What We Believe
The Cathedral of the Incarnation is a Christian community seeking to understand, and live into, what it means to be a follower of Jesus in the world today. Our mission is to welcome all to worship joyfully, care deeply and act boldly as followers of Christ.
Like Christians everywhere, we believe in Jesus Christ, as expressed in the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds. We believe in the Holy Scriptures, understood through reason and tradition. We believe that the Sacraments, including Baptism and Holy Communion, are outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace. These beliefs are held in common by Episcopalians, but the Church also values intellectual freedom and individual conscience in matters of faith.
If you want to know what we believe just listen carefully to what we say in worship. A key tenet of the Anglican Tradition is that we pray what we believe (lex orandi, lex credendi). The Sunday bulletin is a great place to start to familiarize yourself with our beliefs and will help guide you through the service, indicating the pages of the books we use most often: The Book of Common Prayer (red), The Hymnal (blue, but sometimes red), and Wonder, Love, and Praise (green). All present are invited to take an active part in worship, and all are welcome to receive Holy Communion.
We believe that we are accountable to each other and the wider Baltimore community. As a community, we become a reflection of God’s glory celebrated through our many and diverse gifts—we incarnate Christ to others.
The Episcopal Church
The Episcopal Church in the United States has been around since the American Revolution, when it became separate from the Church of England. It has since become one of the most prominent of the United States churches, accounting for over two million baptized members.
The Episcopal Church is believed to be a bridge between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, as much of Episcopal theology is Protestant in nature, while much of Episcopal worship, spiritual practice, and church structure bears semblance to Catholicism.
The foundation of Episcopal faith manifests itself in three parts: Holy Scripture, Tradition, and Reason. Holy Scripture, according to Episcopalians, is “written by people…inspired by the Holy Spirit.” We find insights and stories in Scripture that reflect truth in our own lives, truth that helps guide us in our own day-to-day struggles. Tradition consists of the interpretation of God’s purposes by past generations of Christians. The interpretations offered by the Church Councils, like the First Council of Nicaea, are especially valued. The First Council of Nicaea wrote the Nicene Creed, which to this day Episcopalians recite every week. Reason allows us to honor God and remain faithful. When we use our minds to think deeply about God’s will and to consult Scripture and Tradition, God is revealed in the world around us—and us in God.
The word “Episcopal” itself is derived from the Greek word for “bishop;” in this way, our very name means that The Episcopal Church is structured around bishops. Episcopal bishops, like bishops in the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches, trace their authority to the first-century Apostles. Each bishop oversees a geographic area called a diocese. Within the diocese are local congregations called parishes. A parish consists of a body of baptized Christians, often served by an ordained priest and deacon. The Cathedral of the Incarnation is part of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland. Other dioceses within the state are the Diocese of Washington and the Diocese of Easton.
The Book of Common Prayer is an essential part of Episcopal life and worship. It includes a wealth of prayers and liturgies for almost every occasion and serves as a way to center our lives in Christ.
The Mission of the Episcopal Church is five-fold:
- To proclaim the Good News of Christ
- To teach, baptize, and nurture new believers
- To respond to human need by loving service
- To seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind, and to pursue peace and reconciliation
- To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.
The Cathedral seeks to sustain this Mission in and around Baltimore.