcopal Church, where members discuss their experiences within their church. Click this link to view the series.