Catholic Communions | Catholic
& Non-Catholic Christianity | Apostolic
Succession | Episcopal
Sacraments | Episcopal
Church Hierarchy | Interesting
Church History |
Why We Became Epsicopalians
Church is an independant member of the Anglican Communion of the
"One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church." The Episcopal
Church is a "catholic" church because it is "open"
(non-Gnostic), its faith is based on the Nicene and Apolstolic
Creeds and it follows the apostolic succession of deacons, priests
Many Catholic Communions
There are several primary communions of the "One
Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church." Some of these churches/communions
include the Anglican Communion, the Roman Catholic Church, the
Orthodox Catholic Church (Greek, Antiochian, Alexandrian,
Jeruselem and other national Orthodox churches all of which are
sometimes called Eastern Orthodox Church or Orthodox Catholic
Church, etc.), the Polish Catholic Church, the Polish National
Catholic Church in the U.S.A. and the Old Catholic Churches of
the Union of Utrecht ... to name a few. Each catholic church/communion
has a different organizational structure and each has a number
of offshoot churches. Some Roman Catholics refer to the Anglican
Church (and Anglican Communion partners) to be such an
Communion's structure is most like that of the Old Catholic Churches
of the Union of Utrecht. There is no one Pope over the entire
communion. Interestingly, a common bond has been shared between
the Anglican Communion and the Old Catholic Churches of the Union
the progressive union of these two communions, the Anglican/Old
Catholic International Co-ordinating Council had been established
by the International Bishops' Conference (Old Catholic) and the
Lambeth Bishops Conference (Anglican). Its first official meeting
took place in 1999. For more details on the Old Catholic Churches
of the Union of Utrecht, The Polish Catholic Church and their
union with the Anglican Communion, visit the Churches
of Europe Web Site.
Christianity and Non-Catholic Christianity
The term "catholic" means "universal",
even though in the United States, the term is generally used to
refer to the Roman Catholic Church. The Episcopal "Catholic"
Church is not a part of the Roman Catholic communion of the "One
Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church", but it is "catholic."
A good explanation on the Episcopal Church and other churches
in the Anglican Communion being a part of the "One Holy Catholic
and Apostolic Church" can be found at the
Church of Ireland's website. NOTE: As the Episcopal Church
U.S.A. is a member of the Anglican Communion with a Primate in
the United States, the Church of Ireland is a separate member
of the Anglican Communion like the Episcopal Church.
The name "catholic"
partially came into to prominence in early Christian communities
that were considered "open" because it was not Gnostic
Christian (secretive where some members advance in place and
knowledge) where some were accepted into the "knowing"
community. Rather, a Catholic Christian community was universal
and open to all.
Episcopal Church is a "catholic" church, at times, some
of the churches in the Anglican Communion, including the Episcopal
Church, have referred to themselves as Protestant to show that
they are not a part of the Roman Catholic communion of the "One
Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church." However, Anglican Communion
churches are not protestant per se. Like the other communions
of the "One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church","[p]resent
day Episcopal Bishops trace their ordination authority back through
a continuous line, person to person, to the 12 Apostles"
(Peek Through the
Window of the Episcopal Church).
If it is the
Anglo "Catholic" Church (Anglican Church), then how
did the term Episcopal come into play for the American
branch of the Anglican Communion? The word Episcopal comes from
the Greek word "episkopoi" which means "having
bishops." During the establishment of the Anglican Church
in America, the American Church was unable to ordain priests by
a bishop since all the bishops remained in England and the United
States just won the Revolution War which made things a little
difficult. So, in accordance to the accepted rules of apostolic
succession to ordain priest by a bishop, three bishops of the
Scottish Episcopal Church (so named because the Scottish were
not fans of the Anglican name but were a part of the communion
with Canterbury) named not one, but three American bishops.
The Scottish Episcopal Church's action of ordaining three American
bishops allowed American Anglican bishops to ordain more American
bishops as well as priests. This is why the emblem for the Episcopal
Church in the USA is the Anglo Cross with the Scottish blue Cross
of St. Andrew in the top left corner.
Succession in the Episcopal Church
Episcopal Church, like the other communions of the "One Holy
Catholic and Apostolic Church," claims a direct priestly
lineage following apostolic succession. This means that the church
follows the ordained hierachy of bishop, priest, deacon.
have questioned the biblical validity of apostolic succession
where a bishop ordains due to lieneage passed down from the apostles.
For all catholic churches (namely: the Orthodox, Roman Catholic,
Anglican Communion and other related churches), however,
this link with the apostles guarantees their authority in matters
of faith, morals, and the valid administration of sacraments.
What is essential to maintaining the apostolic succession is the
right or rather interpreted and accepted consecration of bishops.
Protestants (non–Anglicans) see the authority given to the
apostles as unique, proper to the apostles alone, and therefore
reject any doctrine of a succession of apostolic authority. As
a result, the Protestant view of ecclesiastical authority differs
from those churches that accept apostolic succession.
in practice was [the] apostolic testimony or tradition to be found.
..." asks the early church historian, J. N. D. Kelly. "The
most obvious answer was that the apostles had committed it orally
to the Church, where it had been handed down from generation to
generation. ... Unlike the alleged secret tradition of the Gnostics,
it was entirely public and open, having been entrusted by the
apostles to their successors, and by these in turn to those who
followed them, and was visible in the Church for all who cared
to look for it."
there are those who claim that if something is not entirely in
the Bible, then it is not following in line with "the infallible
word of God." Episcopalians believe that the Bible is the
"inspired" word of God written by man, inspired by God.
Churches that adhere to apostollic succession hold that the Apostles
had special authority given to them by Jesus Christ and that this
authority has been passed down in unbroken succession through
the bishops of the Church for two millenia. But is there any Biblical
claim to apostolic succession?
is certain, the Bible is not a Chilton type manual. Therefore,
readers sometime grasp something a little different than others.
However, following are some scripture passages to support apostolic
God has designated in the church to be, first, apostles; second,
prophets; third, teachers; then, mighty deeds; then, gifts of
healing, assistance, administration, and varieties of tongues.
1 Corinthians 12:28
this next passage, Peter, first among the Apostles, declared the
problem and the solution. He decided what conditions were necessary
for the consecration of one who would "take an office"
in the church.
those days Peter stood up in the midst of the brothers (there
was a group of about one hundred and twenty persons in the one
place). He said ... 22 beginning from the baptism of John until
the day on which he was taken up from us, become with us a witness
to his resurrection.” 23 So they proposed two, Joseph
called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias.
24 Then they prayed, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of
all, show which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take
the place in this apostolic ministry from which Judas turned
away to go to his own place.” 26 Then they gave lots to
them, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was counted with
the eleven apostles. Acts 1:5,22-26
following passages of scripture describe how the Bible establishes
apostolic succession. Further, these passages alude to the "laying
of hands" which some Protestants claim is not in the Bible.
presented these men to the apostles who prayed and laid hands
on them. Acts 6:6. Then completing
their fasting and prayer, they laid hands on them and sent them
off. Acts 13:3. They strengthened
the spirits of the disciples and exhorted them to persevere
in the faith, saying, "It is necessary for us to undergo
many hardships to enter the kingdom of God." 23 They appointed
elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting,
commended them to the Lord in whom they had put their faith.
Acts 14:22-23. Do not neglect the gift that is
in you, which was given you through prophecy with the laying
on of hands by the council of elders. 1 Timothy
4:14. For this reason, I remind you to stir into
flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of
my hands. 2 Timothy 1:6.
Paul, who was called in a special way by God, only became a minister
after the laying on of hands by an officer of the Church.
But the Lord said to him, “Go, for this
man is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before Gentiles,
kings, and Israelites, 16 and I will show him what he will have
to suffer for my name.” 17 So Ananias went and entered
the house; laying his hands on him, he said, “Saul, my
brother, the Lord has sent me, Jesus who appeared to you on
the way by which you came, that you may regain your sight and
be filled with the holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately things
like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight. He
got up and was baptized, 19 and when he had eaten, he recovered
his strength. Acts 9:15-19
succession between the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican and
other catholic churches? Churches in the Anglican Communion claim
appostolic authority through the Archbishop of Canterbury. Like
the Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht and the Polish
Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion carried apostolic succession
from appointment that originated from the Roman Catholic Church.
The Roman Catholic Church, likewise, apparently carried apostolic
succession from the Eastern Orthodox Churches.
Sacraments in the Episcopal Church
In being a "catholic" church, the Episcopal
Church maintains the seven sacraments which are certain regular
acts of worship or reenactments of Christ's ministries on earth.
More detail on the sacraments can be obtain from the Diocese
of Texas Episcopal Information Page. The theology behind some
of the sacraments is different or more open for personal interpretation
and personal need compared to the Roman or Orthodox churches.
This may seem odd to some because the same creeds are shared between
the Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican Communion churches.
the Anglican churches and the Orthodox churches Eucharistic worship
are more similar in comparison with the Roman Catholic Church.
It is interesting to conduct a 3rd Century Eucharist then consider
the Roman Catholic standard on transubstantiation. An example
of a 3rd Century Eucharist is provided in the Episcopal Church's
Education for Ministry Common Lessons guide.
many differences as well as similarities between the Roman Catholic
Church and Episcopal Church beliefs and method of worship. A good
place to start is how both churches view Holy Communion. The Roman
Catholic Church holds the belief in transubstantiation, or real
presence of Jesus Christ in the bread and wine of the Holy Communion.
The Episcopal Church does not fully follow transubstantiation
as being absolute. The concept of transubstantiation and the rules
for who can receive Holy Communion in the Roman Catholic Church
arose during early years of the church and the middle ages; from
a time when people commonly believed that something could physically
exist in something else and when the Church had to protect itself
from enemy infiltration. So the rules can be understood. The Episcopal
Church, by contrast, believes Jesus is spiritually present in
the the Holy Communion elements. How Jesus is present spiritually
is a mystery. This answer does not dismiss the question. Rather,
this answer is given because its acceptable to have mystery in
life and some things are way beyond human comprehension. "We
don't have to understand everything there is to know about Holy
Communion. What's more important is that we believe and trust
Jesus that he said he would be present to us." (Peek
Through the Window of the Episcopal Church). In other words,
it is an acceptance or rather spiritual acceptance of Christ's
presence. The interpretation is more dependant on the receiver.
In the Roman
Catholic Church, only a Roman Catholic in good standing or an
Orthodox Christian may receive Holy Communion. In the Episcopal
Church, all baptized Christians may receive Holy Communion. The
thinking on this in the Episcopal Church is that God works through
each person, through the Holy Spirit and Jesus never turned anyone
away from healing. Communion is a sacrament that is considered
to be an outward sign of an inward grace. The church's stance
on Holy Communion is one of the reasons why Larry and Celina chose
to be received in the Episcopal Communion of the "One Holy
Catholic and Apostolic Church."
For more on
the differences and similarities between the Roman Catholic and
Episcopal Church visit the website
on Roman Catholic vs. Episcopal Beliefs. NOTE, you will have
to scroll down the page a little to see the comparison.
Tthe Episcopal Church essentially is governed by two
"houses" of Church leadership. Different from the Orthodox
and Catholic churches, the Episcopal Church is governed by a lay
member "house" and priestly "house." For example,
on the parish level, the Vestry (made up of lay members) and the
Rector (head priest) work together in governing Church operations.
The Vestry hires the Rector and the Rector serves out his term.
The Episcopal Church's method of governing arose from the same
thinking as that considered in the formation of the American Government.
As with the U.S. Congress, the Episcopal Church is goverened by
two houses (bishops and laity). In being with the Anglican Communion,
the Episcopal Church USA is an independant church body that is
in agreement with other churches in the Communion around the world.
Therefore, the Episcopal Church is a catholic church that is not
under the jurisdiction of the Pope. Additionally, the Episcopal
Church is not under direct leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury
either, even though it is in Communion with the Anglican Church.
Similar to, but not exactly like, the structure of the Orthodox
Catholic Church where a preciding bishop, known as the Ecumenical
Patriarch (Pope) in Constantinople/Istanbul, which has certain
Ecumenical influence on the Orthodox Patriarchs of Antioch, Jeruselem
and Alexandria; the Archbishop of Canterbury has an influence
on the American Episcopal Church, but not direct authority. Like
the Anglican Communion, the Orthodox churches are independent
but are in agreement with each other. Apparently, historical evidence
shows that the Bishop of Rome, who was in union with the Bishops
of Constatinople, Antioch, Jeruselem and Alexandria, broke away
early on and formed the Roman Catholic Church claiming the Pope
as the sole head of the entire Christian Church. The Orthodox
claimed that the Patriarch of Constatinople excommunicated the
Roman bishop, while Roman Catholics claim the same. Though there
are claims by both sides as to who broke away from whom, evidence
tends to lead one to believe that the Roman Catholic Church broke
Church, along with the Roman Catholic and various Orthodox churches
have established methods of ecumenical and interfaith relations.
The difficulty in establishing full communion lies in some differences
in canons, theology and authority, that's quite a lot. For additional
information on Interfaith relations between the Episcopal Church
and other Christian denominations, primarily, the Roman Catholic
Church, the Orthodox Catholic Communion as well as the Evangelical
Lutheran Church please visit the Epsicopal Church's Ecumenical
and Interfaith Relations Page.
and Celina's Reason For Choosing the Episcopal Church
Larry and Celina joined the Episcopal Church after intense research
and reflection. Larry began to increasingly disagree more and
more with certain positions, hierarchal structure, organizations
and regulations of the Roman Church. However, Larry also strongly
disagreed with the biblical literal fundamentalist Christian ideologies
that dominate American Christianity today. Larry needed a place
that he could feel more comfortable and accept, like those originating
members of the Old Catholic Church of the Union of Ultrect. The
Episcopal Church's governing structure, theological perspectives,
canons and traditional method of prayer and worship lead Larry
and Celina to move towards being received into the Episcopal Communion
of the "One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church."
Celina are currently sponsors in the E.Y.C. (Episcopal Youth Community).
Larry is the facilitator for the Junior High School/High School
Christian Formation classes. Colton attends a weekly Episcopal
Sunday school called "The Good Shephard" and "Godly
Play." Larry also attends a program called Education For
Ministry (EFM) which is an enlightening study of the scriptures
with a focus on developing new theological perspectives and thought
provoking theological reflection. EFM is a detailed four year
program that assists a person in discovering one's ministry. Larry
is taking classes to become a member of the Community of Hope
which emphasizes the Benedictine Rule of Life in caring for others.
This will be beneficial in Larry's volunteer work at the Shriner's
Hospital. Larry has fun being a member of the St. Andrew's Men's
Group, though he doesn't have much time to volunteer here because
he is a lousy cook. Larry also enjoys serving on the St. Andrew's
Education Committee. In addition, Celina and Larry are Lay Eucharistic
ministers and Lay Readers. Larry, Celina and Colton are also Acolytes.
some of our family members are concerned or upset about our choosing
to leave the Roman Catholic Church, they should be happy to know
that we are still members of the "One Holy Catholic and Apostolic"
faith which was established by Christ and organized by the apostles.
We can continue to focus on the issues that separate us, but is
that what we as who try to live our life according to Christ ought
to do? Shouldn't we focus on doing God's work from our faith? Christ
said that the greatest commandment is to love God with all your
heart, soul and mind. And like unto it, love your neighbor as yourself.
Well, we may have differences with certain aspects of each other's
faith and doctrines, but if we are to call ourselves members of
the Christ's community (or God's greater community), then we should
focus on what is important—"Love."