Grand Bay Parish

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Liturgy

Some might be tempted to think of liturgy as simply meaning "ritual" or ceremony. However, while liturgy does include ritual it is something much deeper than mere ritualism or ceremonial, and it is more than just the communal expression of our personal feelings of devotion. Liturgy is not just a matter of taste, or churchmanship. Liturgy is central to Christianity and is an integral part of the Christian family's relationship with God. The signs, symbols and sacred actions which form public prayer and worship spring from the language and events of God's own self-revelation. Anglicans' liturgical celebrations arise directly out of the mystery of salvation in Jesus Christ and are part of the very means by which they enter into that mystery.

Anglicanism is a tradition within Christianity comprising the Church of England and churches which are historically tied to it or hold similar beliefs, worship practices and church structures. The word Anglican originates in ecclesia anglicana, a medieval Latin phrase dating to the Magna Carta (1215) and before, which means the "English Church". Adherents of Anglicanism are called "Anglicans". The great majority of Anglicans are members of churches which are part of the international Anglican Communion. There are, however, a number of churches that are not within the Anglican Communion which also consider themselves to be Anglican, most notably those referred to as Continuing Anglican churches, and those which are part of the Anglican realignment movement.

Anglicans base their Christian faith on the Bible, traditions of the apostolic Church, apostolic succession ("historic episcopate"), and writings of the Church Fathers. Anglicanism forms one of the branches of Western Christianity; having definitively declared its independence from the Holy See at the time of the Elizabethan Religious Settlement. Many of the new Anglican formularies of the mid-16th century corresponded closely to those of contemporary Reformed Protestantism. These reforms in the Church of England were understood by one of those most responsible for them, the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, as navigating a middle way between two of the emerging Protestant traditions, namely Lutheranism and Calvinism. By the end of the century, the retention in Anglicanism of many traditional liturgical forms and of the episcopate was already seen as unacceptable by those promoting the most developed Protestant principles.

In the first half of the 17th century the Church of England and associated episcopal churches in Ireland (Church of Ireland) and in England's American colonies were presented by some Anglican divines as comprising a distinct Christian tradition, with theologies, structures and forms of worship representing a different kind of middle way, or via media, between Reformed Protestantism and Roman Catholicism — a perspective that came to be highly influential in later theories of Anglican identity and expressed in the description of Anglicanism as "Catholic and Reformed".

Following the American Revolution, Anglican congregations in the United States and British North America (which would later form the basis for the modern country of Canada) were each reconstituted into autonomous churches with their own bishops and self-governing structures; which, through the expansion of the British Empire and the activity of Christian missions, was adopted as the model for many newly formed churches, especially in Africa, Australasia and the regions of the Pacific. In the 19th century the term Anglicanism was coined to describe the common religious tradition of these churches; as also that of the Scottish Episcopal Church, which, though originating earlier within the Church of Scotland, had come to be recognised as sharing this common identity. The degree of distinction between Reformed and western Catholic tendencies within the Anglican tradition is routinely a matter of debate both within specific Anglican churches and throughout the Anglican Communion. Unique to Anglicanism is the Book of Common Prayer, the collection of services that worshippers in most Anglican churches used for centuries. While it has since undergone many revisions and Anglican churches in different countries have developed other service books, the Book of Common Prayer is still acknowledged as one of the ties that bind the Anglican Communion together.

There is no single Anglican Church with universal juridical authority, since each national or regional church has full autonomy. As the name suggests, the churches of the Anglican Communion are linked by affection and common loyalty. They are in full communion with the See of Canterbury and thus the Archbishop of Canterbury, in his person, is a unique focus of Anglican unity. He calls the once-a-decade Lambeth Conference, chairs the meeting of primates, and is President of the Anglican Consultative Council. With a membership estimated at around 85 million members, the Anglican Communion is the third largest Christian communion in the world, after the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church.
Liturgy | Grand Bay
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