Being an Anglican

Archbishop Welby.jpgAnglicans trace their Christian roots back to the early Church, and the English Church that developed in the centuries after the resurrection of Jesus.  For a time this church came under the authority of the Bishop of Rome, but its distinctively ‘Anglican’ identity was re-awakened during the English Reformation.

Historically, there were two main stages in the development of the English Church beyond the British Isles.  Beginning in the seventeenth century, Anglicanism was established alongside colonisation in the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa. The second stage began in the eighteenth century when Anglican missionaries worked to establish Anglican churches in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

The ancient English Catholic Church, reformed in the English Reformation thus spread through these movements around the world, at first as chaplaincies to the English speaking people, then as a missionary movement, and finally as a Communion of autonomous national churches which share a common history in the English Church and which have developed in their own contexts.

As a worldwide family of Christians, the Anglican Communion gathers together around 120 million worshippers in 39 member churches (called Provinces) and 6 national or local churches (known as Extra Provincials) spreading across 161 countries. Located on every continent, Anglicans speak many languages and come from different races and cultures. Although each national church is autonomous, they are uniquely unified through their history, their theology, their worship and their relationship to the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Anglicans uphold the Catholic and Apostolic faith and affirm the historic Creeds. Following the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Anglican Communion is committed to the proclamation of the good news of the Gospel to the whole creation.

In practice this is based on the revelation contained in Holy Scripture and the Catholic creeds, and is interpreted in the light of Christian tradition, scholarship, reason and experience.  We make sense of life through a reading of the Bible in the light of the wisdom of those who have read it before us down through the centuries, and with the insights of contemporary reason and experience.

We believe that through Holy Baptism (which is open to children and adults) in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, a person is made one with Christ and received into the fellowship of the Church and made a member of his Body. We readily accept that anyone who has been baptised in any Christian Church in the name of the Holy Trinity is fully baptised.

Central to worship for Anglicans is the celebration of the Mass, also called the Holy Eucharist, the Holy Communion or the Lord’s Supper. In this offering of prayer and praise, the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are remembered through the proclamation of the word and the celebration of the Sacrament. The other Sacraments of the Church are Confirmation, Holy Orders, Reconciliation (personal confession), Marriage and Anointing of the Sick.

Worship is at the very heart of Anglicanism. Its styles vary from simple to elaborate, or even a combination. Until the late twentieth century the great uniting text was The Book of Common Prayer published in 1662, a book that found its source in the ancient liturgies of the Church and especially the first English texts of 1549 and 1552.

In more recent years a number of prayer books have been developed by the different national churches, all of which bear a family likeness to the 1662 text. Both The Book of Common Prayer and more recent Anglican liturgies give expression to the comprehensiveness found within the Anglican Communion.

At Saint Peter’s we have both cradle Anglicans (people who were born into the Anglican Church through their families), Christians who have become Anglicans by choice, and members of other Christian churches who have chosen to worship with us, and make a commitment to sharing with us at this point in their lives.  All are welcome here.

When the Bishop visits us each year there is an opportunity for those who wish to, to receive the Sacraments of Holy Baptism and Confirmation, or to be officially received by him into communicant membership of the Anglican Church of Australia.  Adults and young people are prepared in advance prior to this taking place.

However, Christians baptised in any Church, and of any age, are welcome to participate in our life and to receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion whether they are Anglicans or not.

As Anglicans we understand that our structures are provisional.  To be an Anglican is to be on a journey of faith to God supported by a fellowship of co-believers who are dedicated to finding him by prayer and service.  The Anglican Communion, as a Reformed Catholic Church, continues to work and pray towards full visible union with the Roman Catholic Church.

Parishes in the Diocese of Newcastle are united together through the ministry of the Bishop of Newcastle.