The Anglican Approach to Christianity
First, a definition of the word. An Anglican church is one which traces its roots to the
Church of England, that branch of the Catholic Church established in England perhaps as
early as the third century and which became independent of the Roman Church in the 16th
century. For the first 250 years after the reformation, Anglicanism consisted of the national
churches of the British Isles and the missionaries they sent to British colonies. After the
American revolution in the 18th century, the first Episcopal Church , independent of the
Church of England, yet in communion with it, was organized in the United States. Since that
date, autonomous provinces have been established on every continent, and the Anglican
communion is now a worldwide communion numbering over 75 million members. The
largest concentration of Anglicans is now in Africa.
But our story is more than our history, it is our unique attitude. We are a Catholic Church,
in that we believe in the essential benchmarks of apostolic faith: The authority of Scripture;
the teaching of the historic Apostolic and Nicene Creeds; the three-fold ministry of Bishops,
priests and deacons, and the two sacraments instituted by Jesus, Baptism and the Eucharist.
But we are also a church which values the insights of the renaissance and the reformation.
We give priority to scripture in making decisions about our common life. We take a
democratic approach to church government, giving laity similar power in church governance
to that which we give to clergy. We acknowledge the importance of human reason and
experience for making decisions and shaping our common life in accordance with the divine
Liturgy is important to us. Our Book of Common Prayer shapes our worship and guides
our devotion. We trace the life of Jesus every year in the course of the gospels. Our liturgy
contains a great deal of scripture as well as texts from classic and contemporary church
writings. The Book of Common Prayer guides our worship by giving us common, that is
community, texts which we may say together. Liturgical worship, as we call our style of
prayer, is prayer in community and it requires common texts to work very well.
Pastoral care is important to us. In our Book of Common Prayer, we provide liturgies for
the birth and adoption of a child, reconciliation of a penitent, care of the sick, ministrations
at the time of death, and the burial of the dead. In these ways, the course and flow of our
life is marked with worship and prayer appropriate to varying occasions in life.
We are a somewhat mystical people. While others emphasize immediate conversion
experiences of God and assurance of divine approval, we emphasize a long slow journey into
union with God through spiritual discipline and prayer, and a series of experiences which
draw one to God. Because Anglicans always seem to emphasize their growth in relationship
to God, we are often described as mystics.
We tend to be an open-minded people who encourage searching, questioning and
exploration of new ideas. We find truth in many places, we take the secular world seriously
and recognize that modern knowledge, such as science and philosophy, are sources of God’s
truth. Contemporary knowledge need not necessarily be in conflict with faith and may, in
fact, be a source of considerable wisdom.
We are a somewhat aesthetically sensitive people. Truth and beauty have always been related to each other and Anglicans have always made beauty the doorway to truth and goodness. We use the phrase “the beauty of holiness” frequently to describe the standards which we wish our music and worship to attain. Our buildings are intended to be works of art and we make every effort, within our resources, to make the art objects used in our churches to be of the highest quality. Artists are often at home in our parishes and may often play a considerable role in our common life.
We are a somewhat political church, probably because of our origin in English history. We
value free, public debate as a basis for making political decisions. The church can be a place
to conduct such discussions. We also believe that the church has the obligation to influence
social and political life, and therefore we, and our church members, are often involved in
government, its policies and its actions.
Our Church is both catholic and protestant, apostolic and reformed. We value our
traditions, love the stories of our scriptures, and find our faith challenged and stimulated by
the world in which we live. If you would like to live with us in this kind of community,
come take a look at us. You are welcome here.