What We Believe
St. Mary’s is an Episcopal Church in the Episcopal Diocese of Northern California. Our beliefs are formed by scripture, tradition, reason and experience. One of the best ways to learn about our beliefs is to join us for word and sacrament at one of worship services, and to join us in service to our neighbors.
The Episcopal Church is a “sacramental” church. The sacraments are outward and visible signs of an inward and spiritual grace, given by Christ as sure and certain means by which we receive that grace. We further understand that there are two great sacraments; Holy Baptism and the Holy Eucharist. Holy Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body, the Church. The Holy Eucharist, the sharing of consecrated bread and wine, is reception of the spiritual Body and Blood of Christ given and received in faith. The Episcopal Church also recognizes other sacramental rites which include confirmation, ordination, holy matrimony, reconciliation of a penitent, and unction (anointing the sick with oil and/or laying on of hands).
The Episcopal Church is a “trinitarian” church. We believe that there is one God, consisting of three persons; Father, Son and Holy Spirit, or Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier. The Nicene and Apostles’ creeds are historic statements of our basic beliefs about God.
The Episcopal Church is a “Word based” church. The Word, or the Holy Scriptures, commonly called the Bible, are books of the Jewish and Christian communities (the Old and New Testaments). We call the Holy Scriptures the Word of God because God inspired their human authors and because God still speaks to us through the Bible. 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.
The Episcopal Church is an “inclusive” church. We recognize the beauty in the diversity of God’s created universe. All are welcome in St. Mary’s worship, ministry (lay and ordained), and fellowship without regard to how we see ourselves and where we are on our spiritual journey.
The Episcopal Church calls all its members to ministry. The ministers of the Episcopal Church are lay persons, bishops, priests, and deacons. The ministry of lays persons is to represent Christ and his Church; to bear witness to him wherever they may be, and, according to the gifts given them, to carry on Christ’s work of reconciliation in the world.
The Episcopal Church is governed by bishops. The word “episcopal” is an adjective meaning “governed by bishops.” St. Mary’s Episcopal Church is a parish within the Episcopal Diocese of Northern California, an entity of the Episcopal Church in the United States, and, in turn, a member of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Our ecclesiastical authority is the Bishop of the Diocese of Northern California whose cathedral is in Sacramento, California.