So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.
Explore Episcopal Beliefs and Governance
What We Believe
We Episcopalians believe in a loving, liberating, and life-giving God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As constituent members of the Anglican Communion in the United States, we are descendants of and partners with the Church of England and the Scottish Episcopal Church, and are part of the third largest group of Christians in the world.
We believe in following the teachings of Jesus Christ, whose life, death, and resurrection saved the world.
We have a legacy of inclusion, aspiring to tell and exemplify God’s love for every human being; women and men serve as bishops, priests, and deacons in our church. Laypeople and clergy cooperate as leaders at all levels of our church. Leadership is a gift from God, and can be expressed by all people in our church, regardless of sexual identity or orientation.
We believe that God loves you – no exceptions.
Inquirers' classes are offered for newcomers, visitors, or members who "inquire" about the Episcopal Church. Instruction typically includes information concerning the beliefs, history, worship, and practices of the Episcopal Church. Participants in the class may be known as inquirers. Those who wish to become members of the Episcopal Church may be presented for Confirmation or Reception if they have already been baptized. Inquirers who have not yet been baptized may be prepared for baptism through the catechumenate. Confirmed members may renew their confirmation.
St. Peter's Episcopal Church is one of the parishes in the Diocese of West Texas. The Diocese of West Texas is one of the 111 dioceses and regional areas in 17 nations of The Episcopal Church. The Episcopal Church is a member province of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The Anglican Communion is one of the world’s largest Christian communities. It has tens of millions of members in more than 165 countries around the globe. Anglicanism is one of the traditions or expressions of Christian faith. Others include Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran and Baptist.
The Anglican Communion is organized into a series of provinces and extra-provincial areas. The provinces are subdivided into dioceses, and the dioceses into parishes. There is no central authority in the Anglican Communion. All of the provinces are autonomous and free to make their own decisions in their own ways. The provinces are guided by recommendations from the four Instruments: the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Primates’ Meeting, and the Anglican Consultative Council.
The Episcopal Church is governed by a bicameral General Convention, which meets every three years, and by an Executive Council during interim years. The General Convention consists of the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies. The Episcopal Church is guided by the Presiding Bishop. The Diocese of West Texas is guided by the Diocesan Bishop. The parish of St. Peter's Episcopal Church is guided by the Rector.
The Anglican Communion and The Episcopal Church are organized around bishops. For St. Peter's Episcopal Church the guiding bishops are Archbishop of Canterbury, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, and the Diocesan Bishop for the Diocese of West Texas. This emphasis on bishops comes from the time of the New Testament where bishops were ordained to carry on the apostolic work of leading, supervising, and uniting the Church.
The vestry is the legal representative of the parish with regard to all matters pertaining to its corporate property. The number of vestry members and the term of office varies from parish to parish. Vestry members are usually elected at the annual parish meeting. The presiding officer of the vestry is the rector. There are usually two wardens. The senior warden leads the parish between rectors and is a support person for the rector. The junior warden often has responsibility for church property and buildings. A treasurer and a secretary or clerk may be chosen. These officers may or may not be vestry members. The basic responsibilities of the vestry are to help define and articulate the mission of the congregation; to support the church's mission by word and deed, to select the rector, to ensure effective organization and planning, and to manage resources and finances.
To pursue interest in church governance and history of governance, consult the following sources.