What does it mean to be part of an Anglican church?
What is an Anglican?
Anglicans trace their roots back to the early Church, and their specifically Anglican identity to the post-Reformation expansion of the Church of England.
Anglican heritage is in many ways defined by the Book of Common Prayer, assembled in 1549 by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. Worship services in Anglican churches are based on this prayer book even today.
Anglican churches around the world form part of the larger Anglican Communion, which has 70 million 'members' in 38 Provinces spreading across 161 countries.
The Church of England
The roots of the Church of England go back to the time of the Roman Empire when Christianity entered the Roman province of Britain.
The Church of England is organised into two provinces; each led by an archbishop (Canterbury for the Southern Province and York for the Northern). These two provinces cover England, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, the Isles of Scilly and even a small part of Wales; not to mention continental Europe.
Each province is built from dioceses. There are 41 in England and the Diocese in Europe has clergy and congregations in the rest of Europe, Morocco, Turkey and the Asian countries of the former Soviet Union.
Each diocese (except Europe) is divided into deaneries, which in turn are made up of a number of parishes. The parish is the heart of the Church of England. Each parish is overseen by a parish priest (usually called a vicar or rector).
From ancient times through to today, they, and their bishop, are responsible for the 'cure of souls' in their parish. That includes everyone. And this explains why parish priests are so involved with the key issues and problems affecting the whole community.
Belonging to a church
If you decide to regularly attend a church in your parish, you can expect a number of things:
Weekly Sunday services
Sunday services will contain some or all of the following:
- Worship (praising God, often with music)
- Communion (also known as Eucharist - where bread and wine are shared in remembrance of Jesus)
- A sermon from the vicar (a reflection or teaching on the Bible - often referred to as 'preaching')
- and of course tea and coffee afterwards!
You'll be part of a family
In many churches, groups form and gather in smaller settings (perhaps in homes) during mid-week to study the Bible and pray together.
This level of support and community is one of the main appeals of church life. This is why the Bible refers to the church as a 'body'. We are all part of the body and we all have a part to play.
You'll have plenty of opportunities to get involved!
As relationships within the church develop, you will see churches express their love for each other by reaching out to the community - this is how projects like Food banks, Messy Church, and the Alpha Course have started.
There will be opportunities to serve within the church too - a lot of work goes into running a church and putting on a service on Sundays. You could join the choir, help with refreshments, maintain the church website, or take a more formal role on the Parochial Church Council (PCC) - for example as the church treasurer.
There are regular meetings that take place across the diocese, covering many different topics. The main meeting is the Diocesan Synod, which takes place quarterly and covers a range of different diocesan matters.
Exploring your vocation
It might be that involvement in church life opens your eyes to a calling to serve in the church.
We have a ministry and training team which can support you with a variety of different paths.
- Ordination - becoming a priest (vicar)
- Lay ministry (Readers) - voluntary ministers who act as leaders within the church
Find out more on our pages: Your Christian Calling