You are always welcome at St. John's! We invite you to come worship with us! Whether you are attending church for the first time, or you are an active church-goer, you may have some questions before walking through our doors. If you don’t find what you are looking for below, feel free to call or email us.
The Episcopal Church is a branch of the one, holy, catholic Church founded by Christ in the Apostles. Its members are called Episcopalians. The primary unit of ministry in the Episcopal Church is a diocese led by its chief pastor, a bishop. In fact, the word episcopal means bishop.
Although Episcopalians are led by bishops, we are constitutionally governed by lay people and other clergy joining with the bishops in periodic meetings to order the church, plan for mission, set budgets and priorities, and pass legislation.
The Episcopal Church traces its origins through English Christianity, from Saint Alban in the third century through the Church of England planted in the colonies in the 1600s. The church is the American branch of Christianity in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury (also known as the Anglican communion). It became a self-governing, autonomous province after the Revolutionary War. Today, there are about two million Episcopalians in the United States, and about eight million in the world.
Like other Anglicans, Episcopalians subscribe to the two Testaments of Holy Scripture – the Old and the New, to the ancient Creeds of the church, and to the early councils as normative for our faith. For decisions in the present day about divine truth, moral living, ethical behavior, and prophetic action we bring a three-part discipline to bear: the use of Scripture, tradition, and reason enlightened by the Holy Spirit.
For generations, Episcopalians have been at the forefront of American national life, from the founding men and women of our nation, to leadership in government, in the arts and sciences, and in facing contemporary issues. We have not been, and are still not afraid to tackle controversial issues of human justice or to differ with each other charitably as we search for the will of God to be revealed.
Combining elements of both Catholic and Protestant traditions, Episcopalians have also been pioneers in ecumenical ventures, cooperating with other churches and traditions throughout the world to be more responsive to Christ's prayer "that we all may be one."
In the Episcopal Church, as in Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and Orthodox churches, you will often hear people refer to the service – its words, music and hymns, readings and prayers – as the liturgy. This unusual word, which comes from two Greek words, laos (people) and ergon (work) actually helps us express an important truth. Liturgy, literally "the work of the people" helps us remember that the audience of worship is God and not the congregation.
In a liturgical church, the people in the congregation get actively involved in the service. This is something that is actually easier to do when there is common prayer. The singing and standing, sitting and listening, and kneeling in prayer, no matter how rich the ceremony or artistic expression, is directed toward God as worship, and not to the people as performance.
The Daily Office Liturgies of Morning and Evening Prayer move back and forth between scripture, prayer, and praise. The Eucharistic Liturgy, or main Sunday service, adds the Sacrament of Christ's meal, nourishing us as we are sent back into the world to spend ourselves as servants of the one, true God.