What is the Episcopal Church?
After the American Revolution, the Church of England in the United States began the process of becoming independent. This is what we know today as the Anglican Communion. It is the third largest world body of Christians, with 76 million members, all in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Our worship (or “liturgy”) has its roots in the earliest known Christian communities. Our Sunday services are not essentially different than those recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, and continually offered by Christians for the last two thousand years. The basic format and structure of our liturgy is the same wherever you go, yet may vary in style and outward appearance according to the needs and tastes of each community. Our primary mission is to reconcile all persons to God and to one another.
Each Episcopal congregation belongs to a larger area called a diocese, which is overseen by a locally elected bishop, who has authority over the clergy and members. The structure of the church has checks and balances, so that the bishops, clergy and lay members all participate in decisions about the functioning of the Episcopal Church.
How is Saint John’s Unique from Other Churches?
Saint John’s Church has been a corner-stone of Protestant belief in Bedford since 1905. We are a neighborhood church made of families, teachers, farmers, and many who come to share our traditional Christian beliefs. Each Sunday, Bible lessons come in a 3-year cycle which includes the New Testament and most of the Old. Each Sunday we have a lesson from one of the four Gospels, a lesson from the New Testament and usually one from the Old Testament. The Episcopal Church uses a Book of Common Prayer and the Hymnal, so we pray and sing using texts from ancient times well as contemporary; traditional hymns as well as those of recent times.
What do Episcopalians Believe?
As Episcopalians, we are followers of Jesus Christ, our Lord, and we believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Fourth century Christians summarized our faith in statements of belief called the Apostle’s Creed and Nicene Creed, which we recite today. The Old and New Testaments of the Bible are central to our faith. We believe that Jesus gave us the two great sacraments— Baptism and Holy Communion. Episcopalians believe in amendment of life, the forgiveness of sin, and life everlasting.
What Does It Mean To Be An Episcopalian?
From the opening procession to the closing benediction, a service at Saint John’s Episcopal Church invites spiritual participation by the entire congregation. The atmosphere is uplifting, the music of the Episcopal church is glorious.
You will find an extraordinary diversity of people in our church. We strive to love our neighbors as ourselves, place respect for our fellow man ahead of uniformity of opinion, and celebrate our unity together in Christ.
The basis of our theology and practice is the Book of Common Prayer, which forms a prayer outline for individuals and congregational worship. Our church accepts and welcomes a range of theological ideas and thoughts, even differences of opinion, with the prayerful expectation that the Holy Spirit will lead into all truth. Each service culminates with the Eucharist, or Holy Communion, open to all baptized Christians, not just members of the Episcopal Church.
If you would like to meet members of St. John's congregation and learn about becoming more engaged, please stay for coffee in the Parish Hall after a service. All are welcome, and we hope you may find a spiritual home at St. John’s!