Grace and Holy Trinity Church, through its membership in the Diocese of Virginia, is part of the Episcopal Church in the USA. The Episcopal Church “is part of Christ’s one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church. It is an independent Christian body, self-governing under God, with its own constitution and elected leadership. While independent, the Episcopal Church seeks to be loyal and obedient to the guidance of the Holy Spirit . . .”
The Episcopal Church in the U.S. will hold its triennial convention in June 2015. General Convention is the legislative body of the U.S. Episcopal Church. There are two houses: the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies (clergy and lay elected deputies). Read more.
The Episcopal Church is one of the 38 autonomous provinces of the Anglican Communion. “The Anglican Communion is an association of independent churches which hold certain principles and traditions in common. Historically, all of these churches are connected with the Church of England, and look to the Archbishop of Canterbury as a spiritual leader . . . the Anglican Communion does not claim to be the only true church, but a part of it. It gladly recognizes that God works mightily in other communions and traditions of the church as well, and strives to unite with them in fellowship and faith.”
The quotes above are taken from “Questions on the Way” by Beverley Tucker and William Swatos, Jr. Copies of this brief and informative book may be obtained at the church by speaking with the rector, the Rev. Bollin M. Millner, Jr.
Further Reflections on The Episcopal Church: Protestant AND Catholic
The Episcopal Church is both “protestant” and “catholic.” It is protestant in that the Episcopal Church participated in the Reformation of the church which began in the sixteenth century. Many abuses had crept into the church and the Reformation attempted to correct these and bring things back to the purity of the early church.
The Episcopal Church is also “catholic” in that it has endeavored to maintain continuity with the ancient apostolic church in its order of ministry, faith and sacraments (see “Questions on the Way” by Beverly Tucker and William Swatos, Jr. page 117).
The Episcopal Church is not “Roman Catholic” because it does not believe that the Bishop of Rome (also referred to as the Pope) can appropriately claim universal jurisdiction. But The Episcopal Church most certainly is “catholic” in the fullest and most ancient sense of that word.
The Episcopal Church believes that there are four “… principles of unity exemplified by the undivided Catholic Church during the first ages of its existence …” And they are:
- The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament as containing all things things necessary to salvation, and as being the rule and ultimate standard of faith.
- The Apostles’ Creed as the Baptismal Symbol; and the Nicene Creed, as the sufficient statement of the Christian faith.
- The two Sacraments ordained by Christ Himself – Baptism and the Supper of the Lord – ministered with unfailing use of Christ’s words of Institution, and of the elements ordained by Him.
- The Historic Episcopate (i.e. bishops), locally adapted in the methods of its administration to the varying needs of the nations and peoples called of God into the Unity of His Church. (Book of Common Prayer page 877-878)
Our Lord Jesus Christ “is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in everything he might be pre-eminent. For in him all the fulness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” Colossians 1:17-20