The Episcopal Church began in the 1500's out of a desire to reform certain church practices without being extreme. Over the years, the Episcopal Church earned a nickname: "the Middle Way", meaning neither Roman Catholic nor Baptist. The "middle way" may be seen in that we follow a standard order of service while encouraging any baptized Christian to take communion. Also, we welcome married priests and female priests.
Our Book of Common Prayer has been called the greatest book in English excepting only the Bible. This is not surprising, since much of it comes directly from Scripture! A person attending our services will hear most of the Bible read every 3 years. Many people, even those who are not accustomed to a Prayer Book, enjoy its beauty and find it adds a wonderfully helpful structure for their private prayer life. During Sunday services, the Prayer Book encourages people to participate in, and not just attend, worship. Using the Prayer Book also means a person worshipping in an Episcopal Church benefits from the inspiration of many people. Clergy can always add extemporaneous prayers appropriate to the occasion. The Episcopal Church is also called a church for thinking people. This is not meant to insult anyone, but to describe our conviction that people should study and struggle with faith issues and not simply be told what to believe.
Clergy provide guidance and instruction. Most Episcopal preachers are excited when a person says, "I'm not sure I agree with your sermon. Let's discuss it." Episcopalians teach nothing other than the Christian faith -- no more and no less. Doctrine must conform to three criteria: Scripture, tradition, and reason. The Bible is central and God has continued to explain it throughout the ages. The ancient Nicene and Apostles' creeds summarize that faith. The Episcopal church has always been active in our communities. We take seriously Jesus' teaching that "whoever has done this to the least of these, has done it unto Me." As a consequence, we emphasize that all people are ministers. Some people have been called by God to be ordained, but everyone is called to minister to their neighbors. Attending a service is the best way to discover: "What is the Episcopal Church". When you do, please know that over 60% of the adults in our congregation did not grow up in the Episcopal church! We welcome, expect, and love non-Episcopalian visitors!
Portions copied with permission from "The Episcopal Church Welcomes You", Forward Movement Publications