All Saints Episcopal Church in Brighton Heights is part of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, and of the Episcopal Church of the United States. The Episcopal Church is part of the worldwide Anglican Church, but the structure and liturgy of the Episcopal Church has many similarities to the Roman Catholic Church. In fact, many Roman Catholics feel right at home on their first Sunday in an Episcopal congregation.
We proclaim the central tenet of our faith: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again. We profess our faith using the ancient creeds of the church: the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed. We believe in the Holy Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. We believe in the communion of saints, including a special place for Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Historically, our beliefs have also been influenced by the Protestant Reformation and affirm that salvation is by grace though faith in Jesus Christ. We believe that the Old and New Testaments contain all things necessary to salvation.
The Episcopal Church has deacons, priests, bishops who are ordained in apostolic succession and who derive their spiritual authority through the historic church. A major difference between the Roman Catholic Church and the Episcopal Church is that clergy can be married, and women can be ordained.
Our Liturgy and Sacraments
The Book of Common Prayer contains our liturgy and expresses our doctrine. We celebrate Holy Baptism and the Eucharist as the two main Sacraments of the Church. The Holy Eucharist is celebrated during our weekly Sunday worship service. During that service, we proclaim the Gospel both by Word and Sacrament. Preaching and the Eucharist are central to our worship service. In addition, we also offer the sacramental rites of confirmation, marriage, reconciliation (confession), unction (healing), and ordination.
The Holy Eucharist (Holy Communion)
All baptized Christians, regardless of age or church affiliation, are welcome to receive Holy Communion.
In the Episcopal Church, all baptized Christians can receive the Eucharist of bread and wine at the altar. In some faith traditions, children must wait to receive the Eucharist until they receive special instruction and participate in a “Holy Communion” service. Children in the Episcopal Church—Anglican Catholics—do not have that restriction. With that said, though, our clergy believe that baptized children should receive proper instruction before receiving communion at the altar for the first time.
Children learn about communion, first and foremost, by attending church and observing those at the altar. They will recognize the reverence at the altar as people kneel and place their hands to receive the Eucharist—and they will want to imitate and receive. When this happens, the stage is set for instruction. In combination with regular church attendance, parent participation at the Eucharist, and the Sunday school instruction, our youngsters begin to demonstrate when they are ready to receive the Eucharist.
Parents are encouraged to speak with the clergy when they feel that their child is ready to receive, so any questions can be addressed. When ready, clergy are happy to coordinate a special date when family and friends may want to take communion together as a family.
Holy Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body the Church. The bond which God establishes in Baptism is indissoluble. Each candidate for Baptism is to be sponsored by one or more baptized persons.
Parents and godparents are to be instructed in the meaning of Baptism, in their duties to help new Christians grow in the knowledge and love of God, and in their responsibilities as members of his Church. The Book of Common Prayer, p.298
Sponsors of adults and older children present their candidates and thereby signify their endorsement of the candidates and their intention to support them by prayer and example in their Christian life. Sponsors of infants, commonly called godparents, present candidates, make promises in their own names, and also take vows on behalf of their candidates.
If you are interested in Holy Baptism for yourself, or your child or infant, please contact the priest.
In the course of their Christian development, those baptized at an early age are expected, when they are ready and have been duly prepared, to make a mature public affirmation of their faith and commitment to the responsibilities of their Baptism and to receive the laying on of hands by the bishop.
Those baptized as adults, unless baptized with laying on of hands by a bishop, are also expected to make a public affirmation of their faith and commitment to the responsibilities of their Baptism in the presence of a bishop and to receive the laying on of hands. The Book of Common Prayer, p.412
For additional information about Confirmation instruction, please see the clergy.
Christian marriage is a solemn and public covenant between the couple and God. In the Episcopal Church it is required that one, at least, of the parties be a baptized Christian; that the ceremony be attested by two witnesses; and that the marriage conform to the laws of the State and the canons of this Church.
If you are interested in a celebration or blessing of marriage at All Saints, please contact the priest.
Divorced persons are welcome at the altar rail to receive the Holy Eucharist. Children in a divorced family can be presented for Baptism. This does not mean that divorce is taken lightly in the Episcopal Church. We consider divorce to be a grave reality, and your Episcopal priest will want to talk and pray with you. But we recognize that sometimes marriages break down, and we try to make God’s love known in these painful situations. Our hope is that the sacraments of the church can bring peace and strength, especially when life is challenging.
Divorced persons are permitted to remarry in the Episcopal Church, and the church does not require an annulment. However, the priest will want to make sure that each person understands the issues that lead to the divorce with hope, that the new marriage will last a lifetime.
If you are divorced, and would like to remarry, please contact the priest.
Funerals and Burials
The death of a member of the Church should be reported as soon as possible to the priest. Funeral arrangements should be coordinated between the funeral director, priest, and the family. Baptized Christians are properly buried from the church, and the service should be held at a time when the congregation has the opportunity to be present.
In the Episcopal Church, we believe that Christian formation is the lifelong process of growing in our relationship with God, self, others, and all creation. Every experience in our lives can provide us with the opportunity to express our faith; the challenge we face is recognizing these opportunities and learning ways to live a sometimes counter-cultural life in a secular world.www.episcopalchurch.org
How do we address this challenge, and recognize opportunities?
A firm understanding of Scripture provides the foundation:
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)
Each week, our clergy preach and teach the Gospel message from the pulpit, and encourage parishioners to read and study Scripture. Weekly Scripture readings from both the Old and New Testaments are read during the Rite I and Rite II Services, and follow the Lectionary (a pre-selected collection of scriptural readings from the Bible that can be used for worship, study or other theological uses). In addition, an Outline of the Faith, commonly called the Catechism, is found in The Book of Common Prayer (pp 845-862) and is a commentary on the creeds in our liturgy, and provides a brief summary of the Church’s teachings. The combination of Scripture and liturgy and teaching can be found in our weekly services.