“How can you feel kindly toward the Episcopalians?” one asks. “Don’t you know that the Anglican Church started when King Henry VIII wanted another wife and the Pope wouldn’t agree, so KH-8 started his own Church of England?”
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Although I was born and reared in the Churches of Christ, where God now has me placed for service, I find Anglicanism very appealing. Not because of the popular caricature stated above, but in spite of it. The truth is that Henry did “kick out” the Pope — but the English kings had tried to do that for 500 years before he came along.
My roots run deep into English soil, where the Fudges go back to about the 12th century, and their predecessors the Fulchers appear in The Domesday Book of William the Conqueror. The thought that Anglicanism has been simply “the church” in England since about 400 A.D. entices me, fits my anti-sectarian impulses and stirs something deep in my bones. I was powerfully moved, when visiting Canterbury Cathedral, to see the order of worship with the name “Cathedral Church of Christ, Canterbury,” and, upon visiting the theme-scene of Thomas Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard,” to discover the name of the church to be “The Church of Christ at Stoke Poges.”
Anglicans do not claim to be the true church in an exclusive sense, but they do profess to be nothing other than the church established in the British Isles by Christian missionaries during the earliest centuries, the church which has been there — through thick and thin — ever since. Anglicanism’s success at bringing together the best of things both Catholic and Protestant resonates with my own longing for Christian unity, as well as with my personal ambition (as Alexander Campbell once put it) to adorn my hat with feathers plucked from birds of many colors.
You will be enriched by an acquaintance with The Book of Common Prayer, one of the richest Christian treasures in the English language. Read it online at www.tiac.net/users/chadwohl/bcp