What We Believe

St. Peter's Episcopal Church seeks to be a warm, welcoming community of people called to know, love, worship, and serve Jesus Christ and His people. We believe the Christian life is a journey and we invite God's people to journey with us.

 

The Bible

The 39 Articles, a 1536 foundational document of Anglican theology, relates that “Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation.”

 

The Scriptures, comprised of the Old and New Testament, as well as some apocryphal texts, were written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The Bible is of extraordinary importance to Episcopal worship; during a Sunday morning service, the congregation will usually hear at least three readings from Scripture, and much of the liturgy from The Book of Common Prayer is based explicitly on the Biblical texts.

 

According to the Catechism, “We understand the meaning of the Bible by the help of the Holy Spirit, who guides the Church in the true interpretation of the Scriptures.” (Book of Common Prayer p. 853-4)

 

The Book of Common Prayer

The Book of Common Prayer is a treasure chest full of devotional and teaching resources for individuals and congregations, but it is also the primary symbol of our unity. As Armentrout and Slocum note in their Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, that “Anglican liturgical piety has been rooted in the Prayer Book tradition since the publication of the first English Prayer Book in 1549.”

 

We, who are many and diverse, come together in Christ through our worship, our common prayer. The prayer book, most recently revised in 1979, contains our liturgies, our prayers, our theological documents, and much, much more.

 

Creeds

Creeds are statements of our basic beliefs about God.

 

The term comes from the Latin credo, meaning "I believe." While we will always have questions about God, the Church, and our own faith, we have two foundational creeds that we use during worship: the Apostles’ Creed used at baptism and daily worship, and the Nicene Creed used at communion. In reciting and affirming these creeds, we join Christians across the world and throughout the ages in affirming our faith in the one God who created us, redeemed us, and sanctifies us.

 

Catechism

Offered in a question-and-answer format, the Catechism found in the back of The Book of Common Prayer (pp. 845-862) helps teach the essential truths of the Christian faith and how Episcopalians live those truths.

 

It is also intentionally organized so as to “provide a brief summary of the Church’s teaching for an inquiring stranger who picks up a Prayer Book,” with headings such as Human Nature, God the Father, The Old Covenant, The Ten Commandments, Sin and Redemption, God the Son, The New Covenant, The Creeds, The Holy Spirit, The Holy Scriptures, The Church, The Ministry, Prayer and Worship, The Sacraments, Holy Baptism, The Holy Eucharist, Other Sacramental Rites, and The Christian Hope.

 

Sacraments

The sacraments are outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace, given by Christ as sure and certain means by which we receive that grace.  Grace is God’s favor toward us, unearned and undeserved; by grace God forgives our sins, enlightens our minds, stirs our hearts, and strengthens our wills. 

 

There are two great sacraments available to all: Baptism and Eucharist.  In baptism, we are adopted into the family of God.  In the Eucharist, we remember Christ’s sacrifice for us on the cross and his resurrection on Easter Day.  Because of Christ, we live.  The bread and wine are the “real presence” of Christ.  They nourish us as we walk with God.

 

Other sacramental rites which evolved in the Church include confirmation, ordination, holy matrimony, reconciliation of a penitent, and unction. Although they are a means of grace, they are not necessary for all persons in the same way that baptism and Eucharist are. Sacraments sustain our hope in Christ today and point us toward the life to come. For more information, see the Catechism in the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer, beginning on page 857 or contact the priest. 

 

Communion

It goes by several names: Holy Communion, the Eucharist (which literally means “thanksgiving”), the Lord’s Supper, the Mass. But whatever its formal name, this is the family meal for Christians and a foretaste of the heavenly banquet.

 

As such, all persons who have been baptized, and are therefore part of the extended family that is the Church, are welcome to receive the bread and wine, and be in communion with God and each other. Before we come to take Communion together, “we should examine our lives, repent of our sins, and be in love and charity with all people.” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 859)