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Church, The 

The community of faith headed by Christ, the body of Christ in the world (see 1 Cor 12:12-27; Eph 1:22-23, 4:12, 5:29-30). Baptism is full initiation into the church, and all baptized persons are members of the church (BCP, pp. 299, 854). The church is the community of the New Covenant, the People of God, the New Israel, the Temple of the Holy Spirit, a holy nation, a royal priesthood, and the pillar and ground of truth (see BCP, p. 854). The church is described in the Nicene Creed as one, holy, catholic, and apostolic (see BCP, pp. 358-359). It is described as one because it is one body headed by Christ; holy because the Holy Spirit dwells in it, consecrating and guiding the members of the church; catholic because the church proclaims the whole Christian faith to all people, to the end of time; and apostolic because it continues in the teaching and fellowship of the apostles, and it is sent to fulfill Christ's mission to all people (BCP, p. 854). We believe that Christ's presence is available in the life and sacraments of the church for our salvation, even though the church does not yet embody or represent Christ in a perfect way, and the four characteristics or "marks" of the church have not yet been perfectly realized. The fallibility of the church was recognized in Anglicanism by the Thirty-Nine Articles in the sixteenth century (see Articles XIX and XXI, BCP, pp. 871, 872). 

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.
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