The Episcopal Church

What We Believe

We Episcopalians believe in a loving, liberating, and life-giving God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As constituent members of the Anglican Communion in the United States, we are descendants of and partners with the Church of England and the Scottish Episcopal Church, and are part of the third largest group of Christians in the world.
We believe in following the teachings of Jesus Christ, whose life, death, and resurrection saved the world.
We have a legacy of inclusion, aspiring to tell and exemplify God’s love for every human being; women and men serve as bishops, priests, and deacons in our church. Laypeople and clergy cooperate as leaders at all levels of our church. Leadership is a gift from God, and can be expressed by all people in our church, regardless of sexual identity or orientation.
We believe that God loves you – no exceptions.

Bishop Michael Bruce Curry

Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church

The Most Rev. Michael Bruce Curry is Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church.  He is the Chief Pastor and serves as President and Chief Executive Officer, and as Chair of the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church. Presiding Bishop Curry was installed as the 27th Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church on November 1, 2015.  He was elected to a nine-year term and confirmed at the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church in Salt Lake City, UT, on June 27, 2015.
Presiding Bishop Curry was graduated with high honors from Hobart College in Geneva, NY, in 1975. He received a Master of Divinity degree in 1978 from Yale University Divinity School in New Haven, CT. He has furthered his education with continued study at The College of Preachers, Princeton Theological Seminary, Wake Forest University, the Ecumenical Institute at St. Mary's Seminary, and the Institute of Christian Jewish Studies. He has received honorary degrees from Episcopal Divinity School; Sewanee: The University of the South; Virginia Theological Seminary; and Yale. Presiding Bishop Curry was ordained to the diaconate in June 1978, at St. Paul's Cathedral, Buffalo, NY, by the Rt. Rev. Harold B. Robinson, and to the priesthood in December 1978, at St. Stephen's, Winston-Salem, NC, by the Rt. Rev. John M. Burgess. He began his ministry as deacon-in-charge at St. Stephen's, Winston-Salem, in 1978 and was rector from 1979-1982. He next accepted a call as rector at St. Simon of Cyrene, Lincoln Heights, OH, serving from 1982-1988. In 1988 he was called to become rector of St. James', Baltimore, MD, where he served until his election as the 11th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina in February 2000.
Throughout his ministry, Presiding Bishop Curry has been active in issues of social justice, reconciliation, speaking out on immigration policy and marriage equality.

Bishop Daniel G. P. Gutiérrez

Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania

The Rt. Rev. Daniel G. P. Gutiérrez was ordained on  July 16, 2016, as the 16th bishop of the historic Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania, the second oldest and fourth largest diocese in the Episcopal Church. After his initial “listening pilgrimage” across the Diocese, Gutiérrez is focused on emphasizing the sacred presence of Jesus Christ and a call to holiness through a renewed focus on reverence, deep relationships, innovation, accountability and listening. He has restructured the Diocesan offices to better serve its parishes without increasing the budget. Gutiérrez emphasizes the role of a Bishop as a Pastor to the clergy and a shepherd to the laity.

The Sacraments

Our Anglican tradition recognizes sacraments as “outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace.” (The Book of Common Prayer, p. 857) Holy Baptism and the Eucharist (or Holy Communion) are the two great sacraments given by Christ to his Church. In Baptism, the outward and visible sign is water, the person is baptized in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit; the inward and spiritual grace is union with Christ in his death and resurrection, birth into God’s family the Church, forgiveness of sins, and new life in the Holy Spirit.

In the case of the Communion or Eucharist, the outward and visible sign is bread and wine, given and received according to Christ’s command. The inward and spiritual grace is the Body and Blood of Christ given to his people, and received by faith.

In addition to these two, there are other spiritual markers in our journey of faith that can serve as means of grace. These include:

Confirmation: Adult affirmation of our baptismal vows

Reconciliation of a Penitent: Private confession

Matrimony: Christian marriage*
*Any couple, regardless of gender, are allowed the rite of Holy Matrimony

Orders: Ordination to the diaconate, priesthood, or episcopacy

Unction: Anointing those who are sick or dying with holy oil.

The Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania

St. Luke's church is part of the Diocese of Pennsylvania, which is compromised of 134 congregations across 5 counties. The Diocese of Pennsylvania is under the spiritual guidance of Bishop Daniel G. P. Gutiérrez.

A Brief History of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania

Quakers may have founded Pennsylvania, but Anglicans were present from the beginning. They established nine congregations, including Christ Church, Philadelphia (1695), Trinity Church, Oxford (1698), St. David’s, Radnor (1700), and St. Thomas, Whitemarsh (1702), in the colony’s first twenty years. After the American Revolution, Anglicans became Episcopalians. Led by the Reverend William White, they organized the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania in 1784. White became its first Bishop three years later, and the diocese grew rapidly during his episcopacy (1787-1836). In the beginning, the diocese spanned a vast area, extending from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh. Essentially, it encompassed the whole of Pennsylvania. But the rigors of travel and the growth of the church necessitated reorganization. In 1865, a new Diocese of Pittsburgh took responsibility for every parish west of the Alleghenies. By 1910, there were five Episcopal dioceses in Pennsylvania, and the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania covered only the southeastern corner of the commonwealth. But the bulk of Pennsylvania’s Episcopalians lived there – in Philadelphia, Bucks, Montgomery, Chester and Delaware counties.
Throughout its history, the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania has been subject to what some might call countervailing forces. On such important matters as governance, worship, and doctrine, it has struggled to resolve differences. The Episcopal Church itself emerged from a series of compromises that were made in England and America. Bishop White favored the “middle way” – a balance between individual piety and shared ritual, between parish autonomy and centralized leadership. Some of his successors (e.g. Henry Ustick Onderdonk, 1836-1844) tried to reconcile those committed to “high” and “low” church beliefs and practices. The emergence of “liberal” theology at the end of the nineteenth century heightened tensions. Its emphasis on social responsibility did not appeal to all Episcopalians. In the twentieth century the diocese came to grips, if not for all time, with its own dispersal and diversity.
African Americans have worshipped in the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania since its inception. As enslaved persons and freemen, they attended services at some of its most venerable congregations, worshiping with some Episcopalians who were slave holders. When Bishop White made Absalom Jones their leader in 1794, he acknowledged their importance. Nevertheless, all-black congregations were not common until the city’s African American population expanded in the first half of the twentieth century. By 1980, the parish Jones once led (the African Episcopal Church of Saint Thomas, 1794) had become one of the largest (black or white) in the diocese. Many black Episcopalians now worshiped by themselves in parishes that had once been all white or integrated (Church of the Advocate, Philadelphia, 1886). Until Robert L. DeWitt (1964-1973) became its twelfth bishop in 1964, the Diocese of Pennsylvania largely ignored the civil rights movement. During his nine years at the helm, DeWitt insisted that the diocese acknowledge and respond to the racism and discrimination in its midst. Troubled by riots in Philadelphia and Chester, he supported an ecumenical effort to desegregate Girard College, a boarding school for orphan boys that bore the name of its nineteenth century benefactor. He even lent his support to the idea that the best way to atone for the sin of slavery was through “reparations.”
DeWitt’s successor, Lyman L. Ogilby (1974-1988), inherited a diocese that was certainly more attuned to issues of inequality and social justice than it once had been. This new sensitivity manifested itself in July 1974 when the first women to become Episcopal priests were ordained in Philadelphia. The ceremony took place at the Church of the Advocate whose rector, the Reverend Paul M. Washington, was also an important civil rights leader. Ogilby did not participate, but neither did he stand in the way. By then, lay women had begun to play a significant role in the church, serving on vestries and as delegates to diocesan convention. In 1986. St. Giles, Upper Darby became the first parish in the Diocese to call a woman – the Reverend Michealla Keener – to be its rector.
The place of gays and lesbians in the diocese remained unresolved until the episcopacy of Allen L. Bartlett, Jr. (1988-1998). After prayerful consideration, he opened the door to the diaconate and the priesthood for openly gay men and women.
However, such reforms did not come without recrimination. Some priests and parishes withdrew from the diocese or invited bishops from outside its borders to make pastoral visits. Bartlett tolerated these so-called “flying bishops,” but his successor, Charles L. Bennison, Jr. (1998-2012), did not. Following Bishop Bennison’s departure, the diocese turned for interim leadership to Clifton Daniel, 3rd (2013-2016). The bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina, beginning in 1997, he came to Pennsylvania on a provisional basis and kept the Diocese on a steady course while it made plans to search for a permanent successor.
Completed in 2016, that search led to the selection of Daniel G. P. Gutiérrez, Canon to the Ordinary in the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande, as the sixteenth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania.