Friday, August 7, 2009

Why Episcopalian?

One of the questions I have been asked recently is how and why did I end up in the Episcopal Church. I told a little bit of the how in my first post when I wrote about the welcome to the neighborhood letter that I received from the local Episcopal Church. But, the story begins several years before that. In a discussion of my struggles with the church I grew up in, an uncle of mine told me that when I decided to return to church to try the Episcopalian church. I remember him using the phrase "they love everyone".

As for the why, well that isn't as easy to tell. The basic tenets of our faith are laid out in the Nicene Creed (I encourage those of you who aren't familiar with it to google it), and they are no different than any other Christian church really. Although you won't find it in any of the official doctrine, most everyone in the Episcopal Church will tell you that the church is built on Scripture, Tradition, and Reason, often referred to as the Pillars of the church. We believe that scripture, the Bible, is the inspired word of God, written down by humans to documents their beliefs, laws, and history. I like to equate it to Jesus being wholly God and wholly Man; the scriptures in the Bible are divine and human at the same time. You can't separate the humanness from the godliness. Our tradition is to worship in the same way that some Christians did a thousand of years ago and will worship thousands of years from now; it connects us, in worship, to those who were before and those who will come after – the communion of saints. We use our God given reasoning abilities and the Holy Scriptures to make decisions to live our lives in worship and fellowship as we create God's kingdom here on earth.

These are the beliefs and behaviors that I have experienced in the people that I have come to know that are the Episcopal Church and I believe that they reveal the image of Christ.

Do I think the Episcopal Church is perfect? No. Most of us are just doing the best we can in our humanness to do that which God would have us do. We have our own internal struggles just like most if not all churches, but for the most part, we accept and embrace difference in opinion and open discussions. Being in communion with one another is important to us; we cannot fulfill God's purpose as individuals, but together, in Christ, we can become who God would have us to be.

I feel very much at home in the Episcopal Church and I believe it is where God has called me to serve.

God's Peace be with you,



  1. For the 4th time now I try to post! But this time with a new Google Account!

    What is the difference between Episcopalians and the many other Christian churches? There must be some sort of a philosophical statement of values or beliefs that makes them unique from any other church (and they must have their own, too?)?

    The Episcopalians do seem to be more sane...

  2. I'm so glad you were able to finally post! I want the questions to keep things interactive, but, alas, you start with a doozie! I've been rolling it over in my mind for a few days now and my first inclination is to say "can you wait until I graduate from seminary for your answer?". I have to honestly say that I don't know enough about other denominations to answer how Episcopalians are different.
    The basic beliefs are the same in all Christian churches - God is the one true god and Jesus is his son and died for our sins. I think it's the subtle twists that make denominations different - a few examples that I have experienced in discussions with Christians from other denominations are: whether the focus is on "hellfire and damnation", meaning do we behave ourselves so to save ourselves from hell, or do we strive to be Christ-like by living a life of love, compassion, and mercy as Jesus demonstrates in the gospels. Do we focus on saving ourselves or caring for those around us? Individual salvation or social gospel? Do we reach God's kingdom after we die, or do we work at creating it here on earth as we live?
    To intelligently answer your question, I would have to know all the canons and articles of faith for the vast number of denominations. I do hope, however, that I have given some insight. Ask me again in three years and I might have a different one!
    As for the sane part ... when I was going through the discernment process one of the things I had to do (not just me, but all who go through the process) was some psychiatric testing ... what they didn't tell me was "passing" meant I was sane enough or insane enough to be a priest! Ha, ha!

  3. Hmmm, sane or insane? Maybe I should join! Ha ha, OK just kidding. But the question is one I've always been curious about. I've got lots of books that I haven't read about religion and the history of religious thought. But then I've got lots and lots of books I haven't read! Anyway, I've only scratched the surface of religious or atheist thought, but it is very interesting stuff.

    So it will be interesting to get your perspective. The Nicene creed is interesting since it seems to be to be a political agreement that "this is what we believe" in the face of differing ideas at the time. Sort of funny in light of current Christendom and all the schisms and divergences! What would the council of Nicea think of the current situation! Holy Smokes, the ELCA just voted to let non-celibate gays be pastors! Schism fast approaching...

    Anyway, my own experience with religion is that the small, home town church is generally more "real" than the megachurch or the televangelist. A small group of people, neighbors and friends, seem to be a better example of tolerance, support, and Christian values than any of the other venues - especially the ones that "preach" about the ability of Christ to make you rich!

    Oh, funny story (in a sad way). Years ago the local church that my Mom was a charter member of, Peace Lutheran Church in Lauderdale, MN, had a very good pastor who was kind of broad-minded. At the time they were Missouri synod. So Pastor Geist let a FEMALE seminarian do some preaching and it just so happened that a Missouri synod watchdog attended one day when she preached.

    Bang! Bye, bye church! So they became, I believe, ELCA. Anyway, quite a few members were hard-core Missouri synod even though they liked Pastor Geist and didn't complain about the female preacher. (maybe) So the church lost a handful of members on that issue. They are still a very small church since that time... Very sad. But tne new pastor is really excellent - he actually cracked some pretty good jokes at Mom's funeral and had most of the folks chuckling... As did some of the folks who got up and spoke. Never knew some of those things about Mom! Nice to see some humor at church!

    Ramble mode off...

  4. I agree with you on the small, hometown church thing - at least that has been my experience.
    The Episcopal Church has been dealing with all of the issues surrounding ordaining gays with whole diocese as well as individual parishes leaving the communion. In fact, the diocese in which I was confirmed in California was the first to leave. I'd been in Texas several years before it happened, but when I was going through the discernment process, I jokingly asked my priest if I was still ligitimate. :-)
    Thanks for sharing the story about your mom's funeral; yes, humor at church is good!!!
    You have to watch out for those FEMALE seminarians - they can cause all sorts of trouble!