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Episcopal Church welcome 0A7AB222-279F-4A6F-8122C192BD2E1165A warm welcome to Anglican and Episcopal bloggers and readers from WebRing.  Your insight and comments would be appreciated, particularly on this post.

This is my church story, which started in the Roman Catholic Church and has concluded in the Anglican Church.  I have been an Anglican for over 25 years.

Except for a happy few, most of us will find some occasion on which to differ with our churches, either at a congregational or an institutional level. Others may begin to examine the teachings and practices of their denomination, adhering to some less and less over time. Some of these people will continue to worship in the denominations into which they were baptised and, one hopes, confirmed.  Others, after much prayer and consideration, may find it time to seek a different path.

Had Vatican II never happened would I would have changed denominations?  I tend to think that I would have remained a Roman Catholic and been an insufferable apologist for it!  By ‘insufferable’, I mean, overzealous and dogmatic. 

The Roman Catholic Church will always mean a great deal to me.  ‘Once Catholic, always a Catholic’.  ‘You can take the person out of the Catholic Church, but you can’t take the Catholic Church out of the person.’  But, I left even before the scandals of the late 1980s and 1990s and before I knew of the left-wing perspectives of the bishops. 

I didn’t like the routine quality increasingly being imparted to the Novus Ordo Mass, in particular, the habit of priests to recite the prayers so quickly that one could barely follow along.  Many reminded me of horse race commentators you hear on television.  Mass seemed like a race to the finish every Saturday evening or Sunday morning.  I didn’t like the way Holy Communion was distributed — also very quickly: ‘Body of Christ Amen.’  Furthermore, the hymn singing: ‘We will now sing verses one and two of “Faith of Our Fathers”‘.  Quick, quick.  Why not sing all the verses?  (Having sung in a church choir in high school, I know that one is not to sing once the priest is in his ‘presidential chair’;  I speak of other parts in the Mass.)  And the sermons were frightful.  I always had the impression the priest and the congregation wanted to be somewhere else.

So, yes, I realise it is — as one priest has explained it recently — my lack of spirituality in an atmosphere which has drawn so many others closer to Christ.  But, regular readers of this blog will know about these postmodern justifications of irreverence and my opinion of them.  Therefore, I shall not rehash those points.

As a youngster I attended Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran and Episcopal services as a guest of friends. Remembering a couple of times when I had gone to the Episcopal Church for weddings, I recalled the then-traditional language (this was still in the days of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer), the quiet and the reverence.  The churches were beautiful, too.  I felt as if I were in God’s house, not a consecrated big-box. 

So, I began going to an Episcopal Church in my area.  By then, the 1979 Prayer Book was in common use, yet the traditional services for Morning Prayer and Holy Communion were still there.  The hymns were also ones which had been sung for centuries.  At that time, there was no modern music.  The sermons were exceptional.  For the first time in my life, I had thoughts and meditations to take away for the following week, challenging though they were.  Although it was a self-termed ‘low church’ (Holy Communion at the main service once a month), each principal Sunday service had a dignified Oxford Movement procession beginning and concluding it.  Needless to say, the ‘wow’ factor was sky-high.

The people were friendly, too.  The Episcopal Church — like the greater Anglican Communion — does what it says on the tin: it really does welcome you.

One of the ministers lent me a rather compact book which explained the history of the Anglican Church and the Episcopal Church in the United States.  Unfortunately, I cannot remember the title or author, who, I believe was a retired bishop from South Carolina.  It was an inspired book.  It drew on the early social and political history of the United States as well, which was particularly useful. 

I ended up taking instruction a year later and was received (no need to be rebaptised or reconfirmed) by the bishop, amidst the confirmands — all of us kneeling at the Communion rail.  I was the only Roman Catholic that year.  The following year, there were 12 and the year after that there were 18 Roman Catholics received into the Episcopal Church for the same reasons as mine.  I didn’t know any of them before they started attending that church, so I had no part in their being there or continued participation.  As it was a large congregation, I didn’t know many of them there were until they were received.

Has my decision lost me friends?  Yes, the few people I told of my decision were the ones whom I thought would accept it.  Did it affect my relationship with my family?  Yes, on one side.  For the other it was less of an issue.

Do I wish for union with Rome?  It is something I would accept if it happened organically, without contrivance, although I would not expect to see full union in my lifetime.  Something of Biblical proportions would need to bring it about, and that would be only if the Roman Catholic Church had an internal Reformation (see my past posts) and the Anglicans were able to somehow mend their many divisions which have weakened their ranks since the 1980s, which seems unlikely. 

What do I get out of being an Anglican?

– Being able to read a wide variety of Protestant theological writings without having to do so under the covers with a Maglite. 

– Receiving Communion in most churches without worrying whether I’m sinning or also having to go to my own church because the other one’s service wasn’t good enough.

– Experiencing a greater fellowship amongst Christians.

– Learning to be more accepting of other churches and beliefs. 

– Belonging to a church with a set of teachings with which I agree.

So, why Anglicanism and not another Protestant denomination?

– The combination of Catholic mysterium tremendum and Protestantism — the best Christian traditions.

– The freedom of liturgical choice between a 1662 Book of Common Prayer service (England) or a more modern one.

– The choice of receiving Communion or attending Morning or Evening Prayer.

– The freedom from people saying, ‘You’re doing it wrong!’ — whether it be prayer, devotions or church attendance.

– The aesthetics of most Anglican churches and services.

– The ability to pray directly to The Source without intermediary intercessions.

– The ability to debate Christianity freely in love and understanding with other members of the same church.

Some may call Anglicanism a wishy-washy denomination.  In spite of some of its recent failings, I call it my church.

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