Christian Life in the Diocese
This section of the site includes core information about living a Christian life as an Episcopalian. Some of this is specifically designed for Church members; we hope that other parts may also be helpful to interested inquirers.
The Three Essentials
We believe that to be complete, a Christian life must include three elements, and that all that we do flows from them. These vital elements are:
Worship, Nurture and Mission
Our Episcopal worship, which involves the participation of all who are present, is “liturgical” in nature. This means that it follows a set of fixed forms, all of which—except for those designed for special events—are contained in the Book of Common Prayer. The diocesan Liturgical Commission is responsible for thinking hard and making more or less binding recommendations about how services should be conducted: by clicking on the link above, you can find what they have said recently. For a concise and helpful description of Episcopal worship and an explanation of why we value it, we suggest that you visit the “What to Expect when you Visit” page of the Episcopal Church web site. Information on the Diocese of New York’s and the wider church’s views and policies on Baptism, Confirmation, Marriages and Funerals is available through the appropriate links in the menu bar.
We believe that Holy Baptism is the seed that begins a lifelong process of Christian growth, which we must nurture throughout life. This means (of course) education for both adults and children; but more than that, it means providing a fertile environment for individuals to grow ever stronger in faith. The Diocese formally supports the commitment of its parishes to nurture their members through the Commission for Christian Formation. Click on the link to learn more.
For Episcopalians, “mission” means witnessing to God’s love in everything we do. Indeed, we believe that each and every one of us, not just clergy but lay members too, is called to a specific Christian ministry in this world (for information on specifically clerical vocations, click here.) And by witnessing to Christ’s word and to our love of God through our unconditional, non-judgmental love of our neighbors, we strive to give daily substance and solid practical meaning to this belief. We do this through grass-roots social programs in our parishes, through prison and hospital ministries, and—because our neighbors are far away across the globe as well here beside us, through relationships with dioceses overseas and through programs like Carpenter’s Kids, which provides breakfasts and school uniforms to AIDS orphans in Tanzania. Some of the diocesan organizations concerned primarily or partly with mission are the Congregational Life for Mission Commission, the Social Concerns Commission, the Anti-Racism Committee, and the Economic Justice Committee. A practical manifestation is Episcopal Charities, the highly efficient outreach arm of the diocese that supports grass-roots programs at the parish level.
Try as we might, we cannot entirely eliminate the use of otherwise obscure ecclesiastical terminology. If a word on this site puzzles you, please refer to our glossary of terms. If it isn’t there, please email us and tell us so—we spend so much time with this stuff that we sometimes lose track of what is and is not plain English.