I’m interested in Anglicanism, but where do I start?

You’re attracted to the beauty of the Anglican tradition, but it is broad and complex, and there is a lot to discover. Where does one begin?

I’m Drawn to Anglicanism, but I’m from a very different tradition.

Am I the only one on this journey?

Not at all! Anglicanism attracts people from a wide variety of backgrounds: the unchurched, the burnt-out, and those simply looking for an expression of Christian truth that is ancient, rooted, embodied, and beautiful. This journey from other traditions into Anglicanism is often called “the Canterbury Trail,” and many are walking it!

Okay. Well, I have a few questions.

Where did Anglicanism come from? What do Anglicans believe?

The Anglican tradition is both catholic and reformed. Our catholic heritage comes from Celtic and Roman missionaries to the British Isles, founding a distinct “Church of England.” This vibrant and mission-oriented church embraced biblical teachings and catholicity (universality). These Christians actively spread the Gospel by integrating into villages and cities and engaging with people in their daily lives.

In the 16th century, Christian leaders reformed the Church of England. They embraced the gospel of grace and affirmed Scripture’s authority yet preserved the sacramental and liturgical worship and bishop-led church government in place since the first century. Our beliefs can be summed up in confessions like the 39 Articles of Religion of the 16th century or the 21st-century Jerusalem Declaration.

Great story! So with both this catholic and reformed heritage,

How do Anglicans worship?

Our worship is structured by the Book of Common Prayer. First published by Archbishop Cranmer in 1549, the BCP collected the ancient liturgies of the church and reformed them according to the teachings of scripture.

The BCP includes services for the whole of Christian life. There’s daily prayer, Sunday communion, and services for the sacraments and the stages of life, from baptism to burial.

Okay, So tell me more about Daily Prayer.

What is the Daily Office?

Anglican spirituality is founded on the pattern of daily prayer. Called the Daily Office, it includes Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and sometimes Mid-Day Prayer and Compline. For centuries, Anglican Christians have found the stability and the theological and spiritual depth of the Daily Office enriching to their souls.

Anglican Compass provides a simple Daily Office Booklet as a way to get started. We also have guides to the different services, and reflections by practitioners on the value of daily prayer.

That tells me a lot about the text. But what does it look like?

Tell me about Sunday morning.

On Sunday Morning, Anglicans celebrate communion, also called Holy Eucharist. What are the different elements of this service? It typically begins with a procession and singing. The clergy will be wearing vestments. People will bow, kneel, and make the sign of the cross. The congregation will confess sin, read scripture, hear a sermon, say the creed, walk forward to eat the bread and wine. We believe in multi-sensory, embodied worship, a tradition dating back to ancient Israel.

So, I see different colors in your church at different times.

Tell me about the Church Year.

Anglicans, along with Christians of many other traditions, organize their year not by the secular calendar but by the Church Calendar. Over the centuries, the Church has sought to proclaim God’s message through its cycles of fasts and feasts, just as the ancient Hebrews did before us. Through these, we preach the gospel to ourselves and others by commemorating moments in Christ’s life, significant doctrines, and faithful saints and martyrs from church history. For each season and commemoration, we have an assigned color, so you will see green, purple, white, and red (and occasionally others) at various points in the year.

Your buildings and services are so beautiful.

Why do you care about creativity and beauty?

Anglicans have long valued art and beauty as reflective of our creative impulse from our creation in the Image of God. The full-bodied worship and intentional beauty of our worship spaces, liturgy, and music that resulted were essential in pointing to the transcendent truths of God.

This intentionality has led many great writers such as Jane Austen and C.S. Lewis, poet-priests such as John Donne and George Herbert, hymnists such as John Newton and Charles Wesley, and composers such as George Frederich Handel to flourish within the Anglican tradition.

How do I practice the faith outside of Sunday worship?

Tell me about Anglican spirituality.

There are many ways to engage in practices deeply tied to the Anglican spiritual tradition. Many of these, like the Daily Office, draw on our Celtic, Benedictine, and Franciscan monastic roots from centuries before the Reformation. Others maintain the Anglican spirit simply through a deep appreciation of prayer and scripture.

That works great for me, but I also have kids.

How can I help my family practice the faith?

The Anglican tradition can easily enrich your home life. Some ways to do this are by drawing on rhythms like the Daily Office, educational tools like the catechism, and fun and creative times like the seasons and feast days of the Church Calendar. These rhythms cannot only enhance your personal walk with Jesus, but they can deeply enrich the lives of every member of your family, from young to old.

okay, before I commit, I want to know what I’m jumping into.

What are Anglicans doing today?

For the 400 years after the Reformation, British Anglicans carried their faith worldwide. Anglican churches were established on every continent and in numerous nations, eventually uniting into the Anglican Communion.

In the early 21st Century, Anglican provinces began to realign themselves over concerns about departures from scriptural faithfulness by some Communion provinces. One result of these concerns was the convening of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) and the establishment of The Anglican Church in North America. Meanwhile, mission societies continue to carry the faith worldwide, and chaplaincies take it to prisons, hospitals, and the armed forces.