We would like to address some common questions about the Episcopal Church and St. Paul's on-the-Plains.
What is the Episcopal Church? +
The Episcopal Church is a "daughter" of the Church of England, and became an independent church after the American Revolution. Along with the Church of England and all of its other independent daughter churches worldwide, we form the Anglican Communion, with over seventy million members, the third largest group of Christians worldwide (after the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches).
What does "Episcopal" mean? +
It derives from the New Testament (Greek) word, episkopos, which is usually translated "overseer" or "bishop." Our bishop has his office here in Lubbock, and oversees the Episcopal Churches in northwest Texas (from the top of the Panhandle down to Odessa-Midland, San Angelo, and Abilene).
Are you Protestant or Catholic? +
Both. We trace our history back to the Protestant Reformation. Yet, of all the Protestant churches, we retained the most elements of the ceremony and worship of the Roman Catholic Church. Unlike many Protestants, our worship is centered on the Eucharist (Communion) every Sunday, we use wine (not grape juice), and our clergy wear vestments/robes. Unlike Roman Catholics, our clergy (bishops, priests, and deacons) are allowed to marry, we ordain both women and men, communion is open to all Christians, we rely most upon scripture in determining matters of faith, and our church is governed democratically.
What do you believe? +
Our unity is based more upon worshipping together than adhering to particular doctrines. However, we do affirm the ancient Christian beliefs as summed up in the Nicene and Apostles Creeds:
We believe in God the Father, the creator of the universe.
We believe in Jesus Christ, God made flesh, born of the Virgin Mary, who died, and rose for us.
We believe in God the Holy Spirit who dwells with us and within us, and works to help us be more Christ-like.
We believe that Holy Scripture is God's Word, though we allow room for members to come to differing conclusions about how particular passages are to be interpreted.
A fuller statement of our beliefs can be found in our catechism.
What can I expect when I join you for worship? +
We'd love to have you visit. You are welcome to participate in worship as fully as you are comfortable in doing so.
You will see clergy and lay worship assistants wearing various forms of robes. There are times during worship when people stand, sit, and kneel. Our service has two basic parts. First is a time centered on the Word, in which we have several Bible readings, a sermon, and prayers. Second is a focus on the Sacrament of Holy Communion (Eucharist), during which we bring bread and wine to the altar, asking God's blessing so that they may become for us the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.
All baptized Christians of whatever kind are welcome to receive Communion with us.
If our style of worship seems especially strange to you, we'd love to have you ask questions, and might suggest you try visiting several times.
How many sacraments do you have? +
Seven, though we make a distinction between the two instituted by Christ (Baptism and Eucharist), and the five which are optional for Christians (Ordination, Confirmation, Matrimony, Unction, and Penance).
Baptism--we view the sacrament of Baptism as something that only happens once. We don't re-baptize people, as long as they were baptized with water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit/Ghost.
Eucharist/Communion--we practice open communion, inviting all baptized Christians to the table which belongs to God, not us. We do affirm that in the Mystery of Holy Communion, Jesus Christ is really and truly present with us in the sacrament.
What do you expect from members? +
Daily prayer and/or Bible reading.
Working and giving to do God's work and increase God's kingdom.
How can I become a member? +
If you're not baptized, please talk to one of our clergy about receiving the Sacrament of Baptism.
If you have been baptized with water in the name of the Trinity (regardless of the denomination in which it happened), please call the church office and provide us with your baptismal information.