What we believe

Lex orandi, lex credendi (Latin, loosely translated as "as the church prays, the church believes") refers to the relationship between worship and belief, and is a principle from the early Christian church which guided the early fathers in developing the ancient creeds, the canon of holy scripture, and other doctrinal matters based on the prayers and liturgies used by the Church. In the early centuries following the Ascension of our Lord, there was a liturgical tradition before there was a common creed and before there was a biblical canon agreed to by all of the early Christian communities.  Our prayer guides our actions in showing mercy, forgiveness, and reconciliation with one another in a fractured humanity; in seeking justice and protection for the poor and disadvantaged; and in recognizing and affirming the dignity of all people.  Anglicans hold that Scripture, Tradition and Reason are therefore held in tension as being of equal import and authority, the revealed Word of God expressed through the councils of the Church.

Two of the historic Creeds summarize the faith of the Anglican Communion as one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church, and they are commonly used during services of public worship found in The Book of Common PrayerThe Apostles' Creed, affirmed at Baptism and Confirmation, is also said during the Offices of Morning and Evening Prayer, while The Nicene Creed is said or sung at celebrations of the Holy Eucharist.

 We believe in one God,
    the Father, the Almighty,
    maker of heaven and earth,
    of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
    the only Son of God,
    eternally begotten of the Father,
    God from God, Light from Light,
    true God from true God,
    begotten, not made,
    of one Being with the Father.
    Through him all things were made.
    For us and for our salvation
        he came down from heaven:
    by the power of the Holy Spirit
         he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
         and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
     he suffered death and was buried.
    On the third day he rose again
         in accordance with the Scriptures;
    he ascended into heaven
         and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

    He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
         and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
    who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
    With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
    He has spoken through the Prophets.
    We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
    We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
    We look for the resurrection of the dead,
         and the life of the world to come. Amen.
 

The Catechism

 
 
The Catechism or Outline of the Faith, is found in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer (pp.813-862) and explains the Creeds, the Lord's Prayer, and the Ten Commandments, the Church as the community of the new Covenant given in Christ and her ministering orders of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, Prayer and the dominical Sacraments of Baptism and The Holy Communion, and the Sacraments of the Christian life (Confirmation, Ordination, Holy Matrimony, Reconciliation of a Penitent, and Unction of the Sick).  The Catechism is commonly used as the basis of instruction for persons becoming Episcopalians.

The Episcopal Church affirms the historic documents of the church (found in the Book of Common Prayer, pp.863-877) that include the description of The Union of the Divine and Human Natures in the Person of Christ from the Council of Chalcedon (451), the Creed of Athanasius (381), The Articles of Religion (1801), and The Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral (1886, 1888).  These documents present the faith of Anglicans in fuller form and describe the Episcopal Church as Catholic and Protestant:
     1.  The Episcopal Church affirms the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament as the revealed Word of God.
     2.  The Nicene Creed is the complete statement of the Christian Faith.
     3.  Two Sacraments, Holy Baptism and Holy Communion, are ministered with the use of bread and wine consecrated with Christ's words of institution and the invocation of the Holy Spirit.
     4.  The historic Episcopate, reaching back to the time of the Apostles, is adapted to meet the needs of the local church called by God into unity with one another. 

The Episcopal church is governed by a House of Bishops and a House of Deputies (clergy and laity), representing dioceses throughout this country, under the leadership of the current Presiding Bishop, the Very Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, which meet every three years in General Convention.  The 800+ prelates of every branch of the Anglican Communion meet together with the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, at Lambeth Conference in England every ten years.  The Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida is led by the Right Rev. Dabney T. Smith, who meets with elected representatives of every congregation and the clergy every year in Diocesan Convention.

CONSTITUTIONS & CANONS 2015
The Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, adopted and revised at General Convention 2015, are now available online.
Click here to view the Constitution and Canons 2015 document.
General Convention is the governing body of The Episcopal Church and meets every three years. The General Convention also includes Interim Bodies which meet between the triennial sessions to accomplish ongoing work and tasks set in the triennial sessions.
The most recent session of the General Convention was in Salt Lake City, Utah in 2015. The next session of the General Convention will be in Austin, Texas in 2018.