Over time an increasing number of people, not only come from different parts of the globe, but also from different Christian and non-Christian backgrounds to be with us here in Stuttgart.
In short more and more people are asking me:
How do I become an Anglican? What is an Anglican?
I want to first start by sounding perhaps a little too informal. My answer to date has been. You become an Anglican simply by ‘joining in’. That means not only pitching up on Sundays but also thinking carefully about what gifts God has given you that you might want to share with the amazing church that is St Catherine’s here in Stuttgart. The possibilities are literally endless. For those who need something more formal – when a Bishop comes to take a Confirmation service, all those who want to ‘join’ in a more formal way that will be the context in which we can make that happen for you.
More formally then:
Historically Anglicanism was a western Christian tradition that evolved out of the practices and liturgy and identity of the Church of England in the same time frame as the Protestant Reformation. Thomas Cranmer – the Reformation champion for Anglicans can be understood to have navigated a middle way between the European emerging Protestant traditions of Lutheranism and Calvinism.
The majority of Anglicans are members of national or regional provinces which together make up the Anglican Communion. On the back of the twin movements of Colonialism and Missionary Outreach, Anglicanism like other Christian denominations reached across the globe. This Communion today forms the third largest Christian communion in the world after the Roman Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox Churches. The word ‘Communion’ is important. It is essentially a relationship word, a friendship word, rather than a contractually binding one.
Anglicans celebrate 2 sacraments:
- Mass or Eucharist or Holy Communion – this is central to Anglican worship though the style in which this is celebrated across the globe –even within one country – varies enormously.
- Baptism is the basis of membership and participation in the Eucharist and also the basis for vocation (which is why at St Catherine’s you will see even very young children receiving bread and wine and also ‘helping’ and in some selected services leading some of the liturgy and worship)
Finally, the Identity of Anglicans is based around –
- the Scriptures – reason and tradition being used as interpreters of Scripture
- the traditions of the Apostolic Church
- the threefold pattern for ministry – bishops leading back in line of succession to apostolic times plus priests and deacons (the Stuttgart Chaplain – which is a job description is an Anglican Priest)
- the first four ecumenical councils – absolutely key at a time before Christianity was made ‘legal’ in and by the then Roman Empire
- the writings and teachings of the early Church Fathers and how all these combine to give its members ‘formation’ ‘worship’ as well as a basis for ‘vocation’ and ‘mission’.
Much more can be found from the usual sources – come and ask if still unclear.
I end with how I began – join by joining in. And may you be much blessed in so doing.