The Episcopal Church is the American “arm” of the Church of England. Founded in 1785 after winning our nation’s independence from England, its formation was largely shaped by the democratic principles of our new government. The clergy and laity gather every three years to form the largest bi-cameral legislative body in the world. The Episcopal Church remains part of the Anglican Communion, a global community of churches comprised of 80 million faithful Christians.
There are more than 100 dioceses in the Episcopal Church. Our church, Saint James’, is part of the Diocese of Virginia, one of the original nine formed after the Revolution. Since the Diocese of Southern Virginia formed in 1892, our diocese’s boundaries have remained the same, encompassing all of Northern Virginia and extending south to the length of the James River, west to the West Virginia border, and east across the bay and into the Eastern Shore. Over 180 churches operate in our diocese
The Episcopal Church prides herself on her ability to invite mind, body, and soul to the table (Holy Communion, the sharing of bread and wine, is our principal act together). The church marries rich tradition with a theological inquisitiveness and breadth that engages the world around us. By his words, action, and very being, Christ revealed God’s considerable love and concern for all of creation, and we strive to reflect that care.
You will likely experience that beautiful tension at Saint James’. Our striking Gothic architecture, rich hymnody, and ancient form of worship meet a deep commitment to respond to human need. In baptism we vow to “strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being”.
Also, while our worship service may be very similar from one Episcopal Church to the next, don’t be surprised to find that if you have met one Episcopalian, you have met ONE Episcopalian. We are committed to form our theology in community, but that does not mean we are of one mind. The Episcopal Church has been called the “via media”, the broad middle road, a place where people can walk their journey of faith together, celebrating their differences.
For a more detailed history of the Episcopal Church, you can visit the national website.