The Episcopal Church
Being an Episcopal Church means...
St. Stephen's is more than the people who worship at the corner of Grove Avenue and Three Chopt Road. One of the distinctive things about being an Episcopalian is the sense of connection and fellowship one has with other Anglican and Episcopalian Christians throughout the world.
St. Stephen's Episcopal Church is part of the Diocese of Virginia, one of the oldest and largest dioceses in the Episcopal Church. Our diocese includes 80,000 people who worship God and reach out to others in 181 parishes in 38 counties in central, northern and northwestern Virginia. It is one of three Episcopal dioceses in the Commonwealth of Virginia, the others being the Diocese of Southwestern Virginia (based in Roanoke) and the Diocese of Southern Virginia (based in Norfolk).
Our diocesan bishop is the Rt. Rev. Shannon Sherwood Johnston. Our bishop suffragan (a bishop elected to assist the diocesan bishop) is the Rt. Rev. Susan E. Goff. The diocese is in the process of seeking and nominating candidates to serve as another bishop suffragan working with Bishop Johnston and Bishop Goff. (The process is described on the diocesan Web site.)
The Episcopal Church is a fellowship of 2.2 million Christians in 108 dioceses throughout the United States as well as Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, the Virgin Islands, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Micronesia, Taiwan, and the Convocation of American Churches in Europe. The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church is the Most Rev. Michael B. Curry. Bishop Curry, previously the Bishop of North Carolina, was elected during the 78th General Convention in June 2015 in Salt Lake City. He took office in November 2015.
The Episcopal Church is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, a global fellowship of 73 million Christians in 38 self-governing provinces. The Archbishop of Canterbury is the Most Rev. and Rt. Hon. Justin Welby. While he is sometimes compared to a pope, a more accurate description of his role is that he is "first among equals" with his brother and sister bishops from throughout the Anglican Communion.
There are a number of sources of more in-depth information about the Episcopal Church and what it means to be an Episcopalian, including:
- The Inquirers Class with St. Stephen's clergy, offered three times a year.
- The Episcopal Church's Web site
- The Diocese of Virginia's Web site
- The Book of Common Prayer (the prayer book we use in church)
The following are available for purchase in the parish bookstore:
- The Episcopal Handbook
- Those Episkopols by Dennis Maynard
- A People Called Episcopalians by John Westerhoff
- A New Dictionary for Episcopalians by John N. Wall