61 Wood St.
Hopkinton, MA 01748

Who Are Episcopalians

There are many different kinds of Episcopalians: conservatives, liberals, funny people, serious people, blacks, whites, Hispanics, and Asians can all be Episcopalian. Some are old, and some are young. Some are straight, and some are gay. Some are really sure about their faith, and some find it to be a constant struggle. Chances are, there's at least one other Episcopalian out there just like you.

What ties us together is our belief in the love of God, especially as Jesus talked about it. Jesus taught us that God's biggest hope for us is that we would love God and love our neighbors (Matt. 22:37-40). Although we're not always great at it, it's what we try to do.

What Episcopalians Believe

Q. Do Episcopalians believe in the Bible?

We read the Bible aloud in church every Sunday, as part of the lessons. If you come for three years straight, you will have heard almost the entire Bible. Some Episcopalians read the Bible literally while others see it as something that requires new interpretation with the passage of time. Either way, we take it very seriously, and we believe that it has much to tell us about who God is, who we are, and how God wants us to live.

Q. Do Episcopalians believe in Jesus?

Like most other Christians, we believe that Jesus is the clearest picture God has ever given us of who God is. God loves us so much that God came to be one of us, and when we turned against him, crucified, and killed him, God used it as a way to conquer death forever ... not just for himself, but for all of us.

Q. Do Episcopalians believe in sin?

Yes, but we also believe in a forgiving God. In our view, "sin" can be thought of as a way of "missing the mark" or "turning away." God knows that we won't always get everything right, and God is always waiting for us when our greed, busy-ness, and self-centeredness get us off on the wrong track.

Q. What makes Episcopalians different?

There are many things that make us different, but two things in our worship set us apart from many other denominations. One is that we usually serve Communion every Sunday. That can seem strange at first, but we see it as a perfect way to remember all that God has done for us.

Another thing that makes us kind of different is that most Episcopalians don't spend too much time talking about hell. Some denominations make it seem like we were all born evil and have to do a lot of hard work to stay out of hell. We tend to believe that God made us very good, that God's love for us is greater than we can imagine, and that God's grace will ultimately do most of the hard work in keeping us out of hell. Of course, that doesn't mean we get to live crazy, sinful lives. It just means that we believe God is not a God who holds our humanity against us, especially since God's the one who created us.

Love God.
Love others.
The rest are details.
                     -- Jesus (Matthew 22:37-40)

How Episcopalians Worship

Q. What's a typical service like?

At most Episcopal Churches, a typical Sunday service has two parts: the Word (lessons) and Communion. The Word is where we hear Scripture/Bible readings, say our prayers, and listen to the sermon. Communion is where we share the Bread and Wine as Jesus commanded us to do before he died.

Q. What kind of music do Episcopalians use?

Music is a big part of our worship. Some Episcopal churches only use the hymnal with an organ and choir, others provide a blend using more modern instruments such as guitar and singing. At St. Paul's, we are blessed with a wonderful pipe organ and a small, but very talented choir.

Q. Can anybody come?

All are welcome. We believe that God does not restrict anyone from coming to God's table, so neither do we. All are allowed to come and worship, and all are allowed to take Communion with us.

Other Random Questions We Get

Q. What about the Church?

The Episcopal Church is rooted in a representative form of church government. The national church has a Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, who presides over the national church in conjunction with the elected legislature, known as The General Convention.

The Episcopal Church is divided into 110 dioceses which are geographical units including an entire state or a portion of a state. These dioceses are grouped together into nine provinces. Each diocese is led by a Bishop (for the diocese of Massachusetts, its M. Thomas Shaw, SSJE, with two assistants, called Suffragan Bishops, Gayle Harris and Bud Cederholm). For administrative purposes, our diocese is divided into deaneries. St. Paul's is part of the Concord River Deanery.

For more information about Episcopalian structure and tenets, please read A People Called Episcopalians: A Brief Introduction to Our Peculiar Way of Life, by the Reverend Dr. John H. Westerhoff, and Vestry Guide, published by the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. The above information is taken from both publications.

Q. Why are your pastors called "priests"?

It's an old tradition that goes way back to our earliest roots when we were once part of the Roman Catholic Church. Really, our priests aren't much different from most pastors. They lead church services; they pray for their congregations and the world; they teach and learn; they counsel; and they visit those in need.

Q. What role do women play?

We believe God created both male and female in God's image and therefore do not discriminate. Women can have any role in the Episcopal Church that men can, including deacons, priests, and bishops. In fact, the new presiding bishop of the entire Episcopal Church happens to be a woman. You can read more about the the 26th Presiding Bishop, The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, here.

Q. What about homosexuality?

The Episcopal Church is working hard right now to listen to God about homosexuality, and we're doing that by praying and by listening to scripture, tradition, science, and one another. It's hard work, but we feel that it's worth it. At St. Paul's, we believe that God does not exclude anyone from God's table, so all are invited to worship regardless of sexual orientation.