Frequently Asked Questions
A new church experience can be complicated and confusing. If you have questions, take a look below at some common questions that are answered clearly to help you understand our passion and views about faith.
The History of the Episcopal Church
The Episcopal Church (TEC) began as a mission of the Church of England in the American Colonies. The first Anglican (Episcopal) parish was located in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607. From its beginning TEC has been a part of what is now the worldwide Anglican Communion — those churches around the world that began as mission churches of the Church of England.
Are We Catholic or Protestant? Yes!
The closeness of the Anglican/Episcopal Churches to the Roman Catholic Church has been clear since the first founding of the Church of England as a sovereign Church in the 16th century. This is partly by intention, since the founders of the English Church did not wish to start a “new” church so much as assume control of the church within their national borders. More recently all the churches have experienced a renewal of their ancient Christian roots, and Christians have come to identify themselves more by what we share in common than by what separated us at a given time in our history.
Why do we use a prayer book?
We use a Book of Common Prayer because we are a people that prays in common. We are formed as a Christian community by our shared life of prayer. Our Prayer Book is the Tradition we share with the Church throughout the ages. It is a manual of the Christian spiritual life, and through it we benefit from the wisdom and experience of countless believers who have worshipped and prayed before us.
In a very real sense we pray “in common” with those who have gone before us and with those who will come after us. This is how we understand the nature of the Catholic Church (“catholic” meaning “universal” — referring to all Christians in all times and places.) The Prayer Book also contains all of the worship services that we use as Episcopalians in both our personal and public lives as Christians. The services themselves contain references to all the principal doctrines of the Christian Faith, based on the continual reading of the Holy Scriptures in our services and in our personal lives, season by season, year after year.
Why do we use incense?
Incense is used in all religious traditions as an adornment to personal and corporate worship and prayer. It is used to sanctify or, to set apart, what is ordinary and to make worshippers aware of the sacred space within the Cathedral. It is also a symbol of royalty, as when kings processed into a city, and at the head of the procession servants carried incense, to show that “someone special” was coming. The Christian use of incense combines all of these practical and symbolic uses. In the Cathedral services, rich as they are in sight and sound, incense adds one more dimension of worship as a participation of the whole person utilizing all the senses.
In the liturgy, incense represents the transformation of ordinary space into something holy, set aside for God’s special use. Incense is used in procession as the celebrant (bishop or priest), as Christ’s symbolic representative, makes his entrance. It is also used to sanctify the altar prior
to the commemorative sacrifice of God, the Son, on the Altar of the cross.
How does the Cathedral fit in with both The Episcopal Church and the larger Anglican Communion?
The Cathedral is the home church of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida, which is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion. There are no subdivisions of either the Episcopal Church or the Anglican Communion. For most of its history, the Cathedral has been known as a classic expression of the historic orthodox faith and worship of the Church, that through faithful preaching of the Word of God, and through corporate worship that expresses the length and breadth of the Christian tradition, God reveals His presence and grace through His Body, the Church.
Citation: The Book of Common Prayer (1979)
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