Anglicanism is a Christian tradition born out of the
Protestant Reformation in England (16th century).
However, a distinctive “Church in England” had taken
shape centuries earlier when Roman soldiers and settlers
brought the Gospel to Britannia. A lively, ancient
church was born that was biblical, catholic (universal),
and mission-driven. From the beginning, English
Christians moved into villages and cities in order to take
the Gospel to the people in their daily settings. They set
up shop or took everyday jobs. They wore the same
clothes, spoke the same language, and brushed shoulders
at marketplaces with the pagans they sought to reach.
As the Church in England grew, Christians assumed human culture was not opposed to the Gospel but a vehicle through which God’s glory can be expressed. Education, art, music, literature, commerce, and law were proper fields for Christian leadership and witness. They believed that God called them to take the lead in influencing society toward justice and compassion. They celebrated the goodness of God in the created world. A rich heritage of “embedded” Christian life was nurtured for more than a millennium.
This holistic orientation to Christian faith carried into the 16th century. Shaped by this “incarnational” view, English Christian leaders were even more formed by the Gospel of grace, the centrality of sacramental worship, and the authority of Scripture. The leaders of the Church in England had no interest in a new church but a reformed catholic church. They wanted to unite the Church in common faith, common worship, and common prayer in the language of the people. They sought to broaden the ownership of the Church and its mission beyond the clerical class. They were motivated to take the Gospel to the rest of the world. They were convinced that a polity that made decisions in council (“conciliar”) reflected the wisdom of Scripture and the practice of the ancient Church better than concentrated individual authority.
Political pressures combined with these spiritual impulses to produce the Anglican Church. (Anglican simply means “of England.”) For the next 400 years, British Anglicans, compelled by the Word of God and the Holy Spirit, took their faith around the world. Anglican churches were established on every continent and in many nations. Church leaders encouraged autonomy and collegiality with these daughter churches. Over time, 38 separate “provinces” of the Anglican Church were established in 164 countries around the world. Today these provinces function in a voluntary communion based around common beliefs and practices that serve approximately 80 million Christians worldwide.
The Anglican Church in North America
In June 2009, God answered countless prayers through the development of a biblically orthodox Anglican Province here in North America as thousands gathered in Bedford, Texas for the formation of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and the consecration of its first Archbishop Robert Duncan. The ACNA is a duly constituted province made up of evangelical, biblically orthodox Anglicans serving the people of the North America. It is currently led by Archbishop Foley Beach. Through this Province, our local Diocese, the Diocese of Christ our Hope, is connected constitutionally and spiritually with biblically-grounded Anglicans throughout the world. Grace Anglican Church was formally welcomed into the Diocese of Christ our Hope at their 2018 Convocation and Synod, held November 1-3 in McLean, Virginia.