Why an Anglican Church?
Why an Anglican Church?
We are thrilled to begin a Bible-saturated, God-glorifying, Jesus-worshiping, theologically orthodox, liturgical community in the Anglican tradition in the Beckley area.
What is Anglicanism? (Short Answer)
Anglicans were the fore-runners of the Protestant Reformation in England, many of whom gave their lives as martyrs, convinced of the need that the Scriptures be put in the hands of all people in their own language and that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone – not a result of our works. There are now around 80 million Anglicans throughout the world – a wide and diverse group. Mission Hope is thankful to be a part of the Anglican Church of North America, which firmly believes in the integrity of Scripture as well as the Divinity of Jesus Christ as the Son of God.
What is Anglicanism? (Longer Answer)
Anglicanism is a Christian tradition born out of the Protestant Reformation in England (16th century). However, a distinctive “Church in England” had taken shape centuries earlier when Roman soldiers and settlers brought the Gospel to Britannia. A lively, ancient church was born that was biblical, catholic (universal), and mission-driven. From the beginning English Christians moved into villages and cities in order to take the Gospel to the people in their daily settings. They set up shop or took everyday jobs. They wore the same clothes, spoke the same language, and brushed shoulders at the marketplaces with the pagans they sought to reach.
As the Church in England grew, Christians assumed human culture was not opposed to the Gospel but a vehicle through which God’s glory can be expressed. Education, art, music, literature, and law were proper fields for Christian leadership and witness. They believed that God called them to take the lead in influencing society toward justice and compassion. They celebrated the goodness of God in the created world. A rich heritage of “embedded” Christian life was nurtured for more than a millennium.
This holistic orientation to Christian faith carried into the 16th century. Shaped by this “incarnational” view, English Christian leaders were even more formed by the Gospel of grace, the centrality of sacramental worship, and the authority of Scripture. The leaders of the Church in England had no interest in a new church but a reformed catholic church. They wanted to unite the Church in common faith, common worship, and common prayer in the language of the people. They sought to broaden the ownership of the Church and its mission beyond the clerical class. They were motivated to take the Gospel to the rest of the world. They were convinced that a polity that made decisions in council (“conciliar”) reflected the wisdom of Scripture and the practice of the ancient Church better than concentrated individual authority.
Political pressures combined with these spiritual impulses to produce the Anglican Church. (Anglican simply means “of England.”) For the next 400 years, British Anglicans, compelled by the Word of God and the Holy Spirit, took their faith around the world. Anglican churches were established on every continent and in many nations. Church leaders encouraged autonomy and collegiality with these daughter churches. Over time, 38 separate “provinces” of the Anglican Church were established in 164 countries around the world. Today these provinces function in a voluntary communion based around common beliefs and practices that serve approximately 80 million Christians worldwide.
Today the worldwide Anglican Communion is experiencing tremendous stress as some provinces depart from the orthodox understanding of the Holy Scriptures and faithful Christian discipleship. On the other hand, the worldwide Anglican Communion is experiencing tremendous renewal. This renewal comes from the explosive growth of the Gospel through Anglican churches and missions in many locations, particularly the “2/3 world.” Growing movements within the Anglican Communion, such as the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, unite the majority of Anglican leaders and Christians in historic, biblical, missional Anglican faith and mission.
The Anglican Church in North America
As the 20th century came to a close, faithful Anglicans in North America began to despair over the steady theological and spiritual departures of the Episcopal Church-US and the Anglican Church in Canada. In June 2009, God answered countless prayers through the development of an orthodox Anglican Province here in North America as thousands gathered in Bedford, Texas for the formation of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and the consecration of its first Archbishop Robert Duncan. The ACNA is a duly constituted province made up of evangelical, orthodox Anglicans serving the people of the North America. It is currently led by Archbishop Foley Beach. Through this Province, the Diocese of Christ our Hope is connected constitutionally and spiritually with biblically-grounded Anglicans throughout the world.
It is indeed an unusual and exciting time to be Anglican. In this Diocese, we wholeheartedly believe that we have been called to be followers of Jesus Christ in the Anglican tradition for such a time as this.
Life as an Anglican Today
Putting it all together, what does it mean to be Anglican today in our context?
We are a biblical church with a treasure of rich resources that help us grow as followers of Jesus Christ to love God, serve one another, and bring the Gospel in richness and power to our communities.
We are a missional church – seeking to communicate the life, love, and truth of Jesus into the culture and language of people. We see all of life as a means of glorifying God.
We are a disciple-making church, cooperating with God’s stated goal of life-long spiritual transformation for every Christian. We are serious about making disciples of all nations, beginning in our own local churches and communities.
We are a liturgical, sacramental church. Anglicans have always sought to worship God faithfully with living forms of worship. Our services 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 as well as visual symbols to celebrate the certainty of faith and the mystery of God. Sacrament, symbol, and word, enlivened by the Holy Spirit, connect our senses with our minds and hearts.
We are a conciliar church. The leaders of each province, called archbishops (or primates), gather periodically to discuss the work of the entire Anglican Communion and to resolve issues that may arise. Bishops in each province gather in council to align the province in faith, mission, and ministry. In the diocese, bishops, clergy, and laity unite in synod (council) to make the decision necessary to align in faith, fellowship, and mission.
We are a reformational, creedal, Trinitarian church. In order to remain true to the teachings of Christ and the Apostles, we uphold the Holy Scriptures as God’s Word, hold to the summary of evangelical reformational beliefs known as the Thirty-Nine Articles of Faith, and accept the three great Christian creeds, the Apostles’, the Nicene and the Athanasian, as the fundamental statements of the Christian faith.
We are a serving Church, but with a twist. We believe fundamentally in spiritual authority rooted in the very identity of the Trinity as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That authority must be embedded and embodied if it is to mean anything in our world: you cannot have spiritual authority unless you are under spiritual authority. Therefore we believe in the historic orders of bishops, clergy (priests and deacons), and laity. At the same time, reflective of the operation of authority within the Trinity, all authority is given to serve others. Full stop. Jesus himself has embodied and defined leadership as “servanthood” – Matthew 20:28, Philippians 2:5-11.
We are a local Church. While we value our global and historical tradition, we also see ourselves as Christ followers first and part of the larger Kingdom community in local communities.