The Oriental Orthodox and Assyrian churches use this profession of faith with the verbs in the original plural ("we believe") form, but the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic churches convert those verbs to the singular ("I believe"). The Anglican and many Protestant denominations generally use the singular form, but sometimes use the plural.
The Apostles' Creed is also used in the Latin West, but not in the Eastern liturgies. On Sundays and some other days, one or other of these two creeds is recited in the Roman Rite Mass after the homily. The Nicene Creed is also part of the profession of faith required of those undertaking important functions within the Catholic Church.
The purpose of a creed is to provide a doctrinal statement of correct belief or orthodoxy. The creeds of Christianity have been drawn up at times of conflict about doctrine: acceptance or rejection of a creed served to distinguish believers and deniers of a particular doctrine or set of doctrines. For that reason a creed was called in Greek a σύμβολον (Eng. symbolon), a word that meant half of a broken object which, when placed together with the other half, verified the bearer's identity. The Greek word passed through Latin "symbolum" into English "symbol", which only later took on the meaning of an outward sign of something.
The Nicene Creed was adopted in the face of the Arian controversy, whose leader, Arius, was a member of the clergy of Alexandria. "Arius objected to Alexander's (the bishop of the time) apparent carelessness in blurring the distinction of nature between the Father and the Son by his emphasis on eternal generation". Alexander accused Arius of denying the divinity of the Son and also of being too "Jewish" and "Greek" in his thought. Both Arius and Alexander rejected Gnosticism, Manichaeism and Sabellian formulae. The Nicene Creed was created as a result of the extensive adoption of the doctrine of Arius far outside Alexandria, in order to clarify the key tenets of the Christian faith.