What Kind of Church Is This?
For more information about Trinity Episcopal Church, the Diocese of Texas, and the Episcopal Church, we recommend that you watch our welcome video and explore this website and the links.
In many ways, the Episcopal Church can be viewed as the heir to the English Reformation in the United States and several other countries of the Western Hemisphere. We are part of the Anglican Communion, a fellowship of some 70-80 million Christians throughout the world who share certain family resemblances (especially when it comes to history and worship). The Anglican Communion is diverse in every conceivable way but united in following Jesus, whose mission we continue in the world. We believe that our fellowship (and each of the self-governing regional churches that make it up) are part of the “one holy catholic and apostolic Church” mentioned in the Creeds, without being the whole of it. Like other parts of the Anglican family, Episcopalians have been crucial to the founding of the modern ecumenical movement, in which the divided branches of the Christian Church seek a shared life and witness to Jesus. Our Presiding Bishop (Bishop Michael Curry, of royal wedding fame) speaks of the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement.
Among churches emerging out of the sixteenth-century reformations, the Church of England was distinctive in several respects. Unlike Protestant churches on the continent, the English Reformation involved separating from the Pope and the Church of Rome politically, while retaining (and, in some cases, reforming) many of the sacraments, traditions, and governance structures of the medieval Church. It saw itself as both Catholic and Reformed. Some chose to emphasize one aspect of this heritage over the other, but tensions between different factions in the Church were resolved by royal supremacy. In the so called Elizabethan settlement, it was also agreed that different points of view would co-exist within a single church with agreement about the historic Creeds and primacy of Scripture, as well as a shared pattern of worship, embodied in the Book of Common Prayer. One great advocate for this way of being Christian, Bishop John Jewel, argued that the Church of England intended to preserve the faith and practice of the undivided Church. Another, Richard Hooker, argued against the Puritan party that the Church of England would be governed by Scripture, tradition, and reason rather than by Scripture alone.
After the American Revolution of 1776, the Episcopal Church became self-governing, no longer subject to the English monarchy or the Church of England’s hierarchy. The Church was also organized with a Constitution that provided for substantial roles for lay people, priests, and deacons, as well as bishops, in the governance of the Church. Since that time, many other regional churches have emerged from colonial relationships and become fully self-governing as well. From our Anglican heritage, the Episcopal Church has received a habit of being a big tent that brings a wide variety of Christians together within a culture of civility and a framework of Common Prayer. We do not always agree about everything, but we come to the Lord’s Table together. The Episcopal Church is incredibly diverse. It includes many different beliefs, backgrounds, and perspectives, and just about every point of view.
Our fundamental traditions are a generous orthodoxy, rooted in the Scriptures and the historic Creeds and Sacraments, as well as a remarkable openness to all truth, wherever it may be found. We encourage a variety of interpretations of the traditions we cherish. Our Church has proven remarkably open to such developments as the theory of evolution and historical criticism of the Bible. Still, we try to preserve a faithful witness to Jesus Christ, which is both open to mystery and responsible to the testimony of our brothers and sisters in other times and places.
Trinity is part of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, which includes 153 congregations and more than 76,000 members. We are spread out in 57 counties (over 50,000 square miles), including historic East Texas, as well as places like Houston, Galveston, College Station, Austin, Waco, and many smaller cities and towns. According to the vision of the Diocese of Texas: “As followers of Jesus Christ, we are one Church within the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church. All are sought and embraced in worship, mission and ministry in a spirit of mutual love and respect.”
Here at Trinity, we live this vision out in many different ways. Among them are joyful, Christ-centered worship; prayer groups, Bible studies, and Sunday School; fellowship and mutual support; and community outreach and civic engagement. In a time of deep divisions, isolation, and violence, we stand for peace, justice, and reconciliation in Christ. At Trinity, you will find many, many ways to worship God, connect with people, and follow Jesus in the world. We believe that Jesus changes lives. He calls each one of us to participate in his mission, so our neighborhoods, schools, and workplaces may better reflect his love. Here at Trinity, you will find brothers and sisters who support you on your journey of faith and help you carry your burdens.
Above all, you will find Jesus, the living Lord. Trinity is a community where we find deep faith, holy friendships, and a God of love. We are named for the mystery of the Holy Trinity. (One God in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.) We believe that God is a perfect community of love and that the Church points us (partially and imperfectly but really) to that sacred Mystery of love. This happens as we live out our faith and calling from God in relationship with one another. Our hope is summarized in the words of a prayer we offer together at Daily Evening Prayer, that “in companionship with one another, God’s abounding grace may increase among us, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”