Four Reasons I’m Still an Anglican

anglican-wordle-2A Christian denomination is like a family. Lord knows, there are times you feel like leaving. Lord knows, there are times that other families look really good. Families where discipleship is much more front and centre, and is a value acknowledged by everyone. Families where you don’t have to argue the case for evangelism all the time. Families where people’s Bibles are well-worn because they’re read every day. Families where they don’t think that no ministry is real unless the person doing it is wearing a clerical collar.

Still, I know that every denomination is a rusty bucket. As you get older, you realize that one of the advantages of staying in your own particular rusty bucket is that you know where the rust spots are, and you also know where the strengths can be found.

I’m not sure I’m fully aware of all the reasons I’m still here, reasonably happy in this particular Christian tradition. I suspect that not all of them are rational reasons. Still, here are four that stand out for me.

First, this is the church I was born into. I was baptized at St. Barnabas’, Leicester on 3067169127_e681f8e734_zDecember 28th 1958, raised in the Church of England, came to the Anglican Church of Canada when we moved to Canada in 1975, and I’ve ministered in it since May 1978. I know its customs and traditions very well. I know the family history, I know the skeletons in the closet, and I have deep and lasting friendships with literally hundreds of colleagues and fellow Christians, in Canada and the United States, in England and Scotland and beyond, who follow the Anglican Way. That sort of history and networking is not something you abandon lightly. The phrase ‘bonds of affection’ is sometimes used to describe the ties that keep the worldwide Anglican Communion together; in my case, those bonds are very real.

s-l300Second, the liturgy. I’m not attracted to churches where the Sunday service consists of ‘sing, sing, sing, make announcements, preach, preach, preach, then go home’. I love the comprehensiveness of a good liturgical service: welcome, public reading of scripture, preaching, creed, intercessory prayer, confession, taking the bread and wine, prayer of consecration, sharing communion, closing prayers. Everything is there and nothing is left out. And because it’s a written liturgy, the congregation can participate; they aren’t reduced to listening passively to the pastor’s brilliance. I also like the fact that most of our liturgies are historic; they are based on ancient prayers passed down through the years.  The oldest parts, of course, are the psalms that were the bedrock of the prayer life of Jesus, and the Lord’s Prayer that he himself taught us to say. I love all of this. I don’t care whether it’s Book of Common Prayer or Book of Alternative Services – I’m good with them both, and I know they’re good for my soul.

smiling-lewisThird, C.S. Lewis. This Anglican writer (who called himself a ‘mere Christian’) has been a
reliable spiritual guide for me since the late 1970s. I’ve read almost every book and letter and article he ever wrote – some of them I’ve read so many times I almost know them by heart. He feeds my mind, nourishes my Christian imagination, and lays out for me a ‘common sense’ way of following Jesus. I don’t agree with everything he says, but that doesn’t matter; there’s no doubt in my mind that he’s my elder brother in Christ, and my most important mentor – even though he died in 1963.

Finally (and I think it’s important to be honest here!), the General Synod Pension Plan. Yes, I’m old enough to know that this is definitely a factor in my thinking! It is for most of us who are Anglican clergy, but not all of us will admit it. It’s not a gold-plated plan; it will pay me about 52% of my current salary if I retire after forty years, or a little more if I go further, which will certainly require some major belt-tightening, but that will be enough to give me a level of security and allow me to continue to minister in ways that interest me for as long as I feel able to do so.

These are the four most important reasons I’m aware of why I’m still an Anglican. I was raised in the evangelical clan of Anglicanism, and that gives me ties outside Anglicanism with other evangelicals. Also, in recent years I’ve explored the riches of the Anabaptist tradition and rejoiced in the strengths it brings in areas where we Anglicans are weak. But for now (who can predict the future?) I’m still following Jesus as an Anglican, and I can’t see any strong likelihood of that changing in the immediate future.

What about you, my fellow-Anglicans? What are your reasons?

3 thoughts on “Four Reasons I’m Still an Anglican

  1. Andrew Hicks

    The music.
    As you described so well, there are temptations to leave — for me, it is most often a desire to follow Newman to the Roman Catholics. Then I think of Tallis, and Gibbons, and Stanford, and Howells, and the hymnody, and the better parts of the service music (the Healey Willan setting, for example)… and I think of dozens of organist colleagues and friends from RSCM courses that are Episcopalians and Anglicans.

    And that ties in with another reason: choral evensong. The Romans have Vespers, and some fine music for it – but they almost never do it. Always a Mass, never Choral Vespers. And (for me at least) Anglican evensong is a richer, more fully rounded service.

    The BCP.
    The Daily Office — I followed the RC Liturgy of the Hours for a full year, and it is wonderful. But I came back to the Offices as outlined in the BCP, whether spoken or sung. Part of it is the “Rite One” texts, but even in our “Rite Two,” it is still good.

    This parish. I have been here seventeen years; I know and (mostly) love the people. I know their musical voice. I treasure the people I work with – the sexton, the secretary, the director of Christian formation, the financial administrator, the two deacons. Especially, I know and love the choristers, both adults and children, and their families. To leave the Episcopal church, I would have to leave this parish and these people. And I would have to throw aside the vocation to which God has called me. I can overlook not getting along with the rector, and a lot of silliness on the diocesan and national levels for this.

    Sure, the time will come when I must leave – retirement, disability or death, getting fired or driven off. Or a clear-cut calling to go elsewhere. Or any number of unforeseeable things. But for now, my calling is here.

  2. Crimson Rambler

    I could cite the former bishop of Keewatin and say, the potluck suppers…. (incurably carnal-minded, over here, but I prefer to call it “incarnational”…)

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