We Believe ...
As Episcopalians and members of the worldwide Anglican Communion, our most succinct statements of faith are found in the Nicene and Apostle's Creeds. A slightly more detailed outline of our faith can be found in the historical 39 Articles of Religion and the 1979 Catechism (Teaching) found in our Book of Common Prayer. We are not a confessional church, which means that we do not have any one theologian or theological tome that narrowly defines our faith. Rather, our beliefs are grounded in Holy Scripture, the traditions of the church, our God given ability to reason, and our lived experiences. One of the clearest expressions of our faith is found in worship, so if you want to know what we believe, come visit us on Sunday morning.
Below is a brief outline of some of our key doctrines. They are by no means exhaustive or comprehensive.
The Holy Trinity
God has revealed Godself to humankind as one God in three persons; Creator(or Father/Mother), Son, and Holy Spirit. This revelations shows us that God's essence is communal and that from before time and space Love was shared between the three co-equal and co-eternal persons of the Godhead. This doctrine is not primarily a dogma to be comprehended, but rather, a mystery to be experienced.
God the Creator
God created the heavens and the earth and all that is seen and unseen. This means the universe is good and is the work of a single loving God who creates, sustains, and directs it. God has revealed Godself to us in Holy Scripture, the community of Israel, and the natural world.
God the Son Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ is the only Son of God and the perfect image of God the creator who shows us the nature of God which is love. By a divine act he received our human nature from the Virgin Mary, his mother. He preached the Good News of God's kingdom, especially to the vulnerable, the beaten, and the damned. He provided healthcare free of charge and upset the religious elite by insisting that the lives of poor people matter. He was charged as a felon and crucified by the state, and by his sacrificial death on the cross we are freed from the power of sin and reconciled to God. Three days after his death, Jesus rose again, thus defeating death's power and opening up for us the way of eternal life. Jesus ascended into heaven, to sit at God's righthand, and he will come again to set up a kingdom of perfect love, justice, and equity.
God the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is God's own spirit at work in the world and in the Church. She is fully God, co-eternal and co-equal with the Creator and the Son. She has spoken through the prophets of old and continues to inspire prophet witnesses today. She is imparted to the believer in baptism, and She is a comfort in times of distress and an agitator in times of complacency.
The Way of Salvation
Human beings are created in God's image, which means we are free to make choices; to love, to create, to reason, and to live in harmony with creation and with God. However, from the beginning, humans have misused this freedom. We have abused each other, disordered our world, sought our own will instead of God's perfect will, and created communities where a few have much and many do not have enough. We are in need of salvation and reconciliation with God and with each other.
God prepared us for salvation by sending us prophets to call us back to Godself, to show us our need for redemption, and to announce the coming of the Messiah. Jesus Christ is God's Holy Messiah who, in his sacrificial death on the cross, made the offering which we could not make, thus making a way for our redemption and reconciliation to God and our neighbors.
We are united to Christ's death and resurrection and receive the means of grace and salvation by participating in the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion. By the grace of the Holy Spirit, we are empowered to go out into the world to perform acts of justice and mercy as a witness to the salvation that God has ordained for the world.
The Church is the community of Jesus Christ that has a mission to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ. The church pursues this mission as it prays and worships, proclaims the Gospel, and promotes justice, peace, and love. The Church is much bigger than any one denomination, but its historical markers are the creeds, the sacraments, the holy scriptures, and the ministry of the people supported by bishops, priests, and deacons.
The bible is the library of books commonly known as the Old and New Testaments. These books were written by people under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to show God at work in nature and history, to set forth the life and teachings of Jesus, and to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom for all people. We believe scriptures are living documents through which God continues to speak to God's people, rather than static artifacts buried beneath decades of narrow interpretations. The bible is best read in community, interpreted through the lens of love rather than literalism, and centered on the teachings of Jesus Christ that upset religious doctrines of exclusion.
The Life of a Christian
Christians are mystically united to Christ and each other through Holy Baptism and Holy Communion. This doesn't mean we are holier or better than anyone else, but it does mean that our lives are ordered by certain commitments. We are committed to prayer, fellowship, and communal worship. We are committed to resisting evil. We are committed to self-examination, repentance of our own sins, and the forgiveness of others. We are committed to proclaiming the Good News of Christ. We are committed to service to our neighbors, especially the most vulnerable. And we are committed to justice and respecting the dignity of every human being.
We practice these commitments in community with each other. They are not easy, and we so often fail to uphold them. But we are saved by grace, not by works, and God's grace is bigger than our failures.
The Christian Hope
The way the world is right now is not the way the world should be, but it's not the way it will always be. Even now, God is working out the world's salvation, and when that work is complete, we will live a new existence in which we are united with all the people of God, in the joy of fully knowing and loving God and each other. Death, in all its sundry forms, does not have the last word. Love wins in the end, and until then, we witness to that love in thought, word, and deed.
The Apostle's Creed:
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth;
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.