Who is welcome in the Episcopal Church?
Anyone can join an Episcopal church and be received by the Bishop — all are welcome with the assurance that nothing separates us from the love of God.
How do I join Saint Philip’s?
Joining Saint Philip’s is begun by contacting our parish office at 520.299.6421 or by clicking the “contact us” button below. We will be in conversation with you about a membership application — more importantly, we will put you in touch with one of our clergy so that you can have a conversation about how you might want to grow and serve and how this community may be a home for you in your Christian journey.
That's the simple answer.
The harder part is this — joining Saint Philip’s (or any church) is not a matter of a single act or declaration. It is the work of a lifetime of faithful growth and service — of encountering grace in Christ over and over in new and deeper ways. Just as a couple at their wedding might “get married” but then discover that it takes a lifetime to truly become married, this is true of joining a church as well. We might join, but it is through diligent and patient journeying that we discover that we have become part of it (and it of us).
What does being a “member” mean?
The Church is unlike just about any other “membership” organization. Membership does not have its privileges. Membership has its obligations — they are the obligations of any faithful Christian. Someone wise once said, “The Church is not a place that just feeds the hungry — it is a community that trains chefs to go out and feed a hungry world.”
You promise to represent Christ and his Church; to bear witness to him wherever you may be; to carry on Christ’s work of reconciliation in the world according to the gifts given you; and to take your place in the life, worship, and governance of the Church. In a place like Saint Philip’s, this will take on many different forms — each of which brings its own joys as well as a deeper knowledge of God and love for God’s people.
Joining the Church means joining for the sake of the world around us — not for our sake alone. There are really two levels of commitment that are, confusingly, both called “membership.” One is membership in Saint Philip's (the local branch of the Church) and one is membership in the wider Episcopal Church (and the Anglican Communion).
What does parish membership mean?
Parish membership simply means that you are a person who is supported in your life of faith by Saint Philip’s and that you support the wider community by working, praying, and giving for the spread of the Kingdom of God. Once we have received your membership application and you have received a letter of welcome then you are a member of the parish.
It is customary, for people who wish to become parish members, to meet with one of the clergy of the parish so that we can get to know you and you us and so that we can figure out how we can best support you in your faith journey and how you can share your unique gifts and interests in the parish.
What does Episcopal Church membership mean?
Being a member of the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion is different from (though often part of) membership in the parish community. For example, a Methodist or Roman Catholic or someone of no particular background might be a member of the parish community — attending events, enjoying the music, giving regularly, volunteering in various ways, &c. This local membership is more like being close friends, while membership in the wider Church is joining a family of faith — it’s a deeper step and one with implications not only for our immediate sense of belonging but our deeper sense of being.
There are steps to be taken should your journey lead you to want to become a full member of the Episcopal Church. One of the clergy with whom you choose to meet will go over these paths. For example, you may need to be “received” or “confirmed” or “baptized” — these are steps that will differ from person to person depending on their own faith journey and story. These steps are the Sacramental steps that bring us into Communion not only with our fellow parish members but with members worldwide and the saints who have come before us and and are yet to come.
The one “practical” benefit that differentiates this sort of membership at the wider Church level is that the canons (by-laws of the wider Church) stipulate that baptized members are eligible to vote at a parish’s Annual Meeting, where decisions are made regarding the life of the parish community.
The reason for this is relatively straightforward. No individual congregation makes decisions on its own or in a vacuum, because all parishes are intertwined with one another through our relationship with the Bishop and by our Baptism. So when any one part of the Body of Christ that is the Church makes a decision it impacts the other members. So, the expectation is that those making such decisions will be bound together by the relationship of Baptism. It is that bond that gives us our responsibilities and say in the wider affairs of the Church. The Episcopal Church professes a “Baptismal Ecclesiology,” which is a convoluted way of saying that Baptism makes Christians and that baptized Christians are full members with an equal share in the rights and responsibilities shared by the whole Church.
Steps to Membership in the Episcopal Church
This kind of membership is different in that it is not about a name on a roster; it is about accepting God’s invitation to be gathered together with others to share in God’s witness to the world through a particular way of being Christian together — of sharing in the ministry of Christ together.
What is Reception by the Bishop?
Baptized persons who have been members of another Christian fellowship which also has Bishops in the historic line of Bishops (going back to the earliest days of the Church), such as those coming from Lutheran, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox Churches, who wish to formally become part of the Episcopal Church may make a public affirmation of their faith and commitment to the responsibilities of their baptism in the presence of a Bishop. The Bishop lays hands on each candidate for reception and says, “We recognize you as a member of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church, and we receive you into the fellowship of this Communion” (BCP, p. 418).
What is Confirmation?
A Diocesan Bishop may confirm all those who have been Baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit by laying on of hands and praying this: “Strengthen, O Lord, your servant, [name], with your Holy Spirit; empower him/her for your service; and sustain him/her all the days of his/her life” (BCP, p. 418). The Sacrament of Confirmation is often thought of as our adult response to the love of God and to the grace God gives in Baptism.
Can an Episcopalian who has not been to church for many years return to the Episcopal Church?
Yes, the person will be welcomed in any parish or mission, and he or she may choose to renew or reaffirm baptismal vows. All Christians have seasons in their life when they wander and all are welcome home here.
What is Baptism?
Holy Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body the Church. The bond which God establishes in Baptism is indissoluble (BCP, p. 298). This is the fundamental building block of the life of faith, hope, and love in Christ.
Who administers Baptisms in the Episcopal Church?
Baptism is usually administered within the Eucharist as the chief service on a Sunday or other feast by a Bishop or priest. Water is used for either immersion or pouring, along with the words of administration, “I baptize you in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
What vows are made by the person being Baptized?
The baptismal vows include repentance of sins, renouncing the devil and all sinful desires, acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior, and obedience to Jesus as Lord. We will not follow these perfectly every day — so we as a community hold one another up and lend one another courage and hope in our shared journey.
What is the Baptismal Covenant?
The Baptismal Covenant is a set of promises made by people being baptized, along with the members of the congregation. The promises include believing in God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; continuing the apostle’s teaching, fellowship, and prayers; persevering in resisting evil and repenting and returning to the Lord if one falls into sin; proclaiming the Good News of God; serving Christ in all persons; striving for justice and peace for all; and respecting the dignity of every human being (BCP, pp. 304–305).
To learn more about Baptism and the other Sacraments, click “learn more” below.
Scheduling a Baptism
We are happy to share this beginning of the faith journey with you. To begin the process of scheduling a Baptism, please contact the church office at 520.299.6421 or by clicking the “contact us” button below.