What does it mean to be Anglican?

A Brief Explanation of the Identity and Affiliation of St. Timothy's Church


Anglicanism describes the worldwide family of churches, called the Anglican Communion, which was birthed out the English Reformation of the mid 16th century under the leadership of people such as Thomas Cranmer, Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley. The Church of England became a global church because of British imperialism and through the missionary efforts of the church throughout 17th to 19th centuries. However, the Church of England can trace its ancestry the all the way back to the 3rd century and through connection, back to the start of Christianity. Today, the churches of the Anglican Communion share affinity with each other and with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the chief spiritual leader of the Church of England. St. Timothy's Church is a local congregation of the Anglican Communion.

But what precisely is the identity of an Anglican church? What is distinctive about an Anglican congregation? To put it simply, Anglicanism is reformed catholicism. To be sure this definition does not mean that we are formally associated with the Roman Catholic Church or with the denominations that trace their heritage to the Reformation in Geneva, Switzerland. When we speak of 'catholicism' we mean the inheritance of Biblical faith, life and worship handed down from the apostles through the first five centuries of the church. "Catholic" in this sense means 'universal' the church of Jesus throughout the world. When we speak of 'reformed' we mean the inheritance of doctrine and ministry received at the time of the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century. 'Reformed' in this sense means a commitment to renew the church when she falls into error.

Anglicanism is catholic for the following reasons:

It is an expression of the Church of Jesus both ancient and universal. It traces its heritage to the evangelization of the British Isles as early as the third century AD, and now has over 70 million members across the globe.

It recognizes that the Holy Spirit has spoken with authority through the church in the past, and that the church of the present must listen to His voice from every period of church history.

It is governed by the three orders of church leadership, i.e. bishops, priests and deacons, which the church has used from her earliest centuries.

It employs the riches of the catholic worship, and prayer tradition. The order of our Sunday service (the liturgy), the weekly celebration of Holy Communion, and the common prayers of our weekly and daily worship flow from the ancient and medieval periods. From Advent through Pentecost the feasts and celebrations of the Christian liturgical year are observed.

And Anglicanism is reformed for the following reasons:

It is a child of the 16th century Protestant Reformation in England. While the Reformation in England was political, its theological and pastoral aspects are essential to Anglicanism.

It adheres to the Reformation ideal of prima scriptura, or 'Scripture is primary'. So while the church listens to the wisdom of church tradition, Christian experience and reason, she submits ultimately to the teaching of God's Holy Word. Where it speaks, scripture has the final say in all matters of faith and life.

It heralds the Reformation's proclamation that salvation is in Jesus Christ alone by his free grace alone through faith alone. One can never earn God's favour; justification is only a gift given by the Father in Jesus through the Holy Spirit. And this good news of salvation must be proclaimed to the entire world.

It has sought to implement the Reformation's slogan, ecclesia reforma est semper reformanda, or 'the reformed church is always reforming'. Thus, Anglicanism has laboured to incarnate for each generation, God's Word and Spirit, from the role of human reason to the high place of the sacraments, from the fervour of evangelization to the outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

A wonderful place to further explore Anglicanism's reformed catholic identity is in The Book of Common Prayer.

The Anglican Church in North America

More specifically within the Anglican Communion, St. Timothy's Church is affiliated with the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), locally expressed as the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC), an emerging Province in global Anglicanism under Archbishop Foley Beach.

This missional work is catholic and reformed, ancient and future. The ANiC seeks to reach people in Canada with the wealth of the worshipping tradition of catholic Christianity. We strive to carry the biblical message to the neediest in our land in innovative ways, utilizing the ancient to transform the future and enfolding the unreached into the worshipping life of the people of God through the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ in word, sign and deed. We are a movement propelled by the empowering of God's Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit which Jesus gives to the Church. Catholic, Reformed and Charismatic: three streams flowing as one river – this is the Anglican Church in North America and the Anglican Network in Canada. Scripture, Spirit and Sacraments: this is St. Timothy's Church.

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