The Anglican Church is a Christian denomination that has a global presence in many countries numbering around 80 million participants. It is a part of historic Christianity that emerged through the Church of England, which in the 16th century embraced reforms that restored much of the worship and practice of the early church.
Beyond that, giving a concise definition of the term "Anglican" is extremely difficult. There is a fairly broad path that can accommodate many expressions that exist or have existed within the Anglican tradition. Furthermore, the past 500 years of history in the Anglican church give ample examples of the breadth of this denomination. If you do some searching around, you'll find Anglican churches that are more evangelical or more catholic, more charismatic or more orthodox, more conservative or more liberal, more contempletive or more activist.
To simplify, we occassionally refer to three streams flowing as one river: the Scripture, the Sacred, and the Spirit. The Anglican denomination embraces all three of these to varying degrees. It is rare to find all three present in a church that is not Anglican. Here is a brief explanation of each:
The Scriptures. The canonical books of the Old and New Testaments are trustworthy as God's written word. They sufficiently teach God’s will for His world, and have supreme authority for faith, life, and the continuous renewal and reform of the Church. They are inspired, infallible, and contain all things necessary for salvation. The Bible contains the Good News that Christians are to proclaim to all the world.
The Sacred. Worship in the Anglican tradition seeks to include both word and sacrament. Jesus instituted two sacraments, baptism and communion. These are a means of grace for Christians and appropriately, we make a big deal about them. We welcome a sense of wonder and mystery and expect the real presence of Christ in the sacraments. Baptism and communion truly are holy events. In reverently receiving these things as sacred unto God, we acknowledge God's otherness, holiness, and transcendance.
The Anglican church ordains its leaders into what are called "sacred orders." The three orders are bishop, priest and deacon. This is an ancient hierarchy of church leadership going back to the days of the Apostles.
The Spirit. Anglican practice is explicitly trinitarian in recognizing that there is One God who eternally exists in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, dwells in all believers and serves as our point of contact with God. He is a person and not an "it." Whereas in the Old Testament days, the Father's action was primarily seen, and in the Gospels, the Son's work was boldly on display, in our time the Holy Spirit's work is most prominent. In returning to the Father, the Son sent the Spirit to remain with us. He is active in the lives of believers empowering us to accomplish God's will for us. We welcome his ministry in our worship services and our daily lives.
Contact The Rev. Mike McDonald if you would like more information on Anglicanism. For a deeper insight into the Anglican faith and to learn more about Anglican traditions, we recommend reading The Anglican Way by Thomas McKenzie or attending our Anglican Explored class.