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What is an Episcopalian?

The Episcopal Church is a member of the world-wide Anglican Communion, with 70 million members in 164 countries. We are a community of Christians bound together by our belief that Holy Scripture contains the very core of all Christian faith and thought, by the many ancient and modern stories that connect us to Jesus and his teachings, and by discovering daily God’s hope and call to us through our life together. The precise beliefs and practices of Episcopalians can be a puzzle to those raised in more rigid traditions—and even sometimes to Episcopalians themselves! We are not fully protestant, but at the same time are not Roman Catholic either. We offer no unquestioning obedience to a central authority—instead debating doctrine among ourselves and often agreeing to differ on it. Yet we also have splendidly dressed bishops and priests and deacons, just as the Roman Catholics do (except, of course, that many of ours are women, and our senior bishops are all elected), and we center our worship on the Eucharist, or Holy Communion. The connections that bind us can sometimes get lost in the smoke of debate, but they are there nonetheless, have deep historical roots, and are much more powerful than they sometimes seem. Read a 2009 report by The Episcopal Church on how its members see themselves. This section of our site attempts to describe those connections, and to bring together information and resources that will help both members and non-members of the Episcopal Church understand more about our shared beliefs and practices: where we are coming from, and where we are going. It also includes practical information regarding the policies of the Diocese and of the wider Episcopal Church on who may take communion in an Episcopal Church, on what defines Church “membership,” and on Baptisms, Confirmations, Marriages and Funerals.

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