Showing items filed under “H: The Gothic Facade: Following Christ in the Anglican Way”

Sister Churches: We Are Catholic, i.e. Global in Our Connections

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We Anglicans did not plan to create a worldwide family of sibling Churches. It happened, in large measure due to the mission societies who evangelized the world with limited assistance from the established Church.  Many of these began as chaplaincies for ex-pat English, but they took on a local life of their own in ways that the missionaries themselves often could not foresee. A worldwide communion was laid at our doorstep by historical developments which can only be thought of as providential.

The word ‘catholic’ means ‘of the whole’, and can in our time be translated as ‘global.’  Those younger Churches at times replicated the struggles back in the old country, for example in the liturgical wars of high and low. At other times those old differences seemed to matter less in drastically different cultural settings, and this in turn led to ecumenical efforts, for example in the formation of a united protestant Church of South India. 

These Churches are each individual and self-governing, though their common heritage lays an imperative of communion on them. In the last fifty years we have seen that they ought to show ‘mutual responsibility and interdependence in the Body of Christ’ (1963 Anglican Congress in Toronto). We still struggle to live up to this.  This fact of communion challenges our cultural emphasis on ‘don’t tread on me.”

Read the MRI statement and discuss.

The Parish: A Spirituality of the Local and the Ordinary

This catechetical series is dependent for its vision on the poetry of the great 17th Century, Anglican priest George Herbert. He famously abandoned a career of prominence at the court to be the pastor of a small parish, St. Andrew’s, Lower Bemerton, and there discovered the whole of the Christian life embodied and lived out. The ‘Church’ we are building could then be understood to be the Church in some larger and more abstract way, or as a local church, where people in fact receive the sacrament and hear the Gospel preached.  Not that the larger issues and mandates are lost, only that they are encountered in a place and a moment.

The parish - this is in no way unique to the Anglicans!  But we too have inherited it. It means that our theology needs a sense of place. It means that people who might not otherwise relate to one another are thrown together, cheek to jowl. It means that we minister with a responsibility to our neighbors who are not believers as well as to our own. It means that lay people maintain that patience which is ballast in many cases for the eccentricities or impulsiveness of their pastor!

There is a place for causes, and for the excitement of renewal, and for grander ideas which gather the like minded, but Anglicanism has first of all been a tradition of praying in a place in ordinary time. This may not at first attract the church-shopper of our time, and it is a tacit protest against our cyber-obsession. But it may in fact have a unique witness to our time. And its virtues, humility, patience, virtue, ought to inform how we imagine theology ought to be done too.

Discuss what the elements of a spirituality of the parish would be.


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