The Anglican Communion
The Anglican Communion is the worldwide fellowship of churches owing their origins to the Church of England. This is a fellowship within one, holy, catholic and apostolic church, of those diocese, provinces or regional churches in communion with the See of Canterbury.
- The Anglican Communion is wide-ranging, doctrinally as well as geographically, but yet there are certain beliefs which unite Anglicans. The Lambeth Quadrilateral, set out at the Lambeth Conference in 1888, defines these as:
- The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as “containing all things necessary to salvation,” and as being the rule and ultimate standard of faith.
- The Apostles’ Creed as the Baptismal Symbol, and the Nicene Creed as the sufficient statement of the Christian faith.
- The two sacraments ordained by Christ himself – Baptism and Holy Communion – ministered with unfailing use of Christ’s words of institution and of the elements ordained by him.
- The Historic Episcopate, locally adapted in the methods of its administration to the varying needs of the nations and peoples called of God into the Unity of his Church.
Churches within this Communion are influenced by the Church of England in many ways, such as in matters of faith (39 Articles of Religion), church government (Episcopal), worship and liturgy (Book of Common Prayer), church laws (Canons of the Church of England) and church ordinances (Sacraments and Sacramental Ministries).
The 39 Articles of Religion
As part of the universal Church of Christ, inheriting the faith of the early Church, the Anglican Church does not subscribe to doctrines different from that of the universal Church. However, the Anglican Church possesses certain distinctives in the way it received the Christian faith and tradition, and these are captured in the 39 Articles of Religion.
Canon A5, Canons of Church of England: “The doctrine of the Church of England is grounded in the Holy Scriptures, and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures. In particular such doctrines are to be found in the 39 Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer, and the Ordinal.”
These Articles of Religion together with the Creeds, Catechism, Litany, Church Calendar, Lectionary, and Psalter, were translated and compiled by Thomas Cranmer in 1549, into the Book of Common Prayer which was authorised in 1662.
The Church Calendar
The Church Calendar is planned to remind us of the great events of the Gospel story, out of which Christian worship springs. Sunday is the weekly memorial of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus. For every Sunday and the chief commemorations in the year, a Collect, Epistle, and Gospel are provided. The Collect often sets the note of the day’s worship. The Gospel and the Epistle are respectively from the Gospel story and usually from the pastoral messages of the Apostles.
The Psalms are read through in daily portions every month at the Morning and Evening Prayer, but special Psalms are selected for congregational use on Sundays, and “proper” Psalms are set for the chief festivals. The Lectionary provides for orderly reading of the Bible morning and evening throughout the year, with special lessons for Sundays.
Advent prepares us to celebrate Christ’s first coming and warns us that He will come again to judge the living and the dead. Christmas, the anniversary of our Lord’s birth, leads to Epiphany (January 6) which, with the following Sundays, speaks of the glory of God revealed in Christ. Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima, so called because they precede Easter by about seventy, sixty, and fifty days, respectively, bridge the interval between the Epiphany season and Lent.
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, and last forty days, excluding Sundays. This period recalls the forty days of our Lord’s temptation. It is a season of penitence and fasting in preparation for Easter. The fifth Sunday in Lent, called Passion Sunday, foreshadows Holy Week.
Holy Week opens with Palm Sunday and leads our thoughts through our Lord’s Passion from his entry into Jerusalem, through the last Supper on Maundy Thursday, to His Crucifixion on Good Friday, and His lying in the grave on Easter Eve.
Easter, the festival of the Resurrection, is kept for eight days, the “octave.” Its date varies according to the date of the Passover full moon. The season of rejoicing extends through the forty days after Easter, ending with Ascension Day, when Christ is proclaimed to Lord of all life; and then to Pentecost Sunday(Whitsunday), when the Holy Spirit came to dwell in the Church.
The series ends with Trinity Sunday, which declares the fullness of the Christian revelation of God. The following Sundays leading up to Advent are named “after Trinity.”
Rogation Days fall on the Sunday before Ascension Day and three days following. These are days when the focus of prayers is on God to bless man’s labour to produce the necessities of life.
At the turn of each season, three days, Ember Days, are fixed for prayer on behalf of Christian ministry. Ordinations usually take place at these times.
Other events of our Lord’s life and those great men of God in the New Testament are commemorated throughout the year on Holy Days or Saints’ Days.
The Liturgical Colours
The colours of the hangings on the altar, pulpit and lectern, and of the stoles and Communion vestments worn by the clergy are appropriate to the season of the Church Year. Each colour is symbolic:
- White, for purity and joy, is used during the great festivals of Christmas and Easter.
- Red, signifying blood and fire, is used on martyrs’ days and Pentecost.
- Purple or violet, symbolising penitence and mourning, is the colour of the Advent and Lent.
- Green is for life, hope, and peace; it is used for seasons of Epiphany and Trinity.
- Black is for death and it is used on Good Friday and for funerals.
Sacraments and Ministries
A sacrament involves the use of material things as a sign and pledge of God’s grace, and as a means by which we receive his gifts. The two parts of a sacrament are the outward and visible sign, and the inward and spiritual grace. Jesus Christ, in the Gospel, appointed for his Church, two sacraments as needed by all Christians for the fullness of life. They are Baptism and Holy Communion.
|Sacrament||Outward Sign||Inward Grace|
|Baptism||Water||Union with Christ in his death and resurrection, the forgiveness of sins, and a new birth in God’s family, the Church.|
|Holy Communion||Bread and Wine||Receiving the Body and Blood of Christ for the benefit of our union with Christ and his Church, the forgiveness of sins, and the nourishing of our whole being for eternal life.|
In general, the CHS practises baptism by immersion for adults and baptism by pouring for infants. It is required that persons to be baptised should turn from sin, exclusively embrace the Christian Faith, and give themselves to Christ and to be his servants. Infants are baptised, because, though they are not yet old enough to make promises to God for themselves, others, i.e. their parents and Godparents, making the promises for them, can claim their adoption as children of God.
Besides these two sacraments, the Anglican Church also practises ministries of grace. Although these rites were not directly instituted by Jesus Christ, they are recognised as being ecclesiastical customs which do not contradict the Holy Scriptures, and are practised for the good of the Church and her members.
|Ministry||Outward Sign||Inward Grace|
|Confirmation||Laying on of hands||The Holy Spirit is received to complete what he began in Baptism and to give strength for the Christian life.|
|Absolution||The minister declares forgiveness of God on the repentant sinner||Receiving God’s forgiveness for sins through confession and resolution to make amends according to his law.|
|Ordination||Laying of hands upon the candidate for Holy Orders of becoming deacon, priest, or bishop||Receiving God’s grace and authority to be ministers of God in his Church.|
|Holy Matrimony||Vows and rings||Seeking God’s grace and blessings to fulfill marriage vows as the man and woman enter into a life-long relationship.|
|Holy Unction||Laying on of hands and anointing with oil||Receiving God’s grace for the healing of spirit, mind, and body, in response to faith and prayer.|
Confirmation is also an Anglican rite where baptised Christians who are 14 years and older and admitted as communicant members (regularly receiving Holy Communion) of the Anglican Church.
Ministry in the Diocese of Singapore is the teamwork of members of the clergy (bishop, priests, and deacons) and laity (deaconesses, parish workers, lay readers, and others).
Apostolic Succession, the ministry of the early apostles handed down the ages is a feature in Anglican Church ministry, which includes the laying on of hands during the consecration of bishops and the ordination of priests and deacons. As stated in the Ordinal of the Alternative Service Book 1980, the duties pertaining to the three-fold order of bishop, priest, and deacon are as follows:
A bishop is called to lead in serving and caring for the people of God and to work with them in the oversight of the Church. As a chief pastor, he shares with his fellow bishops a special responsibility to maintain and further the unity of the Church, to uphold its discipline, and to guard its faith. He is to promote its mission throughout the world. It is his duty to watch over and pray for all those committed to his charge, and to teach and govern them after the examples of the Apostles, speaking in the name of God and interpreting the Gospel of Christ. He is to know his people and be known by them. He is to ordain and to send new ministers guiding those who serve him and enabling them to fulfill their ministry.
He is to baptize and confirm, to preside at the Holy Communion, and to lead the offering of prayer and praise. He is to be merciful, but with firmness, and to minister discipline, but with mercy. He is to have a special care for the outcast and needy; and to those who turn to God he is to declare the forgiveness of sins.
A priest is called by God to work with the bishop and with his fellow-priests, as servant and shepherd among the people to whom he is sent. He is to proclaim the Word of the Lord, to call his hearers to repentance, and in Christ’s name to absolve and declare the forgiveness of sins. He is to preside at the celebration of the Holy Communion. He is to lead his people in prayer and worship, to intercede for them, to bless them in the name of the Lord, and to teach and encourage by word and example. He is to minister to the sick, and prepare the dying for their death. He must set the Good Shepherd always before him as the pattern of his calling, caring for the people committed to his charge, and joining with them in a common witness to the world.
A deacon is called to serve the Church of God, and to work with its members in caring for the poor, the needy, the sick, and all who are in trouble. He is to strengthen the faithful, search out the careless and the indifferent, and to preach the Word of God in the place to which he is licensed. A deacon assists the priest, under whom he serves, in leading the worship of the people, especially in the administration of the Holy Communion. He may baptise when required to do so. It is his general duty to do such pastoral work as is entrusted to him.