On Visiting an Anglican Church: A Family Affair

untitledWhile out of town, perhaps I was more inclined to visit an Anglican church because of my recent reading of Michael Bird’s Evangelical Theology, and his section on ecclesiology, in particular.

The kids wanted to know if there was a kids church (thinking of course of our regular place of worship).  To their disappointment there was none.

I kept telling my family that we were there to worship with brothers and sisters from a different tradition, with whom we share a common salvation.

But let’s just say that while I was able to follow along with the readings from the Book of Common Prayer, the rest of the family was somewhat lost.

Before pulling up in the church’s parking lot, I promised my wife that their celebration of the Holy Communion, the Eucharist, was to look forward to (her curiosity was piqued).

However, as I was reading through the church’s bulletin, I soon realized that I had to be confirmed by some bishop to celebrate the Holy Communion with my brothers and sisters of this local Anglican fellowship.  I became disillusionedMy heart sank.  How could they? I asked myself.

At the beginning of the celebration of the Eucharist, my family and I made our exit.  In somewhat pastoral tone I told my wife and kids that at least we had the privilege of worshiping with our brothers and sisters in Christ, though of a different tradition.

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13 Responses to On Visiting an Anglican Church: A Family Affair

  1. Brian LePort says:

    I didn’t know Anglicans were closed communion. Is that true of all congregations or a local decision? A few years ago I visited a ACNA congregation and communion was open to visitors.

  2. TC Robinson says:

    Anglican Province of America. Perhaps a more conservative one.

  3. theoldadam says:

    Well…you put the best construction on it for you family.

    It’s too bad that we Christians can’t open up all our communion railings to our baptized brothers and sisters.

    We invite all baptized Christians who believe Christ to truly be present in the bread and the wine, to come and receive it.

    And we let the Lord handle all of the rest.

  4. theoldadam says:

    Well Misery Lutherans come to our table…but they’ll barely let us walk through the front door.

    There’ll be a special fortress up in Heaven for them, with no windows…so they can continue to believe that they are the only ones there.

  5. Colin Heath says:

    How very disappointing and sad. Our normal practice in England is to welcome all who know and serve Jesus, and who are in the habit of receiving Communion in another church to share with us at the Lord’s table. in other words not closed. This now overrides the old BCP rubric of those who are confirmed or ready and desirous of confirmation. I am unclear of the extent or standing of break ways from ECUSA in the States – either “Catholic” or Evangelical.

    There is a typical Anglican flexibility over how long/often non Anglican worshippers might be expected to gather at the Table. Some Parishes might suggest that if you come to regard the Parish Church as your spiritual home, you ought to seriously consider instruction in our funny ways (my term) and be received formally by the Bishop in confirmation. In my own we have not pushed that too hard. But visiting worshippers – delighted.

    I know of some stricter (including Baptist) Evangelical churches here who practice a closed/restricted table. And of course the ancient Catholic churches of East and West see Communion as the result of union, not a means of expressing the journey we may be making.

    • TC Robinson says:

      Colin, thanks for this. But it seems like a local parish church has grounds for closed communion if it so chooses.

      Yes, there are Baptist churches who still practice closed communion, and of course, use grape juice. 😉

  6. David Beirne says:

    I came out of a Baptist tradition that only those from that particular local church could participate. If you were from a sister church you respected that. I had lots of problems with it and it’s a major reason why I don’t serve with them any more.

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