Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions about The Episcopal Church:

Q: What is an Episcopalian, anyway?

An Episcopalian is a Christian who follows Jesus Christ in all parts of life and worships in an Episcopal Church. Episcopalians believe in serving Jesus in all the neighbors he gives us and living as Christians seven days a week: in our neighborhoods, workplaces, and schools, all the places where we live our lives. Check out our About The Episcopal Church page to find out more.

Q: What do Episcopalians believe about the Bible?

Episcopalians believe that God inspired the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. We believe the Bible contains all things necessary to salvation – it reveals to us the great truths God wants us to know, including the vital, life-transforming Good News of the life, death, and resurrection of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. There are no secrets outside of the Bible that we need to learn for salvation. We believe that God has given us a mind, and wants us to use it, as we work to interpret, understand, and apply the stories in the Bible to our life in the twenty-first century. We believe that the Holy Spirit inspires Christians in the ongoing work of interpreting the Bible.

Q: Do Episcopalians believe in science?

Yes! God created this world, including all the laws of science. And God gave us minds and the curiosity to explore our world and discover how it works. Most Episcopalians don’t see any conflict between science and Christian faith. After all, Jesus said he was the Truth (John 14:6). The search for the natural laws of the universe helps us discover more of the truth about the world God created.

Q: Does The Episcopal Church welcome LGBT people?

Yes – we wholeheartedly welcome all children of God. All of us carry the image of God and are beloved by God. On a church-wide basis, The Episcopal Church has made the decision to support same-sex marriage, honoring the lifelong, faithful commitment that loving couples make. This is a decision that each local church decides how to integrate into its congregational life. And all of our churches joyfully welcome singles and couples who come seeking God or a deeper knowledge of God.

Q: What is worship like in an Episcopal Church?

We are a sacramental church, and we tend to worship in a sacramental way, celebrating Holy Communion most Sundays in most churches. To learn more about how we worship, check our How We Worship page.

Q: What is a sacrament, and why is The Episcopal Church a sacramental church?

In the Episcopal Church, we believe that sacraments are vital to our spiritual life, because God promises to be present to us in the ordinary things of life, like water, bread, and wine, in the same way Jesus was present on this Earth as an ordinary human being. A sacrament is an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. The two most important sacraments of the Church are Baptism and Holy Communion.

  • In Baptism, the outward and visible sign is water, and the inward and spiritual grace is God welcoming us into the family of Christ as God’s children, lavishing us with grace, love, and the forgiveness of sins by uniting us with Jesus in his life, death, and resurrection.
  • In Holy Communion, the outward and visible sign is bread and wine, and the inward and spiritual grace is the real Presence of Jesus (in the gifts of his Body and Blood, in his People gathered, and in the neighbors he gives us to love and serve), nourishing us in our spiritual growth throughout life and transforming us daily into his disciples.

Besides the two great sacraments of baptism and Holy Communion, the Episcopal Church recognizes five optional sacramental rites:

  • Confirmation, in which the bishop lays hands on a person and recognizes them as a full member of Christ’s holy Church, while the person makes a full adult commitment to Christ and the Church.
  • Holy Unction, in which people are anointed for healing with oil that has been blessed as a sign of the healing God brings.
  • Holy Matrimony, in which two people make lifelong, faithful marriage commitments to each other.
  • Reconciliation of a Penitent, in which a person confesses her or his sins to a priest, and the priest declares absolution, the cleansing and forgiveness of sins.
  • Ordination, in which a person who has been called to specialized ministry in God’s church is ordained as a deacon, a priest, or a bishop.
Q: Do I have to be an Episcopalian to worship in an Episcopal Church?

Whoever you are, you are welcome – we are glad to have seekers, questioners, and doubters, as well as faithful Christians. Those who worship in our congregations include lots of people from lots of different backgrounds. Some grew up Episcopalian, some grew up in another branch of the Christian family (Evangelical, Pentecostal, Mainline Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, or Roman Catholic) or some other part of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Others who worship among us grew up in a non-Christian faith, and still others grew up with no faith background at all. All have come seeking Christ. And any baptized Christian is welcome to receive Communion – you don’t have to be Episcopalian.

Q: Who are the leaders of your church?

Our great leader is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. We Episcopalians do our best to follow Jesus and his two great commandments: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:37-39)

In the human world, Episcopalians say that the ministers of the Church are lay people, bishops, priests and deacons.

  • Lay people people – that is, most Episcopalians – have the vital ministry of representing Christ in their daily lives and bearing witness to him wherever they go. One tradition of vital importance to us is significant participation of elected lay leadership (alongside our bishops and clergy), in the governance of the Church at every level, so that many voices can help us discern the Spirit’s leading and shape the Church’s mission as we follow Jesus together.
  • Bishops are ordained as the chief pastors and apostles of the church. Each bishop has a diocese, that is, a region, that he or she is responsible for, and the bishop oversees all the churches in that region. In Oklahoma, our bishop is the Right Reverend Poulson Reed. To learn more about Bishop Poulson, please visit the Our Bishop page.
  • A priest is a pastor or assistant pastor in a local congregation. In most Episcopal churches, you will see a priest as the leader of worship and preacher on Sundays. He or she will often lead Bible studies, lead the mission and governance of the church, visit members when they are sick or in need of special care, and serve as the visible face of the local church in the community.
  • A deacon is ordained as a servant to those in need, often leading ministries of outreach or pastoral care. A deacon also assists bishops and priests in worship.

In The Episcopal Church, we believe that God calls all types of people to ordained ministry – men and women; married, divorced, and single; all races and ethnicities; straight and LGBTQIA; and abled and differently abled. In the Diocese of Oklahoma, we are actively searching for people who are called to ordained ministry to share in the Jesus Movement imperative of proclaiming the Gospel to all people. To find out more about the ordination process, please visit our Holy Orders Process page.

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