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FAQ

WHAT IS ANGLICAN?

“Ours is not the only way to be Christian,

but it’s a reliable way,

because it’s connected to Christians

everywhere…and always.”

– Archbishop Robert Duncan

Sometimes the best way to understand what it means is to hear it from someone else who is walking the path:

Why Am I Anglican? by Bishop John Guernsey

What Is Anglicanism? by Rev’d Dr. John W. Yates II

However, the basic contours of Anglicanism can be summarized as such:

The Anglican Church began as the state church of England.  During the 16th century the church took on the theology of the Reformation, reclaiming the ancient truths of the Bible and salvation by grace through faith.

As England colonized the world, she took her church with her.  Upon decolonization, the state church was no longer present, but the theology and the heritage of the church remained.  This brought about the creation of the Anglican Communion, which now is represented in 164 countries, with a total of about 80 million members worldwide, organized into 34 largely autonomous Provinces.

Although there is a global crisis in the Anglican Communion because some Provinces (like the Episcopal Church USA) have left the Biblical moorings that served to form the foundation of our church, traditionally the Provinces have held four things in common:

  1. The Bible as a basis of our faith.
  2. The Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds as basic statements of Christian belief.
  3. A recognition of the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion.
  4. The historic episcopate locally adapted.  In other words, the belief that Christian church has historically been organized with a polity system that includes bishops as overseers.

Much more information can be found on the Anglican Church in North America website as well as the website of the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic.

WHY DO YOU CALL YOUR MINISTERS “PRIESTS”?

Well, we usually call the minister here “Pastor.” Nonetheless, Anglicans have for centuries called their pastors priests. Why? Doesn’t the New Testament talk about all believers being priests?

Well, English is a funny language. Let’s start with the Greek word often translated in the New Testament as ‘Elder.’ It’s presbyteros which became presbyter and then prester (dropping the by syllable) in various forms of Latin. Prester became Old English preost, which became the word priest. Unfortunately, the same English word is used to describe the people who were the intermediaries between God and his people in the Old Testament–but different Greek words were used. When we say ‘priest’ we mean the God-ordained order of ministry represented by elders (presbyters) in the New Testament–not people who stood between God and his people.

WHAT DOES THE TERM “SACRAMENT” MEAN?cats

Great question! “Sacrament”  means “an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace.”  In other words, it is something tangible that you can see, touch, taste and feel that points to something equally as real, but intangible.  For example, the Sacrament of Communion is a regular part of our worship and lets us participate in the reality of the sacrificial death of Christ and the family that is created through our faith in him.  In the broken bread we see his broken body, in the wine we see his blood spilled for us, as we share the meal together we do so in the community of faith.  The other sacrament is Baptism, which lets us experience the reality of how the death and resurrection of Christ washes us clean and brings us into the Christian community.

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WHY DO YOU USE A PRAYER BOOK?

“The Book of Common Prayer is saturated with the Bible, organizing and orchestrating the Scriptures for worship. It leads the Church to pray in one voice with order, beauty, deep devotion, and great dignity.”

— From To Be A Christian: An Anglican Catechism.

All churches, no matter what denomination, use some form of worship, some kind of liturgy. It may be written or unwritten, but it is there. This is something every church has to wrestle with. Since the Bible does not give us one single prescribed service order for Christian worship, we have to discern biblical principles with which to engage with God in worship.

For New Creation (and Anglican Christians everywhere), the Prayer Book is our way of doing that. Simply put, the Prayer Book is “the Bible arranged for worship.” It is a way of putting the whole life of the Christian into praise and worship. Our worship enfolds the entire life of the Christian into the worship of God, dealing with everything from birth to death, weddings and ordinations, baptism and holy communion, and daily prayer. It is a rich and time honored source of Christian spirituality, reflecting historical patterns of Christian worship, and teaching the faith we profess. You have probably memorized some of the English phrases of the Prayer Book without even knowing it (for instance, the vows used in the service of Holy Matrimony)! The below Collect for Purity, used at the beginning of the Holy Communion service, is a great example of the beauty of the Prayer Book. It’s ancient, simple, and reverent:

Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

One of the wonderful things about liturgical worship (i.e. worship that uses a historical order or pattern) is that it is intensely participatory. There are no spectators in our worship. As J.I. Packer has written, “liturgies must be congregational, simple, edifying, unifying and express the Gospel.” There is something for everyone to do (including the kids!) in this kind of service. Whether it be leading the prayers of the people, praying for others, readings the Scriptures, singing together, making the sign of the cross, playing an instrument, preparing the sanctuary, or simply saying “Amen,” the whole body of Christ is involved in our worship.

The Anglican Church in North America is currently in the process of producing new rites for worship, including Morning and Evening Prayer, Holy Communion, Baptism, Confirmation, and Ordination. Working texts are available at anglicanchurch.net. Want to go deeper? Check out “Guiding Principles for Christian Worship,” produced by ACNA’s Liturgy and Common Worship Task Force.

Or, check out Justin’s article Prayer Vs Prayer, which is about liturgical prayer vs “original” prayers.

CAN YOU TELL ME MORE ABOUT THE ANGLICAN CHURCH OF NORTH AMERICA?

Yes! The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) unites some 100,000 Anglicans in nearly 1,000 congregations across the United States and Canada into a single Church. It is an emerging Province in the global Anglican Communion.  Members of the Anglican Church in North America are in the mainstream, both globally and historically, of Christianity. As Anglicans, this orthodoxy is defined by and centered on our church’s classic formularies – the Creeds, the Book of Common Prayer (1662), and the Thirty-nine Articles – which all point back to the authority of the Scriptures and articulate foundational principles of the Anglican tradition.

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