What is an Anglican?
The Scriptures and the Gospels,
the Apostolic Church and the early Church Fathers, are the foundation
of Anglican faith and worship in the 38 self-governing churches
that make up the Anglican Communion. The basic tenets of being
an Anglican are:
We view the Old and New Testaments
'as containing all things necessary for salvation' and as being
the rule and ultimate standard of faith.
We understand the Apostles' Creed
as the baptismal symbol, and the Nicene Creed as the sufficient
statement of the Christian faith.
The two sacraments ordained by
Christ himself - Baptism and the Supper of the Lord - are administered
with unfailing use of Christ's words of institution, and the elements
are ordained by him.
The historic episcopate is locally
adapted in the methods of its administration to the varying needs
of the nations and peoples called of God into the unity of his
Anglicans trace their Christian
roots back to the early Church, and their specifically Anglican
identity to the post-Reformation expansion of the Church of England
and other Episcopal or Anglican Churches. Historically, there
were two main stages in the development and spread of the Communion.
Beginning with the seventeenth century, Anglicanism was established
alongside colonization in the United States, Australia, Canada,
New Zealand and South Africa. The second stage began in the eighteenth
century when missionaries worked to establish Anglican churches
in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
As a worldwide family of churches,
the Anglican Communion has more than 70 million adherents in 38
Provinces spreading across 161 countries. Located on every continent,
Anglicans speak many languages and come from different races and cultures.
Although the churches are autonomous, they are also uniquely unified through
their history, their theology, their worship and their relationship
to the ancient See of Canterbury.
Anglicans uphold the Catholic
and Apostolic faith. Following the teachings of Jesus Christ,
the Churches are committed to the proclamation of the good news
of the Gospel to the whole creation. In practice this is based
on the revelation contained in Holy Scripture and the Catholic
creeds, and is interpreted in light of Christian tradition, scholarship,
reason and experience.
By baptism in the name of the
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, a person is made one with Christ
and received into the fellowship of the Church. This sacrament
of initiation is open to infants and children as well as to adults.
Central to worship for Anglicans
is the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, also called the Holy
Communion, the Lord's Supper or the Mass. In this offering of
prayer and praise, the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ
are recalled through the proclamation of the word and the celebration
of the sacrament. Other important rites, commonly called sacraments,
include confirmation, holy orders, reconciliation, marriage and
anointing of the sick.
Worship is at the very heart of
Anglicanism. Its styles vary from simple to elaborate, or even
a combination. Until the late twentieth century the great uniting
text was The Book of Common Prayer, in its various revisions throughout
the Communion, and the modern language liturgies which now exist
alongside it still bear a family likeness. Both The Book of Common
Prayer and more recent Anglican liturgies give expression to the
comprehensiveness found within the Church whose principles reflect
that of the via media in relation to its own and other Christian
Another distinguishing feature
of the corporate nature of Anglicanism is that it is an interdependent
Church, where parishes, dioceses and provinces help each other
to achieve by mutual support in terms of financial assistance
and the sharing of other resources.
To be an Anglican is to be on
a journey of faith to God supported by a fellowship of co-believers
who are dedicated to finding Him by prayer and service.
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