Why do you use the word “Anglican” in referring to us? Doesn’t that word refer to other groups and not us? Aren’t we “Episcopalians” and not “Anglicans”?
Saying that we are Episcopalians and not Anglicans is like saying we are New Yorkers and not Americans. Yes, we are definitely Episcopalians, members of the Episcopal Church which is the American branch of the Anglican Communion. Our church constitution and our most recent liturgical publications all emphasize the fact that we are Anglicans.
I am quite deliberate in my use of the name Anglican in referring to us. To say we are Anglican is to say that we are part of the long and rich tradition of Anglicanism that dates back to Celtic Christianity in the 3rd century. Our rich tradition can be exceedingly important in a culture that is yearning for roots and enduring meaning. The fact that we Anglicans have hymns from the 8th century is one of the things that differentiates us from Christian alternatives having a history of only a decade or so.
Some folks propose we give up our rightful family name, Anglican, because they don’t identify with conservative groups who have broken away from the Episcopal Church as part of our great schisms over women’s ordination (in the 80’s) and the consecration of gay bishops (in recent years). These breakaway groups have usually dubbed themselves Anglican and declared themselves to be the only rightful heirs to our heritage as the local manifestation of Anglicanism in the United States. However, the Episcopal Church continues to be the only recognized province of the worldwide Anglican Communion in the United States.
Our Anglican identity is central to our identity as a people striving to be one holy catholic and apostolic church. It means that we are not just Episcopal, and not just another American denomination, but that we are truly part of a global church, in partnership with our sisters and brothers in Europe, Africa, South America, Asia, and the South Pacific. We are bound to them through our shared mission and our common prayer. It would be tragic for us to give up our identity as Anglican to those who would usurp it in angry response to our efforts to emphasize the full ministry of all of the baptized.
To be Episcopal is to be Anglican. That’s not just a fact; it is an essential fact. By regularly reminding us of our Anglican identity, I am striving to strengthen our resolve to hold on to a heritage that I see as a treasure through which God continues to bless us.
Fri, January 14, 2011
by Fr Craig David Uffman filed under