Sunday 3 September 2023

An Audacious Anglican

The common allegiance

I was reading an article yesterday about the Anglican Church, someone who had left her for the Catholic Church and now had the advantage of looking in from the outside.

There is an excerpt from the article that best describes the Anglican Church along with other issues that did not particularly concern me.

The good things I could see included the universal parish system; an educated clergy, significant numbers of whom were good theologians; the patrimony of cathedrals and churches; the Bible the Church had so beautifully translated for itself four centuries ago; the liturgy and formularies it had developed; the accompanying musical and choral traditions; and the fact that the dead so often lie in churchyards rather than cemeteries, making the ground, as Philip Larkin put it, a place “proper to grow wise in”.

I also liked the Establishment settlement, so long as that idea is not pushed too hard – the fact that every monarch is Supreme Governor of the Church of England, that Anglican bishops sit of right in the House of Lords, that the Armed Forces, though providing for most faiths, take their spiritual lead from Anglicanism, that most church schools are Anglican, and so on. [The Telegraph: The Church of England no longer seems to understand our common Anglican tradition]

The open church

From the excerpt above, two things jump out to make a significant point, the fact that every monarch is the supreme governor of the Church of England and the much-revered 1611 English translation of the Bible authorised by James IV of Scotland and I of England commonly known as the King James Version was done in the care of the Church of England.

Then, despite the doctrinal issues on women bishops and gay marriage which is more a matter of disagreement in the global Anglican Communion, the entity of England has a more collegiate and open forum for engagement where difference of opinion is accommodated and tolerated than brought to point of irreconcilable confrontation.

Blog: Expecting high drama on the Mount of Olives (June 2008)

Blog: Satan's hand in human stupidity as church splits (July 2008)

Blog: There Will Be No Epiphany (December 2019)

My observation of the Establishment settlement allows the church and its parish clergy to open the doors to all and welcome people of all faiths with a sense of serving the community regardless of what they believe. In civic and state ceremonies, whilst the leading liturgy is Anglican, all faiths are represented in presence and voice. It is a different construct in comparison to any other denomination with the requirements to participate.

A rich Christianity

As I have written before, returning to my Anglican faith has given me a great sense of belonging and bolstered of faith. However, I have been schooled in many aspects of Christian belief that ranges well into the charismatic, Evangelical and Pentecostal statements of faith, as the inerrant and revealed Word of God, the humanity and deity of Jesus Christ, the acceptance of the lordship of Jesus Christ for salvation, the infilling of the Holy Spirit with the manifestation of glossolalia, and the second return of the Christ.

This means, that rather than dispense with all the benefits that have accrued in my Christian walk, I have embraced them all and developed them earnestly to live a more fulfilled life.

Recently, I came upon the idea of attending my regular Anglican services at the Manchester Cathedral in the mornings and seeking out a Pentecostal church to attend in the evenings. I did a few evening services at the Christ Church Manchester in Fallowfield which is ensconced within a student conurbation south of Manchester, about 45 minutes’ walk from my place.

Revisiting the experience

However, given that I had once considered the possibility of making !Audacious Church my church over 9 years ago, I eventually found it a bit on the avant-garde as I reviewed it then after a few services I eased myself out of that fellowship.

Blog: !Audacious Church, Manchester (March 2014)

Blog: In a brotherhood we stand at !Audacious Church (April 2014)

Yet, we evolve and in the process, many things come up for reconsideration and reassessment, in terms of belief and comfortableness in devotion. It informed my decision to revisit !Audacious Church earlier this evening in the quest for a kindling and energy I would not find my regular church. This is not to say that I am not amazingly blessed where I am, but there could be some exhilaration from driving a different car to the same destination, a place of personal affirmation of faith.

It is likely that I would choose a range of churches in which to have the Pentecostal experience in the evenings whilst maintaining my relationship with my regular church. It is the same idea Brian and I hope to carry on in Cape Town where we normally attend St George’s Cathedral in the morning and might choose Hillsong Church for our Pentecostal experience.

Many of the faces fronting the mainly praise and worship service with shared communion at !Audacious Church has changed, but the rock concert atmosphere prevailed along with the energy and presence. The congregation was chiefly youth with some that did not make me look out of place. I thoroughly enjoyed the meeting as long as I did not exert myself beyond the age-appropriate exhibitions of vim and verve.

I guess I am in the daring circus act of riding two horses and at once.

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