A tongue-in-cheek description of the Episcopal Church comes from the late comedian and Episcopalian, Robin Williams: “same rituals, half the guilt.” Robin was on to something. The Episcopal Church is a descendant of the Church of England which, in turn, was rooted in the Roman Catholic Church. Therefore, the Episcopal Church is full of traditions, rituals, vestments, sacraments, bishops, priests, deacons, and so many more elements that have obvious Catholic roots.
Red, white, and blue Episcopal Church signs all over the USA proclaim: “The Episcopal Church Welcomes You.” This is truthful advertising of Episcopal inclusivity. All people, no matter where they are on their life journey, are welcome in the Episcopal Church. Church members include people of all racial and ethnic groups. They are male, female, young, middle-aged, older, straight, gay, rich, poor, neither rich nor poor, and so on and so forth, including every demographic category that has ever been devised, “for all are one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28) In another word ” I can be myself here . No one is trying to mold me politically or in any other way .
There are two Episcopal congregations in the Imperial Valley: All Saints, Brawley (H and South Third) and Sts. Peter and Paul, El Centro (Fifth and Orange). Both have been worshipping God and ministering to members and others for over a century. Both are part of the Diocese of San Diego, one of 110 Episcopal dioceses. The Episcopal Church USA is among 38 Churches worldwide that are descended from the Church of England. They are known collectively as the Anglican Communion.
The Episcopal Church believes itself to be “diversity in unity.” Episcopalians affirm that there are many ways to worship God and many ways to practice Christian faith, all acceptable expressions of the Church’s shared, core belief in the Good News of Salvation through Jesus Christ. Unity in Christ, not uniformity of worship and practice, is paramount. As St. Paul wrote, “… there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone.” (I Corinthians 12:4-5)
Some have been surprised to learn that the Episcopal Church is at once protestant, catholic, and evangelical. The Episcopal Church is protestant because it is not in allegiance to the pope, catholic (universal) because it proclaims the whole faith to all people to the end of time, and evangelical because the Episcopal Church proclaims the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ. The Episcopal Church continues in the teaching and fellowship of Christ’s apostles. As they were, so the Episcopal Church today is sent to carry out Christ’s mission to all people. The adjective “episcopal” indicates anything pertaining to a bishop, so the Episcopal Church’s name simply indicates that it has bishops and dioceses.
The Holy Eucharist (Bible readings, a sermon, prayers, hymns and Holy Communion) is celebrated every Sunday (9 am, Sts. Peter & Paul; 11 am, All Saints), on certain Holy Days, at weddings and at funerals. The Episcopal congregations in the Imperial Valley provide space for Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, and others. Imperial Valley Episcopalians reach out to people in need by fund raising for various organizations and through members’ volunteer work. Reverend Paul Gambling extends to you the invitation seen on Episcopal Church signs everywhere: “The Episcopal Church welcomes you!”