Episcopal Diocese of Virginia
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Annual Episcopal Visit

We are the "Episcopal" Church. The word: "Episcopal" means: "Bishop." Our ecclesiology or Church Structure is based upon our biblical understanding of the organization of the early church, with a Bishop as the functional head of each church and responsible for a general area: a Diocese or See.

Since the Bishop cannot physically be present every Sunday in every church, the Church appoints and ordains "elders" or "priests" to stand in the place of the Bishop whenever the Bishop is absent.

For example, we would say that St. Paul was the "head of" the Churches in Corinth, Ephesus, Galatia, Thessalonica, etc. However, Paul could not be present in all of those churches at the same time so others were appointed to stand in Paul's place, until he returned. Obviously, when Paul returned to one of his Churches, there was great joy and celebration. And so it is with us. When the Bishop is present to lead us and to teach us, we experience the fullest form of worship, for we believe that Bishops stand in the Apostolic Succession as "witnesses to the empty tomb" and Defenders of the Faith.

Each year one of our three Bishops [our Diocesan Bishop: Shannon Johnston, our Suffragan Bishop: Susan Goff, and our Assistant Bishop: Ted Gulick] pays us an "Episcopal Visit." The Bishop meets with the priest; inspects our church records; "Confirms" those who were baptized at a young age who are now making their adult affirmation of their baptismal vows; "Receives" those who have already been confirmed by a Bishop in the Apostolic Succession; and Baptizes those desiring to claim the name of "Christian."

As Episcopalians, the Annual Episcopal Visit by one of our bishops is an event of great joy and celebration.

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