About The Episcopal Church The Episcopal Church is part of the Worldwide Anglican Communion. The one holy catholic and apostolic Church was born at Pentecost and founded on Jesus Christ's Great Commission: "go into all the world" with the Gospel and the Sacraments. The Episcopal Church is that portion of the Anglican Communion which is comprised of the United States of America, plus the regions over which she exercises jurisdiction. Today this includes 100 dioceses in the United States, and 12 additional dioceses (or jurisdictions) in 15 nations in Asia, the Pacific, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Europe. Throughout the world there are tens of millions who belong to the Anglican Church, coming from 46 member churches, spread across the globe. The Leader of the Anglican Communion is the Archbishop of Canterbury who is described as "primus inter pares," a Latin phrase meaning first among equals.
Anglican worship was first celebrated in North America on the West coast, near San Francisco, by Sir Francis Drake's chaplain, in 1579. The first regular worship began on the East coast in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607. English mission societies (the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (SPG) in particular) supported the early work under the direction of the Bishop of London, who never visited the colonies. The American Revolution challenged the ongoing existence of Anglicanism in the US, because of the requirements regarding loyalty to England and the crown. And so many priests departed for Canada or other parts of the British Empire. Lay leaders became responsible for continuing the work of parishes and recruiting priests. The first bishop for the nascent Episcopal Church was consecrated by bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church in 1784. After changes in British law, two other bishops were consecrated by the Church of England. At that point, "The Episcopal Church" became fully autocephalic (i.e., with her own head), and soon began to send missionaries to other parts of the Americas and beyond. Today a quarter of the Anglican Communion's provinces derive at least in part from that missionary work.
The Anglican Communion is the third largest Christian body the world. It is multi-national, multilingual, and multi-racial; and yet in this diversity there are common essential characteristics. They are:
The Episcopal Church is a Scriptural Church We "believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the word of God and to contain all things necessary to salvation." The Bible is the source of our beliefs and moral standards. As God's Word written, to us the Bible is the lens through which we view and evaluate all other claims to truth.
The Episcopal Church is a Catholic Church "Catholic" does not--as is often claimed--mean universal [there is a perfectly good Latin word for that: ūniversālis] and thus implying homogeneous. The word catholic is a Greek contraction [καθολικός, i.e., a combination of the Greek words κατά 'about' and ὅλος 'whole'] meaning "according to the whole." Understood within the context of the Church this means "that which has been consistently believed and practiced from New Testament times." The first use of the word catholic was by the Church Father, St. Ignatius of Antioch, in his Letter to the Smyrnaeans (circa 110 AD). Our worship and life draw from the rich treasure of more than two thousand years of Christian history and experience. The Apostles' and Nicene Creeds, the ancient statements of the undivided Church which summarize Apostolic and Biblical truth, are our statements of faith today. We have neither added to, nor subtracted from them [and we believe no one may without the assent of the whole church]. The Book of Common Prayer (which enables us to actively participate as the Body of Christ corporately, rather than promote passive and/or private worship) contains the catholic treasury of worship and equips everyone present to use their gifts whenever we gather in Christ's name for praise and prayer. There is a holy and catholic balance of both Sacrament and Word in our worship which is evidenced by our recognition that "the Holy Eucharist is the principal act of Christian worship on the Lord's Day and other major Feasts" [BCP pg 13], and in our emphasis on conforming to the Ancient Faith [cf., Jude 3] and Biblical preaching. The rich inheritance of the ecclesiastical year (Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost), 20 centuries of sacred music, solemn and festive ceremonies, and the sacred confidence that "In him we live, and move, and have our being" (Acts 17:28). We live in the holy faith that has been apostolically shared from the very beginning.
The Episcopal Church can be a Reverent and an Exuberant Church Worship in the Episcopal Church can be very quiet, reverent, and dignified. Worship in the Episcopal Church can also be loud, boisterous, and sometimes even silly. What worship in the Episcopal Church strives never to be is staid, rote, passive, and shallow. Worship (derived from "worth" and "ship" that is what value we give it) calls forth a response whether through song, prayer, or the day's message (aka the "sermon" or "homily"). The Book of Common Prayer is the norm, the standard for our liturgy. The vestments worn by our bishops, priests, deacons, subdeacons, and lay leaders date back to antiquity. They are the traditional "uniforms" of Christ's servants. Our conformity in worship, while allowing for much variation and myriad options, serves to remind us of several essential characteristics of the Church: we are one; we are holy; we are catholic (see the paragraph above); and we are apostolic. And so, in our worship we are united with the past, engaged with the present, and living in hope for future generations of Christians. Our worship is all for the glory of God, rather than for entertainment or our personal enjoyment. Episcopalians are never spectators, but rather active participants in worship. Our worship has been described as a liturgical drama: each person present is an actor, and all the actors contribute and share in our presentation for an audience of One. Not only do we express ourselves in our thoughts and words, but also in our gestures and postures. Once upon a time it was explained, "we kneel to pray; we stand to praise; and we sit to be instructed." Because of both the historical discoveries and the rich development in the practice of liturgy, we are more relaxed in order to be more hospitable and also for people to engage ever more faithfully. And so devotional gestures (e.g., the sign of the Cross, bowing, genuflecting, etc.) are options; they are tools designed for personal use and edification. An old Anglican aphorism helps to explain: "All may; some should; none must." To Episcopalians, worship is not merely the most important thing we do. Our worship expresses who God made us to be: together; united; in prayer, and praise, and service to Him. Ultimately this is the reality which characterizes all that we do, in every area of our life.
The Episcopal Church is a Reformed Church Much of Anglican distinctiveness was hammered out in the English Reformation during the sixteenth century. Very different from the Reformation that happened on the continent of Europe, the English Church has an ecclesiastical history vastly older than the rest of Europe, and from which she could draw. To be sure, there were church practices, that originated in Rome, to which the English protested. However, the word protestant means "to witness for." The best of the Protestant beliefs was a witness that "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself." The Church had become legal and temporal and Anglicans sought to redress these things. However, the chief architects of these reforms were living in continental Europe and were engaged in differentiating themselves from the beliefs of the Roman Catholics rather than returning to the Ancient ways of the undivided Church. Anglicanism is most recognized for the genius of pursuing a Via Media which was ultimately neither Roman Catholic nor Protestant. The Middle Way is discerned through the application of Scripture, Tradition, and Reason.
The Episcopal Church is a Missionary Church The Church has been established wherever its members have gone. The first Christian worship service held in North America was from the Book of Common Prayer, led by the chaplain of Sir Francis Drake's flagship in 1579 in what is now San Francisco Bay. The first church in the North American colonies was an Anglican one founded in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607. The Lord Jesus Christ's call to go into all the world is taken seriously by us.
Within this great Church we find such great and diverse servants of Jesus Christ as John Donne, John and Charles Wesley, William Wilberforce, Florence Nightingale, Evelyn Underhill, T. S. Eliot, Desmond Tutu, and Colin Powell. This is the church of more United States Presidents than any other. Among them are George Washington, James Madison, James Monroe, Franklin Roosevelt, Gerald Ford, and George Bush.
Are you looking for a church that is clear about the Christian faith, that stands in the rich Tradition of the faith of the Apostles, that believes we ought to live so as to make a difference in the world? If you are looking for such a church, then St Francis by the Lake is for you. We welcome you and invite you into this faith and fellowship of Jesus Christ.
Our location: 121 Spring Mountain Drive Canyon Lake, TX 78133
Our mailing address: P. O. Box 2031 Canyon Lake, TX 78133
Parish Phone: (830) 964-3820
Parish Email: email@example.com
Office Hours: Monday-Thursday 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday 9:30 a.m. to 12 Noon