2 Saint Margaret Anglican Church: Who Are Traditional Anglicans?

Who Are Traditional Anglicans?

We do get a lot of questions as to our identity within Christendom, the most common being “What is the difference between the "Anglicans" within the Anglican Church in America (ACA) and the so called “Anglicans” within the Episcopal Church in the United States (ECUSA)?” With the word ‘Anglican’ being in the world news often and used by so many having their roots in England, that is a fair and intelligent question. While the word Anglican actually means English, use of the word by those proclaiming to hold the Catholic Faith in the Anglican tradition can indeed be quite confusing. So what is the difference?

Simply put, the ACA is among the largest of several “Continuing Churches” which emerged from a gathering of faithful Anglicans in 1977, out of which came a document titled The Affirmation of St. Louis. Archbishop Louis W. Falk is the President of the House of Bishops in the ACA. The ACA is the American jurisdiction of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC), a worldwide body of some half million members on six continents. The Primate of the TAC is Archbishop John Hepworth of Australia. On the other hand, ECUSA, under “Presiding Bishopess” Mrs. Katharine Jefferts-Schori, is the American jurisdiction church of the “Anglican Communion” led by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. The Traditional Anglican Communion, of which we and all ACA parishes and missions are members, is uniformly orthodox and traditional in its teaching and practice, while the Canterbury-based Communion emphasizes inclusiveness and embraces a wide range of beliefs and trendy theologies. While the TAC shares a common ancestry, including Apostolic Succession, with the Canterbury Communion, there is no direct hierarchical or organizational connection between us. In a nutshell, that is the difference between the Traditional Anglicans and the “Anglicans” of Canterbury, including ECUSA.

What We Believe
The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the authentic record of God's revelation of Himself, His saving activity, and moral demands - a revelation valid for all men and all time.

The Nicene Creed as the authoritative summary of the chief articles of the Christian Faith, together with the Apostle’s Creed, and that known as the Creed of St. Athanasius, to be “thoroughly received and believed” in the sense they always have in the Catholic Faith.

As the standard of Faith, these Creeds mean exactly what they say regarding God the Father Almighty, Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, The Holy Ghost, the holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the Resurrection of the Body, and the Life everlasting.

True religion is revealed to man by God. We cannot decide what is truth, but rather (in obedience) ought to receive, accept, cherish, defend and teach what God has given us. The Church is created by God, and is beyond the ultimate control of man.

We disclaim any right or competence to suppress, alter or amend any of the ancient Ecumenical Creeds and definitions of Faith, to set aside or depart from Holy Scripture, or to alter or deviate from the essential pre-requisites of any Sacrament.

Christian Morality of the New Testament is the sole guide for the Church. We believe, therefore, it is the duty of the Church and her members to bear witness to Christian Morality, to follow it in their lives, and to reject the false standards of the world. The God-given sacramental bond in marriage between one man and one woman is God's loving provision for procreation and family life, and sexual activity is to be practiced only within the bonds of Holy Matrimony.

Every human being, from the time of his conception, is a creature and child of God, made in His image and likeness, an infinitely precious soul; and that the unjustifiable or inexcusable taking of life is always sinful.

We believe it is the duty of the Church and her members to bear witness to Christian Morality, to follow it in their lives, and to reject the false standards of the world.

The Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, the Holy Eucharist, Holy Matrimony, Holy Orders, Penance and Unction of the Sick, as objective and effective signs of the continued presence and saving activity of Christ our Lord among His people and as His covenanted means for conveying His grace. In particular, we affirm the necessity of Baptism and the Holy Eucharist (where they may be had) -- Baptism as incorporating us into Christ (with its completion in Confirmation as the “seal of the Holy Spirit”), and the Eucharist as the sacrifice which unites us to the all-sufficient Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross and the Sacrament in which He feeds us with His Body and Blood.

The Apostolic Ministry of Bishops, Priests and Deacons was instituted by Christ as the perpetuation of Christ's gift of apostolic ministry to His Church, asserting the necessity of a bishop of apostolic succession (or priest ordained by such) as the celebrant of the Eucharist - these Orders consisting exclusively of men in accordance with Christ's Will and institution (as evidenced by the Scriptures), and the universal practice of the Catholic Faith.

We do not compromise on matters of Faith and Order, Doctrine, Discipline or Morality.

What is the Anglican Church?
We are a branch of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church instituted by Jesus Christ, faithfully continuing the Anglican Tradition. We uphold the historic Catholic Faith, Apostolic Order and Evangelical Witness as set forth in the 1928 American edition of the Book of Common Prayer. We accept as binding and unalterable the received Faith and Traditions of the Church, and its teachings. These include the historic threefold male Apostolic ministry of bishop, priest, and deacon, as set forth in Holy Scriptures; the Apostles’, Nicene and Athanasian Creeds; and the writings of the bishops and doctors of the ancient Church, especially as defined by the Seven Ecumenical Councils of the Undivided Church.

What do you mean by “Catholic” and “Anglican”?
The word “catholic” is often misunderstood as meaning Roman Catholic. But Rome has no copyright on the word. The words “Catholic Church” in ancient times referred to the universal church, teaching the entire Faith of Jesus Christ which He gave to the Apostles. In our day, when the Church is sadly divided, the term Catholic Church denotes those branches of the Church who, though separate, still teach the Apostolic Faith and continue Apostolic practice; these include not only Romans, but also various Orthodox, as well as Anglicans. “Anglican” refers to our heritage and roots in the Church of England.

Where do Anglicans come from?

As sons and daughters of the Church of England, our religious heritage reaches back to the earliest days of Christianity in England, and beyond that to our Lord's commission to the Apostles to “go into the world and preach the Gospel.”

When Anglican settlers first came to this continent, they brought their Faith with them. After the American Revolution, Anglicans in the United States called themselves the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America and in 1789 adopted a Book of Common Prayer whose Preface states that, “it will also appear that this Church is far from intending to depart from the Church of England in any essential point of doctrine, discipline, or worship.”

But isn’t the Anglican Church a New Church?
Yes, and no. It is a new church structure, but NOT a new church. Unhappily, during the 1960s and 1970s, the guiding principles of Anglicanism, present for so long on this continent came to be disregarded and Anglicans in both the United States and Canada found themselves belonging to church organizations embracing serious error. In September, 1977, in response to actions taken by both the Protestant Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada, a Church Congress was held in St. Louis by Anglicans committed to continuing the Church without the innovations of the former “ecclesiastical governments.” The Affirmation of St. Louis, a statement of traditional Anglican principles, called upon the churchmen to “reorder such godly discipline as will strengthen us in the continuation of our common life and witness.”

In January, 1978, bishops were consecrated through the Anglican line of the Apostolic Succession, and the Anglican Church in American emerged as the continuation of Anglicanism in this part of the world.

What is the Faith you have sought to preserve?
Anglican Faith is thoroughly grounded in Holy Scriptures. Anglicans believe “the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the authentic record of God's revelation of Himself, His saving activity, and moral demands - a revelation valid for all men and for all time.” The Apocrypha is also used in our worship; being read for instruction, it is not used to prove doctrine.

We hold that the ancient Creeds - Apostles’, Nicene and Athanasian - express the Faith of the church and are to be understood as they are written. The Anglican Church is a credal Church, not a confessional one. The Creeds, which come from ancient times, summarize the “faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). By them we are taught that God is one God in Three Persons; Father, Son and Holy Ghost; that God the Son became man, born of a virgin as our Lord Jesus Christ; that by our Lord's sinless life, death, and resurrection he gained access for us to God the Father and opened the way for us to be children of God and to live with Him for all eternity.

On Christian morality, we believe that “every Christian is obliged to form his conscience by the Divine Moral Law and the teachings and Tradition of the Church.” Such teaching is especially seen in the Sermon on the Mount (St. Matthew 5, 6, 7) and in our Lord's Summary of the Law, which states that we must first love God with our heart, soul, and mind, and love our neighbors as ourselves.

We believe that the sacraments are “objective and effective signs of the continued presence and saving activity of Christ our Lord among his people and his covenanted means for conveying His Grace.”

There are seven Sacraments:
Holy Baptism by means of water and in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost (Matthew 28:19) conveys new birth (John 3:5; Romans 6:4) and forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; I Peter 3:21).
Holy Communion was instituted by our Lord at the Last Supper when He said, "Do this in remembrance of me" (I Corinthians 11:24, Matthew 26:20-28; Mark 14:17-25; Luke 22:14-20). By this Sacrament He feeds His people with His Body and Blood (John 6:41-59).
Confirmation conveys the strengthening gifts of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:14-17; 19:1-7; Ephesians 1:13) for life as a mature Christian.
Penance conveys the forgiveness of sins (John 20:23; James 5:16) and the assurance of that forgiveness.
Holy Unction is the anointing with oil for healing (James 5:14; Mark 6:13) of body, mind, and soul.
Holy Matrimony is the union of one man and one woman for life before God.
Holy Orders denotes the Apostolic Ministry of bishops, priest and deacons, instituted by Christ, and male in character (John 20:19-23; Matthew 16:18; Acts 6:1-6). Our Lord commissioned the Apostles and their successors, the bishops, to proclaim His work and salvation which He accomplished on Calvary. When Anglicans speak of Apostolic Succession, we mean an unbroken line of consecrations and commissions from our Lord to the present bishops, continuing the same teachings and ministry established by Jesus Christ Himself.

The Daily Offices, which can be traced back to the Old Testament, are services of Psalms, Scripture lessons, hymns, and prayers. The chief act of Christian worship is the Mass through which we are joined to our Lord's sacrifice and are fed with His Body and Blood. If you are new to Anglican worship you may find some customs in the worship services unfamiliar. You may also find some variation of customs from parish to parish. Our priest will be happy to explain to you the symbolism of our worship. One general rule of thumb for Anglicans is that we stand to praise God, sit for listening to instruction, and kneel to pray. One of several exceptions occurs when we stand to pray at baptisms and marriages.

Worship is a prime responsibility for all Christians. Anglicans believe that the life of Christian service is possible only through a full life of worship, through which we receive God’s love and express our love to him. Hence we believe it is our obligation not only to worship God together every Lord’s Day but also to have a daily life of prayer. A number of our parishes are able to offer the Daily Offices and the Mass during the week, as well as on the Lord’s Day.