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Many people grow up in one religion.

Whether it be Catholic, Protestant, or any other

religion, they have grown and become accustomed to the worship style and beliefs in which they

are raised. However, many other religions exist in the world, many of which people know little to

nothing about. By going and experiencing a worship service of a different religion, one can learn

and grow their understanding about what that religion believes and how they practice and

express their faith in a worship service setting. I grew my understanding and comprehension of

such matters by visiting an Episcopal church. Prior to my visit, I had only ever heard of this

religion, not knowing who they were or what they believed. However, through this experience, I

was able to grasp what they believed and compared it to my own religion, Lutheran, which

allowed to me to better understand how my own beliefs are distinctive to my religion.

Prior to attending Saint Andrews Episcopal Church in Ann Arbor, Michigan, I conducted

some research to learn more about the history and the foundation on which the church was

developed. The Episcopalian Church was established from the Church of England, which was

developed in around the second century when merchants and travelers first brought Christianity

to England.1 Once settlers were established in the New World, which we more often refer to as

the United States today, the Episcopal Church was brought over and developed as well. The

establishment of these churches were first recorded to have appeared after the first celebration of

Holy Communion in America in Jamestown, Virginia in 1607. 2 By the nineteenth century, the

Church began to send missionaries to expand their religion and church westward across the

United States. More recently, since the beginning of the twentieth century, the Episcopal Church

1. History of Episcopal Church. http://www.episcopalchurch.org/page/history-episcopal-church.


(Accessed March 13, 2016).

2. History of the American Church. http://www.episcopalchurch.org/page/history-american-


church. (Accessed March 13, 2016).
has continued to grow and develop. They have joined participated in many councils, joined in

full communion with the Evangelical Lutheran Church, and have begun ordaining women

ministers.3

Each religion has its own creed, which helps describe its beliefs of their religion. The Episcopal

Church, like every other religion, has its own distinct creed which sets it apart from others. Like

other Christian groups, the Bible is the center of the beliefs of the Episcopal Church and sets the

foundation for the other beliefs of the church as well. Their worship service is filled with

Scripture from the beginning of the service to the closing.4 The second vital written material that

expresses the Episcopal Churchs beliefs in The Common Book of Prayer. This book contains

resources such as devotionals and teaching resources for both individuals and congregations, but

also serves as their primary symbol of unity.5 The third, more minor, written material of the

Episcopal Church is The Catechism. Found in the back of The Common Book of Prayer, this

question-and-answer format is used to teach the foundational truths of the Christian Faith.6 The

Baptismal Covenant is also a key element to the Episcopal religion. Only during baptisms,

Easter, and other special occasions does the Church use this mini-catechism. It is an answer-and-

question style version of the same proclamations made in the Apostles Creed, but adds five

3. The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. Episcopal Church in the United States of America.
http://www.britannica.com/topic/Episcopal-Church-in-the-United-States-of-America. (Accessed
March 13, 2016).

4. The Bible. http://www.episcopalchurch.org/page/bible. (Accessed March 13, 2016).

5. The Book of Common Prayer. http://www.episcopalchurch.org/page/book-common-prayer.


(Accessed March 13, 2016).

6. The Catechism. http://www.episcopalchurch.org/page/catechism. (Accessed March 13, 2016).


questions regarding how Christians are called to live out their lives.7 Within the Episcopalian

church, there are a total of two creeds that are accepted and recited. These are the Apostles and

the Nicene Creeds. The purpose of these creeds is to affirm their faith to God.8

Like the creed, each individual church also has its own, unique cultus. This includes the ritual

practices performed within the church, which helps express the beliefs of the congregation. The

Episcopal Church has several rituals that they practice. The first is Holy Baptism. Through

Baptism, this religion believes that the individual is adopted into Gods family, which they refer

to as the Church, and given Gods life to share and to show that because of Jesus Christ, nothing

can separate us from God.9 The next ritual the Episcopal Church practices is Holy Communion.

Another name that this religion refers to it as is Eucharist, which translates to thanksgiving.

With this ritual, the Episcopal Church views it as a family meal for the Church and preview for

the heavenly banquet. Communion is open to all baptized believers, viewing baptized individuals

of other Christian religions as extended family members of the Church.10 Besides Holy Baptism

and Holy Communion, the Episcopal Church recognizes a few other rituals within their church.

Confirmation is the adult affirmation of the vows made during Baptism. Reconciliation of a

Penitent, otherwise known as a private confession, is another ritual within this religion. Third,

Matrimony is the Christian marriage that takes place with the church. On occasion, there is a

7. Baptismal Covenant. http://www.episcopalchurch.org/page/baptismal-covenant. (Accessed


March 13, 2016).

8. The Creeds. http://www.episcopalchurch.org/page/creeds. (Accessed March 13, 2016).

9. Holy Baptism. http://www.episcopalchurch.org/page/holy-baptism. (Accessed March 13,


2016).

10. Holy Communion. http://www.episcopalchurch.org/page/holy-communion. (Accessed


March 13, 2016).
deacon, priest, or bishop being ordained. This is otherwise known as Orders. The final ritual of

the Episcopal Church is the Unction. This is the anointing of those who are sick or dying with

oil.11 These sacraments resemble those of the Catholic Church.

All religions have a particular code to them that help govern the religion. These include

particular behaviors or customs that portray the expected behaviors of the church. The Episcopal

Church has five elements that one needs to know about their customs and practices. The first is

that the worship service is participatory. This involves singing along to the services hymns and

reciting the appropriate responses as well as the creed. At the completion of each prayer, one

participates by saying amen, which is a way of making the prayer being said personal for each

individual. The second custom of the Episcopal Church is that the worship is biblical. During a

worship service, scripture readings are read. As the priest recites the gospel reading, the

congregation is expected to face him or her as the reading is proclaimed. Next, worship is

focused on the altar. In contrast to churches where the focus is aimed on the pulpit, the Episcopal

Church emphasizes the altar. The primary reason for this is because the Holy Communion is

celebrated at the altar. It reminds the congregation that they did not go to church to sing songs or

to hear the scriptures, but rather to encounter Christ. The final element of the code in the

Episcopal Church is that worship leaders wear vestments. Included in the worship leaders are

clergy, acolytes, and choir members. Typically, the vestment is white, representing purity. Often

times, it is accompanied with another color that symbolizes what season it is of the church.12

11 . The Sacraments. http://www.episcopalchurch.org/page/sacraments. (Accessed March 13,


2016).

12 . Customs and Practices in the Episcopal Church.


https://www.forwardmovement.org/Content/Site170/FilesSamples/151336Customsan_00000067
372.pdf. (Accessed March 13, 2016).
Within each congregation of any religion or church, there is a certain community. This involves

how the group is formally bound together by the previously mentioned creed, cultus, and code

that they share. This is present in the Episcopal Church. The Episcopal Church views themselves

as a family. Each congregation member is a family member, which makes them feel included in

the church body. By Holy Baptism, a person is adopted into the church body, otherwise known as

Gods family. Through Holy Communion, they are able to share a meal together as a family

would. Through the reciting of the creeds, the members of this family are able to express their

shared beliefs together and feel like they belong in the congregation. The code for the church,

such as their customs, governs the church and sets behavioral expectations. All of these factors

help a person feel like they belong in the Episcopal church and makes them feel at home.

The service I attended at St. Andrews Episcopal Church in downtown Ann Arbor was

labeled as a Family Eucharist. This short service took place in the chapel of the church and was

centered towards families, especially those with small children. One event that I had the privilege

of observing in this service that stood out to me was the taking of Holy Communion. All of the

parents with their young children went up on the altar and stood in a circle. The priest went

around and handed out the wafers first to everyone, including the children. However, the wine

was only given to the adults. While at communion, there was the reciting of different statements

by the priest, followed by memorized responses by the adults. To end the Holy Communion, they

prayed together and then returned to their seats. When saying the Lords Prayer, there were also

some minor differences than that recited in the Lutheran church. However, these were just small

differences and the basis of the prayer remained constant. During this family Eucharist as well,

there were toys in the altar for the children to play with during the service. There was no typical
sermon at this service, only a childrens service that was aimed towards the young children in

attendance with their parents.

Many people grow up in one religion. I grew up Lutheran. Both my mother and my father

were raised Lutheran, part of the Missouri Synod, and my father is a Lutheran pastor. Growing

up, I never experienced any other religion besides Lutheran. By going and attending the

Episcopal Church, I was able to learn not only a lot about the Episcopal Church, but also about

the Lutheran church as well. By looking at other religions, I was able to point out elements of a

Lutheran church service that was unique to our religion, and see similarities and differences

between the two as well. The Holy Communion was where I saw the biggest difference between

the two. The entire church service appeared to be centered around their Eucharist, and the way

they performed this ritual was unique to its religion. Through this experience, I was able to grasp

what they believed and compared it to my own religion, Lutheran, which allowed to me to better

understand how my own beliefs are distinctive to my religion.


The Episcopal Church

Cailin Frusti

Professor Gaertner

Religion in America Today

23 March 2016