The word “episcopal” refers to governance by bishops. The historic episcopate (bishops) continues the work of the first apostles in the Church: guarding the faith, unity and discipline of the Church, and ordaining men and women to continue Christ’s ministry. An Episcopalian is a person who belongs to The Episcopal Church, which encompasses churches in the United States and 16 countries. These include: Taiwan, Micronesia, Honduras, Ecuador, Columbia, Venezuela, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Churches in Europe, (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland). The Episcopal Church is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
- the Holy Scriptures are the revealed word of God, which inspired the human authors of the Scripture, and which is interpreted by the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
- the Nicene Creed is the basic statement of our belief about God.
- the two great sacraments given by Christ to the Church are Baptism and the Holy Eucharist.
- The teachings and beliefs of the Episcopal Church are articulated in an “Outline of the Faith” in our Book of Common Prayer
The Episcopal Church follows the “via media” or middle way in our theology and discussions because we believe that, whether or not we agree on a particular topic, we all are beloved by God and can have thoughtful and respectful discussions. There are no prerequisites in the Episcopal Church … everyone is welcome.
Historically, bishops oversee the Church in particular geographic areas, known as dioceses. In the worldwide Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury occupies a special position by virtue of history and tradition, but he does not hold a governing position.
Bishops from the Anglican Communion meet regularly for the Lambeth Conference in Canterbury. Collegiality among bishops is the substitute for authority, and communal discernment is the substitute for decision-making power.
Each bishop and diocese, operating through a local annual council, determine the character of life and work in that diocese within a set of general decisions made by a triennial General Convention of The Episcopal Church. These decisions are formalized as canons, or rules that govern. Each diocese elects and sends clergy and lay representatives to the General Convention. The annual Council of the Diocese of Texas takes place each February.
The Episcopal Church celebrates diversity of people and worship styles, yet all worship follows the form set out in the Book of Common Prayer. We are known for our engaging and beautiful worship services. For those who have grown up Roman Catholic, the service, known as the Mass, Eucharist or Holy Communion, will be familiar. For those of reformed tradition or those with no religious tradition, we think you may find a spiritual home in a church that respects its tradition and maintains its sense of awe and wonder at the power and mystery of God.
We honor tradition and strive to live by the example of Jesus Christ, welcoming the stranger and the outcast, helping our neighbors and offering love and forgiveness. The Episcopal Church has 2 million members in 7,500 congregations. In the Diocese of Texas (one of six dioceses in the state), we have more than 75,000 members in 153 congregations. We also have many college ministries, 67 schools, numerous social service agencies and more than 1000 ministries that reach out to help make our communities better and more caring places to live. The Anglican Communion has more than 70 million followers.