Every religious person belongs to a church or religious order. For myself, I found my heart was moved by the Christian Episcopal Church. Some of this may seem pretty boring to some, but for me, it is a group of believers that brings me direct connection through history to our Lord and Savior. Even though the order is fairly new, the apostolic succession leads us directly to Jesus himself.
St. John the Evangelist Anglican Mission is a member of the Christian Episcopal Church (XnEC) of North America. The Christian Episcopal Church of North America is an Anglican Jurisdiction consisting of parishes in the United States, Canada, and the Cayman Islands. The Bishops of the Christian Episcopal Church are in Apostolic Succession through the Right Rev. A. Donald Davies, founder (pictured at right). Davies was consecrated the Fourth Bishop of Dallas in 1970, and was elected the First Bishop of Fort Worth in 1985. Bishop Davies later served as the Bishop of the Convocation of the American Churches in Europe. After completing that duty, Bishop Davies was called to serve as the First Bishop of the Diocese of Richmond. The Christian Episcopal Church is currently led by the Most Rev. Theodore Christopher Casimes (he is pictured in the second photograph on the right, with myself on the left.)
The XnEC (Xn = Christian, E = Episcopal, C= Church) worships Jesus Christ in the traditional Anglican manner. The word "Anglican" means "English." Anglican is not referring to an ethnicity. Rather it is referring to the historical development of the church in the British islands. The first Anglicans were Celts and Roman soldiers living in the British Islands during the Roman Empire. Later in the 5th to 7th Century, the Germanic tribes of the Angles and Saxons migrated to Britain, Various missionaries united the churches under what is known as the "Ecclesia Anglicana" or "English Church." The Christian Episcopal Church of North America confesses, upholds, and maintains the orthodox Christian Faith as it was revealed by God in the Holy Scriptures, and as it is expressed in the three Creeds and in the Dogmatic Definitions of the Ecumenical Councils of the undivided Catholic Church.
The English Church traditions were carried across the Atlantic and settled in the new colonies. Famous believers of the Anglican Church were our First American President, General George Washington; First Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, John Jay; youngest signer of the Declaration of Independence, Edward Rutledge; Polymath and First Postmaster General of the United States of America, Benjamin Franklin; polymath, principal author of the Declaration of Independence and 3rd President of the United States of America, Thomas Jefferson, and America's first law professor, signer of the Declaration of Independence, and educator of Thomas Jefferson, John Marshal and Henry Clay, George Wythe. Of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, 32 were Anglicans. Of the important founding fathers that helped to create the United States of America, Fifty-four percent were Anglicans (http://www.adherents.com/gov/Founding_Fathers_Religion.html).
Today, the Christian Episcopal Church uses the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, which is a re-print of the 1775 Book of Common Prayer, and the 1940 Hymnal to worship God together and to share in the two greater and five lesser sacraments that have been taught by the early church fathers. Supplemental worship books include the Anglican Missal, and the American Missal. However, we accept the 1769 Standard Text of the 1611 Authorized Version of the Holy Bible as the official Anglican translation of the Holy Scriptures and the 1662 Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England as the foundation of the Anglican Liturgy. The Christian Episcopal Church believe that Jesus taught his disciples two Greater sacraments and five lesser sacraments that were to be taught and practiced from generation to generation.
The two greater and five lesser sacraments are:
1) Greater Sacraments (Holy Baptism, Holy Communion)
2) Lesser Sacraments (Confirmation, Matrimony, Ordination, Unction, Penance)
Following the traditions established by Jesus Christ, his apostles, and missionaries of the Anglican Church, the XnEC upholds the belief in the sanctity of life, Christian marriage, and family, a male-only clergy, and requires that its clergy and laypeople affirm sexual lifestyles that are consistent with the traditional interpretation of Holy Scripture. The XnEC continues the ancient practice of ordaining called ladies to the ministry of deaconesses.
The role of deacon and deaconess is sacred calling. The early church defined the role of deacon and deaconess as a table ministry and spiritual ministry (Matthew 8:15, Luke 10:40, and Acts 6:2). Clement of Alexandria wrote: "But the apostles in conformity with their ministry concentrated on undistracted preaching, and took their wives around as Christian sisters rather than spouses, to be their fellow-ministers ["fellow deacons"] in relation to housewives, through whom the Lord's teaching penetrated into the women's quarters without scandal." The role of deaconess is one of a servants heart called to serve. The early church honored these women. In Asia Minor, in a town called Cappadocia , A sixth-century inscription gives not only the title, but shows how this female diakonos lived: "Here lies the deacon Maria of pious and blessed memory, who according to the words of the apostle raised children, sheltered guests, washed the feet of the saints, and shared her bread with the needy. Remember her, Lord, when she comes into your kingdom."
In the early church, the deaconess' role was first a table ministry. God loves his creation. When he created the world and man, he said it was good. The spirit must be nourished, but so must the body. Thus, our Lord instituted a complementarian system within the church that the first leader's primary goal is to nourish the spirit, but whose next goal is to anoint the second leader to nourish the body. Women deacons were ordained to minister to ladies and children. They would serve as Eucharistic ministers to ladies who could not come for mass because they had pagan husbands or were ill, they would teach ladies, they would teach children, they would feed the poor, care for the sick, and care for the prisoners. They would anoint a woman's body with oil before the sacred sacrament of Holy Baptism and assist during the baptismal ceremony itself. Some see this as restrictive. However, God has called each of us to fulfill a specific role. Jesus taught us to submit our will to the Father. Thus, the role of the deacon and deaconess was to meet the physical needs of others by demonstrating hospitality.
The deaconess demonstrated what it meant to make a Christian home. This was all a matter of choice. The women chose to submit their will to the God that created and loved them. God is never about forcing us to do anything. God gives each of us free will. Proverbs 31 never tells a woman to do anything. Rather, she chooses to do what she does joyfully because she wants to serve her family that she cherishes, her church established by God, and her community she lives in. Many people think that Anglicanism is a reaction by King Henry, the Eighth, to Roman Catholicism. But that is only part of the story. As mentioned earlier, the English Church began during the time of Apostles and was fully established by the time of Saint Augustine. The early church experienced many wars and persecutions, but flourished and created English Customs and practices. In 664, the old English church combined with the Church of England and was catholic and in full apostolic communion with the other apostolic churches in the Catholic and Orthodox Christian world.
By the end of the Middle Ages, it was clear that the Christian Church needed reforming. There were many wonderful things of the Roman Church, but there was some significant corruption and apostasy that had snuck in to some of the clergy and religious practices. Protestant religious movements started to develop in secret and churches developed in response to the corruption. One by one people began to read the Holy Bible and were dedicated to the idea of by Scripture alone (Sola Scriptura). Many of these believers were martyred for their beliefs. The events transpiring around King Henry, the Eighth, led to a tipping point that forced the English Church to re-evaluate their practices. However, it was not until 1570 that the Pope excommunicated Queen Elizabeth I that things really changed. The Church Queen Elizabeth the first grew up in, and was later made queen in 1559, was the Catholic and Apostolic Church. In the 16th century, Most Rev. Thomas Cranmer felt the protestant reformation had some valid points that should be considered. The English Church at the time only read some of the Holy Bible. The Mass was not really available to the people as it was shared only in Latin. Superstition was rampant among the people because they were not taught to read the Holy Bible, so they would worship statues of the Blessed Mother and saints over worshipping God.
Most Rev. Cranmer did not feel that they should abandon the Catholic Church completely. The Rev. Cranmer decided to return to the Churches roots. The Anglican Church had its origins from St. John, St. James, and St. Peter. Most Rev. Cranmer worked with other theologians and examined the Teachings of the Greek Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, the Puritans, the Calvinists, and the Lutherans. He cross referenced these teachings with the Holy Bible and met with others beginning in September 1548 in Chertsey Abbey and in Windsor Castle. This endeavor was supported by Parliament and it resulted in the passage of the Act of Uniformity in 1549. Serving and being recognized as editor, Most Rev. Cranmer created a Book of Common Prayer of 1548 and thirty-nine articles of Religion of 1562. He felt this method of worship, based on the early church, was the middle way (Via Media) between the Catholic Church and Protestant Church. England had suffered greatly due to battles between the Catholics and Protestants. In 1559, Queen Elizabeth I passed the Act of Supremacy. The Act of Supremacy was supported by the leading Bishops, loyal clergymen, and Parliament. The Act of Supremacy identified the Queen as the supreme governor of the Church. It was the Act of Uniformity that reformed the Church and redefined it as Elizabethan or Anglican religious settlement. This religious settlement is what we refer to today as the Anglican tradition.
As the Right Rev. Robert David Redmile, Lord Bishop of Richmond, shared of the Act of Uniformity;
First. That the Sacred Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments constitute the supreme and final authority in all matters of faith and morals; and that the Church, in every aspect of her mission, must at all times be obedient and faithful to that written revelation which is the Word of God.
Second. That each national or particular Church has the inherent right to oversee its own affairs in all matters of ecclesiastical government and order, in relation to its own people, in accordance with the written Word of God and the Tradition of the undivided Catholic Church.
Third. That the Queen has supreme and sovereign authority in all matters of temporal jurisdiction, whether ecclesiastical or civil, within her dominions; and no foreign power has any right to interfere in the affairs of any realm subject to the Queen's Majesty. And that no external power has any right to usurp authority over the lawfully constituted domestic government of any other nation; neither has any spiritual power the right to usurp authority over the temporal power, nor the temporal over the spiritual, all of which comes from God Himself, and is properly apportioned by Him according to His will.
Fourth. That each national or particular Church has the right to order its own Liturgy and Canons in accordance with the written Word of God and the Tradition of the undivided Catholic Church, as may seem best for its own people.
Fifth. That all the Clergy, unless voluntarily submitting to the obligations of the religious life, are free to marry as each shall be moved by God in his heart to do, within the bounds plainly set forth in Holy Scripture.
Sixth. That the Word of God should be read, and the Liturgy of the Church should be celebrated, in the common language of the people.
Seventh. That Our Lord Jesus Christ instituted the Communion in two kinds, that is to say, under the outward forms of Bread and Wine; and that, while never denying at any time the doctrine of the concomitance of the Lord's Real Presence under either Species, the Cup of the Lord is always to be offered to those who wish to receive the Precious Blood at any celebration of the Lord's Supper.
Rt. Rev. Redmile taught that these seven points are the guidelines of the "Anglican Religious Settlement." These guidelines remain the foundation and guide for Anglican Christians today.
The Church of England became a church that was Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant. The Anglican Church became the Church of the via Media or middle way. This was accomplished in the Church of England by a returning to the Biblical principles of the ancient Church. In summation, when people ask me what Anglicans are, I always answer that we are Orthodox Catholics that emphasize the study of the entire Holy Bible and not just specific verses.