Is Episcopal church a good alternative to Roman Catholic?

  • shoelessj

    Posts: 511

    Apr 11, 2010 5:26 AM GMT
    For the first Easter in about five years I haven't had to work on a Sunday. I would have liked to have gone to easter mass, but I just couldn't. The only catholic church i go to is a great place, cool people and that, but to go would have been an act of condoning the horrible acts and coverup of the catholic church -- the child rapes, trying to scapegoat gays, blaming the media, etc.

    I have a strong belief in god, but i question whether i can ever return to a catholic church again.

    But where else to go? I've researched this a little and it seems the Episcopals are the closest to Roman Catholics. And if you've been reading Andrew Sullivan's blog, they have dealt swiftly and seriously with any child abuse cases that have occurred in their midst.

    So, anyone here that can offer perspective on this? Has anyone made the move from the RC church to another, and specifically the Anglican one? What's it been like? Do you still feel the presence of god, something otherworldly, ethereal, there? Do you feel out of sorts culturally, since the culture of the roman catholic church is so pervasive in those who are part of it? Have you stayed with the churches you've moved to? Have you gone back? Have you just retreated to limbo? Thanks.

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    Apr 11, 2010 7:57 PM GMT
    I was born a Roman Catholic and grew up as a Roman Catholic.
    But unfortunately, I found it very difficult to keep up with the church's teachings, such as dressing smartly, as with annual confessions to a priest, penance, taking Communion while fasting, not to eat meat on a Friday, the banning of contraception along with the teaching of venial and mortal sin - a (long) time in Purgatory if I was to die with an unconfessed venial sin, eternity in Hell if I was to die with an unconfessed mortal sin, the constant need to confess and perform penance, intercessory with Mary and the saints in Heaven, the need to attend Mass every Sunday, or it is Hell if I miss a service without a good reason.
    The result was that in my teens I was a determined atheist, so I thought. In truth, I was aware that God exists, but I HATED him for his fickleness.
    I'm aware that these days such teachings as been eased down, making meat okay to eat on a Friday and contraceptives a decision between husband and wife. (Although in many Catholic-dominated countries, such as Mexico, the old teachings still prevail). But even today the idea that salvation by faith in Jesus Christ alone is anathema to the Catholic Church, as a result of the Council of Trent.
    It was by reading the Bible in my twenties that I learned that salvation was given to every believer who trust Christ to save him. Here lies the difference. Catholics teach that salvation is earned by constant works of faithfulness, without any assurance that one will go to heaven after death. The Bible, on the other hand, teaches that salvation is a free gift given to everyone who believes, without works of faithfulness to achieve it.
    This makes a big impact on which church to attend.
    Basically I have renounced Catholicism and among the Protestant churches, I found myself at home at a Baptist church, where dress is informal, there is no worship formula set in stone, and one is free to express his heart to God as he sees fit. And this spontanious worship is the result of having assurance of salvation, something taught in any Baptist church.
  • owen19832006

    Posts: 1035

    Apr 11, 2010 8:07 PM GMT
    Well truth be told i personally have no problem whatsoever with the church and the scandal surrounding it, clearly when you have a body run by 400,000 priests and a few are rotten apples you cant blame the whole orchard and dismiss it as bad and crap. but to each their own.
    there has been a media campaign against the Church, and thats a fact, other faiths have had sex scandals, and in fact married men who have kids are more prone to have molested their own children and that doesnt mean that every father in the world is a child molester.
    now if you dont feel comfortable in the Church then by all means leave and find something that suits you, be it a baptist or a CoE or Presbeteryan. They all are seeking to establish a relationship with God in pretty much the same way and with the same basic belief, the difference is what suits you as an individual in worship style...
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    Apr 11, 2010 8:17 PM GMT
    I do know that at least a part of the official Episcopal Church is accepting of Gays and does not morally lambaste them. Some will even perform same-sex unions.

    I have a gay friend who is HIV+ and is afforded housing for HIV positive people supported in part by the Episcopal Church.

    They do not go on rampages against Homosexuals like the Roman Catholic Church does.

    I say vote with your feet and DO NOT support any church that supports or instigates crimes against humanity as many churches but mainly the RC church has.
  • KissTheSky

    Posts: 1981

    Apr 11, 2010 8:41 PM GMT
    Hi ShoelessJ:
    I was never a Catholic, I'm more of a lapsed Presbyterian. When I was in grad school I did a project for an Episcopalian charity in NYCity that helps low-income people get medical care and housing services. They were the coolest people -- the staff and the clergy (some of whom are women). Helping the needy is what Christianity is supposed to be about, in my opinion.

    So in the last year or so I've started going (occasionally) to an Episcopal church. From what I've read and seen firsthand, they're also the most pro-gay Christian denomination. They have at least two openly gay bishops, perform same-sex marriages in their churches, and their clergy and congregants seem genuinely welcoming and non-homophobic.

    Their members tend to be educated and open-minded, not hateful and judgemental, like evangelical Christians. I encourage you to check out an Episcopalian Church and see what you think.

    BTW, here in DC, when the city recently legalized gay marriage, the Catholic church shut down all their charities that were helping the homeless. They said they would rather stop helping the needy than recognize the marriages of any staff people who were gay and got married. You can draw your own conclusions about their priorities. icon_neutral.gif
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    Apr 11, 2010 8:41 PM GMT
    shoelessj saidHas anyone made the move from the RC church to another, and specifically the Anglican one? What's it been like?

    I was raised RC. I found the MCC (Metropolitan Community Church) offered gay-friendly services with a largely Episcopalian liturgy, that was very close to the RC. Their individual churches vary somewhat, but they largely follow Episcopalian dogma. There are some MCC congregations in Chicago, which you might want to explore.

    http://achurch4me.com/1/
  • shoelessj

    Posts: 511

    Apr 12, 2010 5:17 AM GMT
    thanks fellas, i will keep you updated as to what i do, where my feet and my faith lead me.
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    Apr 14, 2010 12:55 AM GMT
    NotThatOld saidI was born a Roman Catholic and grew up as a Roman Catholic.
    But unfortunately, I found it very difficult to keep up with the church's teachings, such as dressing smartly, as with annual confessions to a priest, penance, taking Communion while fasting, not to eat meat on a Friday, the banning of contraception along with the teaching of venial and mortal sin - a (long) time in Purgatory if I was to die with an unconfessed venial sin, eternity in Hell if I was to die with an unconfessed mortal sin, the constant need to confess and perform penance, intercessory with Mary and the saints in Heaven, the need to attend Mass every Sunday, or it is Hell if I miss a service without a good reason.
    The result was that in my teens I was a determined atheist, so I thought. In truth, I was aware that God exists, but I HATED him for his fickleness.
    I'm aware that these days such teachings as been eased down, making meat okay to eat on a Friday and contraceptives a decision between husband and wife. (Although in many Catholic-dominated countries, such as Mexico, the old teachings still prevail). But even today the idea that salvation by faith in Jesus Christ alone is anathema to the Catholic Church, as a result of the Council of Trent.
    It was by reading the Bible in my twenties that I learned that salvation was given to every believer who trust Christ to save him. Here lies the difference. Catholics teach that salvation is earned by constant works of faithfulness, without any assurance that one will go to heaven after death. The Bible, on the other hand, teaches that salvation is a free gift given to everyone who believes, without works of faithfulness to achieve it.
    This makes a big impact on which church to attend.
    Basically I have renounced Catholicism and among the Protestant churches, I found myself at home at a Baptist church, where dress is informal, there is no worship formula set in stone, and one is free to express his heart to God as he sees fit. And this spontanious worship is the result of having assurance of salvation, something taught in any Baptist church.


    I'm glad you found the truth and saw all the errors of the Roman Catholic Church. The antichrist and errors in the church were already there at the time of Christ, but of course, it was not full blown until the papacy came in the Roman Catholic Church. The reformers all confessed that the anti-Christ is the papacy. Jesus prophecied that before the end of the world, the anti-Christ would be revealed and many will come out and separate themselves from this spiritual prostitute. I believe we are seeing the fulfillment of this in the revealing of the sexual scandals. The writing is on the wall in regard to the future of this false church, which Jesus prophecied he would overthrow with the breath of his mouth. We must keep in mind that the wars which are prophecied in Revelation is between God and the spiritual demonic forces lead by Satan. These are not physical wars on earth. The writing is also on the wall regarding Satan's future where Christ prophecies his doom. That's why I am a believer in Jesus because his words are true and are being fulfilled in the events of history. My faith is not blind, but is based on the fulfilling of his words in the current events of today.
  • HndsmKansan

    Posts: 16311

    Apr 14, 2010 1:00 AM GMT
    I was born, baptised at the oldest Episcopal church in Wichita. While I don't attend that one at the current time (another one is a little closer), I've always been very proud of being an Episcopalian.... especially in view of their inclusion of women as priests (the Rector at St. James in Wichita was a woman until she left recently) and of course, a more accepting style with
    gays and lesbians. Not all Episcopal churches are as tolerant as others.
    If you decide to visit some Episcopal churches in your area.... get background as to which might be the one(s) you want to visit.
  • swimjohn

    Posts: 252

    Apr 14, 2010 1:09 AM GMT
    I'm Episcopalian. I can only speak for my church and the several others I have been to, but they are all very good. None of the churches I have been to have been full or judgement or condemnation. As someone mentioned earlier women can be priests, as well as the Presiding Bishop of the church is a woman.

    At the church I was raised at we have a lesbian couple who have adopted 4 kids and are active members of the church. When I came out everyone was very accepting and supportive. In general the Episcopalians that I have met are more open minded and also more free thinking. I have been very happy with the Episcopal Church and would reccomend that you find a few in your area and see if you like them.
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    Apr 14, 2010 1:40 AM GMT
    It really depends on the congregation. Do the theological differences between Presbyterians, Episcopalians, or Unitarians really mean much to you? Shop around, go to a few services, see what feels right to you.

    All three of those denominations are very supportive of the LGBT community in my city. Elsewhere they can be wieners. A good place to start might be your local Pride Center. They keep a list of supportive churches.
  • shoelessj

    Posts: 511

    Apr 16, 2010 10:14 PM GMT
    Interesting that a couple of you have mentioned the inclusion of women as priests, after I saw the following story:
    http://cbs2chicago.com/local/Chicago.Catholic.priest.2.1637205.html

    It's about an outspoken catholic priest in chicago, the sort of guy who leads marches on stores that sell blunts and stuff like that, and how he apologized recently for saying women should be able to serve as priests. Amazing, someone must have gotten to him and threatened him with something or other.

    The one thing I am looking for is, although i realize that you can find god anywhere, even just sitting in a quiet room by yourself, i've not felt the presence of god and the presence of multiple generations that have worshipped him, like i have in a catholic church. i've (once) been to a local gay catholic ministry meeting/mass, but it was so touchy-feely that i didn't get a feeling of god and religion there. not that i want a service in latin with the priest not speaking to the congregation, but i was thinking of the episcopalians because it seems they share some of that heritage with catholics -- minus you know, the decades of child rape and subsequent coverup...


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    Jun 21, 2010 4:34 AM GMT
    I think it is, shoelessj.

    -Doug
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    Jul 06, 2010 6:17 PM GMT
    Two words:
    Unitarian
    Universalism

    I've been a member of a UU church in Mequon WI for over a year now, and I can assure you that, Not only do they provide a warm environment for the growth and development of one's own faith, but they provide the faith perspectives of just about all. Easter is celebrated with great fervor, right beside the Equinox- Differing perspectives are respected and celebrated together, without Judgment.

    So, If you're looking for a faith community that provides what you crave about faith, without the constant oppression of dogma, creed, and biblical justification for hatred and discrimination, PLEASE Seek the nearest UU Church. You won't regret it!
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    Jul 07, 2010 3:59 AM GMT
    when i rejected the Catholic Church , i rejected all other confessions with their little congregations, community activities and Bible babble.
    Institutionalized goodness is aggravating .

    I don't totally reject any possibility of some higher entity nor of some life after death ... for all i know Dr Who is out there. But concrete life happening "now" keeps me busy enough and the solutions of life's problems don't need any book of faith.
  • dantoujours

    Posts: 378

    Jul 07, 2010 4:44 AM GMT
    I'm a lifelong Episcopalian who serves on the vestry of my parish and also does work for the diocesan level. I also have done religious education for seekers who are interested in the church.

    There are some key differences between the Episcopal Church and the Roman Catholic Church that you should be aware of.

    The Roman Catholic Church tends to take clear stands on everything from the nature of the bread and wine in the Eucharist (aka transubstantiation), to birth control, to the death penalty, to what constitutes "just war", to divorce and remarriage and many other issues. Some of these positions are considered either "infallible" or aren't really open to discussion; dissent can mean denial of the sacrament. The Episcopal Church has more of a minimalist theology for very long historical reasons (which I can get into another time). The only time you're expected to make a first-person statement of faith is when you are "Received" which is when you'll recite a form of the Apostle's Creed. Otherwise you're almost on your own. While you'll recite "We believe..." during the Mass you're not going to be micromanaged and told what YOU must think as an individual. Some people find these kind of freedom refreshing, others find it uncomfortable. You'll have to decide how you feel, but pretty much any responsible position you take on the issues, you'll find a few Episcopalians who agree with you. You may find "touchy feely" churches, but then you may not. It's best to ask around. Most dioceses have "high" or ritualistic churches, "low" or evangelical churches, a conservative (anti-gay) church or two, a left wing activist church, and many middle of the road churches. Again, compared to the RCC, there is a lot of diversity in style and church culture.

    While many areas of doctrine are spelt out in the Roman Catholic Church, the Episcopal Church tends to regard much of the Christian faith as mysteries and trust that you will discern God's truth yourself, and paradoxically, it may be different and even contradictory to what the person in the pew next to you believes. We are comfortable with a greater degree of messiness and diversity. You'll find right-wing evangelicals in the same diocese with near-unitarians. They may not like each other, but they stay in communion. This can be distressing for some in that we always seem to be in a state of near crisis over the differences, we air our dirty laundry in public (so it's hard to cover up abuses and scandals) and always seem about to split. But even after Gene Robinson, the openly gay bishop of New Hampshire was elected and mayhem ensued, only about 5% of Episcopalians actually left the church. (The media made it seem like far more, but that's it when the dust settled.)

    The Roman Catholic Church believes they are the "One True Church". All other denominations, including the Eastern Orthodox, are considered flawed and will only be perfected by submitting to the Pope. The Episcopal Church believes that we are one of many "One True churches" (or, for some, religions). We tend to believe that no human institution will ever have the whole truth, and that the magnificence of God and mysteries of the universe cannot be contained by the human mind. We believe we have something valuable to offer to the Christian tapestry, but tend to believe that others do too. We maintain very close relationships with the (ELCA) Lutherans, "Old" (non-Papal) Catholics, Methodists, Moravians and others and exchange clergy with these other groups. They are equal to us. We embrace their differences and work together.

    The structure of the Episcopal Church is somewhat different than the RCC in that it is far more lay driven. All Episcopal parishes have a vestry of several people elected by the parish for a fixed term. While in the Catholic Church a priest is called by the bishop, in the Episcopal Church the vestry calls a priest and also has the power to dismiss him/her. On the diocesan level, the similar group called the Standing Committee acts as a counterweight against a bishop and can take the bishop to ecclesiastical trial and have them dismissed if they believe a bishop is acting improperly. The lay-driven Commission on Ministry approves who can go to seminary to become a priest, and laity elect their Bishops who must interview for the position and then hold an open forum where anyone can walk in and ask questions. We have a General Convention every three years where about 12,000 laity, clergy and bishops come together to pass resolutions and elect officers. It works like a parliament where clergy and laity form one "house", the bishops the other, and a resolution has to pass both in order to be adopted. Major moral decisions like the acceptance of women priests and homosexuality were made through a series of General Conventions. So authority in the Episcopal Church ultimately flows from the bottom (laity) up, rather than from the top (like a Pope) down. We, in the pews, elect our bishops, choose who can train become priests and choose who is appointed to be priest at our particular parish. The Episcopal Church is definitely not a "pray, pay and obey" kind of church.

    Anglican theology tends to be very pragmatic. We live in a flawed world and sin is inevitable. Instead of rapping people over the head for making bad choices, we try to navigate through life doing as little harm as we can and doing as much as we can to help others. You'll generally find most Episcopalians to be rather tolerant and forgiving of others' foibles and we have our fair share of eccentrics. As long as they aren't hurting other people we tend to let people work out their Christian walk as best they can. Excommunication from the Episcopal Church is extremely rare and generally only done if someone is harassing someone else or disrupting the parish community.

    Finally you'll find Episcopal worship to be very familiar. It's a bit like pre-Vatican II Catholic worship - more traditional, more chant, classical music and even prayers in Elizabethan English. When the Roman Catholic Church translated their mass into English they used the Episcopal book of worship, called the Book of Common Prayer, as a resource, so some of the prayers are almost identical. You'll feel right at home.

    I hope this helps.
  • shoelessj

    Posts: 511

    Jul 07, 2010 5:53 AM GMT
    dantoujours:
    thanks alot! i really appreciate that! i will let you know if i visit an episcopal church and what happens.
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    Jul 07, 2010 6:03 AM GMT
    If you like the pomp and ceremony of Catholicism, but cannot abide the homophobic dogma, the Episcopalians might be right up your alley. Most of them are not only gay friendly, but extremely gay friendly.

    When my friend Tyler was dying of cancer, his priest performed a wedding ceremony between him and his partner in the hospital room and then referred to J.J. as his husband during the funeral. I'm not very interested the Christianity in general, but the Episcopal Church has earned a spot in this heathen's heart.
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    Jul 07, 2010 3:17 PM GMT
    yes, episcopalian is catholic lite. it's a good transition towards getting out of all of it completely.
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    Jul 21, 2010 7:18 PM GMT
    For me personally, I've never had any trouble with the Catholic faith. I was actually born into a Southern Baptist home and grew up with all of the hate messages about how I'm going to hell for simply being gay. After I left for college I couldn't take it anymore and so I stopped going to church entirely for a couple of years.

    A couple of years ago one of my fraternity brothers invited me to go to mass with him... and I'll admit that he's wickedly hot, so I went with him. Well, the homily that day was about accepting others no matter what... and it really hit home for me... especially after reading Catechism part 2358:

    "2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition."

    So after talking with the Priest and attending mass for several more months, I went through RCIA the next year. My Priest, Father Joe, is an amazing guy and I honestly don't know if I could've gotten through parts of the last couple of years without him around.

    I even got fired from my job (just a crappy student job, but still) because my employer found out that I was gay (which in MS homosexuality isn't covered under discrimination)... and my church was awesome about it. I mean, I had never discussed anything about my being gay with anyone at church, besides my priest... yet the Sunday after it happened, I can't tell you how many people came up to me, hugged me and told me they'd do whatever they could to help me out. Hell, I even got a letter from the Bishop saying that what happened to me was "criminal and unjustifiable" and that he would work to ensure that that never happened to anyone again.

    ...so, I know that the Church has it flaws, anything that big does... but, it's not all necessarily bad.
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    Jul 21, 2010 7:30 PM GMT
    It is rather like asking if the KKK is a good alternative to Nazism.
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    Jul 21, 2010 7:41 PM GMT
    LOL Mil8

    I grew up in catholic country and went to catholic schools, but I never believed any of the croc... I think all of faith is just croc LOL, trying to make me believe something so I do what they say....

    Jesus is pretty cool though, I liked what he did, besides the born from a virgin and resurrecting himself from death parts
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    Jul 21, 2010 7:55 PM GMT
    owen19832006 saidWell truth be told i personally have no problem whatsoever with the church and the scandal surrounding it, clearly when you have a body run by 400,000 priests and a few are rotten apples you cant blame the whole orchard and dismiss it as bad and crap. but to each their own.
    there has been a media campaign against the Church, and thats a fact, other faiths have had sex scandals, and in fact married men who have kids are more prone to have molested their own children and that doesnt mean that every father in the world is a child molester.
    now if you dont feel comfortable in the Church then by all means leave and find something that suits you, be it a baptist or a CoE or Presbeteryan. They all are seeking to establish a relationship with God in pretty much the same way and with the same basic belief, the difference is what suits you as an individual in worship style...


    Could you possibly bury your head any deeper in the sand?

    This lunatic organisation (the RC Church) has just revised its rules to put female ordination in same category of crime under church law as the clerical sex abuse of minors. It is the official policy of your church that gay sex is an abomination and inherently evil. Not only would I not feel 'comfortable in the Church', I would feel like a bigoted hypocrite.
  • shoelessj

    Posts: 511

    Jul 23, 2010 4:28 PM GMT
    Mil8 said
    owen19832006 saidWell truth be told i personally have no problem whatsoever with the church and the scandal surrounding it, clearly when you have a body run by 400,000 priests and a few are rotten apples you cant blame the whole orchard and dismiss it as bad and crap. but to each their own.
    there has been a media campaign against the Church, and thats a fact, other faiths have had sex scandals, and in fact married men who have kids are more prone to have molested their own children and that doesnt mean that every father in the world is a child molester.
    now if you dont feel comfortable in the Church then by all means leave and find something that suits you, be it a baptist or a CoE or Presbeteryan. They all are seeking to establish a relationship with God in pretty much the same way and with the same basic belief, the difference is what suits you as an individual in worship style...


    Could you possibly bury your head any deeper in the sand?

    This lunatic organisation (the RC Church) has just revised its rules to put female ordination in same category of crime under church law as the clerical sex abuse of minors. It is the official policy of your church that gay sex is an abomination and inherently evil. Not only would I not feel 'comfortable in the Church', I would feel like a bigoted hypocrite.


    I'd hate to agree on anything with someone who compares two churches to the nazis and the kkk, but the 'few bad apples' argument to defend the catholic church is no good, either. there haven't been 'a few' bad apples, it's been a systemic problem, which has occurred in many countries, not just the U.S., for decades, at least, and it hasn't just been a few cases here and there -- it's also been the organized coverup by the church hierarchy that compounds the problem and makes it difficult, if near impossible, for people such as myself to believe anything this organization says or does.

    and i also realize that there are some 'good' catholic churches and many 'good' catholics and priests. but what i wonder is if it is worth it to continue to support, by your presence and your contributions, a Church (uppercase C) that hates you, because the church (lowercase) you attend is good. Is it worth spending time and spiritual capital (did i just make that up?) at a church if i cannot have my stable, longtime relationship with the person i love blessed there, or if when i die, there's the real possibility that my partner (or vice versa if he goes first) will not even be recognized at the service at said church? it's perhaps a difference between being tolerated, at arm's length, and welcomed with open arms.

    just more questions and things i wonder about.
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    Jul 23, 2010 4:49 PM GMT
    Mil8 saidIt is rather like asking if the KKK is a good alternative to Nazism.


    a bit harsh. christianity may not be your cuppa tea, but really, this comparison is over the top.

    i would never attend a church if i didn't get paid to do so...it just so happens i get paid to attend an extremely gay friendly episcopal church in nashville. i direct the choir and play for the services. i listen to the creed every sunday as everyone recites it...i agree with none of it...but i see it as an important part of the lives of those saying it. they may one day reject it as well...and it is important to realize that they don't believe it the way you would think they would believe it.

    to most of my friends in that congregation, reciting the creed (along with the rest of the liturgy) is more about active participation in community at a spiritual level. the taking of the bread and wine isn't the impartation of grace by the transmutation of the elements, but it is impartation of grace because it is shared by all in a ritualistic manner.

    so, Mil8, you may not buy any of it. that's okay. if anyone is okay with it, it is the episcopal church. they know they aren't for everyone...yet they embrace everyone. i know that first hand.

    so, while i appreciate your attempt at humor, you might show some respect by refraining from spewing out of your finger tips the first shocking thought that occurs to you.