The Episcopal Church is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion and traces its heritage to the beginnings of Christianity. Our liturgy retains ancient structure and traditions and is celebrated in many languages. Both men and women, including those who are married, are eligible for ordination as deacons, priests and bishops in the Episcopal Church.
The Episcopal Church celebrates diversity. We are young and old, male and female, gay and straight, single, married, divorced and widowed, Anglo, African American, Latino, African, Asian, CEO and unemployed, student and teacher, rich and poor. We worship together, study and ask questions as we move more deeply into the mystery of God. Our worship services reflect a diversity of styles as well, from traditional to contemporary, jazz to gospel. All worship follows the form set out in our Book of Common Prayer.
Historically, bishops oversee the Church in particular geographic areas, known as dioceses. In the worldwide Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury occupies a special position by virtue of history and tradition, but he does not hold a governing position. We are a confederation of equals. Bishops from the Anglican Communion meet regularly for the Lambeth Conference, at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Collegiality among bishops is the substitute for authority, and communal discernment is the substitute for decision-making power.
Each bishop and diocese, operating through a local annual council, determine the character of life and work in that diocese within a set of general decisions made by a triennial General Convention of The Episcopal Church. These decisions are formalized as canons, or rules that govern. Each diocese elects and sends clergy and lay representatives to the General Convention.
St. Peter’s is an active part of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland. We are one of many congregations within this Diocese connected to each other by covenant with God and with each other. Our Bishop, Bishop Eugene Sutton, is the spiritual leader of the Diocese and has been instrumental in leading us through a dynamic period of change and growth. Bishop Sutton visits all congregations in the Diocese on a periodic schedule.