Episcopal Distinctives

St. Mark’s is an Episcopal congregation.  The word “Episcopal” comes from the Greek word for “bishop,” and so we are the church of bishops.  Our denomination is organized in Dioceses, where each has a diocesan bishop. We also have a suffragan (or “helping”) bishop here in the Diocese of Massachusetts.

The Church of England (also known as the “Anglican Church”) was founded on the premise of being a via media or “middle way.”  It is both Protestant and Catholic. We have both conservative and progressive members in our congregation. We seek, in almost all areas, to find a middle ground.

In addition, we have three bases of authority: scripture, tradition and reason. Known by many as the three-legged stool, this approach simply means that we hold scripture–God’s Word–in relation to both the tradition handed down by our forebears and our own God-given capacity to reason. While many churches determine authority only through scripture or in the teachings of the church, we see this larger approach as an opportunity for the Holy Spirit to move in and among us through the Bible, our history and our intellect.

Finally, and most importantly, this is a church for questions. We believe God gave us reason, which means that sometimes putting together an understanding of faith is hard. We recognize that doubt isn’t the opposite of faith; rather fear is. So we strive to be open to questions, seeking together and asking the Spirit to guide us in to truth.