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St. Mary's is a parish of The Episcopal Church. The Episcopal Church is a fellowship of Christians in the United States, Taiwan, Colombia, Venezuela, and several countries in the Caribbean and Central America.
What does "Episcopalian" mean?
Episcopalian means a person or a church that is a member of The Episcopal Church. The word "Episcopal" comes from the Greek word for Bishop, and it indicates that we are a church that is structured around Bishops, as the church has been since the earliest centuries.
I heard someone say that the Episcopal Church is Anglican.
Yup. "Anglican" means that our church is descended from the Church of England, which emerged as a distinct church during the Reformation in Europe, which also saw the creation of the Lutheran churches and the Reformed (Presbyterian) Church. Things having to do with this English church are called Anglican (from the same word that gives us "anglo-saxon"). As the Church of England spread around the world, each country and region adapted the Anglican way of life to its own context. The Anglican church in the United States became "The Episcopal Church" after the Revolutionary War (things called "English" weren't very popular then!)
Is the Episcopal Church Protestant?
Briefly, yes. But we are also catholic! During the Reformation, the medieval Roman Catholic church had developed some practices that were troubling and controversial. The Protestant reformers tried to correct it and sweep away anything that couldn't be decisively found in Scripture. The Church of England tried to strike a balance between Roman Catholicism and the Protestants. For instance, we agreed with the Protestants that the Bible should be in the language of the people. But we agreed with the Roman Catholics on the importance of bishops as inheritors of apostolic grace. Most importantly, we decided that the best way forward was not to determine a perfect doctrine that everyone had to agree to, but a core pattern of worship that would guide our life. Ever since, Episcopalians and Anglicans have respected a healthy diversity of theologies.
What do you mean you're "also catholic"?
Catholic simply means "universal". A catholic church is one that holds to the ancient Creeds of the Church -- the Nicene and Apostles' Creeds -- and that understands that the faith and salvation of Christ is available to all. In some classifications, the catholic churches are the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Churches, and the Anglican Church (which you might call the "English Catholic" Church).
What do Episcopalians believe?
We've got a special page for that!
Can I come worship with you at St. Mary's?
We would love to have you join us, whether it's for a Sunday as you pass through town, or you're looking for a new church home. You probably have a few questions about what it's like on Sunday Morning at St. Mary's. Check out What to expect on Sunday.
Here are some books you might wish to check out if you're still curious