Being Episcopalian 101

I am a lifelong Episcopalian. I say lifelong, because between you and me, I detest the term “cradle” Episcopalian. First of all, I’m not aware of any other denomination that uses it. It sounds so pretentious, like my Episcopalianism was somehow bestowed upon me on my birth, like a royal title or a birthright. Yes, I was born to an Episcopalian, but I like to think that the fact that I still am one as an adult is on me, not on some inherent gift.

Secondly, most people of a certain age were born a “cradle” something, right? OK, so you were “born” Presbyterian, but what have you been doing since then? I prefer the term lifelong because I remain an Episcopalian. Because I choose to be a part of this church, still.

OK, enough with the terminology. Being Episcopalian – what does it mean? What is it about this particular expression of Christian faith that draws us in? I’ll have to admit, being born into the faith sometimes makes it a little difficult for me to understand. I’m a tiny bit jealous when someone shares with me how he or she found the Episcopal Church as an adult – that the liturgy, or the music, or the cycle of the liturgical year, or whatever, was just what they were searching for. I’ve never felt that way about any of these things – it was always just “church” to me. (And truth be told, I’m not a big fan of some of the pageantry and processing.)

But I do realize with appreciation that the church that I was fortunate to grow up in and didn’t have to search for provides for me a place to worship God and practice my faith along with all my doubts and all my questions. Where I can agree to disagree with something someone else in my church believes, and we can still both be faithful Episcopalians. And where my priest can be a girl and I can support ordination of my LGBTQ friends and not be labeled a heretic.

For this issue, we’ve assembled a simplified Episcopal Church primer, to attempt to delve into what makes us – us. There’s a little history, a little terminology, a little dogma and doctrine, all alongside some beautiful stories and thoughtful reflections. Whether you came to the Episcopal Church with your spouse and stayed for the coffee, or you’ve found here just what you were searching for, I hope that it helps you to better understand the faithful community that you have chosen to become a part of.

And if you’re a cra- I mean lifelong – Episcopalian like me, you may be tempted to skip reading this issue, but I really hope you don’t. Even if you don’t learn anything new (and I’m betting you will), I hope that reading the stories and reflections, and looking over this synopsis of our common faith will awaken an appreciation for the faith community you have chosen to remain a part of. Feel free to share a copy with someone who hasn’t found us yet – it may help them find just what they are searching for. (If you need extras, shoot me an email. We’ll be happy to send them along.)

Connections editor Julie Murray serves as Associate Director of Communications for the Diocese of Southern Ohio. Contact her at jmurray@diosohio.org.

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