Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is worship like at All Souls?
A: All Souls is a new community made up of people from a variety of church backgrounds. Usually, a new worshipping community is greatly influenced by the founding pastor. The pastor of All Souls is committed to work at finding the right blend of traditional with elements of contemporary expressions of faith. The church follows a more formal worship style that incorporates a blend of Lutheran, Old Catholic, and Roman Catholic liturgies. Those coming from a Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopal, Methodist or United Church of Christ background will find similarities to their own worship style.
Q: I am a woman, and have not felt welcomed in other churches. Often they feel like the “good Ol’ boys’ club.” Will I be welcomed at All Souls?
A: YES! Women are welcomed into all levels of ministry. We may be catholic, but do not restrict our church’s leadership to men. Our women regularly participate in our liturgy and we would love to include you. Meet our Assistant Bishop, Reverend Denise Donato.
Q: I don’t know if I really want to be Christian or not. Would I be welcomed at All Souls?
A: All Souls welcomes everyone regardless of where one is on his or her faith journey. We believe that the mere fact that you are interested in worshipping with us indicates that God is somehow working in your life. If you are curious and questioning your faith, you are free to explore with us without having to check your brain at the door. Come on, give us a try. We won’t bite!
Q: What do you mean when you say you are ecumenical?
A: Definitions of ecumenical are: general; universal; pertaining to the whole Christian Church; promoting or fostering Christian unity. Rather than seeing itself as independent and isolated, All Souls sees itself as part of the larger Christian community throughout the world. The church seeks to work in cooperation with other like-minded communities of faith to reach out to others. We are also Ecumenical because we adhere to the teachings of the unified church as it existed in the first seven Ecumenical Councils in which representatives from the whole church—both east and west met together to iron out theological issues.
Q: What do you mean by catholic? Are you really a catholic church?
A: All Souls is a member of the Ecumenical Catholic Communion. So we need to be clear that All Souls is catholic, but it is not Roman Catholic. There is a difference. In this case, the word “catholic” needs a bit of re-habilitation. According to Dictionary.com, the word catholic means: broad or wide-ranging; universal in extent; involving all; pertaining to the whole Christian body or church. Using this definition, All Souls is catholic because it sees itself as part of the whole Christian church. We are practicing the original understanding of the Church which existed for the first 800 years of Christianity and still exists in the current Eastern Orthodox tradition. In this ancient understanding of Catholicism, each faith community was led by its bishop and pastoral councils. The people of each local faith community participated in the life of the Church by electing their bishops and taking an active role in the ministry of their faith tradition. Each community upheld the autonomy of its own life and governance. Before the 9th century, approval from the bishop in Rome was not required in the decision making process of each local church.
Q: Why choose to identify yourselves as catholic?
A: There are a variety of Catholics, but like All Souls, catholic churches have the following core elements:
- An adherence to a Trinitarian Theology regarding the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
- An historic profession of faith (such as in the Apostle’s and Nicene Creed)
- The celebration of seven (two major and five minor) sacraments
- The three-fold order of ordained ministry (deacons, presbyters/priests, and bishops)
- The faith and teaching of the apostles in an unbroken line of apostolic succession.
Q: Do I have to become catholic to be a member?
A: Actually, if you are a Christian, you are already catholic in the truest sense of the word. At All Souls, there is no test of faith. No one is required to adhere to doctrines that some Protestants might find troublesome. One does have to attend membership class and be confirmed by the bishop. They may be received into this church if they have been confirmed by a bishop with valid apostolic succession.
Q: Are you a gay church?
A: We are a Christian church. We are church made up of gay and straight individuals and perhaps somewhere in between. At All Souls we celebrate diversity and strive to make everyone feel welcome.
Q: I am gay/lesbian, why should I consider your church over another?
A: This is a good question since some main-line churches are starting to break down the walls of exclusion and welcome gay and lesbians. Unfortunately, even some of the most welcoming denominations struggle with including gays and lesbians fully into every aspect of the church. An important question to ask is, “Will the church allow me to serve in all aspects of ministry?” “Will they celebrate and bless my same-gendered relationship?” “Will they marry my partner and me?” At All Souls the answer is YES! We are affiliated with a denomination that includes all without having to debate whether individuals are worthy to receive the church’s sacraments. In addition, the denomination has openly gay, partnered clergy.
Q: Who can receive the sacraments of the church?
A: The sacraments belong to God. All are welcome to receive the sacraments without restriction. That includes those who have been divorced and remarried.
Q: What are the sacraments of the church?
A: The seven-fold sacraments are:
- Baptism: The right of initiation into the Christian community. Learn more about theSacrament of Baptism.
- Eucharist: The celebration of Christ’s continual presence in the bread and wine.
- Confirmation: The rite of passage where children or adults claim for themselves the baptismal vows made on their behalf as children. There are also many adults who are confirmed at the time they are baptized.
- Marriage: The sacrament in which two people make vows to one another and enter a mystical union. In this sacrament the clergy serves as a witness to the vows made and to ask God’s blessing upon the couple. Learn more about Weddings and Marriage.
- Confession: The sacrament of confession helps people find relief from a burden of guilt and shame for their mistakes and misdeeds.
- Unction: Also known as the anointing of the sick and Last Rites. Anointing is a ritual in which oil, an ancient symbol of healing, is used as tangible expression of the prayers spoken on behalf of the sick individual.
- Ordination: The sacrament by which members of the church are set apart for service, administration, and responsibility in the church. For more information on the sacraments see the sacrament page.
Learn more about the Church’s Sacraments.
Q: I was raised in church but have had some issues with church politics. Why would I want to be involved with another catholic church?
A: All Souls is a member of the Ecumenical Catholic Communion. In the ECC, laity has both voice and vote in the church’s decision making. We take the best that Catholicism has to offer without being encumbered by rules and teachings being made up by clerics far removed from the world. Following our Old Catholic heritage, we believe one’s own conscience is important and do not require one to accept questionable doctrines. For instance, in the ECC couples are free to use birth control as they see fit. And the ECC allows for couples from different faith traditions to be married in the church. In our Q and A we’ve already discussed gay, lesbian, and ordination issues. I had a fellow co-worker say to me, “You know, as a struggling Catholic I think I could benefit from a catholic church like yours. I have a hard time dealing with the pronouncements from Rome.” Perhaps you might feel the same way once you have checked us out.
Q: I want my children to be baptized, but am married to someone who is divorced so my former Catholic Church won’t recognize my marriage and won’t baptize my children. Will you baptize them?
A: The simple answer is YES! We’d be glad to baptize your children. The Ecumenical Catholic Communion, and All Souls, recognizes that we live in a broken world and regrettably, divorce is a reality with which many people struggle. We believe that God understands our human condition. Divorce need not separate you from the love of God and from the church’s sacraments. We do ask however, that in seeking baptism, you commit to raise the child in the Christian faith and do all you can to nurture his or her spirit life. Give us a call, we’ll talk.
Q: How can I fit in at All Souls?
A: At All Souls, we believe that Christ’s ministry belongs to the whole church, and is not exclusively the responsibility of the clergy. Everyone plays a part in doing Christ’s work in the world and in the church. Since we are a small and growing church there are plenty of opportunities to share in ministry. Each person compliments other people’s gifts and makes individual gifts better through the sharing of gifts in the community. If you have a desire to be involved in ministry, let us know. We’d enjoy hearing about it!