It’s often said that the Episcopal Church is a creedal church, not a confessional one. This means that the basis of belief is in the form of creeds, or statements of faith generally accepted by Christians of many backgrounds. In this case, it is typically in the form of the Nicene Creed, which originated at the Council of Nicea in 325.
By using a creed that has its basis in the ancient, undivided Church, we are acknowledging our larger place as a part of Christ’s one Body. This stresses Christian unity in a way that many confessions can’t, having been based on interpretations specific to one group. There have, of course been a couple of variations worth considering:
- The Rite I (traditional language) version of the Nicene Creed begins with I believe, instead of We believe, reflecting an emphasis on the Nicene Creed also being a form of personal affirmation of belief.
- In Eastern Orthodox churches, the clause about the Holy Spirit mentions proceeding from the Father, instead of the Father and the Son. Episcopalians have often speculated about adopting the Orthodox usage.
During some choral Eucharistic services, you might even hear this creed sung!