Episcopal Diocese of Albany, NY
Business Office: 68 South Swan Street - Albany, NY 12210 - (518) 465-4737
Christ the King Spiritual Life Center: 575 Burton Road - Greenwich, NY 12834 - (518) 692-9550

Who We Are

Episcopalians are the people who are members of the Episcopal Church. "Episcopalian" is the noun; "Episcopal" is the adjective. The word "Episcopal" comes from the Greek word "Episcopos" which means an "overseer" in the New Testament and which refers to "that which pertains to a bishop." Bishops are key leaders in The Episcopal Church, but God did not call them to do his mission work, alone.

The Episcopal Church is sometimes known as ECUSA (The Episcopal Church in the United States of America) and has also been known as PECUSA (The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America), though it has been officially incorporated as The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America. Technically, every Episcopalian is a missionary.

Prior to the American Revolution, the members of what became The Episcopal Church had been members of the Church of England (which has been known as "The Anglican Church"). Basically, in areas where the British Empire expanded, national churches have sprung up, having roots in the Anglican Church. These associated churches have joined together as a society which is known as the Anglican Communion; and also, other Churches in the Anglican Communion have sprung up, planted by existing Churches in the Anglican Communion.

As recently as the beginning of the 16th Century Reformation in Western Europe, the Anglican Church was considered the English part of the Roman Catholic Church, and the Roman Catholic Church, in turn, was a key participant in the larger undivided Church as recently as the 11th century, until the time of the Great Schism. Various ideas for reunion have been considered from time to time. The Episcopal worship services not only reflect our vast heritage from across the last 2,000 years Church history but also reflect our vast heritage from Old Testament times.

Today, the world-wide branches of the Anglican Communion have the Archbishop of Canterbury in England as their spiritual leader. Bishops from all over the Anglican Communion meet once every 10 years at Lambeth Palace in England to discuss the issues before the Church, and each 10 year meeting is called a Lambeth Conference of Bishops (or just "Lambeth Conference").

Other Anglican churches include The Anglican Church of Canada, The Church of Ireland (which includes the United Dioceses of Down and Dromore), The Episcopal Church of the Sudan, and Iglesia Anglicana del Cono sur de America (which includes the Diocese of Argentina).

The Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church is elected by the General Convention of The Episcopal Church which meets every three years (this gathering is sometimes known simply as "General Convention"). General Convention has two legislative chambers: the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies (the House of Deputies consists of priests and lay people; priests are sometimes known as "presbyters."); and the General Convention issues and amends the Constitution and Canons which affect the entire Episcopal Church. The primary administrative offices of The Episcopal Church are in New York City. The National Cathedral (Cathedral Church of St. Peter and St. Paul) of The Episcopal Church is in Washington, D.C.

In accordance with Church administration since perhaps the 4th century and as elsewhere in the Anglican Communion, The Episcopal Church is comprised of dioceses, and each diocese is led by a Bishop Diocesan (sometimes simply known as "the Bishop") who is elected by the respective diocesan convention. Bishops diocesan are sometimes assisted by one or more of the following people: an Archdeacon, a Bishop Assistant, a Bishop Coadjutor, or a Bishop Suffragan. The Bishop Diocesan is the ecclesiastical authority in each diocese. When the Diocese of Albany separated from the Diocese of New York in 1868, and became "The Diocese of Albany," it elected the first Bishop of the Diocese of Albany. Prior to that time, the Bishop who presided over what became the Diocese of Albany was the Bishop of the Diocese of New York.

Dioceses of The Episcopal Church are united regionally into provinces, and there are respective Provincial Synods, each synod having two chambers: one for bishops and the other for priests and lay people. The Diocese of Albany is in Province II (Province 2) along with the dioceses of Central New York, Long Island, New Jersey, New York, Newark, Rochester, and Western New York as well as the Dioceses of Haiti and of the Virgin Islands, and the Convocation of American Churches in Europe. Each Diocese in this Province has its own personality.

All denominations in the State of New York are affected by the Religious Corporations Law of the State of New York. There are only particular sections which pertain singularly to the Episcopal Church, especially as pertain to incorporated parishes in each diocese within the State of New York. Some of these laws were adopted as far back as 1795, and their interpretation has been determined by case law to a certain degree.

Within the Diocese of Albany, there are parishes, and these parishes are united regionally within the Diocese into deaneries. Annually, canonically resident clergy (bishops, priests, and deacons) and lay people from eligible parishes come together for the regular Diocesan Convention which consists of one chamber. The Diocesan Convention issues and amends the diocesan Constitution and Canons for the Diocese of Albany. In addition, parishes have their more frequent vestry or executive committee meetings, and deaneries have their periodic deanery council meetings. The primary administrative offices of the Diocese of Albany are in Albany, New York, as is the Diocesan Cathedral, the Cathedral of All Saints.

The current edition of the Book of Common Prayer is the primary public worship book used in The Episcopal Church.

In order to interpret the canons of the Church in proper perspective, in terms of precedence, the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church would normally supersede the Constitution and Canons of a particular diocese. These, in turn, and as well as the Religious Corporations Laws of the State of New York would normally supercede any parish By-laws as may exist, and all these, in turn, would normally supercede any Vestry resolutions for parishes in union with the Diocesan Convention of the Diocese of Albany.

The ministers of the Church are bishops, priests, deacons, and lay people. The "clergy" of the Church are the bishops, priests, and deacons. ("Clergy" is a noun; "cleric" is a noun; "clerical" is the adjective.) They have been called and ordained to Holy Orders. The other ministers of the Church are lay people; those people who have not been ordained to Holy Orders. All members of The Episcopal Church have been ordained for service by their initiation at Baptism, and this call to service as disciples of Jesus Christ is reaffirmed in the services of Holy Eucharist, Confirmation, Reception, and Reaffirmation, and other rites which are found in the Book of Common Prayer and in The Book of Occasional Services. The work of these respective ministries is summarized on pages 855 and 856 of The Book of Common Prayer, and further information on the role of bishops, priests, and deacons, can be found on page 510 of The Book of Common Prayer. Further information on the role of lay people can be found in the service of Holy Baptism. Additional information on the responsibilities and roles of bishops, priests, deacons, and lay people can be found in the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church, the Constitution and Canons of the Diocese of Albany, The Religious Corporations Law of the State of New York, diocesan policies, and in the Holy Scriptures.

The formal Title for a Bishop is "The Right Reverend," as in "The Right Reverend William Love," though sometimes this title is abbreviated "The Rt. Rev." Sometimes, the word "Bishop" is abbreviated "Bp." When addressing a bishop in person in the Diocese of Albany, it is customary to address a bishop in conversation by the title of "Bishop," followed by the bishop's first and last name (as per the Bishop's preference), such as in "I would like to be a missionary, Bishop Dan," or "I would like to pray for you, Bishop Dave." Some bishops may like to be addressed in conversation, using their last name, such as in "I remember when you visited our parish, Bishop Ball."

The formal title for a priest or deacon is "The Reverend," usually abbreviated "The Rev." or "The Rev'd.," although deans of Deaneries are titled "The Very Reverend." There are other special titles such as "Canon," which is usually abbreviated "Cn.,"and such a person would be formally addressed as "The Reverend Canon." As when addressing a bishop in conversation or in an email transmission, the particular clergy might have a preference for first or last name. When addressing priests in the Diocese of Albany, the usual form of direct address is to call male priests "Father" (usually abbreviated "Fr.") and to call female priests "Mother" (usually abbreviated "Mtr."). A Canon might wish to be addressed simply as "Canon" as in "Canon Burr."

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