What We Believe
Church of the Epiphany
Church of the Epiphany, Durham, is a parish within the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut. This means that Epiphany is part of the Episcopal Church, USA, and the worldwide Anglican Communion, whose members trace their spiritual lineage to the Church of England, which separated from Rome in the 16th century over questions of governing authority, not theology, in the Church in England.
Anglicans, as members of the Communion are generally called, typically pursue God’s love and truth through Holy Scripture, tradition and reason. The Anglican ethos values patience, tolerance, and generous participation in the cultural life of the world.
We profess two historic Christian creeds in the Episcopal Church: the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed. The Apostles Creed is the ancient creed of Baptism. The Nicene Creed summarizes the beliefs of Christians.
Frequently Asked Questions
I’m not Episcopalian. Can I come to your church?
All are welcome, regardless of faith, creed, gender, disability, sexual orientation, age or marital status. Basically, again, all are welcome.
I have small children. Can we attend services?
Yes! By all means. Epiphany is a family-friendly community, and your children may either remain with you during services, or you make take advantage of Sunday nursery care. We also offer a number of age-appropriate Sunday School opportunities.
How are you different from the Roman Catholic Church?
Well, there are differences; some subtle, some not so subtle. For one, the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, is not the head of the Episcopal Church or the Anglican Communion; although, we recognize him as the head bishop of another branch of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. In the Episcopal Church, women, as well as men, can be deacons, priests and bishops, and priests can also be married. Also, unlike the Roman Church, all Baptized Christians are welcome to receive Holy Communion in Episcopal Churches, not just Episcopalians. In effect the Episcopal Church is a catholic church, reformed.
Can Episcopalians believe whatever they want?
When the Church of England (the mother church of the Episcopal Church) was established in the 16th century by Queen Elizabeth I, it was conceived as the “middle way” between Roman Catholicism and the Protestant Reformation that was sweeping Europe. And so, the Episcopal Church traditionally has been a place where many points of view - and many questions - are welcome as part of the life of faith. That faith is based on what we call the “three-legged stool”: Scripture, tradition and reason.
Do Episcopalians recognize the Blessed Virgin Mary?
Yes! All Christians believe that Mary is the mother of Jesus. We believe in the doctrine of the Virgin Birth. Official Episcopal beliefs differ from Roman Catholic dogma on two “recent” innovations in that tradition. Most recently, the Roman Church in 1950 declared that St. Mary was assumed into heaven, body and soul, at her death: The Feast of the Assumption. Earlier, in 1854, the church declared that Mary, when she was conceived in her mother’s womb, was conceived without the stain of original sin: The Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Neither of these dogmatic pronouncements by Rome is supported by Holy Scripture, but rather by centuries of tradition and custom. These two pronouncements of Dogma are often confused with the doctrine of the Virgin Birth of Jesus.
Although not officially part of our official beliefs, many Anglo-Catholic Episcopalians celebrate the two Marian feasts in the liturgical year. Also, literally hundreds of Anglican and Episcopal Churches are named for St. Mary the Virgin across the country and the world.
Do Episcopalians have some sort of outline of their faith beliefs?
Yes. As “people of the Book” as we often call ourselves, Episcopalians place great weight on the prayers and creeds contained in the treasury of our faith, The Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church. The Book of Common Prayer contains the “Catechism-An Outline of the Faith.” The Catechism and other Historic Documents of the Church are contained in the Book of Common Prayer.
Do I need to be baptized to receive Communion?
Currently, in the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut, the norm is to invite “all Baptized Christians” to received the Sacrament of Christ’s Body and Blood in Holy Communion. If you have questions or wish to know more about Baptism and Communion, the two principal sacraments of the Episcopal Church, speak to our Rector. Other sacramental rites of the Episcopal Church are Confirmation, Holy Orders, Holy Matrimony, Reconciliation (Confession) and Anointing the Sick.
Can a divorced Roman Catholic receive the Sacraments in the Episcopal Church?
Yes! The Episcopal Church welcomes all Baptized Christians to receive Holy Communion and all other sacraments. The grace of God’s sacraments is for all.
Can I get married in your church?
Each Episcopal parish has its own customs and requirements for weddings. We welcome those who wish to be married at Church of the Epiphany. We require six months notice* prior to the celebration of the sacrament of Holy Matrimony, and one of the parties must be a baptized Christian (not necessarily an Episcopalian). There is also an expectation that the couple desiring to be married at Epiphany demonstrate a regular relationship with some worshipping community or an intention to be part of the Epiphany community. Premarital counseling, often referred elsewhere as “Pre-Cana” is required by Canon Law of the Episcopal Church. In the case of a divorced person who wishes to remarry, permission from the Diocesan Bishop is required. This is a simple review process.
Do I need to apply for an annulment?
No. The Episcopal Church does not recognize or support the annulment process of any other Christian community. There are NO fees associated with the required Bishop’s permission prior to marriage.