How evangelical Anglican churches drive people like me away

My wife and I have just moved to England, and after seven years enjoying the Presbyterian world of the Free Church of Scotland, I’ve been looking forward to soaking in some Anglican worship when we get here. Being believers of an orthodox bent, we found ourselves an Anglican church for yesterday that billed itself as ‘evangelical’.

We may as well have gone to the Vineyard.

Nothing against the Vineyard, necessarily. We worshipped with them a couple of times in Glasgow.

But I’ve been looking forward to plugging into liturgy — BCP or Common Worship — to a form of worship that is not tied to my emotions or those of the leader at the front, to rich prayers rooted in Scripture and tradition, to a community gathered around word and sacrament.

There was nothing ‘Anglican’ about this group of Christians, expect, I suppose, that they are part of an Anglican episcopal structure and believe the 39 Articles.

It’s frustrating for someone like me who identifies as Anglican and evangelical to belong nowhere. I’d rather go to a church that doesn’t make any claims to Anglicanism than to the Baptists with Bishops. We had the same problem in Scotland, in fact.

It’s also frustrating because there is a movement among a lot of the non-Anglican evangelicals to rediscover liturgy, tradition, beauty, hymns, discipline. Yet here, in the homeland of Anglicanism, Anglicans have sold their birth right and live in the same cultural amnesia that American and Canadian evangelicals are just now recovering from!

And so where to go?

I don’t know.

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6 thoughts on “How evangelical Anglican churches drive people like me away

  1. Are they having an effective ministry, that is bearing fruit in lives that are touched and changed by the gospel? Is Christ at the centre of their ministry, and do they seem open to the Holy Spirit, and to the guidance of scripture? If so, I say give glory to God, and shop around a bit more. (It’s a small island, after all!) I don’t know who made the quip about church being a society that exists for the benefit of its non-members; but it seems a propos to this post… Be patient, and pray about it. (I guess you could also share your concerns with the pastor if you really felt strongly about it; I’m sure he (she?!) would listen respectfully.)

    • As ever, you speak with wisdom to me, Jono! I feel like the old 9:15 at St A’s was my glory days. But we will shop around. My new perspective, which perhaps I shall blog about, is that, if I cannot find a local church that “fits”, to ask what tensions I can live with — and if I think that God has led me down an ancient-medieval-future path for a reason, then I should speak with clergy and leaders about these issues that have grown so important to me.

  2. “The Church is the only society that exists for the benefit of those who are not its members.”

    Archbishop William Temple (1881-1944)

    This is the one quote I have heard multiple times…

  3. Living in England all my life this is by far the majority of CoE churches. I think the difference with the CoE is that is isn’t ‘just’ an Anglican Church but it is the Church of England and as a result accommodates a far broader range than you might find elsewhere and many vicars feel compelled to try and appeal to everyone, leaving everyone unsatisfied.

    I have similar frustrations with my local parish church but I feel at the same time called by God to serve there and just give ground to those who would turn it into a poor imitation of Hillsong. Its damnably frustrating at times but I know of no other way forward, I’ve never known anything different so feel blessed you have.

    • Apologies for the poor composure of the comment.

      I meant to say…

      “I feel at the same time called by God to serve there and ‘not’ just give ground to those…”

      • Hi Keith! Thanks for your comments. They help make sense of things for me in an English context, which seems very different from that of Canadian Anglicanism.

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