First and foremost, we are disciples of Jesus Christ. We believe in the one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
St. Stephen’s is part of the worldwide community of faith called “the Anglican Communion.” The Anglican Communion has 85 million members. We share a common heritage, style of worship, and are in relationship with the Archbishop of Canterbury in England.
To tell you what we believe, we need to introduce you to a special book called the Book of Common Prayer.
The Book of Common Prayer is an ancient but evolving book that contains the content of our worship services, the catechism (a summary of instruction about the core pieces of our faith), and a few of the creeds and historical documents that have made us who we are today.
While the SIMPLEST way to learn what we believe is to visit us for worship and listen to the words we pray, we’ve also included information below if you would like to discover more about our core beliefs.
"Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them" (Book of Common Prayer, p. 236).
Scripture is our foundation. We believe that scripture, understood through tradition and reason, contains all things necessary for salvation.
Our worship is filled with Scripture from beginning to end. On a typical Sunday, we read and reflect on four different passages from both the Old and New Testaments. Approximately 70% of the Book of Common Prayer comes directly from the the Bible, and Episcopalians read more Holy Scripture in Sunday worship than almost any other denomination in Christianity.
Book of Common Prayer
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.
"It is a commentary on the creeds, but is not meant to be a complete statement of belief and practices; rather, it is a point of departure for the teacher" (Book of Common Prayer, p. 844).
Offered in a question-and-answer format, the Catechism found in the back of the Book of Common Prayer (pp. 845-862) helps teach the foundational truths of the Christian faith.
“In him you have brought us out of error into truth, out of sin into righteousness, out of death into life” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 368).
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 Creeds are statements of our basic beliefs about God” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 851).
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 one God who created us, redeemed us, and sanctifies us.
“Holy Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body, the Church” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 298).
In the waters of baptism we are reminded that we belong to God and nothing can separate us from the love of God. We also find ourselves part of an extended family, one with Christians throughout the ages and across the world, what we call the “one, holy, catholic [meaning 'universal'], and apostolic Church.”
The Rite of Holy Baptism can be found on pp. 297-308 of the Book of Common Prayer.
"We thank you ... for assuring us in these holy mysteries that we are living members of the Body of your Son, and heirs of your eternal kingdom" (Book of Common Prayer, p. 366).
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.
“Sacraments are outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 857).
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.
"Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love" (Book of Common Prayer, p. 833).
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."
While you can read lots about our beliefs, the best way to learn about what we believe is to come and listen and pray with us. St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Indianola welcomes you!