Introduction to the Anglican Church
Tell me about the Anglican Church of Canada...
The Anglican Church of Canada is part of the Christian Faith founded by followers of Jesus Christ when He commissioned His Disciples to go into all the world with the Gospel. The Anglican Communion, which grew out of the Church of England, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with more than 80 million members worldwide. It is a multi-national, multi-lingual, multi-racial church.
1. The Anglican Church is a Bible Church.
We “believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God and to contain all things necessary to salvation". (BAS 645) The Bible is the source of our belief and moral standards. As God’s Word to us, the Bible is the lens through which we view and evaluate all other claims to truth.
2. The Anglican Church is a Catholic Church.
Catholic means that which has been consistently believed and practiced from New Testament times, also all inclusive and universal—broad in sympathies, tastes and understanding. Our worship and life draw from the rich treasure of two thousand years of Christian experience. The Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds, the ancient statements of the undivided Church based on Biblical truth, are our statements of faith today. The Book of Common Prayer and the Book of Alternative Services contain the catholic treasure of worship. The catholic balance of the sacrament and word in our worship is evidenced by our emphasis on Biblical preaching.
3. The Anglican Church is a Reverent Church.
Worship in the Anglican Church tends to be quietly reverent and dignified. The vestments worn by our clergy date back to antiquity and are the historical “uniforms” of Christ’s ministers. The worship is for the glorification of God, not for our entertainment, thus Anglicans are not spectators but participants in worship. We express ourselves in gesture as well as in word. In praying we adopt a comfortable position, either standing, sitting or kneeling; we stand to praise; and we sit to be instructed. All other devotional gestures are optional and purely personal. To Anglicans, worship is the most important thing we do, and ultimately this reality shapes all that we do in every area of life.
4. The Anglican Church is a Reformed Church.
Much of our distinctiveness was hammered out in the Protestant Reformation in England in the sixteenth century. The Protestant faith bears witness that “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself”. In other words, we are saved by God’s grace and not by our works. Due to our reformed heritage, the lay people share the responsibilities of leadership with the ordained clergy. Scripture, tradition, reason … and experience is used to judge and inform the church in making decisions.
5. The Anglican Church is a Missionary Church.
The church has been established wherever its members have gone. The first recorded Anglican Communion Service in Canada was celebrated by the Reverend Robert Wolfall in 1578 at Frobisher Bay. The first Anglican Bishop in Canada was Charles Inglis in 1787. William Budd was the first Indigenous Minister who was ordained to ministry in 1850. Our Parish supports work overseas and in the remote areas of Canada. Christ’s call to share the Gospel is taken seriously.
6. An Introduction to Anglican Structure.
The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada is our national body. It was created in 1893 by a group of Dioceses in order to carry out certain functions on a national basis, such as mission in Canada and overseas. The General Synod meets every 3 years. It is made up of ordained clergy and elected members from each diocese. The work of General Synod is to make decisions regarding the ongoing mission of the church and its policies.
The Diocese is the regional body. The Diocese acts as a Trustee for the parishes by providing spiritual and temporal oversight. The Diocesan Synod is composed of parish delegates (clergy and laity) and the Bishop. The Diocese elects delegates to the General Synod.
The Parish is the local Body. It is an incorporated entity with the Rector (a.k.a.Shepherd, Priest) and Wardens (Rector's assistants) being the Corporation (committee) in the life of the Parish. At the Annual Meeting of Parishioners, the parish elects delegates to the Diocesan Synod.
Membership in the Anglican Church begins with the Sacrament of Holy Baptism whereby a person becomes a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ. All Baptized persons, regardless of age, are invited to enter into the full sacramental life of the church in appropriate ways.
Confirmation is the rite by which people who were baptized as infants take on the promises of baptism for themselves. It is also the way in which a person joins the Anglican Communion. Not everyone chooses to be Confirmed.
Click HERE to go to a more complete glossary of words used by Anglicans.