What we believe
We are members of Christ’s “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.” This line comes from the Nicene Creed, a fourth-century summation of Christian beliefs, and is often referenced as the Four Marks of the Church. Each of the Four Marks is both a description of and challenge to the church, and we hold to each of them as we minister in Excelsior Springs in the 21st century.
ONE: Jesus Christ is our great high priest. In our Lord’s high priestly prayer (from St. John’s Gospel), Christ prayed for his disciples to be one as he and the Father are one. St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians reminds us that “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.” The work of the church, then, is not to be divisive, but to unify. While each branch of Christianity and even each Christian may present diverse expressions of their Christian faith, we intend to be about the work of unity. In drawing all together, we welcome those from all socio-political backgrounds, has both women and gay-identifying persons among its clergy, and embodies both traditional and innovative liturgical practices.
HOLY: God is holy. Each time we gather for the Holy Eucharist, we join our voices with Angels and Archangels and with all the company of heaven, who forever proclaim God’s holiness. From the beginning of time, God’s chosen people and all of creation has been called to recognize God’s holiness and live holy lives in response. We have matriarchs and patriarchs in the Bible who exhibit holiness; we celebrate saints and martyrs throughout the ages who have modeled godly living. Our holiness isn’t insular, though. The Church is called to sanctify our world. By including more and more persons in the Christian faith through our passion for unity, we are attempting to send more and more holy people into the world to be about God’s mission of infusing the world with divine love and justice.
CATHOLIC: Our theology, in affirming the creeds of the universal Church, make us catholic by having orthodox beliefs. Being catholic (an adjective meaning universal, not the proper noun related to the Roman church) means we affirm those truths of Christianity throughout the ages, as detailed in the Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds. Our inclusive orthodoxy reveals the work of being catholic or universal, which is that of reconciliation. As we reconcile ourselves and our world with God, hold to these universal truths as we fully embrace all persons. As the variously attributed statement goes, “in essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”
APOSTOLIC: As Episcopalians, we trace our Anglican lineage all the way back to Christ’s founding of the church with the first Apostles. ‘Episcopal’ simply refers to having bishops. The Church of England was founded in A.D. 597 when Pope Gregory I sent Augustine of Canterbury on a missionary venture to evangelize the Anglo-Saxons in Britannia as the first Archbishop of Canterbury. Since then, the Church of England (known as Anglicans) has maintained the apostolic succession. Anglican missionaries planted churches in the American colonies and, after the American Revolutionary War, the churches divorced themselves from the Church of England and established the Episcopal Church as we have it today. Our own Bishop of West Missouri, seated in Kansas City, maintains the apostolic line descending from Christ to the present day. Being apostolic means reaching backward and forward – back into the tradition handed from the first Apostles and bringing it forward into the future, ongoing work of the church. In continuing the apostolic work, we proclaim the Christian faith both in our worship and in our work. As our Baptismal Vows remind us, we proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ. Our words and our actions, individually and corporately, continue to spread God’s love and strive for God’s justice in the world around us.
To learn more about what Episcopalians believe, visit this page on the website of The Episcopal Church: https://www.episcopalchurch.org/what-we-believe/