Who Are We
Who Are The Traditional Anglicans?
We do get a lot of questions as to our identity within Christendom. The most common question is, "What is the difference between the "Anglicans" within the Anglican Church in America (ACA) and the so called "Anglicans" within the Episcopal Church in the United States, or the ECUSA?" With the word "Anglican" being in the world news often and used by so many having their roots in England, I suppose that is a fair and intelligent question.
While the word Anglican actually means English, use of the word by those proclaiming to hold the Catholic Faith in the Anglican tradition can indeed be quite confusing. So what is the difference? Simply put, the ACA is among the largest of several "Continuing Churches" which emerged from a gathering of faithful Anglicans in 1977 out of which came a document titled The Affirmation of St. Louis. Archbishop Louis W. Falk is the President of the House of Bishops in the ACA. The ACA is the American jurisdiction of the "Traditional Anglican Communion" (TAC), a worldwide body of some half million members on six continents. The Primate of the TAC is Archbishop John Hepworth of Australia. On the other hand, ECUSA, under "Presiding Bishopess" Mrs. Katharine Jefferts-Schori, is the American jurisdiction church of the "Anglican Communion" led by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. The Traditional Anglican Communion, of which we and all ACA parishes and missions are members, is uniformly orthodox and traditional in its teaching and practice, while the Canterbury-based Communion emphasizes "inclusiveness" and embraces a wide range of beliefs and "trendy" theologies. While the TAC shares a common ancestry, including Apostolic Succession, with the Canterbury Communion, there is no direct hierarchical or organizational connection between us. In a nutshell, that is the difference between the Traditional Anglicans and the "Anglicans" of Canterbury, including ECUSA.
Who Are The Traditional Anglicans?
The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the authentic record of God's revelation of Himself, His saving activity, and moral demands - a revelation valid for all men and all time. The Nicene Creed as the authoritative summary of the chief articles of the Christian Faith, together with the "Apostles' Creed, and that known as the Creed of St. Athanasius, to be "thoroughly received and believed" in the sense they always have in the Catholic Faith.
As the standard of Faith, these Creeds mean exactly what they say regarding God the Father Almighty, Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, The Holy Ghost, the holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the Resurrection of the Body, and the Life everlasting. God reveals true religion to man. We cannot decide what truth is, but rather (in obedience) ought to receive, accept, cherish, defend and teach what God has given us. The Church is created by God and is beyond the ultimate control of man.
We disclaim any right or competence to suppress, alter or amend any of the ancient Ecumenical Creeds and Definitions of Faith, to set aside or depart from Holy Scripture, or to alter or deviate from the essential pre-requisites of any Sacrament.
Christian Morality of the New Testament is the sole guide for the Church. We believe, therefore, it is the duty of the Church and her members to bear witness to Christian Morality, to follow it in their lives, and to reject the false standards of the world. The God-given sacramental bond in marriage between one man and one woman is God's loving provision for procreation and family life, and sexual activity is to be practiced only within the bonds of Holy Matrimony.
Every human being, from the time of his conception, is a creature and child of God, made in His image and likeness, an infinitely precious soul; and that the unjustifiable or inexcusable taking of life is always sinful. We believe - it is the duty of the Church and her members to bear witness to Christian Morality, to follow it in their lives, and to reject the false standards of the world.
The Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, the Holy Eucharist, Holy Matrimony, Holy Orders, Penance and Unction of the Sick, as objective and effective signs of the continued presence and saving activity of Christ our Lord among His people and as His covenanted means for conveying His grace. In particular, we affirm the necessity of Baptism and the Holy Eucharist (where they may be had). Baptism as incorporating us into Christ (with its completion in Confirmation as the "seal of the Holy Spirit"), and the Eucharist as the sacrifice which unites us to the all-sufficient Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross and the Sacrament in which He feeds us with His Body and Blood.
The Apostolic Ministry of Bishops, Priests and Deacons was instituted by Christ as the perpetuation of Christ's gift of apostolic ministry to His Church. This asserts the necessity of a bishop of apostolic succession (or priest ordained by such) as the celebrant of the Eucharist - these Orders consisting exclusively of men by Christ's Will and institution (as evidenced by the Scriptures), and the universal practice of the Catholic Faith.
We do not compromise on matters of Faith and Order, Doctrine, Discipline or Morality.
What is the Anglican Church?
We are a branch of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church instituted by Jesus Christ, faithfully continuing the Anglican Tradition. We uphold the historic Catholic Faith, Apostolic Order and Evangelical Witness as established in the 1928 American edition of the Book of Common Prayer. We accept as binding and unalterable the received Faith and Traditions of the Church and its teachings. These include the historic threefold male Apostolic ministry of the bishop, a priest, and deacon, as outlined in Holy Scriptures; the Apostles', Nicene and Athanasian Creeds; and the writings of the bishops and doctors of the ancient Church, especially as defined by the Seven Ecumenical Councils of the Undivided Church.
Where do Anglicans come from?
As sons and daughters of the Church of England, our religious heritage reaches back to the earliest days of Christianity in England, and beyond that to our Lord’s commission to the Apostles to “go into the world and preach the Gospel.”
When Anglican settlers first came to this continent, they brought their Faith with them. After the American Revolution, Anglicans in the United States called themselves the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America. In 1789, they adopted a Book of Common Prayer whose Preface states that “…it will also appear that this Church is far from intending to depart from the Church of England in any essential point of doctrine, discipline, or worship…”
What do you mean by “Catholic” and “Anglican”?
The word “Catholic” is often misunderstood as meaning Roman Catholic. But Rome has no copyright on the word. The words “Catholic Church” in ancient times referred to the universal church, teaching the entire Faith of Jesus Christ which He gave to the Apostles. In our day, when the Church is sadly divided, the term Catholic Church denotes those branches of the Church who, through separate, still teach the Apostolic Faith and continue Apostolic practice; these include not only Romans, but also various Orthodox, and well as Anglicans. “Anglican” refers to our heritage and roots in the Church of England.
But isn’t the Anglican Church a New Church?
Yes, and no. It is a new church structure, but NOT a new church. Unhappily, during the 1960s and 1970s, the guiding principles of Anglicanism, present for so long on this continent came to be disregarded and Anglicans in both the United States and Canada found themselves belonging to church organizations embracing serious error. In September 1977, in response to actions taken by both the Protestant Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada, a Church Congress was held in St. Louis by Anglican’s committed to continuing the Church without the innovations of the former “ecclesiastical governments.” The Affirmation of St. Louis, a statement of traditional Anglican principles, called upon the churchmen to “reorder such godly discipline as will strengthen us in the continuation of our common life and witness.”
In January 1978, bishops were consecrated through the Anglican line of the Apostolic Succession, and the Anglican Church in American emerged as the continuation of Anglicanism in this part of the world.
What is the Faith you have sought to preserve?
Anglican Faith is thoroughly grounded in Holy Scriptures. Anglicans believe “the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the authentic record of God’s revelation of Himself, His saving activity, and moral demands – a revelation valid for all men and for all time.” The Apocrypha is used in our worship; read for instruction, it is not used to prove doctrine.
We hold that the ancient Creeds – Apostles’, Nicene and Athanasian – express the Faith of the Church and are to be understood as written.
On Christian morality, we believe that “every Christian is obliged to form his conscience by the Divine Moral Law and the teachings and Tradition of the Church.” Such teaching is especially seen in the Sermon on the Mount (St. Matthew 5, 6, 7) and in our Lord’s Summary of the Law, which states that we must first love God with our heart, soul, and mind, and love our neighbors as ourselves. The Anglican Church is a credal Church, not a confessional one. The Creeds, which come from ancient times, summarize the “faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3). By them we are taught that God is one God in Three Persons; Father, Son and Holy Ghost; that God the Son became man, born of a virgin as our Lord Jesus Christ; that by our Lord’s sinless life, death, and resurrection he gained access for us to God the Father and opened the way for us to be children of God and to live with Him for all eternity.
We believe that the sacraments are “objective and effective signs of the continued presence and saving activity of Christ our Lord among his people and his covenanted means for conveying His Grace.” There are seven Sacraments; BAPTISM by water and in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Ghost (St. Matthew 28:19 conveys new birth (St. John 3:5, Romans 6:4) and forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38, 1 Peter 3:21).
THE HOLY COMMUNION also called the Holy Eucharist, the Divine Liturgy, and the Mass, was instituted by our Lord at the Last Supper when he said “Do this in remembrance of me” (1Corinthians 11:24; St. Matthew 26:20-28; St. Mark 14: 17-25; St Luke 22:14-20) and by which He feeds His people with His Body and Blood (St. John 6:41-59). CONFIRMATION conveys the gifts of the Holy Ghost (Acts 8:14-17; 19:1-7; Ephesians 1:13)
The Daily Offices, which can be traced back to the Old Testament, are services of Psalms, Scripture lessons, hymns, and prayers. The chief act of Christian worship is the Mass through which we are joined to our Lord’s sacrifice and are fed with His Body and Blood. If you are new to Anglican worship, you may find some customs in the worship services unfamiliar. You may also find some variation of customs from parish to parish. Our priest will be happy to explain to you the symbolism of our worship. One general rule of thumb for Anglicans is that we stand to praise God, sit for listening to instruction, and kneel to pray. One of the several exceptions occurs when we stand to pray at baptisms and marriages.
Worship is a prime responsibility for all Christians. Anglicans believe that the life of Christian service is possible only through a full life of worship, through which we receive God’s love and express our love to him. Hence we believe it is our obligation not only to worship God together every Lord’s Day but also to have a daily life of prayer. Some our parishes offer the Daily Offices and the Mass during the week, as well as on the Lord’s Day.
Are there many opportunities for service?
Within our parish, you will find many chances for involvement. St. John’s needs and welcomes active laymen and women. It has been well said that the Anglican movement has been built upon the efforts of its laity. Within the parish there is the need for altar guilds, acolytes, church school leaders, lay leaders, choirs, and the parish committees which help in the carrying out of the parish’s mission. Also, we have study groups, prayer groups, and church school classes, offering further opportunity for involvement.
Beyond the parish you will find many Anglicans involved with community concerns or serving on different committees of the Diocesan and National Church. The laity are an integral part of the government of the Anglican Church. The parish vestry (similar to a board of directors) is composed of parish communicants and is charged with management of the temporal affairs of the parish Synods – or meetings – of the dioceses and the National Church have active lay participation. Each parish sends lay representatives to the Diocesan Synod, which in turn elects lay delegates to the National Synod. Anglicans take seriously our Lord’s call to ALL Christians to serve Him. This means both a ministry within the Christian family and a ministry to the world to spread the Gospel and to tangibly show forth Jesus Christ in our lives.