The church's public worship of God. The term is derived from Greek words for "people" and "work." The church's public worship of God is the work of the Christian people. The life of Christ active in the church by the Spirit is expressed through liturgy.
A Lectionary is a table of readings from Scripture appointed to be read at public worship. The association of particular texts with specific days began in the 4th century. The Lectionary [1969, revised 1981] developed by the Roman Catholic Church after Vatican II provided for a three-year cycle of Sunday readings. This Roman lectionary provided the basis for lectionary in The Book of Common Prayer 1979 as well as those developed by many other denominations. The Common Lectionary , published in 1983, was an ecumenical project of several American and Canadian denominations, developed out of a concern for the unity of the Church and a desire for a common experience of Scripture. It was intended as a harmonization of the many different denominational approaches to the three-year lectionary. It has been in trial use in the Episcopal Church and among the member denominations since 1983.
The Revised Common Lectionary, published in 1992, takes into account constructive criticism of the Common Lectionary based on the evaluation of its trial use and like the current prayer-book lectionary is a three-year cycle of Sunday Eucharistic readings in which Matthew, Mark and Luke are read in successive years with some material from John read in each year.
The Revised Common Lectionary provides these new features:
The option of semi-continuous reading of the great Old Testament narratives on the Sundays after Pentecost, to provide exciting new preaching opportunities, vacation Bible School ideas or informal summer story-telling for adults as well as children.
Genesis through Judges in year A
The Davidic Covenant and Wisdom literature in Year B
The prophets – Elijah, Elisha, Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Joel and Habbakuk – in Year C
The option of lections in thematic harmony with the Gospel of the day for the Sundays after Pentecost. This follows the pattern of the present lectionary in which the readings from the Old Testament and the New Testament are chosen in relation to the Gospel. The Inclusion of women and their role in salvation history, offering texts about women never heard on Sunday before. The most notable example is the account of the woman anointing Jesus at Bethany [Mark 14:3-9]. Jesus responded by saying “wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.” This text, omitted in the present lectionary, is included in the Revised Common Lectionary as part of the Passion narrative read on Palm Sunday in Year B.
Note: The Revised Common Lectionary preserves approximately 90% of the Gospel readings in the Lectionary of The Book of Common Prayer 1979.
The Episcopal Church (also officially known as the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America) is a mainline Anglican Christian church found mainly in the United States (including its unincorporated territories), but also in Honduras, Taiwan, Colombia, Ecuador, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, the British Virgin Islands and parts of Europe. The Episcopal Church is the Province of the Anglican Communion in the United States and most other territories where it has a presence (excluding Europe). The Episcopal Church describes itself as being "Protestant, Yet Catholic". In 2009, the Episcopal Church had a baptized membership of 2,175,616 both inside and outside the U.S. In the United States, it had a baptized membership of 2,006,343, making it the nation's fifteenth largest denomination.
The Church was organized shortly after the American Revolution when it was forced to separate from the Church of England, as Church of England clergy were required to swear allegiance to the British monarch. It became, in the words of the 1990 report of the Archbishop of Canterbury's Group on the Episcopate, "the first Anglican Province outside the British Isles". Today it is divided into nine provinces and has dioceses outside the U.S. in Taiwan, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. The Episcopal Diocese of the Virgin Islands encompasses both American and British territory. In Europe, the Church's Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe co-exists with the Church of England's Diocese in Europe and with the Reformed Episcopal Church of Spain.
The Episcopal Church was active in the Social Gospel movement of the late 19th century. Since the 1960s and 1970s, it has opposed the death penalty and supported the civil rights movement and affirmative action. Some of its leaders and priests marched with civil rights demonstrators. Today the Church calls for the full civil equality of gay men and lesbians. Most dioceses ordain openly gay men and women; in some, same-sex unions are celebrated with services of blessing. In 2009, the Church's General Convention passed resolutions that allowed for gay and lesbian marriages in states where it is legal. On the question of abortion, the Church has adopted a nuanced position. About all these issues, individual members and clergy can and do frequently disagree with the stated position of the Church.
The Episcopal Church ordains women to the priesthood as well as the diaconate and the episcopate. The current Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church is Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first female primate in the Anglican Communion.