The Gifts of Our Anglican Heritage
- an affirmation of Anglicanism from EFAC WA
It is easy to feel that the churches have lost their way. Declining attendances and finances, falling Christian affiliation and loss of reputation, combined with Christian leaders trying to hold together clashing agendas being championed within their flocks, often produce the feeling that things aren’t going well..
And yet, as people who love and are committed to the Anglican church, our conviction is that our Christ-centred heritage is sufficiently deep and rich to provide us with what we need to persevere in faith, hope, and love through whatever may lie ahead. We long to see the churches of our diocese grow, flourish, and be a blessing to our local communities, and we believe that under God this is possible, not despite our Anglican heritage, but because of it. We rest in the promise of Christ that he will build his church, and give thanks for the gifts of our Anglican heritage through which Christ will continue to do this by his Holy Spirit.
So in the spirit of unity, we would like to share with you what encourages and excites us about being Anglican, and why we remain convinced that our reformed catholic tradition holds out such promise for our mission and ministry in the world.
We are Catholic – committed to the Catholic Creeds which affirm that we worship the triune God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In them the uniqueness of Christ the Son, his full divinity and true humanity, his conception by the Holy Spirit, and bodily resurrection on the third day are declared. We rejoice that this faith binds us to all Christians throughout time and place.
We are Reformed – committed to the doctrines of grace, recovered during the reformation and expressed in the 39 Articles of Religion. Accordingly we are committed to the teaching that we are unable to save ourselves because of our sin and are totally reliant upon the grace of God to convict us of sin and draw us to the reconciling love of Christ.
We love the Bible – being committed to the Canon of the Old and New Testaments as God’s gift, written by various human authors who were carried along by the Holy Spirit. We receive them as trustworthy, true, and sufficient for framing our lives, shaping our minds, and teaching our congregations the will, work and ways of God. We value reason and the tradition of the church, and uphold the Scriptures as God’s Word and therefore the supreme and the ultimate authority in matters of salvation, practice and faith.
We cherish our history – recognising with gratitude and humility that we have inherited both good and bad teaching and examples in our denomination. We cherish the good yet are mindful of the bad, including moral failures towards children and adults, and loss of our nerve in proclaiming the Kingdom. Whilst cherishing our history we seek to be humble and repentant, constantly allowing ourselves to come under our Lord’s scrutiny.
We are gospel people – because the gospel of Christ is of first importance, we believe that sharing the gospel is central to everything we do. Some are gifted to be evangelists, but all are called to be witnesses to the hope we have. We therefore encourage one another to take every opportunity to make the love of Christ known, prayerfully depending on the Holy Spirit who enables us to live out the sacrificial love of Jesus. Because the gospel both saves and grows people in faith, we are committed to the ministry of Word and Sacrament, by which Christ welcomes and nourishes us, and assures us of eternal life.
We are pastoral people – mindful of the exhortation given at the ordination of priests to encourage and build up the body of Christ, we are committed to the pastoral care of Christ’s flock and the wider community,‘caring alike for young and old, rich and poor, weak and strong’. We seek by God’s grace to serve our world and communities through evangelism, good works, and striving for justice.
We embrace episcopal leadership – recognising that good leadership is vitally important for the church. As Jesus is the great Shepherd and Overseer of our souls so leaders in his church are called to shepherd and teach according to his example. We are thankful to God for such leadership, especially from our bishops. We seek to respond to Christ’s call and example ourselves when in positions of leadership in the church.
We love our congregations – because in local congregations we see the church in its clearest expression as the body of Christ. This is where God gathers his people, nurturing and equipping them through Word and Sacrament, to serve one another and show forth the love of Christ in their local communities. We see the parish congregations as the backbone of the Diocese. We rejoice in our ordered, Scriptural and participatory liturgy which enables us to worship God in Spirit and in truth. Our Anglican liturgy engages our minds, forms our hearts and equips us for a life of worship.