Sunday, August 12, 2007

August 2007

Dear Friends

Rector’s Birthday Bash Braai

Thank you to all who were able to attend. Thank you, too, for the gifts: I much appreciate your thoughtfulness and care. The weather was great – a balmy winter day – as was the company. It was really just an excuse to get together and share in fellowship with one another!! Life is good!

On being Anglican

In a world where the Christian Faith seems increasingly under attack, be it from Islam in North Africa, or from secularism in the West, there is an increasing move to highlight the importance of Ecumenism (different Christian Denominations/Churches working together) in reaching our various communities with the Christian Gospel (Good News). As Anglicans we are part of the Christian Unity Commission (CUC) that is made up of Anglicans, Methodists, Presbyterians, and Congregationalists; we recognise each others Sacramental rites and orders based largely on our joint “Reformed” theological heritage. For example a Methodist Minister can be licensed to serve an Anglican Parish without being “re-Ordained” by an Anglican Bishop. There are some anomalies in the ordering of the CUC relationship that create a certain amount of confusion, such as in the Methodist Church the Minister confirms, and in the Anglican Church it is the Bishop and not the Parish Priest. We recognise Roman Catholic rites and orders, although they do not recognise ours. We work closely with the NG Kerk, although they are not part of the CUC, but also “Reformed” in their thinking. We share many commonalities, even with some Pentecostal Churches, yet we are different.

Is this difference relevant? Why make a commitment to a specific denomination, such as Anglican? Can’t we just be Christian?

For many older members of our community at Corpus Christi being Anglican is part of their/our identity, and as much as we don’t change human families because we may have a disagreement, or think differently, nor do we change Churches – we’ll attend the Anglican Church no matter what it is like. Why? Because we are Anglican! For the younger generation it is different, the “Brand” is less important than the relational environment: we’ll change at the drop of a hat if a move will enhance our relational experience. This is true not only in the Church environment, but also in the social/business sphere. Many of our older generation have been Baptised and Confirmed Anglican. For many of our younger generation Baptism and Confirmation will have taken place in different denominations, and possibly neither Anglican.

Every denomination has an “Ethos” – that aspect that lies beyond the commonalities of simply just being Christian. As Anglicans we have an “Ethos” that defines the underlying spirituality of our life and teaching; that impacts on the manner in which we worship, the way we interact with the wider world. Anglicans are deeply Incarnational, reflecting both the spiritualities of St Benedict of Nursia and St Francis of Assisi. Anglicanism is foremostly about “Presence”, being Christian rather than doing Christianity. For Anglicans Confirmation preparation is not only about being Christian, it is also about the manner in which we as Anglicans choose to practice our faith.


Our Confirmation process attempts to prepare candidates in the Christian Faith, while giving them the opportunity to imbibe our Anglican “Ethos” and explore something of the greater symbolism of our worship practices and opportunities. One of those opportunities is formal Sacramental Confession (An Anglican Prayer Book 1989 page 445). I was made aware, once again, of the importance of this particular opportunity during the Confirmation Camp last weekend: the candidates anxiety levels were high … the relief afterwards palpable, both in terms of now having it behind them, but also in terms of being able to express their wrongdoing and need in an environment that did not lead to punishment or censure; and I appreciated the seriousness and comprehensiveness of each one’s confession.

I am saddened by attempts to shortcut the process, especially when I see the value it adds to the lives of those who have walked the more difficult path. Rumour has it that since we have implemented the Diocesan requirement of a two-year preparation process for Confirmation both here and in Waterkloof young people are choosing to continue worshipping with us, but have been Confirmed through the Methodist Church, a much shorter process. I don’t believe this is acceptable, and am further saddened that there has been no parental consultation with myself as the parish priest, if rumour is true.

Becoming Anglican

An Anglican Prayer Book 1989 reflects our awareness that as Anglican communities we have not all been brought up Anglican, and that our entrance into the Anglican Church may have been more recent than our Baptism or Confirmation events. There is a service on page 399 where, after emersion in Anglican worship and teaching, those who have grown up and been Confirmed in other Church environments can be officially welcomed into the Anglican Church by the Bishop. In other words, there is a difference between being a worshipping and communicant member of an Anglican Parish, and actually being Anglican – the only possible exception being if you have joined from one of the CUC churches, and even then you are welcome to go through this process. I am exploring finding a time to run a course on “Essential Anglicanism” – if you would be interested, please speak to me.

In Conclusion

In closing, some questions for reflection: Why do you choose to express you Christian Faith within an Anglican environment? Why have you chosen Corpus Christi as that Anglican environment?