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About Us

We are Anglican

During the mid-1500s King Henry VIII of England sought an annulment of his marriage with Catherine of Aragon who had failed to produce for him a male heir, their only child being Princess Mary. Being Roman Catholic at the time, the king asked Pope Clement VII for this annulment. The pope, who was under threat by Queen Catherine's nephew and the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, decided against granting the annulment.


The king, who was by now enamored with Anne Boleyn, decided to banish Queen Catherine from the royal court and secretly married Anne in 1532. When Anne was found to be with child the king had Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, to convene an ecclesiastical court which declared the marriage to Catherine of Aragon null and void and the marriage to Anne Boleyn valid. Queen Anne gave birth to a girl, Princess Elizabeth.


In 1534, the English Parliament passed the Act of Supremacy which made King Henry VIII 'Supreme Head of the Church of England' thus removing the influence of the pope over the religious life of England. King Henry would go on to have four more wives during his life with one male child being born to Queen Jane Seymour who died in childbirth.


After Henry's death his son Edward became King Edward VI and he, though young and sickly, began to move the Church of England away from its Roman Catholic roots towards protestantism which was spreading throughout the Continent. When he died his sister, the daughter of Catherine of Aragon, acceded to the throne. Queen Mary re-connected the Church of England with Rome and set about executing those dissenting, including Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. Because of the many executions during her short reign she was dubbed 'Bloody Mary'.


After her death in 1558, her sister the daughter of Anne Boleyn became queen. Queen Elizabeth I  passed a second Act of Supremacy in 1559 making the monarch the Supreme Governor of the Church of England and breaking ties again with Rome. That same year she passed the Act of Uniformity which required all services in England to use the Book of Common Prayer. Queen Elizabeth did not seek to abolish Roman Catholicism in favor of Protestantism but wanted to unify the English people who were in danger of economic and military disaster. It is due to the strength and long reign of Queen Elizabeth that the English Church survived.


Securely established the Church of England expanded along with the British Empire and eventually made its way to the New World. As countries became independent from the British Empire, the United States being the first, the Church of England began to separate from the churches they had established. These now autonomous churches who owe their existence to the Church of England joined together in the Anglican Communion. The Anglican Communion is led by the Archbishop of Canterbury and exists to keep our familial bonds together and to speak to the world the message of Jesus Christ.

Christians who are members of church established by the Church of England are called Anglicans from the Latin translation Ecclesia Anglicana.

As the British founded colonies in the New World they brought their faith with them and the Church of England began to appear in the Thirteen Colonies. The governance of a church then, much like today, was done by a vestry by act of Parliament vestries began to maintain not only their church but the surrounding county. One notable vestry member in Virgina was named George Washington.

As the drums of war began to sound in the colonies the support of a revolt against British rule was mixed within the colonial Anglican church. The majority of the clergy, having sworn allegiance to the British monarch, did not support the idea nor did the majority of Anglicans in the northern colonies. But the Anglicans in the middle and southern colonies did support the war as evidenced by the fact that two-thirds of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were Anglican.

When the American Revolution broke out several colonial governments pulled back or passed laws making it more difficult for Anglican churches to operate if their clergy were still loyal to the king. With many clergy returning to England and with unpopularity of the Church of England brand the Anglican Church in the colonies suffered.


After the war it would be the remaining Anglican clergy and laity in the American state of Maryland who would make the first move to reorganize the church. They renamed themselves the Protestant Episcopal Church and met in a convention where they legally established the church apart from foreign control, sent two men to England to be ordained to the priesthood (as there were no Anglican bishops in the newly formed United States), and elected William Smith to be their bishop.


A student of William Smith named William White was an Anglican priest living in Philadelphia who supported the revolution. He suggested that Anglicans in the new country follow the example of Maryland and convene local general vestries to reorganize the church and elect leaders until bishops can be consecrated. Anglicans from New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey met, adopted resolutions, and decided that there should be a general meeting of all the Anglicans in the new country to form this new church.


In 1785 the first General Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America convened in Philadelphia.

 

We are Catholic

Everyone has heard of the Roman Catholic Church but did you know there are other Catholic Churches in the world? The Catholic Faith is found in three distinct traditions of Christianity. There is Roman Catholicism which is led by the Bishop of Rome, normally known as the Pope. There is Eastern Catholicism which is almost always labeled as Orthodoxy (Eastern Orthodoxy, Greek Orthodoxy, Russian Orthodoxy, etc.) The spiritual head of the Orthodox Church is the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople who is located in Istanbul, Turkey. There is also Anglo-Catholicism or English Catholicism which is normally called Anglicanism. The spiritual head of the Anglican Church is the Archbishop of Canterbury who is located London, England.

Like the Roman and Eastern streams of Catholicism, the Anglican (Episcopal) Church continues to teach the historic Christian Faith found in the Bible, interpreted by the Church Fathers, and codified through the Seven Ecumenical Councils and Creeds. We maintain the three Sacred Orders of Bishop, Priest, and Deacon which continue to derive their authority through the historic Apostolic Succession and administer the Seven Sacraments.

 

We are Authentic

As Saint Paul's you won't find fancy light shows, projector screens hanging from the rafters, or priests who try to look hip. What you will find is Christian worship and devotion which stretches back to the Early Church. You will hear sermons that don't sugar coat life but acknowledge its harshness and encourages you to face them with the power of Jesus. You will find the Christian Faith as defined by the Historic Creed and Councils of the Church preached unapologetically. You will find a group of people from all walks of life committed to journeying together, arm in arm, to the Kingdom of Heaven.

We are not perfect, we do not have our act together, our lives are still messy and that is why we need each other, that is why we need Jesus, and that is why we need you.