About the Episcopal Church

About our Faith

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Chattanooga, is a parish within the Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee. This means that St. Paul’s is part of the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion, whose members trace their spiritual lineage to the Church of England. Anglicans, as members of the Communion are generally called, typically pursue God’s love and truth through Scripture, tradition, and reason. The Anglican ethos values patience and tolerance, and generous participation in the cultural life of the world.

Learn More About the Episcopal Church (USA) here.

I’m not Episcopalian. Can I come to your church?

All are welcome — regardless of faith, creed, gender, disability, sexual orientation, age.

What is The Book of Common Prayer?

The Book of Common Prayer is not an Anglican Bible.  We love it, use it and depend on it, but it is not Scripture (though it does contain quite a lot of Scripture), and we do not view it or use it as such.  The first Book of Common Prayer was first produced by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer in 1549.  The book was intended to facilitate worship in English rather than Latin, and to bring the rites of the church together into one book for use by both clergy and lay folk.  Each national church in the Anglican Communion has its own adaptation of the Prayer Book.  The American version, used by most churches in ECUSA, was last revised in 1979.  In the Prayer Book, you will find the orders of service for the various rites of the church, the Daily Office, prayers for use within the context of the liturgy and prayers for use in home devotions, the Lectionary, the Psalter (Psalms), the Calendar of the Church Year, The Outline of the Faith (Catechism) and various historical documents.

What are the Creeds?

We profess two creeds in the Episcopal Church: the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed. The Apostles Creed is the ancient creed of Baptism. The Nicene Creed summarizes the beliefs of Christians.

How do Episcopalians worship?

If you are familiar with Roman Catholic or Lutheran services, you will find Episcopal services are similar.  The central rite is the Service of Holy Eucharist.  The first part of the liturgy (“The Liturgy of the Word”) consists of prayers, scripture readings and a sermon or homily. This is followed an Affirmation of Faith (The Nicene Creed), the Prayers of the People, Confession of Sin, Absolution, and the Exchange of Peace.  The second part of the liturgy begins with the offerings of the congregation, then proceeds with the Eucharistic Prayer, the Lord’s Prayer, Consecration of the Elements (bread and wine), Communion, the Post-Communion Prayer, Blessing and Dismissal.  Two Eucharistic Rites are commonly used by the Episcopal Church: The modern and less-formal Rite II is usually used for most of the year, with the older and more formal Rite I being used during the penitential seasons of Advent and Lent.

What is the significance of the Episcopal Shield?

This symbol is the official “logo” of ECUSA, and depicts our history.  It is red, white and blue — the colors of both the U.S. and England.  The red Cross of St. George on a white field is symbolic of the Church of England.  The blue field in the upper left corner is the Episcopal Church of the U.S.A.  It features a Cross of St. Andrew, in recognition of the fact that the first American bishop was consecrated in Scotland.  This cross is made up of nine crosslets, which represent the nine dioceses that met in Philadelphia in 1789 to form the Protestant Episcopal Church of the U.S.A.

How are you different from a Roman Catholic Church?

There are many differences between the two churches. Some key differences are: The Pope is not the head of the Episcopal Church, although we recognize him as the head bishop of another branch of the Christian Church. In the Episcopal Church, women, as well as men, can be priests and bishops, and priests can also be married. Also, all Christians are welcome to take communion in Episcopal churches, not just Episcopalians.