Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Visit with Christ Church Anglican

Most of our church family traveled about two hours away this past Sunday to spend time together at a lake in South Carolina. Although this sounded very nice to Alice and me, I am both exhausted by work and in chronic pain. Therefore, we decided to stay close to home and rest.

Since we had nothing scheduled, I decided to visit an Anglican church here in Savannah. The reason for my visit is that Christ Church Anglican has taken a strong stance for the gospel. A few years back they departed from the Episcopal Church in the USA. Christ Church left, quite simply, because the Episcopal denomination has drifted from the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Last year Christ Church was forced by the courts to surrender their building to the Episcopal Church. It is their stand for the gospel that made a visit worth it.

Another reason for my visit (our daughter Mary decided to come along with me) is that I had never been to an Anglican worship service. I knew going into it that it would be very "high churchish" and based in the Book of Common Prayer.  Although worship services are not my preferred manner of gathering with the church, I desired to express Christian unity by meeting together.

I knew I was in for something different when a number of folks walked down the aisle in robes to begin the service. It felt more Catholic than Baptistic. However, the themes were Protestant in content, focusing on the gospel of grace in Christ. In particular I loved the music. We were treated to singing "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty," "Amazing Grace," and "O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing." The recessional was to the tune of "Crown Him with Many Crowns." These are some of my favorites.

The teaching was excellent. The rector preached on the topic of the Kingdom of God. I appreciated his willingness to tackle a subject that many Christians know little about. I wish we had been able to dialog, but this was a worship service after all (no talking allowed out of turn). I was pleased that there was a time of prayer when anyone present could voice whatever prayers they had.

The entire service had an atmosphere of reverence, awe, solemnity, and majesty. There was clearly deep respect for who God is and what our place is before him. I respect the effort the staff put into arranging the service.

That said, I struggle with the very concept of worship services. I've written on this before so I won't go down that path here. Suffice it to say that this service was like any other in that it was led by the clergy, the laity were generally passive, it was scripted, and preaching was the biggest single component. There was little interaction between the people until the ceremony was concluded.

My biggest struggle was with the celebration of communion. Instead of being a full meal, it was the typical wafer and drink. The people lined up in a row, received the cracker from a rector, then handed it to another rector who dipped it in wine and then stuck it into their mouths. This reminded me way too much of a Catholic Mass. Worse than that, it looked nothing at all like what we see in the bible. Because of these issues, Mary and I abstained from taking part.

Despite these differences, I am very glad that we attended on Sunday. The people we talked to before and after the service were very kind. They are my brothers and sisters in Christ; therefore, I desire to be united with them. The folks of Christ Church have a love for the same Christ Jesus that I do. Spending time with them was a joy.

The worship service is something that I enjoyed, but would not want to take part in every week. It might, however, turn into something we do occasionally. The music is tremendous, the teaching solid, and the atmosphere one of awe. These are edifying aspects of their gathering.

I'm thankful for any church body that stands for the gospel of Jesus Christ. We may have significant differences in secondary doctrines, but we remain united in our head, King Jesus.


Heather said...

My brother and sister-in-law attend an anglican church. The preaching when we have visited has always been really great. I don't know if that is the location, or because they tend to preach on the church calendar, which is something my home church does not do. I am not really comfortable with the book of common prayer though, or the way they do communion. But, the service is always a nice change from what we are used to!

Eric said...


Thanks for your comment. I agree that the service is a nice change, but wouldn't want to do it week after week. Maybe that's a lesson to all of us that we can sort of fall into a rut if we meet the same way all the time with other believers. I look forward to attending another Anglican service, but it will likely be a while before I do.