who didst strengthen thine apostle Thomas
with firm and certain faith in thy Son’s resurrection:
Grant us so perfectly and without doubt to believe
in Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God,
that our faith may never be found wanting in thy sight;
through him who liveth and reigneth
with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God,
now and for ever. Amen.
St. Thomas Episcopal Church was established in 1882 and since then has continued to faithfully worship, pray and serve God in this area. Our identity is not limited to Eustis, or even Lake County, however, for we are Christ’s one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church, with Christ himself as our head. Today, St. Thomas is a vibrant place where Christians gather to worship, pray, and serve together. God’s mission for this parish remains unchanged since it was founded over 140 years ago: we are called to worship God, to prayer, and to serve God and others.
We therefore view ourselves, and aspire to live into God’s vision for us, as a prayerful, Christ-centered church with engaging worship that inspires joyful service in the community.
As we have discerned these goals where God wants us to serve him, we do so while relating to Christ’s Church through the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida, The Episcopal Church, and the Anglican Communion.
The diocese is the basic unit of the church’s life. The parish is the diocese in a particular place, for instance St. Thomas can be thought of as the Diocese of Central Florida in Eustis, and through the Diocese, the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church of Christ propagating the “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” (Jude 3)
The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, otherwise known as The Episcopal Church, is a constituent member of the Anglican Communion, a Fellowship within the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, of those duly constituted Dioceses, Provinces, and regional Churches in communion with the See of Canterbury, upholding and propagating the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer. (Preface to the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church)
While the Episcopal Church is headed by a Presiding Bishop at the national level, the Presiding Bishop has no jurisdiction over the Diocese of Central Florida, and has no direct pastoral relationship or authority over any parishes or diocese.
From the Preface to the Constitution of the Episcopal Church, it is noted that it is in communion with the See of Canterbury. This is a reference to what is today known as the Anglican Communion, a worldwide association of national provinces (of which the Episcopal Church is one) following in the Anglican tradition and in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury and Church of England, to a greater or lesser degree. The Anglican Communion is made up of some 40 national provinces, the majority of them representing the Global South (Africa, Latin America, South Asia, etc).
These are indispensable elements of our identity, for they remind us that we have a responsibility to our brothers and sisters in Christ outside our own local community. We are the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church in Eustis and Lake County, but we are also representing the Diocese, the Episcopal Church, and the Anglican Communion in this place, and therefore never act unilaterally, and always in concord with our Brothers and Sisters from around the world. We do so out of Christian charity to reflect St. Paul’s reminder that, “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’” (I Corinthians 12:21), and in answer of Christ’s prayer that we be one. (St. John 17:22)