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Being an Anglican

Anglicanism is an expression of Christianity which believes in the Trinity, that God exists as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God's supreme revelation to humankind is Jesus Christ, fully God and fully human, who was born, lived, died and rose again to reveal and offer to all people God's love and salvation. God's Spirit lives in us today, to guide, counsel, inspire and show us the right path.

What does 'Anglican' mean?

The word ‘Anglican’ originates in ecclesia anglicana, a medieval Latin phrase that means ‘the English Church’, but in the past two centuries the tradition has been adopted around the world. Now 85 million members are part of national or regional Churches that call themselves Anglican (or Episcopal in some countries) which collectively are known as the Anglican Communion. The Diocese in Europe is part of the Church of England, the originator and mother church of the Communion, whose spiritual head is the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Anglicans and Episcopalians share aspects of their history, tradition and ways of worshipping. But no two churches are exactly alike even within a diocese, let alone a province or between countries. A service in an Anglican church can be as catholic as a tridentine mass, as evangelical as a Billy Graham rally, pentecostally charismatic, quakerly silent, learned preaching, contemplative meditation led by monks and nuns, and much else besides, with all these expressions being seen as ways of opening heart, mind and soul to God, and of participating in the mutual conversation of love of the Trinity. This unity in diversity is one of the things that make the Anglican Communion so special and such rich ground from which to change to world.

Why do people become Anglicans?

Here are two reflections from people in a chaplaincy in the Diocese in Europe. Both are in their 20s and neither is British:

"I was drawn to the Anglican way as an adult, through her liturgy, poetry, and music. The first service of Holy Communion that I attended was a transcendent experience, and afterwards the priest greeted me with the words, “If there is anything we can do to help you in your walk with Christ, we’re here.” That open, generous offer remained with me. I began reading about Anglican theology and found the breadth and variety astounding. Surely a church which could hold such diverse Christian people with their diverse opinions in communion was a church that reflected the Kingdom of God. With that conviction, I was confirmed in 2016."

"I find the rich tradition and robust ecumenism of the Anglican Church to be among her most compelling attributes. It is inspiring to worship Christ in the company of a global communion of saints. The Anglican emphasis on reason enables me to interact theologically with new and invigorating concepts which in turn help me to worship God with 'all my mind'. I’ve found a way to be a Christian and to bring my intellect and questions with me into church. Faith that seeks understanding can embrace those questions and not shudder. These are all reasons why I was confirmed in the Anglican Communion."

"Essential to Anglicanism is a sense of magnanimity -  a holding together, often in creative tension, of different points of view, but always in a spirit of charity and appreciative enquiry."

Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York


Find out more

There is a very useful introductory book by Mark Chapman, Anglicanism, a Very Short Introduction (Oxford 2006)

You can read a short history of the Anglican Church, and what the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu says about 'being Anglican', here.

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