St. James is a part of the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion. We believe the catholic and apostolic faith is revealed in Holy Scripture and the Creeds, and is interpreted through the Christian traditions of Baptism, Communion, The Sacraments, and prayer.
"Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them." Book of Common Prayer, p. 236
It is our foundation, understood through tradition and reason, containing all things necessary for salvation. Our worship is filled with Scripture from beginning to end.
"Holy Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body, the Church." (Book of Common Prayer, p. 298
In the waters of baptism we are lovingly adopted by God into God’s family, which we call the Church, and given God’s own life to share and reminded that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ. The Rite of Holy Baptism can be found on pp. 297-308 of the Book of Common Prayer.
"We thank you ... for assuring us in these holy mysteries that we are living members of the Body of your Son, and heirs of your eternal kingdom. (Book of Common Prayer, p. 366)
It goes by several names: Holy Communion, the Eucharist (which literally means "thanksgiving"), mass. But whatever it’s called, this is the family meal for Christians and a foretaste of the heavenly banquet. As such, all persons who have been baptized, and are therefore part of the extended family that is the Church, are welcome to receive the bread and wine, and be in communion with God and each other. The Holy Eucharist can be found on pp. 316-399 of the Book of Common Prayer.
"Sacraments are outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace." (Book of Common Prayer, p. 857)
Besides baptism and the Eucharist (Holy Communion), the church recognizes other spiritual markers in our journey of faith. They help us to be a sacramental people, seeing God always at work around us. These include:
- Confirmation (the adult affirmation of our baptismal vows), pp. 413-419, Book of Common Prayer
- Reconciliation of a Penitent (private confession), pp. 447-452, Book of Common Prayer
- Matrimony (Christian marriage), pp. 422-438, Book of Common Prayer
- Orders (ordination to deacon, priest, or bishop), pp. 510-555, Book of Common Prayer
- Unction (anointing with oil those who are sick or dying) pp. 453-467, Book of Common Prayer
The Book of Common Prayer
"It is a most invaluable part of that blessed ‘liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free,’ that in his worship different forms and usages may without offence be allowed, provided the substance of the Faith be kept entire." (Book of Common Prayer, p. 9)
The Book of Common Prayer is a treasure chest full of devotional and teaching resources for individuals and congregations, but it is also the primary symbol of our unity. We, who are many and diverse, come together in Christ through our worship, our common prayer.
“The Creeds are statements of our basic beliefs about God” Book of Common Prayer, p. 851).
We will always have questions, but in the two foundational statements of faith – the Apostles’ Creed used at baptism, and the Nicene Creed used at communion – we join Christians throughout the ages in affirming our faith in the one God who created us, redeemed us, and sanctifies us.
The Apostles' Creed
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth; I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
(BCP, p. 96)
The Nicene Creed
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, all that is, seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
(BCP, pp. 358-359)