Leadership and Staff

Leadership and Staff

Leadership of the Church

St. Thomas is a part of Diocese of Fond du Lac, the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. Both lay (non-ordained) and clergy share leadership in the Episcopal Church. It's governing body is called the Vestry and has both a pastoral role (coordinating ministry areas) and secular role (oversees property and assets of a church). The Rector is a priest, called by the Vestry to serve the congregation, charged with overseeing worship and the spiritual life of the congregation. Our current rector is the Rev. Ralph Osborne (a.k.a "Fr. Ralph").

Diocese of Fond du Lac
Every parish is connected to a larger community. The congregation is part of the Diocese of Fond du Lac. A Diocese is the basic unit of ministry in the Episcopal Church and is a geographical region overseen by  a bishop. The diocesan bishop along with other leaders in the diocese chooses and ordains priests and deacons to serve the congregations of the diocese, which carryout the ministry of the diocese in their local communities.

Episcopal Church
Every diocese if connected to a larger community. The Diocese of Fond du Lac is a part of the Episcopal Church. Epískopos is a Greek word which means overseer or guardan, a description of a bishop, so Episcopal Church means a church governed in part by its bishops. The Episcopal Church is governed by a Constitution and a set of canons (i.e. church law) which are established by a triennial General Convention. The diocesan bishop is the ecclesiastical (or "church") authority in each diocese, meaning they have specific authority to act in a number of ways. Bishops have no jurisdiction outside of their dioceses, so they meet twice per year to pray and make decisions about the direction of the Church.

We are also part of Anglican Communion, a worldwide fellowship of faith linked by history and tradition to the Church of England. Like all Anglican churches, Episcopal churches share certain things in common...

Both Protestant and Catholic

The Episcopal Church stands in the Reformed, or Protestant, tradition and consider ourselves to be equally directly descended from the early Church. While we worship in ways that are similar to and compared with the Roman Catholic tradition, we do not recognize a single ecclesiastical authority, such as the Pope. The Episcopal Church is often referred to as via media (“middle way”) since it contains elements from both the Catholic Church tradition and the Protestant Church tradition.

Book of Common Prayer
The Book of Common Prayer

The Anglican Church uses a Book of Common Prayer, the collection of worship services and liturgies that worshipers across the Anglican Church use. It is called “common prayer” because we all pray it together, around the world. A phrase that refers to the use of the Prayer Book is lex orandi, lex credendi, which means we believe as we pray. Our present prayer book in the Episcopal Church was published in 1979. While other worship resources and prayers exist to enrich our worship, the Book of Common Prayer is the authority that shapes our worship.

Scripture, Tradition and Reason

Episcopalians value Scripture, Tradition and Reason equally. We often use the metaphor of a three-legged stool, with each leg of the stool being Scripture, Tradition and Reason.

The Anglican approach to reading and interpreting the Bible is unique compared to many other denominations. While we, like all Christians, acknowledge the Holy Bible (or the Holy Scriptures) as the Word of God and completely sufficient to our reconciliation to God, we believe the Bible should be looked at in the context of our own time and place. 

For two thousand years Christianity has amassed experiences of God and of following Jesus, and what these people have said to us through the centuries is critical to our understanding it in our own context. The traditions of the Church connect all generations together and give us a starting point for our own understanding. 

Episcopalians believe that every Christian must build an understanding and relationship with God, and to do that, God has given us intelligence and our own experience, which we refer to as “Reason.” Based on the text of the Bible itself, and what Christians have taught us about it through the ages, we then must sort out our own understanding of it as it relates to our own lives.