This is a question we often hear. The best answer is to simply say we are a group of people trying our best to be faithful to God, following Jesus Christ, praying that we hear and respond to the leading of the Holy Spirit. But of course, we know that lots of people and churches try to do that simple thing and end up looking very different, so some explanation of the details is helpful.
Old Donation Church is a Christian church which is part of the Episcopal Church. It was the first Christian church of any kind in what is now Virginia Beach, founded in 1637, so we have a long history of worshiping and serving Jesus Christ. As you might expect, we honor history and tradition. But we are not a museum. Rather, we are a very active, alive parish using the best of the past, along with the best of the new, so long as it honors God and advances the work of God’s kingdom.
The Episcopal Church is part of the Anglican Communion, making us the third largest group of Christians in the world, following Roman Catholics
An Anglican Understanding of Scripture
and the Orthodox churches.
The Episcopal church is often called a “bridge church”. We are similar to the Roman Catholic church in some ways, and our theology includes both catholic and protestant perspectives. The sacraments of baptism and Holy Communion are central to our worship life and we have four orders of ministry: lay persons, bishops, priests, and deacons. The authority of Holy Scripture, interpreted through tradition and reason, is the foundation of our understanding of God, creation, and our life, and guides our life as we try to live out our Godly purpose.
Balanced approach to worship, study and service.
On Sundays our worship is a balance of Word and Sacrament. We use more Holy Scripture in a typical service than most churches, usually having four Scripture readings, in addition to prayers that find their root in the Bible. Preaching is very important to us at Old Donation and we have a history of fine preaching that helps us understand what God is saying about God, our own lives, and how we are to live. Almost every service includes Holy Communion, also known as Holy Eucharist or the Lord’s Supper. This emphasis is due to our recognition that it was Jesus’ own instruction to the disciples that we should join at the Table where we could be sure Christ’s presence would feed us the “heavenly food and drink” that would strengthen us for the journey of life.
Old Donation is a church that places a high level of importance on education and formation for all ages. From young children learning the stories of God, continuing all the way to classes for adults, there is something for everyone. We have adult classes for beginners and others which could classify for graduate education, offered by a team that includes four different people with graduate degrees in theology and scripture.
We are a parish very committed to serving others, so there are many different ministries and missions that help others. We believe that God expects each of us to use our talents and resources to serve the least, the last, and the lost.
A Church with a place for you.
Old Donation is a church that welcomes every person. We believe that in God’s kingdom there is no distinction that separates God’s people. All races, all ages, with no regard for who we are or what we’ve done, both rich and poor are simply equal members of one church. In Old Donation we have some people who would think of themselves as conservatives, others who might consider themselves as liberals, and others who don’t care. The labels of the political world are irrelevant here. We are all simply Christians first, trying to be and do what God expects, and go where the Holy Spirit leads..
There is a place for you at Old Donation. After all is said, the very best way to understand us is to come worship, study, and serve with us for a while. You will experience people who love the Lord and who love each other. Ultimately, as was true of the first century Christians, we hope that we, too, can be people who are known by their love for one another.