The Anglican tradition is a continuation of the worship and doctrine of the Church of England.
The Church of England
While English Christianity has roots in the fifth century and beyond, the Church of England as an institution was the result of the transformation of the church in England by the values of the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century. Striking a “middle way” between the Roman Catholic Church and the radical reformers, the English church adopted the central Protestant principles of the normative authority of Holy Scripture, justification by faith, and the priesthood of all believers, while retaining the liturgies and church structures of its ancient past. So, for example, the Church of England places a high priority on the public reading of the Scriptures and it is governed by bishops centered at historic sees, especially the fifth century archdiocese of Canterbury in southern England.
The Book of Common Prayer
That balance of Reformation doctrine and classical worship and polity can be found in the Book of Common Prayer, a collection of the liturgies of the church first written by Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury during the Protestant Reformation. Few works of literature have had a greater impact on the modern English language than the liturgies found in this book. The works of Shakespeare come to mind, but even he often quotes from or alludes to this book, which was the official form of worship in the England of his day. We continue to use liturgies largely based on the Book of Common Prayer at Christ Church Anglican.
The Anglican Communion
As Englishmen spread around the globe in the age of discovery, they took their church with them. These churches, while outside England, retained the worship and doctrine of their mother church. As these churches grew, they both solidified their official connection to the Church of England through a global network of like-minded bishops (who now care for nearly 77 million souls in 164 countries), and established their own independence in the adaptation of the Book of Common Prayer for their own local contexts. Called “Anglican” to identify their heritage and connection, the largest Anglican churches in the world today are increasingly in the global south, places like Nigeria, Kenya, and Uganda.
The Global South and the Anglican Church in North America
The Episcopal Church in the United States was the product of this process in the English colonies of North America. During the last twenty-five or so years, many in the Episcopal Church were grieved to see the historic Christian truths of the Anglican tradition abandoned. At the urging of Anglican churches in the global south and with their full support, new churches were formed in the United States and called “Anglican” to communicate this relationship. Christ Church Anglican is one of those churches. Together with nearly 1,000 other Anglican congregations in the United States and Canada, we form the Anglican Church in North America.
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Find out more by watching this speech given by Archbishop Robert Duncan titled “What Holds the ACNA together?”