The Anglican Catholic Church
The Anglican Catholic Church is worldwide body of Christians with churches in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, Africa, India, and South America. We are Anglican because our tradition of prayer and worship is rooted in the Church of England and its Book of Common Prayer. We are Catholic because we believe and practice the universal or catholic faith of the church.
The word “Catholic” is often understood in opposition to the word “Protestant.” However, this is both a recent and uniquely western perspective. In the ancient church, catholicism was understood to be the opposite of heresy, or false belief, and even today there are millions of Christians in Greece, Russia, and other parts of the world who consider themselves neither “Catholic” nor “Protestant,” but “Orthodox.”
During the sixteenth century, the Church of England sought to modify certain beliefs and practices that had developed over the centuries and appeared extraneous, unwise, or divergant from apostolic faith and practice. In doing so, the church did not abandon its catholicism; rather it engaged in a process of reform. As Bishop John Bramhall wrote in the seventeenth century, “our religion is the same it was, our Church the same it was…differing only from what they were formerly, as a garden weeded from a garden unweeded.”
Anglicanism, then, is best understood as a reformed catholic faith. Likewise, we believe that the church is in need of continual renewal and reformation. It must oppose the errors of every age in order to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3).
A Faithful Tradition
In recent years, a number of Anglican jurisdictions have moved away from this historic and apostolic faith. This is why in 1977 an international congress of nearly 2,000 Anglican bishops, clergy and lay people met in St. Louis, Missouri, to take the actions necessary to establish an orthodox jurisdiction in which traditional Anglicanism would be maintained.
Acting according to the principles determined by the seven great Ecumenical Councils of the ancient Church and adopting initially the name “Anglican Church of North America,” they placed themselves under the jurisdiction of the retired Episcopal bishop of Springfield, Illinois, the Right Reverend Albert Chambers. Bishop Chambers expanded that jurisdiction and devolved it upon others, by taking order for the consecration of four more bishops, and the Anglican Catholic Church was born.