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About St. Philip's

St. Philip’s Parish Collect for 2017

At our February Vestry Retreat, we decided that although the vision and mission of our parish has not changed, we wanted to write a Collect or prayer that summed up what we believe to be important here.  So we wrote a parish collect to use in worship:

Oh God, you call us to move beyond the familiar into a Promised Land of transformation and new possibilities. Grant us courage to journey together through challenges, the power of our support for each other, and the joy of welcome and inclusion for those who come to us. Teach us how to be more than citizens of your kingdom–to be your disciples and to make new disciples in your name. In all we do, we follow you alone, our God and Creator. In the name of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord we pray. Amen.

St. Philip’s Vision

Every day Saint Philip’s proclaims Christ’s love by nurturing our church family, young and old, and actively reaching out to our community. Through our words and deeds we inspire, welcome and encourage others to journey together in Christian faith and growth.


Anglican History

From its very beginning—about 1560—being Anglican has meant that we are both Catholic and Protestant. If you are scratching your head, you might think about us as being “the middle way,” or “Via Media” between the two practices of faith. Anglican worship—like Roman Catholic worship—is liturgical—meaning that we have a particular structure of worship (i.e. see above about Word and Sacrament)—and we have a (loose) common bind of what we call “Common Prayer.” That means that we use The Book of Common Prayer for our worship (you’ll find some variations around the world on this Book nowadays), and we emphasize the corporate nature of what we do. In other words, we may have personal and individual spiritual practices like prayer and devotional reading, but when we come to worship together, we participate as community, not as individuals. At St. Philip’s, we emphasize taking Holy Communion together every Sunday at both services, so you could say we are “eucharistically focused,” as our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters are.

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Our more Protestant side is seen with our emphasis on the reading of Holy Scripture within the community. You will hear some folks say that Episcopalians don’t read the Bible, but this statement is wrong. Every Sunday, someone reads a lesson from the Old Testament (or Hebrew Scriptures), we either read or sing a Psalm from the Old Testament, someone reads a lesson from the New Testament (or Christian scriptures), and then the priest reads a passage from one of the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. After the Gospel reading, the priest preaches a sermon that is based on one or more of these readings, and she tries very hard to make some “real” connections between Holy Scripture and folks’ daily lives.

We Episcopalians (and Anglicans) have never believed that “the Word of God” is a literal interpretation of what is in the Bible, or “the words of God.” We believe that Jesus was the Word made flesh, that Holy Scripture contains the story of God’s people—rooted, grounded, and given life through God. We believe in the role of reason: that the people of God continue to wrestle with what Holy Scripture means, out of our daily lives. We believe that the Holy Spirit continues to breathe fresh life and insight through the words contained in the Bible, and through our lives of faith. In the Episcopal Church, you will never have to “check your brains at the door.” Your questions about faith and spirituality are as important as any answers you may get during your lifetime.

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What else? Oh, tradition. Tradition means that the Episcopal Church believes in the faith as handed down through the centuries from Jesus and the first apostles. We believe we are part of “the Church catholic” (and here, the word catholic means “universal”), and we believe in the historic episcopate. The Anglican/Episcopal church tradition includes Bishops (that’s the episcopate part), Priests, and Deacons as ordained ministers—and women are part of the ordained ministry. We also consider everyone else to be ministers, too. So lay people (or unordained people) are ministers through their baptisms. If you are a lay person, you have gifts and talents with which we hope you’ll build God’s kingdom, along with the ordained leadership. At St. Philip’s, the laity do all sorts of things, and on Sunday mornings, they read lessons, lead prayers, help with Communion, teach Sunday School, etc. In the Anglican/Episcopal church, there are a few things that only ordained people can do: read the Gospel, prepare the altar for Communion, absolve (forgive) people’s sins in God’s name, consecrate (say a special blessing) the bread and wine for Communion, and bless the people.

You may have heard a lot of press lately about all the divisions among churches, dioceses (that’s the basic unit which contains a number of churches or parishes), provinces and countries in the Anglican Communion. It’s true. We’re having what you might call A Family Fight. And you know what that means. Some not-so-nice stuff is being thrown back and forth amongst us, and obviously we do not all agree on who should be sitting at the Family Dinner Table. But so far, most of the family is still sitting at the table, and most of the family is still speaking to each other, even if we’re not talking a lot.

St. Philip’s believes that everyone is welcome at the Family Dinner Table, because frankly, it is not our table. It’s God’s Table. And you would have to find some real proof for the rector that Jesus of Nazareth turned anyone away from his table, or that there was someone’s table where he did not sit and eat and drink. Except maybe the people who thought they knew the Truth, the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth. So whoever you are, you’re welcome at our Table, whatever your culture or race or marital status or sexual orientation or age. If you haven’t been baptized, we’ll baptize you (if that is what you want!) If you haven’t been confirmed, we can arrange that with Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde. Or if you have been confirmed in a liturgical tradition, Bishop Budde can receive you, recognizing that you’ve already been confirmed.

Scripture. Tradition. Reason. That’s the Anglican “three-legged stool,” as the theologian Richard Hooker explained it in the late 1500’s. Although he probably did it in more depth than this little explanation by the rector. You can look Hooker up on the World Wide Web if you’d like to know more. And, as Forrest Gump said, “That’s all I’m gonna say about that.”


St. Philip’s & the Anglican Church

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St. Philips is a place where God and God’s people invite you to God’s Table and ours! Every Sunday morning, we gather to worship God in Word and Sacrament. What do Word and Sacrament mean?

Word: We read and hear portions of the Bible so we better understand the story of God’s people. We listen to a sermon, so that we better understand how our own stories as human beings fit into the larger story of God’s people. We pray together. We sing hymns from different cultural traditions. So that’s the Word part.

Sacrament: This is a sign. A symbol. Something we do as human beings that points to something greater than ourselves. After we have focused on God’s Word in the Bible, we have Holy Communion: we eat blessed bread and we drink blessed wine and we remember how Jesus of Nazareth welcomed people to the table in God’s name. And we believe that Jesus is present in, and through, the sharing of bread and wine.

At St. Philip’s, we are Christians, meaning that we follow the person and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, whom we believe to be God’s Son.

We are Anglicans and Episcopalians as well. What does it mean to be those things? First of all, if you know anything about math (and I am math-challenged, so this will be simple!), you have sets and you have subsets. The Episcopal Church is the American subset of the Anglican Communion, so you will only find The Episcopal Church in the United States. However, you will find Anglican churches all over the globe. This is a very simple explanation. If you want to know even more, you can click here. Finally, if you are one of those people who want a big, involved explanation, visit the Anglican Communion website.

You may have heard a lot of press lately about all the divisions among churches, dioceses (that’s the basic unit which contains a number of churches or parishes), provinces and countries in the Anglican Communion. It’s true. We’re having what you might call A Family Fight. And you know what that means. Some not-so-nice stuff is being thrown back and forth amongst us, and obviously we do not all agree on who should be sitting at the Family Dinner Table. But so far, most of the family is still sitting at the table, and most of the family is still speaking to each other, even if we’re not talking a lot.

St. Philip’s believes that everyone is welcome at the Family Dinner Table, because frankly, it is not our table. It’s God’s Table. And you would have to find some real proof for the rector that Jesus of Nazareth turned anyone away from his table, or that there was someone’s table where he did not sit and eat and drink. Except maybe the people who thought they knew the Truth, the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth. So whoever you are, you’re welcome at our Table, whatever your culture or race or marital status or sexual orientation or age. If you haven’t been baptized, we’ll baptize you (if that is what you want!) If you haven’t been confirmed, we can arrange that with Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde. Or if you have been confirmed in a liturgical tradition, Bishop Budde can receive you, recognizing that you’ve already been confirmed.

So come and check out these Anglicans/Episcopalians on Main Street in Laurel. You may discover that you’ve found a church family.