What We Believe
If you found your way to this page, there might be many reasons you are here: You might be considering St. Paul’s as your new church home. You might be interested in visiting us while you’re on vacation. You may also be just curious what “Episcopal” means. Whatever your reason is, I’m glad you are here.
The words “A House of Prayer for All People” are carved in stone over our front door, and they encapsulate the mission St. Paul’s is trying to live up to every day. We believe that “all” really means “all,” with no exceptions. That means what you will find here is a diverse group of people. The community at St. Paul’s comes from different upbringings, socio-economic backgrounds, denominational histories, political opinions, ages, ethnicities, and college basketball allegiances. What this makes St. Paul’s is a really big tent. Yet, the thing that unites us in all that diversity is the lordship of Jesus Christ and our common worship. We believe that in Jesus’ resurrection, God is healing this world, and all of us have a part to play in that redeeming mission.
You may also have specific questions about some of our particulars. Lots of people end up on a page like this because they are interested in what authority we give the Bible (lots, see below), who we say can participate in leadership (anyone who has a call and gifts to give), or who can get married at St. Paul’s (link here for the details). Whatever your questions are, I hope you’ll find some of what you are looking for here.
Thanks for exploring, and if you want to join us, we would love to have you. We will be a better community for having you among us.
The Rev. Dr. D Dixon Kinser+
Nineteenth Rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
We are an Episcopal Church. Episcopalians are constituent members of the Anglican Communion in the United States. Our denomination is descendant of and partners with the Church of England and the Scottish Episcopal Church. As members of the Anglican Communion, St. Paul’s is part of the third largest group of Christians in the world and, locally, a member of the Diocese of North Carolina.
Our Statements of Faith
At St. Paul’s, our faith is framed by some early formulations of Christian doctrine called creeds. Creeds (from the Latin word that means “I believe”) are confessions of our basic beliefs about God and what God is doing in our world.
We have two foundational creeds that you will hear during worship: the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed.
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.
The Nicene Creed
We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of 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 heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
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.
In addition to the creeds, which Christians have used throughout the world and across the ages, we hold some particular beliefs as Episcopalians. The following are from the Episcopal Church’s website, and we have included them here because they reflect how we hold these same beliefs at St. Paul’s and provide links for deeper dives.Baptismal Covenant
“Do you reaffirm your renunciation of evil and renew your commitment to Jesus Christ?” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 292).A mini catechism used at baptisms and on Easter and other special occasions, the Baptismal Covenant opens with a question-and-answer version of the statement of faith that is the Apostles’ Creed and adds five questions regarding how we, as Christians, are called to live out our faith.The Bible
“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. Approximately 70% of the Book of Common Prayer comes directly from the Bible, and Episcopalians read more Holy Scripture in Sunday worship than almost any other denomination in Christianity. (See Revised Common Lectionary of readings.)
“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 offense 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.
“It is a commentary on the creeds, but is not meant to be a complete statement of belief and practices; rather, it is a point of departure for the teacher” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 844). Offered in a question-and-answer format, the Catechism found in the back of the Book of Common Prayer (pp. 845-862) helps teach the foundational truths of the Christian faith.The Creeds
“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.
“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 reminded that we belong to God and nothing can separate us from the love of God. We also find ourselves part of an extended family, one with Christians throughout the ages and across the world, what we call the “one, holy, catholic [meaning ‘universal’], and apostolic Church.”
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.
“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. 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
If what you are looking for cannot be found above, send us an email. We would love to hear from you.