A Believing Church
The Episcopal Church states her faith in the historic words of the Nicene Creed, written by the three Church Councils meeting at Nicea in A.D. 325, Constantinople in A.D. 381, and in Chalcedon in A.D. 451. This is the one statement of faith officially adopted by all Christendom. Recognizing, however, that there is always more to the nature of God and His continuous revelation of Himself than can be set forth in any human statements about Him, the Church encourages the pursuit of truth in all areas of life. The Church stands for the use of the mind and reason as God given faculties, and it places no crippling limitation on any human endeavor to study and investigate.
A Worshiping Church
A basic principle of St. John’s Episcopal Church is that the congregation is made up of participants, not spectators. Members of the Church attend services to worship God and discover the beauty of holiness through dignified liturgical expression. We do not seek to be entertained. The Book of Common Prayer, used throughout the Anglican Communion, is a devotional manual by which the worshiper may, together with others, participate actively in the services of the Church. It is a product and development of Christian service books used down through the centuries and also contains elements from the services held in the Temple at the time of our Lord.
A Teaching Church
The Episcopal Church teaches that all persons ought to know in what and in Whom they believe. It was the English Church that was in the forefront of the long struggle to have the Bible printed in the language of the people, to make it possible for everyone to read the Gospel and to hear it publicly read in the language they understood. Perhaps the greatest achievement in the English language is the King James translation of the Bible, which was given to the world by the Church of England. In addition to encouraging the study of the Holy Scriptures, and to providing instruction in the customs, history, and traditions of the Church (which stem from the earliest days of Christendom), the Episcopal Church strives to provide opportunity for people of all ages to receive and discover truth as it is revealed in history, in philosophy, and in science.
A Sacramental Church
The central acts of worship in the Episcopal Church are sacraments. They express the Church’s belief in the sacramental nature of the universe and life; the belief that God is not divorced from His creation, but is present and always at work in all aspects of it. Through the sacrament of Holy Baptism, sinful people are cleansed; they are made a new creature in Christ, and are received into the Christian fellowship. In receiving the consecrated Bread and Wine of the sacrament of the Holy Communion, people are nourished and strengthened by the Body and Blood of Christ. Other rites which the Episcopal Church recognizes as sacraments are: Confirmation (laying of the Bishop’s hands on the baptized believer and endowing him with the power to assume personal responsibility for his baptismal vows); Penance (confession and absolution of sins); Ordination (to the ancient orders of the ministry-bishops, priests and deacons); Holy Matrimony (creating a lifelong union of husband and wife); and Unction (for the healing of the sick).