top of page


Do you have a burning question about church, Episcopal/Anglican traditions, theology, and so on? Starting in Advent, The Messenger will be running a new feature, "Ask Dear Old Dad," after the classic "Dear Abby" format. The Rev. Reese Riley, COS Senior Adjunct Clergy, will tackle your questions with his signature wisdom and charm. And by the way, there are no dumb questions! You may request to be anonymous, or you may have your name published. We are so excited to launch this column. Your questions will inspire the conversation!

Dear DOD,

For you, what does it mean to be an Orthodox Episcopalian?


Mark Goluskin


Hi Mark,

For me, the concept of an Orthodox Episcopalian ventures into the realm of the oxymoronic. The ortho in the word orthodox means “correct” (as in orthodontics) while the dox means praise/worship (as in doxology) or opinion/belief/teaching (as in doctrine). Those expressions of Christianity, which claim to be orthodox, typically assert that their way is the right way, and often the ONLY way.

Authority in the Episcopal Church, and generally in the Anglican Communion, sits on the three-legged stool of tradition, scripture, and reason/experience. Within our Episcopal Church, those who identify as Anglo Catholic or High Church emphasize tradition, those who identify as Low Church or more Protestant emphasize scripture, and folks like me emphasize reason and experience. It doesn’t take much imagination to see how many variations in thought and practice can occur not only from congregation to congregation but also from person to person. And good luck finding any “correct” or “only” way to think or practice in our Episcopal Church.

I believe that the glue that holds us together is our Book of Common Prayer and especially the Baptismal Liturgy. In this liturgy there is great power in the Renunciations, Affirmations, and the Baptismal Covenant. My personal and spiritual challenges from this liturgy are:

  • to follow Jesus as Lord

  • to “seek and serve Christ in all persons”

  • to “strive for justice and peace and respect the dignity of every person”

By the way, the authors of the baptismal liturgy in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer were Fred Wolf, the Bishop of Maine who ordained me; and the Rev’d Dr. Charles Price, whom I had the privilege of working with at Harvard Memorial Church.

All that being said, I yield to Robin Williams, may he rest in peace. From his Top 10 Reasons to Be an Episcopalian:

And the Number One reason to be an Episcopalian: No matter what you believe, there’s bound to be at least one other Episcopalian who agrees with you.


Dear Old Dad (DOD)

Have a question? Submit to Hannah at

bottom of page