Anglicans are members of a worldwide family of churches. We trace our descent from the Church of England. From it we inherited our prayer book, our customs and traditions, and a characteristic way of doing theology. Many who have come into the Anglican Church have been drawn into this community through the beauty and richness of the worship of the church.
The Book of Common Prayer was first produced by Archbishop Cranmer in 1549. It has undergone several revisions since then, including revisions in 1918 and 1959. In Canada, The Book of Alternative Services was authorized in 1985 as an alternative to the Prayer Book. It does not replace the BCP as the official prayer book of the church, but it is an alternative in contemporary language authorized for use by the General Synod and the diocesan bishop. Most parishes in the Diocese of Edmonton use both of these Prayer Books for various services in the church.
Anglican worship is biblical. Our prayer books are full of scripture, and at each service we read and reflect on God’s word in many forms. The lectionary or list of readings that we follow gives us a pattern by which we hear most of the Bible in public worship over a three year period.
Anglican worship is sacramental. We believe that God’s grace is expressed to us through material things – through water, wine and bread, through anointing with oil. The Eucharist, celebrated week by week, is at the heart of the Church’s worship, giving us food for our journey. It brings us into communion with God and with each other. Baptism and other sacraments mark important moments in our life.
Anglican worship involves all our senses. Our services use colour, music, symbols, art, poetic language, sometimes the smell of flowers or incense, the taste of bread and wine, touching hands at the passing of the Peace, changing postures as we sit, kneel or stand. Worship involves the whole person.
Anglican worship today involves both clergy and lay people. At one time, the priest conducted the whole service. The people participated only by listening and joining in the prayers. Now there are many other opportunities for lay people of all ages to participate in worship – reading the scriptures, leading the Prayers of the People, serving at the altar, administering the bread and wine, leading the singing. And of course we all participate by joining in the prayers, by listening and singing. Anglican worship is a community activity.
We believe that God created the world and is revealed to us through the stuff of everyday life, through material things like bread and wine and water. The Book of Common Prayer (page 550) defines a sacrament as “an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace, given to us by Christ himself as a means whereby we receive this grace, and a pledge to assure us thereof.” A sacrament operates on two levels, the seen and the unseen. God’s gift of grace is expressed to us through material objects, transformed by God in order to strengthen us.Sacraments are “effectual signs.” That is, they do not merely describe or represent something, but they work to bring about what they describe. Baptism does not merely describe cleansing and new life, but actually brings about that new life in us when we receive the sacrament. The Eucharist does not simply recount a past event, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but it calls that experience into the present with all the force and power of the original event.
One profession of the faith we believe is said by Anglicans around the world in the Nicene Creed, issued in 325 A.D. by the Council of Nicaea.
Information Source: Meet the Family: Welcome to the Anglican Church of Canada
Author: Patricia Bays Published by The Anglican Book Centre and Wood Lake Books, Inc.
Copyright © 1996. Permission has been granted for use on this web site.