In my last blog post, I discussed the practice of infant baptism as a major characteristic of Anglicanism. I often get asked, “What are the other differences?” The other differences are in church government and in the style of the Sunday service.
- Church Government
Our church government consists of bishops, presbyters, and deacons. In my personal opinion, I think these layers of accountability are helpful for those in authority. I would also like to point out that in the Anglican church, the position of deacon is an ordained position, unlike in Baptist churches. The position of deacon is essentially the same as the position of assistant pastor in a Baptist church.
- The Sunday Service: What You See
The style of an Anglican service is quite formal and reverential. It mirrors a Jewish synagogue, but with the emphasis that Christ is the fulfillment of everything, and reflects the worship in Revelation. In non-denominational or Baptist churches, the pastor doesn’t look different from the rest of the men in the congregation. In an Anglican church, all those up-front wear robes. Those in the front of the church are the priest (presbyter), deacon, lay reader, crucifer, and acolyte. The lay reader is one who leads in various Scripture readings and responsive prayers. The crucifer carries a pole with a cross on it when the service begins, when the Gospel reading is read and when the service ends. The acolyte is a young boy around 10 years old, who helps the other men with their tasks.
In the middle of the stage is the altar with a cross over it. On the altar are eight candles, recalling the manora, representing that Christians are to be the light of the world, and signifying the presence of the Holy Spirit in worship, since He is often represented in Scripture by fire. The altar is where the offering plate is brought after the offering and where the elements for the Lord’s Supper are prepared.
- The Sunday Service: What We Do
For the service, we use the Book of Common Prayer. This book contains the order of service, called the liturgy, which includes Scripturally based prayers and Psalms that we read responsively at different times throughout the service. We do not split up into different Sunday Schools. Instead, we have a Morning Prayer service, which includes the singing of Psalms, prayers, and the reading of an Old Testament passage and a New Testament passage. Following Morning Prayer is the Holy Communion service. This service includes singing of hymns, an Epistle reading and a Gospel reading, the recitation of the Nicene Creed, and a sermon. The sermon is typically taken from one of the Scripture readings of the day. We end the service with the Lord’s Supper, which is preceded by a number of prayers we read in unison.
I could have gone on in more detail, but I hope this post provides a clearer picture of the unique characteristics of Anglican worship.