Protestant and Reformed | Liturgical worship | Governed by Bishops
What does it mean to be an Anglican? First and foremost it means to be a Christian, for Anglicanism is centered in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. More particularly, the Anglican Way is set forth in three foundational documents called “Formularies” that cover:
- What we believe (doctrine): the 39 Articles.
- How we worship (devotion): The 1662 Book of Common Prayer.
- How we are governed (discipline): The Ordinal.
These Formularies set forth Anglicanism as a Gospel-Centered form of Christianity, that in its beliefs is Protestant and Reformed, is liturgical in worship, and its structure governed by bishops.
Protestant and Reformed
The 39 Articles of Religion is a Protestant and Reformed confession and cover what we believe. Visit our Beliefs page for more information.
One of the first things you might notice when you worship at an Anglican Church is that the worship is liturgical. Now every church has a liturgy, which is simply the things that they do and say in worship. Anglicans are considered liturgical because we follow ancient patterns of worship that include the saying of creeds, written prayers, confessing our sins together, with a fair amount of standing, sitting and kneeling. We have a participatory worship.
The reason why we are liturgical is that we use one what many consider to be the great gift of Anglicanism: the Book of Common Prayer. Thomas Cranmer was the main author of the BCP in the 16th century. The 1662 BCP is the Anglican Formulary of worship.
The main reason that we use the BCP for worship is that it expresses the Gospel. It does this by drawing its words directly and indirectly from the Bible. How we worship as Anglicans is bathed in Scripture. We pray the Psalms, read portions of the Scripture and value preaching the Bible.
The other way it expresses the Gospel is in the rhythm of our worship. To worship liturgically via the Book of Common Prayer is to enter into the pattern of the Gospel in that God first moves towards us in Jesus and then invites us to respond to Him in faith.
There is a cycle, often repeated, in all of our services that
- We are presented with our need for God by showing us our sin.
- We are offered God’s grace to deal with our sin via the Word and Sacrament.
- We are invited to receive God’s grace by Faith and respond with praise.
While there are now numerous versions of the BCP, at St. George’s we use a modern English version of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. We do so because the 1662 BCP remains the clearest and most consistent expression of the Gospel that Anglicanism offers. We also value simplicity in our approach to the liturgy.
Governed by Bishops
One of the more unique features of Anglicanism as a Protestant and Reformed church is that we are governed by bishops. At the time of Reformation, the Church of England was unique in retaining the ancient three-fold order: bishops, presbyters and deacons. The reason that the English Reformers kept this order is that there is a biblical basis for it, and it was how the church had been structured since the earliest days. The Anglican Formulary that covers our structure or governance is called “the Ordinal.” It is found in the Book of Common Prayer.
Anglican churches are organized into a group called a diocese, usually geographically, united in the Gospel and under the oversight of a bishop. The bishop is the chief pastor of all the pastors and churches in his diocese. The word bishop means overseer (1 Timothy 3:1-7). He is given responsibility to ensure everyone is cared for in Christ’s name, and that the apostolic Faith from the Bible is being taught. He works with other bishops in a given province (think country). There is not one bishop who has the title and power as the Pope does in the Roman Catholic Church.
The two other orders (ordained offices) in Anglicanism are deacons and presbyters. The term deacon literally means servant. Both men and women serve as Deacons (1 Timothy 3:8-13; Romans 16:1). Deacons are meant to be examples of what Christlike servanthood looks like for the people of the church. They are leaders from within the body, and bridge the church and the world. Every bishop and presbyter is first ordained a deacon.
Presbyters are pastors (1 Peter 5:1-5). The term presbyter means elder (Titus 1:5-9). An old English word presbyter is priest, which is why Anglican presbyters are often called priests. Ordained presbyters are set apart to be ministers of the Word and the Sacraments, and are the pastors of the local church. Our diocese and at St. George’s, we hold to the conviction that from the creation order of male and female in Genesis, that men are called to the office of presbyter in the family of God, mirroring the order of husbands and wives in the human family (1 Timothy 2:12- 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9).
St. George’s is under the oversight of Bishop Ken Ross. We are part of the Diocese of the Rocky Mountains in the province of the Anglican Church of North America. We also have a relationship with the Anglican Church of Rwanda.