Anglicanism is a particular Christian tradition born out of the Protestant Reformation in England (16th century). As Anglicans, we value our place in a global communion of churches, our rich history of faith and practice, and a deep commitment to the authority of Scripture and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The word Anglican actually means “of England.” As British Christians, compelled by the Word of God and the Holy Spirit, took their faith around the world, churches were established on every continent and in many nations. British pastoral leaders encouraged autonomy and collegiality with these daughter churches, and over time, separate “provinces” of the Anglican Church were established around the world.
Today, this communion of churches now consists of 38 self-governing provinces around the world, in 164 countries, with tens of millions of members. In many places, particularly throughout the Global South, the churches of the Anglican Communion are known for their vibrant faith in God and transformational presence within their communities. The Church of the Incarnation is a member of the Anglican Church of North America and the Diocese of Christ Our Hope.
WHAT DO THE COLORS, SYMBOLS, AND POSTURES REPRESENT?
The colors we use, the clothes participants wear, and the reason we sit, stand or kneel all point to the gospel of Jesus Christ. For example, during the weeks leading up to Christmas (this is the time of the year that we call Advent), we use the color purple or serum blue because purple is the color of kings and we are celebrating the coming of the One true King. Candles remind us that not only is Christ the light of the world and present among us, but that we are called to be the light of Christ to the world. (See Matthew 5: 14.) The clergy and other participants wear stoles (much like long scarves) and sometimes white robes to remind everyone (most especially their spouses, parents, and children!) that it is not their own goodness that makes them worthy to serve but the righteousness of Christ. (See Ephesians 4:24). We kneel to display our outward submission and humility before the Great King who is worthy of all honor. We stand to honor the One who has come among us by his Holy Spirit. Please ask if you have a question about our symbols or structures!
WHY DO ANGLICANS USE LITURGY IN THEIR WORSHIP?
Liturgy is the structural form that any church uses to facilitate worship. Historically, Anglicans have believed that a balance of traditional and more informal liturgy can be helpful to facilitate worship for a variety of different people. Here is why: A steady Liturgy transcends the ever-changing realities in our daily lives, and so we can count on it to bring us back to things that are true and constant. Also, Anglican liturgy teaches us how to pray scripture, as it was written by biblically grounded theologians who crafted and taught Christian prayer based on certain Scriptures. Anglican liturgy connects us with millions of other Christians (from all over the world and throughout time) who have said the same prayers to the same God.
But can’t someone just "fake it" through liturgy and simply go through the motions? Sure. Though you can pretty much "fake it" through any style of worship, whether formal or informal. We think that if you engage your mind and heart, and give this style of worship a chance (that is, stick around for a bit), you’ll begin to love the depth and beauty if offers!
WHAT ARE THE VARIOUS PARTS OF AN ANGLICAN WORSHIP SERVICE?
Music and Singing–The Scriptures encourages us to, “Sing to the Lord a new song,” and to “Let every instrument be tuned for praise.” While we love and honor timeless hymns which speak of and respond to the majesty of God, you will notice that we sing a variety of music to appeal to different tastes, experience, and temperament.
The Collect—The prayer at the beginning of the service is taken from a collection of prayers that have been assembled to coincide with the church calendar.
Reading Scripture—We believe that the whole Bible speaks of God’s glorious gospel. Therefore we read portions of the Old & New Testaments in our services, including Psalms.
The Creeds—are statements of faith written by the early Church and recited by the people during the service after the hearing of the Word. Christians recite the Creed to recommit their lives to Christ and be reminded of what they believe. The Creeds proclaim succinctly to those interested in becoming believers in Jesus Christ what Christians believe. The Creeds also keep the Church accountable to the gospel.
The Prayers of the People—We respond to God and His Word by relating to Him in and through prayer. In prayer we listen to the Lord, give thanks, present our petitions and requests, and pray both corporately and individually. At Incarnation we pray silently and aloud during the Prayers.
The Confession of Sin and Assurance of Forgiveness—We are given the opportunity to individually and corporately acknowledge and repent of our sins and to confess our need for Jesus Christ. The Confession is an Anglican “altar call” so to speak. The priest then proclaims the gospel: that by grace through faith in Jesus Christ complete forgiveness is offered to all who repent and trust in Christ.
The Peace—The purpose of “The Peace” before communion is for members of the church to 1) remind each other of the peace of Christ given because of the gospel, and 2) to allow members of the church who have been at odds with one another to “make peace in Christ” before they come to the communion table. (See Matthew 5: 23—24.)
The Holy Communion—Jesus Christ gave the command for his people to break bread and drink wine not only as a memorial of his death and resurrection, but as an invitation to have fellowship with Christ through faith. Anglicans believe in the “real presence of Christ” not only in the bread and wine, but among the church gathered for Communion. Thus, the whole communion service is called a “sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.” Taking communion is not just an individual encounter but a corporate experience of Christ’s Presence among His people.
Receiving Bread and Wine—All those who have trusted in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, have received baptism, and who are “in love and charity with their neighbor” (1928 BCP) are welcome at the Lord’s Table for communion. The bread is placed on an open palm to be eaten followed by drinking from the common cup of wine. If you do not wish to receive communion, you are welcome to come forward and cross your arms across your chest as a sign to request a prayer and blessing or to remain in your seat as others around you come forward to receive the bread and the wine.
For more about our worship services, click here.
WHAT DO ANGLICANS MEAN WHEN THEY SAY:
Rector—Head-pastor of a local parish church.
Parish Council—The leadership of an Anglican church is composed of elected members of the Church plus some of the clergy.
Eucharist—Derives from a Greek word meaning “to give thanks”; often used to describe Holy Communion.
WHO CAN RECEIVE COMMUNION AT THE CHURCH OF THE INCARNATION?
All baptized Christians who profess faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are welcomed to receive the Sacrament, regardless of denomination or church background.
I GREW UP CATHOLIC. WILL I BE COMFORTABLE IN AN ANGLICAN SERVICE?
We certainly think so. While our beliefs are Biblical, orthodox, and reflect the theology of the Protestant Reformation, Anglicans retain some liturgies along with helpful traditions from the early Church that Roman Catholics would find familiar. So, both groups would feel very much at home.
WHERE CAN I READ ABOUT THE BASICS OF ANGLICAN THEOLOGY?
For more on Anglicanism, check out these great resources:
- The Thirty-Nine Articles of Faith - Click here
- The Book of Common Prayer - Click here
- The Book of Common Prayer and Its Relevance Today - Click here
- Our Anglican Heritage - Click here
- The Thirty-Nine Articles: Their Place and Use Today - Click here
- Principles of Theology: An Introduction to the 39 Articles - Click here
*Thank you to Church of the Resurrection in Baltimore, for providing much of the content above*