All Saints FAQ



What does Episcopal Mean?

“Episcopos” is the Greek word for “bishop.” Thus “Episcopal” means “governed by bishops.” The Episcopal Church maintains the three-fold order of ministry as handed down by the Apostles — deacons, priests and bishops — in direct descent, via the laying on of hands, from the original Apostles. By the way, “Episcopal” is an adjective: “I belong to the Episcopal Church.” The noun is “Episcopalian”: “I am an Episcopalian."

What is the Episcopal Church?

The Episcopal Church of the U.S.A (ECUSA) is the American branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion — a “daughter” of the Church of England.  It is one of 39 member churches (provinces) in relationship (communion), originating with the Church of England.   The Episcopal Church consists of 108 diocese in the United States, Europe, Central and South Americas, Micronesia, Taiwan and the Caribbean. It’s an international community with more than two million members. The Episcopal Church falls under the general jurisdiction of its elected, presiding bishop.

What is the Anglican Communion?

The Anglican Communion consists of all the churches in this relationship. It includes more than 85 million people in more than 600 dioceses. The Anglican Communion is global with members in 165 countries.  The Archbishop of Canterbury, considered the first among equals, leads the Church of England and therefore the Anglican Communion. As the member churches are in communion, the Archbishop does NOT have the same authority over Anglican churches that the Pope has over the Roman Catholic Church.
Anglican Communion

How did the Episcopal Church get started?

There have been Anglicans in what was to become the United States since the establishment of the first English colony at Jamestown. Following the American Revolution, some reorganization was necessary for those Anglicans who chose to remain in the new country, as the Church of England is a state church which recognizes the monarch as her secular head (obviously, not a popular idea in post-Revolutionary America!). Thus the “Protestant” Episcopal Church of the U.S.A. was born (the word “Protestant,” used to distinguish the Episcopal Church from the Roman Catholic Church, which is also “episcopal” in its organization, has since been dropped from the official title). There were some rocky periods, especially in the early days of the church, when bishops of the established Church of England were reluctant to consecrate new bishops who would not recognize the reigning monarch as the head of the church. That’s all water under the bridge, however, and the Episcopal Church is now fully “in communion” with the Church of England, and with other Anglican churches throughout the world.

Is it true the Church of England was founded by Henry VIII?

Not entirely. While Henry VIII’s desire for an annullment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon was, in a manner of speaking, the straw that broke the camel’s back (and, for what it’s worth, Henry’s request wasn’t out of line with church laws of his day…but that’s another story), the trend toward separation from Rome had been building for quite some time in England, which had never fully embraced the rule of the papacy.

So is the Episcopal Church Protestant or Catholic?

Both. Neither. Either. Anglicanism is often referred to as a “bridge tradition.” When the Church of England separated itself from Rome, it did not consider itself to be a “Protestant” tradition. Rather, it saw itself returning to the original organization of the church, with local/national congregations organized under the rule of their own bishops. As the church evolved in England, certain elements of the Reformation (such as worship in the everyday language spoken by the people, an emphasis on Scriptural authority, and a broader view of what happens during the consecration of the Eucharist) became a part of its tradition. In an attempt to reconcile the views of the Reformers with the tradition of the Catholic Church, the Anglican tradition became a home for both. Thus you will find very traditional (“high church” or “Anglo-Catholic”) parishes and very reformed (“low church” or Evangelical) parishes throughout the Anglican Communion. Most parishes probably fall in the middle.

Is the Episcopal Church conservative or liberal?

The Episcopal Church is made up of individual people, so you will experience a wide range of viewpoints, theologically, liturgically, socially, and politically.  Here, at All Saints in Duncan, viewpoints tend to be more on the moderate side.  Overall, the Episcopal Church ordains qualified Decons and Priests regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation, and priests are free to choose whom they perform the marriage rites for, again, regardless of gender or sexual preference.  Most congregations quietly or actively support a variety of social justice issues.   We are all God's children and God's message to us is one of peace, love, and inclusion.

What do Episcopalians believe about grace and forgiveness?

God makes decisions about salvation, not us. We share hope in God’s incredibly extensive grace to forgive all repentant people.

How is Church governed?

In an established, self-sustaining congregation, or “parish”, day-to-day matters are handled by a panel of elected lay people called a “vestry.”  The head priest, or “rector”, handles spiritual and worship-related matters, and usually serves in an advisory capacity on church committees. Depending on the size of the congregation, the rector may have one or several ordained assistants (sometimes referred to as “curates”).  Often there will be other lay or ordained people in charge of specific areas, such as a music director (who coordinates worship music for the congregation) or a “sexton” (i.e., a person who handles physical maintenance of the church building and grounds).  All Saints' Episcopal Church of Duncan is a Parish.

Churches that are not self-sustaining are called “missions.” Often they are newly formed congregations, or congregations with a very small membership. These churches are administered by the bishop’s office. The head priest of a mission is called a “vicar” because he or she serves as the bishop’s representative.

 All individual congregations are part of a larger geographical area called a “diocese,” which is led by a bishop. Some churches in the Anglican Communion also have larger administrative districts called “archdioceses,” which are comprised of several dioceses and are administered by “archbishops.” ECUSA does not have archdioceses or archbishops. Instead we give primacy to a “Presiding Bishop,” who is elected to serve a nine-year term.

How do Episcopalians worship?

If you are familiar with Roman Catholic or Lutheran services, you will find Episcopal services remarkably similar. The central rite is the Service of Holy Eucharist (aka “Communion,” or “The Lord’s Supper”), analogous to the Roman Catholic Mass (and referred to as “Mass” by some Episcopalians). The first part of the liturgy (“The Liturgy of the Word”) consists of prayers, scripture readings and a sermon or homily. This is followed an Affirmation of Faith (The Nicene Creed), the Prayers of the People, Confession of Sin, Absolution, and the Exchange of Peace. The second part of the liturgy (“The Liturgy of the Eucharist”) begins with the offerings of the congregation, then proceeds with the Eucharistic Prayer, Consecration of the Elements (bread and wine), Communion, the Post-Communion Prayer, Blessing and Dismissal. Two Eucharistic Rites are commonly used by the Episcopal Church: The modern and less-formal Rite II is usually used for most of the year, with the older and more formal Rite I being used during the penitential seasons of Advent and Lent

Other public rites of the church sometimes include Morning Prayer, Noonday Prayer  or Evening Prayer, Baptism (held several times during the year; speak with the rector for more information), Confirmation/Reception (held during the main Sunday service during the Bishop’s annual visitation) and Ordinations (these are scheduled by the bishop’s office, and held at various churches throughout the diocese).

How can I learn more about Episcopal worship practices?

The best way to learn more about our worship practices, besides joining us and checking it out, is to look through a copy of The Book of Common Prayer. These can typically be found in the pews in every Episcopal Church, and no one is likely to mind if you drop by to peruse a copy. Copies can also often be found in libraries, bookstores, or on-line.

What is the "Book of Common Prayer"?

The Book of Common Prayer (the “Prayer Book”) is not an “Anglican Bible.” We love it, use it and depend on it, but it is not Scripture (though it does contain quite a lot of Scripture), and we do not view it or use it as such. The first Book of Common Prayer was written in 1549  (revisions occured in 1552, 1559 and 1662; the latter revision is still used as the official Prayer Book of the Church of England, and is considered a literary classic among scholars). The book was intended to facilitate worship in English rather than Latin, and to bring the rites of the church together into one book for use by both clergy and layfolk. Each national church in the Anglican Communion has its own adaptation of the Prayer Book. The American version, used by most churches in ECUSA, was last revised in 1979 (some Episcopal churches prefer to use the 1928 version). In the Prayer Book, you will find the orders of service for the various rites of the church, the Daily Office, prayers for use within the context of the liturgy and prayers for use in home devotions, the Lectionary (i.e., the Scriptural readings to be used in corporate worship, organized so as to carry the congregation through the entire Bible in a three-year period), the Psalter (Psalms), the Calendar of the Church Year, The Outline of the Faith (Catechism) and various historical documents.
Book of Common Prayer

Saints? Do you guys pray to saints?

No.  We hold their lives up as examples to us all of a Godly life and frequently find inspiration, hope and or peace there, but we do not pray to Saints.

I'm planning to visit an Episcopal church. May I take communion?

A child may take communion at any age. We do not believe that a certain “understanding” of the proceedings is necessary for the sacrament to be valid. The decision of when to take communion is left up to the child and his/her parents.

At what age may a child take communion?

A child may take communion at any age. We do not believe that a certain “understanding” of the proceedings is necessary for the sacrament to be valid. The decision of when to take communion is left up to the child and his/her parents.

Does the Episcopal Church baptize infants?

Yes. We believe that God's grace conferred by the Sacrament of Baptism is not and should not be reserved only for “informed believers.”

I have already been baptized in another church. If I become an Episcopalian, do I need to be re-baptized?

No. “We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.” Once you have been baptized with water, in the name of the Trinity, you have been received by adoption into the family of Christ (not into a particular denomination) and that need not…in fact, should not…be repeated. This is true even if you were a tiny baby when you were baptized. If you wish to make a public, adult, affirmation of faith, you may choose to be confirmed, if appropriate (see above). You also always have the option of publically reaffirming your baptismal vows, even after confirmation, if you so choose…but this is a highly personal matter, and not in any way required.

How do I join the Episcopal Church? Do I need to be confirmed?

If you are coming from a church in the Apostolic Succession (i.e., Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox), and have already been confirmed, you would be “received” by the bishop of your diocese, in a ceremony that normally takes place during the bishop’s visit to your church. If you are coming from a different tradition, confirmation would be appropriate.  All Saints' Church in Duncan will, once or twice a year, hold “inquirer’s courses” for people interested in reception or confirmation prior to the bishop’s visitation. You will want to speak to the rector if you are interested. Note that confirmation or reception is NOT necessary before you can take communion, or participate in the life of the church.

Is a Tithe required?

Many churchgoers have heard of the biblical and spiritual tenet of tithing or giving/returning 10 percent to God through the church.  Pledging is a response to God’s call to each of us, and a response to the abundance of God’s blessing in our own lives: it is a statement of thanksgiving.  Your pledge supports everything that happens at All Saints'— worship, pastoral care, Christian Formation programs, our social-outreach ministries, maintenance of our building, and more. In a addition, part of every pledge supports the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma.  Some people often can not afford to give 10%, but instead might give 2% and a couple hours of their time per week.  In the end however, tithing or pledging, while very important and appreciated,  is not required. 

Do they let just anyone become a priest?

Priests in the Episcopal Church are called to ordination by God, and the call is confirmed by the church in a discernment process with the prospective candidate for ordination.  If someone feels they have been called to be a priest, they begin the process by testing their vocation initially in prayer and by participating in ministry opportunities in their congregation.  Their work with their rector and the vestry or other representatives of the congregation until all are satisfied the person has a genuine calling to be a preist.

Next they meet with their bishop and Diocesan Commission on Ministry if they have the support of their parish committee or vestry and their rector. Their discernment process to date is examined and given careful and prayerful consideration.  Eventually their diocesan bishop and Commission on Ministry will determine whether to approve them as a postulant, the first formal step in the ordination process.

The next step requires the postulant to be accepted into one of 9 accredited seminaries.  If accepted, they begin a multi-year graduate course leading to a masters Degree in Divinity.  During this time, the postulant will continue to meet with their bishop and other diocean representative, reporting on their reflections during this phase of their spiritual journey.  During the final year of seminary, all candidates for ordination must take and pass the General Ordination Exam (GOE).  The exam consists of in depth essay questions, given over 5 days. Candidates are given 3 hours for each essay.  The GOE covers the 7 canonical areas of the Holy Scriptures, Church History, Christian Theology, Christian Ethics, Contemporary Society, Liturgics and Music and Theory and Practice of Ministry.

Next the candidate must pply to their bishop, Commission on Ministry and Standing Committee to move forward in the process and be considered a candidate for ordination.  They will usually be a candidate for at least 6 months before applying for ordination as a deacon. As a deacon, they will assist their church or another as the bishop may direct for a minimum of 6 months before they may apply for ordination as a priest.  Only after all involved, including the Commission on Ministry, the Standing Committee and the bishop, might a person be ordained as an Episcopal priest.  Not "just anyone" can be an Episcopal priest.

Must I attend church to be saved?

The short answer is no, you do not.  So, then why should I go?  There are several good reasons, starting with:

  • A healthy church will help you get over yourself.  One of the primary aims of good preaching is to invite us into a story much larger than our own.  It is so easy to think we have all of the answers and that  we don't need anything else.  Then one day someone says something and you realize you still have much to learn.  Church does this.
  • A healthy church lifts you up when you are down.  Life can be discouraging sometimes and encouragement is often found in church as are caring people who might have answers to the very issues you are struggling with or perhaps you have the answers to someone else's problem.  You are not alone in church.
  •  A healthy church is about service.  Jesus tells us repeatedly to serve others, to help one another, to do good to one each other.  Church is a good place to practice this, but more importantly, it is uplifting and supportive of your efforts.
  • A church is a quiet, reverent space of reflection.  In our busy lives it is easy to find ourselves off balance, unsettled, and adrift, often leading to a deeping cycle of of strees.  During these times we need a place of quiet contemplation in order to shed the stress, shut out the mortal world for a time, and recenter ourselves.  Church is like a spiritual lighthouse in these times, guiding you through the storms of life.

What is the meaning of the Episcopal seal ("the shield") and flag?

This symbol, which you will see at virtually every Episcopal Church and website, is the official “logo” of The Episcopal Church, and depicts our history. It is red, white and blue…the colors of both the U.S. and England. The red Cross of St. George on a white field is symbolic of the Church of England. The blue field in the upper left corner is The Episcopal Church. It features a Cross of St. Andrew, in recognition of the fact that the first American bishop was consecrated in Scotland. This cross is made up of nine crosslets, which represent the nine dioceses that met in Philadelphia in 1789 to form the Protestant Episcopal Church of the U.S.A.


All Saints Episcopal
809 West Cedar Avenue | Duncan, Oklahoma 73533
(580) 255-6165

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