All Saints parish started in 1962 by a group of Episcopalians who were dissatisfied with the liberal direction that the Episcopal Church was taking in its theology. We are a traditional Episcopal (Anglican) Church, "continuing steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in the breaking of bread and in the prayers."
In the earliest church, all baptized persons were ministers; except for the 12 apostles, there were no specialized orders. When congregations gathered for the agape meal, the presiding person was likely to be the host. The first specialization is recorded in the Acts of the Apostles: when Greek-speaking members of the Jerusalem community complained that their widows were neglected in the distribution of food, the apostles delegated seven men "of good standing, full of the Spirit" to wait on tables, freeing the apostles to preach the word. Acts also records how the church addressed the important question of the inclusion of uncircumcised Gentiles: in 49, the apostles convened the Jerusalem Council to resolve the issue, the first of many councils that would shape the church and its creeds.
Taking as example both synagogues and the Roman Empire--with deacons and elders or presbyters or priests in each congregation and bishops overseeing a number of communities in an urban center.
When the Roman Emperor Constantine recognized and favored the church early in the 4th century, the church began a movement toward greater complexity, greater disparity between laity and clergy, and greater identification with the state. With the reformations of the 16th century, national churches withdrew from the church of the old Holy Roman Empire and shaped new entities, some starkly different from the church they left--very protestant.
The Church of England was formed over a long period, in its own unique reformation. In the Elizabethan Settlement, a church emerged that had no allegiance to the Pope, conducted services in the vernacular, allowed priests to marry, used the Book of Common Prayer--at the same time that it maintained apostolic succession, the sacramental priesthood, traditional liturgies and creeds. The Church of England then was both protestant and ctholic.
The Church of England followed the British flag around the world, and to the new colonies in America. The church there, convening in 1784, established a bicameral governing system that, from the outset, included laity.
The Anglican Communion is comprised of the nineteen national and independent churches in communion with and recognizing the See of Canterbury. It includes the Church of England, and Churches in the United States and in Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Canada, Australia, West Indies, New Zealand, South Africa, West Africa, and others. Building on this foundation, the Southern Episcopal Church of the United States of America was formed in 1962. All Saints parish was the first parish formed because of the seeming heresies that were proposed and accepted by the Episcopal Church in the United States. Also there were many who were moving to follow the newage movement in the Church which would deny the infalibility of the Word and deem it unnecessary to have a faith in the virgin birth and resurrection of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. We had to take a stand for the Church to be the Church of Jesus Christ. We also, could not accept membership in such secular organizations as the World Council of Churchs and the proliferation of other world organizations that went against Christian principals and the faith and practice established in the Epiacopal Church nationally and the Anglican Communion world wide.
A bishop is the chief priest and pastor of a diocese, elected by the diocese and affirmed by other bishops. All other clergy derive their authority from the bishop. The bishop administers the discipline of the Church and is responsible for seeing that church congregations worship in accordance with The Book of Common Prayer. The bishop alone confirms, receives, and ordains persons. A bishop coajutor is one who has been elected by the diocese to succeed to the bishopric. A suffragan bishop is elected to assist the diocesan bishop, but has no right of succession. Once consecrated, a bishop is bishop for life. A General Synod elects a presiding bishop.
A priest (or presbyter) is a person authorized by his ordination to preach, administer the sacraments, bless and pardon in God's name. A priest is the regular minister of a parish and spiritual leader of the congregation. A rector is the priest in full charge of an independent parish; he may be assisted by a curate or assistant rector or associate rector. A vicar is the priest in charge of a chapel or mission, representing the bishop. A dean is the priest in charge of a cathedral church. A deacon is ordained to assist the bishop or priest. A transitional deacon is preparing for ordination to the priesthood. A perpetual or vocational deacon is ordained to represent the church in the world and may work in a secular setting at the pleasure of the bishop.
The basic territorial unit of the national Church is the diocese. The diocese contains many individual congregations that are independent parishes or diocesan supported missions. Within a diocese, congregations may be grouped geographically into regional convocations or deaneries. A group of dioceses forms a province. The Southern Episcopal Church has two full dioceses. In addition there are five Missionary Districts with Missionary Bishops in each during a time of building. When a missionary district contains 6 full parishes then it may apply for diocesan status.
The centrality of the bishop is what makes us Episcopal. Through the bishop we are members of the Church Universal, Holy and Apostolic--the church of Jesus Christ into which we were baptized. Through the bishop we are connected back through 2000 years to the first apostles, to every part of the world-wide Anglican Communion, and to every Christian who ever lived as well as the entire Church Catholic.
To know more about what we believe, read the Apostles creed, which says,
"I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord: Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, Born of the Virgin Mary: Suffered under Pontius Pilate, Was crucified, dead, and buried: He descended into hell; The third day he rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty: From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost: The holy Catholic Church; The Communion of Saints; The Forgiveness of sins: The Resurrection of the Body: And the Life everlasting. Amen."
The Lord be with you.
And with thy spirit.
Let us pray.
Almighty God, bless those who seek to find your truth. Help them with the guidance of your Holy Spirit that they may know you and your Son, Jesus Christ and learn that you are the answer to the problems of men. Help us to know thy will. Help us to do thy will. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.