Unity in diversity

CiboriumAnglicans in Australia come from a range of languages and cultures. Dioceses from all over the country can look quite different from one another in the way they present their worship, the composition of their ministry. Anglicans are united however in the Eucharistic celebration, sharing the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ.

A Short History of Anglicanism

From the Church of England: Being an Anglican
Compass Rose

The Anglican Compass Rose symbolises the worldwide nature of the Anglican Communion.

Anglicans trace their Christian roots back to the early Church, and their specifically Anglican identity to the post-Reformation expansion of the Church of England and other Episcopal or Anglican Churches. Historically, there were two main stages in the developmentand spread of the Communion. Beginning with the seventeenth century, Anglicanism was established alongside colonisation in the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa. The second stage began in the eighteenth century when missionaries worked to establish Anglican churches in Asia, Africa and Latin America. As a worldwide family of churches, the Anglican Communion has more than 70 million adherents in 38 Provinces spreading across 161 countries. Located on every continent, Anglicans speak many languages and come from different races and cultures. Although the churches are autonomous, they are also uniquely unified through their history, their theology, their worship and their relationship to the ancient See of Canterbury. Anglicans uphold the Catholic and Apostolic faith. Following the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Churches are committed to the proclamation of the good news of the Gospel to the whole creation. In practice this is based on the revelation contained in Holy Scripture and the Catholic creeds, and is interpreted in light of Christian tradition, scholarship, reason and experience. By baptism in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, a person is made one with Christ and received into the fellowship of the Church. This sacrament of initiation is open to children as well as to adults. Central to worship for Anglicans is the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, also called the Holy Communion, the Lord’s Supper or the Mass. In this offering of prayer and praise, the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are recalled through the proclamation of the word and the celebration of the sacrament. Other important rites, commonly called sacraments, include confirmation, holy orders, reconciliation, marriage and anointing of the sick. Worship is at the very heart of Anglicanism. Its styles vary from simple to elaborate, or even a combination. Until the late twentieth century the great uniting text was The Book of Common Prayer, in its various revisions throughout the Communion, and the modern language liturgies, such as A Prayer Book for Australia, which now exist alongside it still bear a family likeness. Both The Book of Common Prayer, and more recent Anglican liturgies give expression to the comprehensiveness found within the Church whose principles reflect that of thevia media in relation to its own and other Christian Churches. Another distinguishing feature of the corporate nature of Anglicanism is that it is an interdependent Church, where parishes, dioceses and provinces help each other to achieve by mutual support in terms of financial assistance and the sharing of other resources. To be an Anglican is to be on a journey of faith to God supported by a fellowship of co-believers who are dedicated to finding Him by prayer and service.

Coming together in Common Prayer

Book Common Prayer1662 Prayer Book has been familiar to generations of men and women: for worship, baptisms, marriages and deaths. It is loved for its theology as much as for its wonderful language. The year 2012 marks the 350th anniversary of the Book of Common Prayer. Phrases from it have come into everyday use and have been quoted in literature: ’till death us do part’, ‘read, mark, learn and inwardly digest’, ‘peace in our time’, ‘ashes to ashes…’. Together with the Authorised Version of the Bible, the Book of Common Prayer has shaped the English language and inspired musical settings from some of the best church composers. Still officially acknowledged as the standard of doctrine and worship in the Church of England, the Prayer Book continues to be enjoyed daily in the United Kingdom in most of the cathedrals, and weekly in many parish churches. 2012 is a year of celebration for Archbishop Thomas Cranmer’s magnificent volume.
Many parts of the Anglican Communion, including Australia, have chosen to modernise the Book of Common Prayer to reflect current language as well as liturgical and theological understanding. Other authorised prayer books in the Anglican Church of Australia include An Australian Prayer Book and A Prayer Book for Australia.