The most exciting thing about St. Paul & St. James is that we continue to grow, which means you might be one of many visitors we have each Sunday.

You may come to this church with tons of questions. We do not claim to have all the answers, especially about God. What we do offer is a place to explore your relationship with God in a welcoming and loving community of fellow people searching for answers.

St. Paul & St. James is an Episcopal Church rooted in tradition that seeks to express the diversity of the world which we live in today.

The process of finding a church can be very confusing, especially if you are new to our denomination (most of our members are new Episcopalians). We are here to help. Always feel free to ask a staff member or member of the parish your question. Below are some common questions.

What is an Episcopalian?

Episcopalians are the American branch of the world-wide Anglican Communion. The elected head of the Episcopal Church, known as the ‘Presiding Bishop,’ at the moment is Michael Curry.

Episcopalians engage in a “common worship,” meaning that all Episcopal worship is informed by the Book of Common Prayer (BCP). The Episcopal Church is said to sit at the intersection of Protestantism and Roman Catholicism, in that it shares characteristics of each. It is a theological ‘big tent’ and encompasses a broad range of worship styles. It draws on Scripture, Tradition, and Reason.

Bishops, priests, and deacons constitute the three ‘Orders’ of ordained ministry. The laity constitute a fourth Order. Despite its hierarchical structure the Episcopal Church recognizes that its lay members, who are, in effect, ordained at baptism, engage in the primary ministry of the church. Thus, in response to the question, ‘Who are the ministers of the Church?’ the Outline of the Faith (commonly called the catechism) states: “The ministers of the Church are lay persons, bishops, priests, and deacons.” The order of the list is instructive.

Laity engage in such ministries as assisting at worship, administering Communion to homebound persons, maintaining church property, long-term planning, teaching, planning events, and financial management of the congregation.

Do you have to be an Episcopalian to attend St. Paul and St. James?

No, the Episcopal Church – and specifically, St. Paul & St. James -welcomes all people for worship. Wherever you are on the path – seeker, believer, skeptic – we welcome you.

I have so many doubts about God and the Church. Do I even belong in church when I don’t have faith?

Absolutely. At St. Paul & St. James, you can belong no matter what your state of belief. Besides, doubt and faith are not necessarily antagonistic. Indeed, many people find it impossible to believe if they are not first free to doubt. St. Paul & St. James is a fellowship of seekers, and we invite you to bring all of your questions with you.

“Faith” may not be something you “have” or “get.” It may be that when you seek God, you figure out that God has been seeking you all along. Then, faith takes care of itself.

What is the “Holy Eucharist” or “Communion” about?

One way Episcopalians understand the Holy Eucharist is that it is “the sacrament commanded by Christ for the continual remembrance of his life, death, and resurrection, until his coming again”-Book of Common Prayer (page 859). We believe Christ is somehow present in the elements of the Bread and the Wine. Eucharist is pivotal to our community; however, it means different things to different members of our community and this fine because we do not believe we can ever fully know what happens during Eucharist. It is a holy mystery.

What is a “sacrament”?

As defined in the Book of Common Prayer (page 857), “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.”

Episcopalians recognize two Great Sacraments, Baptism and the Eucharist, that we believe are necessary for all people. We also recognize five Sacramental Rites: Confirmation, Ordination, Holy Matrimony, Reconciliation of a Penitent, and Unction of the Sick, which are not necessary for all people. We do believe that all seven, the two Great Sacraments and the five Sacramental Rites, are means of grace.

What’s up with Baptism and Confirmation?

Baptism is the initiation rite into the church. It can be performed on infants, children, or adults who request it. At St. Paul & St. James, arrangements can be made for the candidate to be baptized using water from the baptismal font or by immersion. Should you desire baptism for yourself or a child, please contact one of the St. Paul & St. James clergy; we ask that the candidate and/or their families receive some special instruction.

Baptisms are especially encouraged on four special days of the church year: the Easter Vigil, the day of Pentecost, the Sunday following All Saints’ Day (usually the first Sunday in November), and the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord (the first Sunday after the Epiphany, usually the first Sunday in January).

Baptisms may be performed by a priest or – if there is one present – a bishop.

Confirmation is the adult reaffirmation of baptismal vows, made before a bishop. It also confers membership in the Episcopal Church; persons from other Christian traditions may also seek Reception into the Episcopal Church.

In preparation for Confirmation and Reception into the Church, there is usually a series of educational classes and discussion groups. Those seeking Confirmation or Reception should be in contact with one of the clergy.

Say I’m interested in membership. What should I do?

We hope to provide welcoming opportunities for newcomers. The best thing to start is to talk to a member of the clergy.

If you have never been baptized in a Christian tradition, you will first prepare for Baptism and, if you desire it, Confirmation in a series of group meetings.

If you know you were baptized and/or confirmed in another denomination, you may want to prepare for Reception into the Episcopal Church in similar group meetings.

If you are a member of another Episcopal congregation, contact our parish office to request your Letter of Transfer.