What is Anglicanism?

Christ Church is currently a member of the Anglican Church in North American (ACNA) and receives pastoral oversight through the Diocese of Churches for the Sake of Others (C4SO) from Bishop Todd Hunter.

How Do We Describe "Anglican?"

It happened to me again last night. While visiting friends in Dallas, I was introduced to their neighbors. Over the course of the conversation I mentioned that I am a pastor. “What type of church?” they asked. “Anglican,” I replied. And I was met with a blank stare. But I’ve gotten used to this response. Even those of us who attend an Anglican church are sometimes at a loss to understand who we are.

At the core of Anglican identity you find a blended church. It’s a mixture of the best parts of catholic worship and Protestant theology. You’ll notice I used a small “c” in writing catholic. That’s because I’m not using the word as a brand “Roman Catholic,” but as a description “universal.” Anglican liturgy is a continuation of worship as it has always been throughout the history of the church. If you went back to the early 200s, you would hear almost the exact same prayer at the Eucharist as we will say in our service today. And because we’re “universal,” we join Christians around the world every Sunday who worship in a very similar way as we do.

Added to this catholic worship is Protestant theology. During the Reformation of the 16th century, godly theologians recognized a need to return to the centrality of Scripture as the authority for the church. If you read through the Book of Common Prayer it won’t take long to realize that the writers of this book knew the Bible well and wanted it to have the central place in the worship life of the church.

For me, Anglicanism represents the very best of Christianity—a connection to other believers, past and present, and an absolute commitment to the authority of the Bible in the life of the church. And thankfully, I have found Christ Church to be a perfect reflection of this blended family of Anglicanism. When you worship at Christ Church, it is likely that you will shake hands with former Baptists, Catholics, and Pentecostals, all of whom have found a home in the historic, biblical expression of Christianity called Anglicanism.

History of Christ Church's Affiliation

Christ Church began as a mission in 1985 when Bishop Patterson of The Episcopal Diocese of Dallas asked the Rev. David H. Roseberry to found a new church in the west Plano area. The first church service met at Carpenter Middle School in Plano on August 4, 1985. That day, 240 worshipers attended. Christ Church gained parish status in the Diocese of Dallas on October 30, 1986.

Christ Church officially severed its ties with The Episcopal Church USA on September 15, 2006. Christ Church is currently a member of the Anglican Church in North American (ACNA) and receives pastoral oversight through the Diocese of Churches for the Sake of Others (C4SO) from Bishop Todd Hunter.

The 1,400-seat Sanctuary on Legacy Drive opened in January 2001. In August 2003, our education building, called Archgate Center, opened with over 40,000 square feet of classrooms and meeting space. In May 2004, we dedicated our new 205-seat Chapel, envisioned as a place for community prayer and worship for all passersby. The Chapel holds baptisms, weddings and other small worship services. The most recent building, our Ministry Office, houses offices and meeting space just down the street at 4516 Legacy Drive.

Why Become Anglican?

Anglican Christians are connected to worldwide community of faith, expressed through a rich and historic tradition. We invite you to learn more about Anglicanism.

Anglicans Use the Book of Common Prayer

For many who attend Christ Church, Anglican worship is a new and exciting way of worship, but there are still unfamiliar parts to our heritage. One of the things that makes Anglican worship so significant is our Book of Common Prayer.

It is believed that Anglicans, more than any other denomination, are people of a common prayer out of a single book. It’s one of the things that makes the time of worship so special. Regardless of where you are in the world, Anglicans will be worshipping in a similar style united by the Book of Common Prayer. (At Christ Church, that’s the black book with a cross on it, right next to the Bible in the pew rack.) We not only conduct our public services out of this book, but it is also a source for the theology that guides for our private prayer time.

There is a saying that summarizes worship out of the prayer book: "lex orandi lex credendi" which means “the way we pray determines the way we believe.” In a sense you could say we are liturgical theologians. We read, sing and pray our theology all out of this book. Even though it is a source of our theology, our main guide is still the Bible itself which is the sustaining spirit and underlying foundation of the Book of Common Prayer.

If you have time this week, dust off, borrow or purchase a Book of Common Prayer and check things out for yourself. Don’t just take our word for it. Open it up to any service and try to see the rich saturation of Scripture in the liturgy. Look for words that send you back to your Bible and let the words of this contemporary Prayer Book collect speak to you:

“Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, make, learn and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ.” BCP, p. 236

Anglicans are an International Fellowship

One of the more important characteristics of Anglicanism is that we are part of a worldwide communion that is roughly 80 million strong.

That network finds its roots in the Church of England, which used Britain’s colonial expansion as a vehicle for a missionary movement to take place. Today, the Anglican Church is the strongest (and growing the fastest) in Africa, which is quickly becoming its center of influence. As members of Christ Church here in Plano, we are woven into a fabric of faith that spans the globe.

You could go to a worship service at an Anglican Church anywhere in the world and, although there might be variations (the language, the music, the degree of formality, etc.), you would likely recognize the order and be able to follow along through the various parts of the service. I have experienced this in English, Spanish and Lugandan (one of the native languages of Uganda.) The sacramental and liturgical nature of our worship is the same everywhere. In addition, at any Anglican Church you would also see the same types of ordained leaders: bishops, priests and deacons.

Even though our local congregation is, for most of us, the rallying point of our faith, it is good to think about and to celebrate the global nature of our Communion. We need that constant reminder that we are part of something much bigger than what we observe with our senses—we are, in fact, brothers and sisters with Christians everywhere. We see how important this is to God when He gives us a peak into His throne room in heaven:

After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. (Rev. 7:9)

As you look around at those who worship with you, thank God that He has brought us into an international fellowship, hints of which we can see right here at Christ Church Plano.

Anglicans Identify with the Early Reformers

Anglicans can feel a little inferior when it comes to founding leaders. Lutherans trace their roots back to Martin Luther and his courageous stand while Presbyterians look to John Calvin and his rigorous theology. When Anglicans look to their beginnings they find…Henry VIII and a disappointing marriage!

Henry VIII never intended to be the “VIII.” As the second son of Henry VII and younger brother of Prince Arthur, Henry trained for the priesthood while Arthur prepared to be king. The unexpected death of Arthur changed the course of Henry’s life, making him successor to the throne.

As king, Henry was a true Renaissance man who excelled in the arts and sports, while also practicing his Catholic faith. Henry opposed the early reformation movements in England, even earning a commendation from the Pope for a paper he wrote refuting the thinking of Luther.

Only after his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, failed to provide him a male heir did Henry align himself with the reformers. Henry sought an annulment of his marriage, which the Pope refused. In response, Henry, with the help of those who supported the Reformation, declared the Church of England free from the authority of the Pope and the Catholic Church. Even so, Henry remained Catholic in his beliefs and continued to oppose further efforts at reform. Henry opened the door to the reformation in England, but he was no reformer.

To find the earliest English reformer you have to go back to the 1300s, two hundred years before Henry VIII. John Wycliffe criticized abuses and false teaching of the Catholic Church. Believing Christians were directly responsible to God, he translated the Bible into English so they could know and obey God. For all his efforts the Church expelled Wycliffe from his teaching position at Oxford and 44 years after his death had his bones exhumed and burned. Persecution silenced and scattered his followers, ending his influence in England.

But Wycliffe’s ideas spread to Bohemia through Czech students who attended Oxford. His ideas were passed along until they influenced a young priest, Martin Luther. You see, before Henry, Calvin or Luther, there was the forerunner to the Reformation, John Wycliffe. In his work we find the true foundation of our Anglican heritage.

Anglicans are Strong in Global Mission

When you hear the word Anglicanism, what are some characteristics that come to mind? For many of us, the words and phrases that often define Anglicanism are beautiful liturgy, ancient roots, word and sacraments, British flavor, catholic and Protestant, or international community.

Perhaps the least mentioned part of Anglican DNA is missionary. Did you know that St. Patrick is not only the patron saint of green beer, but was a brilliant English missionary taking the gospel of Christ to Ireland around the year AD 400? British missionaries evangelized many areas of the European continent during the Middle Ages. During the centuries of British colonization of the globe, colonists not only established settlements in far-flung places like Jamestown, Virginia, Calcutta, India and Kampala, Uganda, but they also planted new churches wherever they went. The Anglican priest John Wesley, remembered most for giving birth to Methodism, was also an Anglican missionary in the American colony of Georgia.

During this expansion, Church of England members were inspired to form voluntary missionary societies to take the good news of Christ to peoples around the earth who had never heard of Jesus. Not only did these Anglican missionary organizations help lead millions of people into a relationship with Christ, but they also changed the worldwide Anglican presence from a chaplaincy for British colonists into a full-blown Christian missionary movement.

Christ Church has sent and is supporting members as full-time missionaries to distant parts of the world. Parishioners are invested in missions to Peru, Guatemala, and many other places. We support Anglican leaders who plant churches in the Americas, in the exciting mission to reach the 140 million Americans who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

The worldwide missionary movement known as Anglicanism is living proof of the words of theologian Emil Bruner, “Oxygen is to fire as mission is to the church.”

About the ACNA

The Anglican Church in North America was founded in June, 2009. Christ Church Plano was honored to host the investiture of the ACNA’s first Archbishop and Primate, the Most Rev. Robert Duncan.

The ACNA is a province in formation which unifies 100,000 Anglicans in the United States and Canada in 700 parishes and 28 dioceses. Many of the world’s Anglican leaders, including the GAFCON primates (who represent over 70% of Anglicans worldwide), have officially recognized the Anglican Church in North America.