What is Anglicanism?
As Anglicans, we are part of a global communion of churches established over the centuries by the Church of England. The word Anglican actually means “of England.” As British Anglicans, compelled by the Word of God and the Holy Spirit, took their faith around the world, churches were established on every continent and in many nations. British pastoral leaders encouraged autonomy and collegiality among these daughter churches, and over time, 38 separate “provinces” of the Anglican Church were established around the world in 164 countries. Today these provinces function in a voluntary communion based around common beliefs and practices. The leaders of each province, called archbishops or primates, gather periodically to discuss the work of the church and to resolve issues that may arise.
The Anglican Church is a biblically based church with ancient roots and a treasure of rich resources that help us grow as followers of Jesus Christ and share his transforming love with all people. Anglicans have always sought to worship God faithfully with living forms of worship. Therefore, our services and liturgies mirror the worship of the ancient apostolic church while incorporating the common language and culture of the communities in which they are practiced. Furthermore, Anglicans incorporate both ancient sacramental practices and visual symbols to celebrate the certainty of our faith and the mysteries of God. Together, sacrament, symbol, and word, enlivened by the Holy Spirit, connect our senses with our minds and hearts.
In order to remain true to the teachings of Christ and the apostles, Anglicans have historically upheld the Holy Scriptures as God’s Word, have held to the summary of evangelical beliefs known as the Thirty-Nine Articles of Faith, and have accepted the three great Christian creeds, the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed, as the fundamental statements of the Christian faith. We celebrate the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper as commanded by Jesus and we uphold the historic order of bishops, presbyters, and deacons in the administration of the church’s life and mission.
Today the worldwide Anglican Communion is experiencing both tremendous stress and tremendous renewal. The stress comes as some provinces depart from historic Anglican faith and practices and from the orthodox understanding of the Holy Scriptures. On the other hand, the renewal comes from the explosive growth of the gospel through Anglican churches and missions in many locations, particularly the “two-thirds world,” the global south, like Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, South America, etc.
It is indeed an unusual and exciting time to be Anglican. Those of us gathered here at All Saints Church, without ambivalence, wholeheartedly embrace that we have been called to be followers of Jesus Christ in the Anglican tradition for such a time as this. We have a deep sense that God is calling us to live more faithfully and trust him more genuinely than ever.
Anglicans come in different varieties. At All Saints, we strive to embody the best of the different streams of the Christian faith: evangelical, sacramental, contemplative, charismatic, holiness, and social justice. Some Anglican writers whose work you might recognize include C.S. Lewis, N.T. Wright, J.I. Packer, John Stott, and Alister McGrath. If you would like to learn more about following Jesus in The Anglican Way, stay tuned for one of our upcoming classes.