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In the waters of baptism we are lovingly adopted by God into God’s family, which we call the Church, and given God’s own life to share and reminded that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ.
The Rite of Holy Baptism can be found on pp. 297-308 of the Book of Common Prayer or by clicking here (when you follow the link, click on Holy Baptism in the left hand menu.)
It goes by several names: Holy Communion, the Eucharist (which literally means "thanksgiving"), mass. But whatever it’s called, this is the family meal for Christians and a foretaste of the heavenly banquet. As such, all persons who have been baptized, and are therefore part of the extended family that is the Church, are welcome to receive the bread and wine, and be in communion with God and each other.
It is our foundation, understood through tradition and reason, containing all things necessary for salvation. Our worship is filled with Scripture from beginning to end.
As Episcopalians, we are followers of Jesus Christ, and both our worship and our mission are in Christ’s name. In Jesus, we find that the nature of God is love, and through baptism, we share in his victory over sin and death.
The Book of Common Prayer is a treasure chest full of devotional and teaching resources for individuals and congregations, but it is also the primary symbol of our unity. We, who are many and diverse, come together in Christ through our worship, our common prayer.
We will always have questions, but in the two foundational statements of faith – the Apostles’ Creed used at baptism, and the Nicene Creed used at communion – we join Christians throughout the ages in affirming our faith in the one God who created us, redeemed us, and sanctifies us.
Besides baptism and the Eucharist (Holy Communion), the church recognizes other spiritual markers in our journey of faith. These include:
Confirmation (the adult affirmation of our baptismal vows), pp. 413-419, Book of Common Prayer
Reconciliation of a Penitent (private confession), pp. 447-452, Book of Common Prayer
Matrimony (Christian marriage), pp. 422-438, Book of Common Prayer
Orders (ordination to deacon, priest, or bishop), pp. 510-555, Book of Common Prayer
Unction (anointing with oil those who are sick or dying) pp. 453-467, Book of Common Prayer
These help us to be a sacramental people, seeing God always at work around us.
The promises we make in our Baptismal Covenant are reminders that we are not yet perfect, that we are called to move deeper in our faith and make a difference in our world. We do so together as the church, always professing that we will indeed live into our baptismal vows as followers of Christ, but always “with God’s help.”
The Mission of the Church Is the Mission of Christ
We recognize with gratitude that the Five Marks of Mission, developed by the Anglican Consultative Council between 1984 and 1990, have won wide acceptance among Anglicans, and have given parishes and dioceses around the world a practical and memorable "checklist" for mission activities.
Liturgy is the term for the church's sacramental rites and texts used in public worship. In An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church (Church Publishing, 2000), Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum explain that "liturgy expresses the church's identity and mission, including the church's calling to invite others and to serve with concern for the needs of the world." Although many liturgies of The Episcopal Church are included in the Book of Common Prayer, newer liturgies, are developed and reviewed by the Episcopal Church's Standing Commission for Music and Liturgy on an ongoing basis.
Music in the Episcopal Church can be as diverse as its worship services. Our hymnal draws all Episcopalians together musically in the same way that the Book of Common Prayer draws us together in prayer and liturgy. Most recently revised in 1982, The Hymnal of the Episcopal Church offers 720 hymns in addition to liturgical music. While some of the hymns date back to monastic chants, the hymnal offers more modern music as well.