Christianity and Anglicanism
Christians believe in one God, worshipped through the teachings of Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God, born as man to save the world. The Hebrew bible (which is the Old Testament in the Christian Bible) predicts (or prophesies) the coming of a Messiah, and we believe that Jesus Christ is that Messiah. The New Testament of the Bible describes Jesus's life on earth (in the Gospels) and the acts of his followers as they created the early church. Using these books, the early church summarised what Christians believe in what are known as "creeds", and Christians profess their faith regularly by repeating them at services. An early creed, which has since been extended but still used, is the Apostle's Creed, and clearly demonstrates the three-fold nature of our belief, known as the Trinity: "I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen."
On the Church of England web site The Archbishop of Canterbury explains what it means to be Christian. Click here to read.
There are three main branches of Christianity: Roman Catholicism, Protestantism and Eastern Orthodoxy. From the early Church of Christ Eastern Orthodoxy branched out around the 11th century, and the Protestants split from Roman Catholics around the 16th century (including Henry VIII and the rise of Continental Protestantism developed by Luther and Calvin). The Church of England was created by Henry VIII, and in the 16th and 17th centuries developed a document describing the Church of England, known as the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion. In effect, there is a bit of both Protestant and Catholic in there, which is why the current Church of England has a very broad base of traditions, some favouring the Protestant side, some favouring the Catholic side, and many in the middle, but all equally in keeping with each other. Anglicanism simply describes churches that have developed from the Church of England.
Click here to read what The Archbishop of York says about being an Anglican.
St Paul's is an Anglo-Catholic church. Anglo-Catholicism has become the accepted term for those in the Church of England who worship according to Catholic principles rather than Protestant. It follows the "Oxford Movement" in the mid-19th century, which focussed on renewing Catholic thought and practice which had been gradually eroded since the Reformation. The movement sought to bring back symbolism and ritual into worship, and its effects are widespread in that many things the movement promoted are now mainstream in the Church of England, e.g. vestments and the Eucharist being central to worship. For a more detailed description of the "Oxford Movement" try these sites: Wikipedia for a basic account or this longer article for a bit more detail. Alternatively, listen to the always excellent In Our Time on the Oxford Movement, originally broadcast on Radio 4.
Nowadays Anglo-Catholic churches maintain these traits; there is an emphasis on worshipping with all our senses, which is why you'll experience a variety of colours, incense, bells and music, as well as emphasis on the sacraments of healing (reconciliation, anointing the sick), Christian Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist) and service of communion (Holy Orders, Marriage).
Anglo-Catholicism has never been far from controversy; the links above will explain a few of those. Even during the "Oxford Movement" itself there has been debate over whether the Church of England is a genuine branch of the Church of Christ, or an unofficial breakaway from the true Roman Catholic church, and those on the Catholic wing were always likely to be at the front of the issue. One of the founders of the "Oxford Movement", John Henry Newman, eventually decided on the latter and moved to the Roman Catholic church, eventually becoming a Cardinal. Many more still believe the former, including, on the whole, the congregation of St Paul's.However, even recently, there have been some Anglo-Catholics who have followed Newman's lead and moved to Rome, and a recent innovation by the Pope, known as the Personal Ordinariate, has offered Anglo-Catholics the opportunity of joining the Roman Catholic church whilst maintaining some Anglican traditions and services (e.g. Evensong). In response, for those wanting to maintain a Catholic tradition within the Church of England (like ourselves), a society has been created known as the Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda to repesent their interests.
Many Anglo-Catholics believe that the introduction of women to the priesthood and episcopate goes against the sacraments which they hold so dear. When legislation for women priests was passed, an organisation called Forward in Faith was created to petition for the protection of Anglo-Catholics within the Church of England. At that time legal safeguards were created, and St Paul's has passed Resolutions A and B which say that no woman shall be incumbant or celebrate communion or pronounce absolution at St Paul's.Furthermore, in 2011 St Paul's passed what is known as Resolution C, which means that we are now under the episcopal care of the Bishop of Pontefract. We are still part of the Wakefield Diocese, the Bishop of Wakefield is still the Diocesan Bishop and our Patron, we are just cared for by a Bishop who is closer to our Catholic tradition.
Below is information and links to Forward in Faith, the Society of of St Wilfrid and St Hilda, and the Personal Ordinariate. Whilst we have no association at all with the latter, they are all presented here to provide further information.
Forward in Faith
Forward in Faith aims to represent the traditional wing of the Anglican Communion. It was created primarily in opposition to women priests, and more recently has acted in opposition to women in the episcopate, but it has broadened its work and now also promotes a traditional view of other topics, for instance liturgy and the study of theology. Its mission statement is: We Affirm the Faith of the Church as revealed in Scripture and Tradition; We Proclaim our Faith through the Creeds, the Sacraments and the apostolic ministry of bishops and priests of the Universal Church; We seek a Guaranteed Ecclesial Structure in which we can pass the Faith on to our children and grandchildren; We have a vision for Unity and Truth and we are going Forward in Faith.
Click here for more information.
Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda
In response to the provision of an Ordinariate offered by Pope Benedict some Anglican Bishops created a new Society [of St Wilfrid and St Hilda] for bishops, clergy, religious and laity in order to provide a place within the Church of England where catholics can worship and minister with integrity without accepting innovations that further distance the Church of England from the greater churches of the East and West.Click here for more details of the national society. The Society has formed a group in the Wakefield Diocese, and their web site can be found by clicking here.
The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham was established in 2011 by Pope Benedict XVI to allow Anglicans to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church whilst retaining much of their heritage and traditions. It exists to promote the unity of all Christians with the Apostolic See, and to faithfully proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the rich treasures of our traditions.More information about the Personal Ordinariate can be found by clicking here.