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What Does it Mean to Be Anglican?

Fifthly, Anglicanism has structured worship to create routines, rituals and rhythms to enter into the gospel story.

These rituals and rhythms shape us both on the cognitive level and the noncognitive level, ultimately calibrating our hearts to be pointed towards God’s kingdom. Hence, liturgical worship can also become the framework for discipleship. Simon Chan suggests that “personal devotional habits should be understood as a necessary preparation for better participation in common prayer.”

Traditionally through catechesis, believers are trained in the Apostles Creed, the commandments and the Lord’s prayer; and they are trained not just to understand these things, but to enter into worship. Sunday worship that includes confession, absolution, intercessory prayer and the like, teaches believers how they can worship day to day. These are repeatable forms of worship, which makes discipleship more holistic. There is no gap between what one does on Sunday or on his own on Tuesday morning.

Finally, I consider myself Anglican because its liturgical heritage offers an enduring form of transformative worship.

The English Church’s place in the Reformation is unique as Cranmer attempted not just theological reform, but also to reform worship by rooting its forms in the earliest Church Fathers. Anglican worship creates a stable form of worship that connects me with Christians around the world. It roots me into forms of worship that have been celebrated for centuries, and its entire shape is gospel-centered and Biblically grounded.

And, as I have mentioned in the previous two points, Anglicanism offers a form of worship that enhances discipleship and roots people in God’s mission. Anglican worship at its best understands the proclamation of the Word and the celebration of Eucharist as intertwined necessities if the gospel is going to be proclaimed fully, and received faithfully.

I am convinced that the liturgical bent of Anglicanism is one of its great strengths, and that it need not be inaccessible. At the heart of the liturgical reformation lay the desire to make worship comprehensible to the average, common person. Unfortunately, some Anglican parishes have forgotten that even though our worship is now in the common language, its forms and theology are no longer common language in a post-Christian context and they require additional explanation.

I truly believe that the enduring, trans-generational nature of the liturgy offers a profound worship experience, and it can be very accessible if it simply is explained. Its accessibility will depend on how well people are led into it.

At the end of the day, the Church is fundamentally a worshiping community. Through Anglican worship, the Church is thoroughly centered and rooted in the gospel. It celebrates liturgy that has endured throughout the ages. It participates in the life of Christ through the proclaimed Word and Eucharist, and is shaped by the liturgy to become mature disciples that participate in God’s continuing mission. Anglicanism sees the Church’s ontological value rather than diminishing the Church solely to its instrumental use.

Furthermore, in light of how people change, liturgical worship deeply affects us on the cognitive and noncognitive levels, which points our hearts towards God’s kingdom. Liturgy also offers holistic discipleship, which transcends Sunday worship alone. 

This is a vision for the Church, and it is a powerful vision. As a church planter, this is the vision I aspire to see come to fruition as I believe it can thrive in a post-Christian context. I fully agree with Bishop Todd Hunter’s summary of “Why Anglicanism?” He writes: “The convergence of the evangelical, Spirit-filled and liturgical elements of Christianity are leading to the spiritual formation and mission that I dreamed of, worked toward and hoped for.”  

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Alastair was born and raised in Victoria, BC. He spent seven years in design and advertising, his work has been featured in magazines such as HOW, CMYK, Applied Arts, and Graphix. After a dramatic calling to missional living, he began and completed his Masters of Arts in Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Orlando, while working as a minister at Summit Church. After three years of prayer and preparing their hearts, Alastair and his wife, Julia, were formally assessed for church planting by The Grace Network and Church Planting BC in Vancouver, BC. They were given a full recommendation to begin church planting and partnered with Church Planting BC as their regional network. They now live in Vancouver and are at work fulfilling God's call for them there. They blog together at St. Peters Fireside.