are members of a worldwide family of churches. We
trace our descent from the church in England. From
it we inherited our prayer book, our customs and traditions,
and a characteristic way of doing theology. Many who
have come into the Anglican Church have been drawn
into this community through the beauty and richness
of the worship of the church.
Book of Common Prayer was first produced by Archbishop
Cranmer in 1549. It has undergone several revisions
since then, including revisions in 1918 and 1959.
In Canada, The Book of Alternative Services was authorized
in 1985 as an alternative to the Prayer Book. It does
not replace the BCP as the official prayer book of
the church, but it is an alternative in contemporary
language authorized for use by the General Synod and
the diocesan bishop. Most parishes in the Diocese
of Edmonton use both of these Prayer Books for various
services in the church.
worship is biblical. Our prayer books are full of
scripture, and at each service we read and reflect
on God's word in many forms. The lectionary or list
of readings that we follow gives us a pattern by which
we hear most of the Bible in public worship over a
three year period.
worship is sacramental. We believe that God's grace
is expressed to us through material things - through
water, wine and bread, through anointing with oil.
The Eucharist, celebrated week by week, is at the
heart of the Church's worship, giving us food for
our journey. It brings us into communion with God
and with each other. Baptism and other sacraments
mark important moments in our life.
worship involves all our senses. Our services use
colour, music, symbols, art, poetic language, sometimes
the smell of flowers or incense, the taste of bread
and wine, touching hands at the passing of the Peace,
changing postures as we sit, kneel or stand. Worship
involves the whole person.
worship today involves both clergy and lay people.
At one time, the priest conducted the whole service.
The people participated only by listening and joining
in the prayers. Now there are many other opportunities
for lay people of all ages to participate in worship
- reading the scriptures, leading the Prayers of the
People, serving at the altar, administering the bread
and wine, leading the singing. And of course we all
participate by joining in the prayers, by listening
and singing. Anglican worship is a community activity.
We believe that God created the world and is revealed
to us through the stuff of everyday life, through
material things like bread and wine and water. The
Book of Common Prayer (page 550) defines a sacrament
as "an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual
grace, given to us by Christ himself as a means whereby
we receive this grace, and a pledge to assure us thereof."
A sacrament operates on two levels, the seen and the
unseen. God's gift of grace is expressed to us through
material objects, transformed by God in order to strengthen
us. Sacraments are "effectual signs." That is, they
do not merely describe or represent something, but
they work to bring about what they describe. Baptism
does not merely describe cleansing and new life, but
actually brings about that new life in us when we
receive the sacrament. The Eucharist does not simply
recount a past event, the death and resurrection of
Jesus Christ, but it calls that experience into the
present with all the force and power of the original
profession of the faith we believe is said by Anglicans
around the world in the Nicene
Creed, issued in 325 A.D. by the Council of Nicaea.
Source: Meet the Family: Welcome to the Anglican Church
Author: Patricia Bays Published by The Anglican Book
Centre and Wood Lake Books, Inc.
Copyright © 1996. Permission has been granted for
use on this web site.