"The Preachers chiefly shall take heed that they teach nothing in their preaching, which they would have the people religiously to observe and believe, but that which is agreeable to the Doctrine of the Old Testament and the New, and that which the Catholick Fathers and Ancient Bishops have gathered out of that Doctrine." A proposed canon of Elizabeth I, 1571

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Location: Bedford, Texas, United States

I am a presbyter in the diocese of Fort Worth, Texas (Anglican Church in North America). I serve as Chaplain at St. Vincent's School and as a canon of St. Vincent's Cathedral Church in Bedford, Texas. In addition to my parish duties and teaching Religion classes in the school I am also the Middle School Social Studies teacher.

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Sermon on the Holy Name of Jesus, 2006

“You have made him but a little lower than the angels; you adorn him with glory and honor; you give him mastery over the works of your hands; you put all things under his feet.” From the 8th Psalm, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

In the late nineteenth century a European diplomat serving in Egypt stumbled upon a rare find—a half-dozen ancient books. The style of the manuscripts’ ancient Greek handwriting suggested they had been written sometime between 100 and 400 A.D. Their great age and excellent condition made these books valuable, but when scholars turned their attention to the content of the writings they realized the find was one of a kind—and quite bizarre. The books contained paragraph after paragraph of nonsense words made up entirely of vowel sounds, strange sketches and occult diagrams, and—significantly—page after page of names. These were the names of gods and goddesses, angels and demons, mostly pagan names but even a few Jewish ones. The books contained dozens of magical spells! They were handbooks for ancient Greek magicians, teaching sorcerers how to harness the power of the supernatural for their paying clients. There were spells for good health, fair weather, and success in love or at the race track. There were curses upon one’s personal enemies, business rivals, and former lovers. And the keys to unlock all of this supernatural power, the magicians believed, were the names of gods and demons.

In the ancient Mediterranean world of Greece and Rome, magic was everywhere. It was believed that the power, the very essence of a being resided in its name. And knowledge of a supernatural name gave power. Magicians and common people alike assumed that if they could only learn the name of a god or a demon, they had a chance of manipulating the deity to serve their own purposes. Hence, the spells of ancient magicians often included dozens, even hundreds, of divine names. It was hoped that at least one of them would hit its target and force a supernatural being to bring about the goal of the spell.

Faithful Jews of that time did not routinely engage in pagan magic. They knew better than to try to strong arm the one, true God into doing their bidding with magical spells, and sorcery was punishable by death under the law of Moses. But ancient Jews shared the cultural assumptions of their Gentile neighbors about the power of divine names. The sacred name of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was a thing of immense power. Even though their Lord was “a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,” the law of Sinai spoke of dire consequences for those who “take the name of the Lord in vain” and fail to keep it holy. Misusing the four-letter Hebrew name of God, Yahweh, was dangerous. Even in antiquity Jews began substituting the Hebrew word adonai, “the Lord,” when they encountered God’s proper name as they read aloud. Better safe than sorry.

And yet here we are, as Christians, fearlessly speaking the name of God Incarnate, the Word made flesh, Christ Jesus. In fact, today is a special celebration of the most Holy Name of our Savior. It commemorates the day when, eight days after the boy’s birth as commanded in the Old Testament law, our Lord’s parents presented him for circumcision and He was formally given His name, Yeshua—“God’s saves,” which may be rendered in English as either Joshua or Jesus. “Jesus” was the name both the Blessed Virgin Mary and her betrothed, St. Joseph, had received by divine revelation nine months earlier. The child would be named Jesus, “for He will save His people from their sins.”

Yeshua is, of course, a noble name in the history of Israel. The first man to bear this name, a trusted aide of Moses and a mighty warrior, led Israel into the Promised Land and won a home for God’s people by the edge of the sword. But our Lord’s parents already knew that the baby boy they enrolled as a son of Israel by circumcision that day would be far greater than His Old Testament namesake. Mary’s Son would bear not only the name Jesus, but Immanuel—“God with us,” and He would be called “the Son of the Most High.” Eight centuries earlier the prophet Isaiah predicted this little boy would “be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” These were weighty names and titles, indeed, for such a tiny baby. Little wonder that Mary “treasured up these things in her heart,” too amazed even to speak.

Yet for all the exalted titles Christ bore, none is more meaningful than the Holy Name of Jesus itself. In this sacred name we see the whole of salvation history summarized in two words, “God saves.” From the day Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden, God has been the One who saves. The hand of the Lord was at work in the ark of Noah and the ram sacrificed in Isaac’s place, in the parting of the Red Sea and the fall of the walls of Jericho, and in countless acts of deliverance throughout the history of Israel. But now as the Blessed Virgin presents her first-born son back to His heavenly Father with the awesome name “Jesus,” history has reached its turning point. The saving acts of God have reached their climax. Through this Jesus the blind will see, the deaf will hear, the lame will walk and the dead will the live again. And at the appointed time this Jesus will make atonement for sins by His own precious blood and put death to flight by the power of His resurrection. By Jesus God does save in very truth.

Unlike the empty and powerless names invoked by those pagan magicians so long ago on the banks of the Nile, the Holy Name of Jesus is truly a name of divine power. The demons of Hell are right to quake at the very mention of His name. The darkness has nowhere to hide from the Light that entered the world at Bethlehem. When confronted by the Truth incarnate—God’s saving power made flesh--the vaunted strength of the father of Lies proves feeble. And the day is coming, my brothers and sisters, when our Lord will make a footstool of Death, our final enemy, and the spiritual forces of wickedness that corrupt and destroy the creatures of God will join every other being in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, bending knee in submission to the One whose name is above all names, Jesus the Christ. Holy is His name.

Beyond doubt, the name of Jesus is endowed with immense divine power. But to those who earnestly repent of their sins and turn to God in faithfulness the Savior’s Holy Name is a source of joy, not fear, for His divine name is also a human name. The Lord of all creation stooped down to take on our flesh and bone, our joys and sorrows, our frailty and our mortality. And He took a Name like our names: Jesus, son of Mary, of the household of David. Because of the Incarnation you and I may know God intimately—“on a first name basis,” so to speak. You and I may see God face to face and live, because He truly is one of us. And as our brother He calls each one of us by name. When Mary Magdalene was distraught beyond words at the disappearance of her Lord’s body on Easter morning, the risen Jesus soothed her aching heart and filled her with joy with just one word—her name, “Mary.” When Saul of Tarsus was struck down on his way to persecute the Church in Damascus, the risen Savior cut him to the quick by calling his name: “Saul, Saul. Why are you persecuting me?” Again and again in Holy Scripture and Sacred Tradition we find it, our Lord calling His saints by name to an intimate relationship with Him. And so they are recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life: Mary Magdalene, servant and sister of Jesus; Paul the Apostle, servant and brother of Jesus. If you have turned to Christ in faith, receiving the healing waters of Holy Baptism and partaking of the Bread that came down from Heaven, your name is written there, too, alongside millions of other servants of His eternal Kingdom—the family of Jesus, those who truly know Him by name.

Let us pray that in the course of the Year of Our Lord 2006 we may all come to know more fully the One who bears a name at once both human and divine, and serve Him even more faithfully than we do today. Blessed be His Holy Name forever.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

St. Thomas Becket, Archbishop and Martyr

Today is the feast of "the holy, blissful martyr." St. Thomas of Canterbury has long been dear to my heart, in part because I came to love the film version of Anouihl's play, Becket, or the Honor of God, even before I became a Christian. After my conversion and profession of faith in 1990 I was certain that God had forgiven me and that He loved me, but I still felt unworthy to return that love in the way I knew Christians should. Then I reflected upon the scene between Becket and King Henry on the beach before the exile returned to England, when the king asked the archbishop "So you've come to love God, then?" Becket's response resonated with me strongly: "I have come to love the honor of God." I think I must have a feudal heart, which will come as no surprise to friends who know of my engrained Anselmian tendencies. The honor of God--I did love the honor God, and the cross of Christ by which the Savior returned the honor owed by the human race to our Creator. In time I have come to love the Lord more personally, but the example of the real St. Thomas remains especially dear to me. Thomas Becket, whose love for God’s honor shines as a light in the darkness of our times, provides an example all Christians should strive to emulate. Blessed Thomas, pray for me, a sinner.

From the early chronicler Gervase of Canterbury's History of the Archbishops of Canterbury:

"But on the fifth day of the nativity, which was the third day of the week, there arrived four courtiers, who desired to speak with the archbishop, thinking by this to discover the weak points [of the monastery]. These were Reginald Fitz-Urse, Hugh de Morville, William de Traci, and Richard Brito. After a long discussion, they began to employ threats; and at length rising up hastily, they went out into the courtyard; and under the spreading branches of a mulberry-tree, they cast off the garments with which they had covered their breastplates, and, accompanied by those persons whom they had summoned from the province, they returned into the archbishop's palace.

Yet he, unmoved by the exhortations, the prayers, and the tears of his followers, remained firm in his place, until the time had arrived for the performance of the evening service in the church; towards which he advanced with a slow and deliberate step, like one who of his own free-will prepares himself for death. Having entered the church, he paused at the threshold; and he asked his attendants of what they were afraid. When the clerks began to fall into disorder, he said, "Depart, ye cowards! Let these blind madmen go on in their career. We command you, in virtue of your obedience, not to shut the door."

While he was thus speaking, behold! the executioners having ransacked the bishop's palace, rushed together through the cloisters; three of whom carried hatchets in their left bands, and one an axe or a two-edged glaive, while all of them brandished drawn swords in their right hands. But after they had rushed through the open door, they separated from each other, Fitz-Urse turning to the left, while the three others took to the right. The archbishop had already ascended a few steps, when Fitz-Urse, as he hurried onwards, asked one whom he met, "Where is the archbishop?" Hearing this, he turned round on the step, and, with a slight motion of the head, he was the first to answer, "Here am I, Reginald. I have conferred many a benefit on you, Reginald; and do you now come to me with arms in your hands?" "You shall soon find that out," was the reply. "Are not you that notorious traitor to the king?" And, laying hold on his pall, he said, "Depart hence;" and he struck the pall with his sword. The archbishop replied, "I am no traitor; nor will I depart, wretched man!" and he plucked the fringe of his pall from out the knight's hand. The other repeated the words, "Flee hence!" The reply was, "I will not flee; here your malice shall be satisfied." At these words the assassin stepped back, as if smitten by a blow.

In the meantime the other three assailants had arrived; and they exclaimed, "Now you shall die!" "If," said the archbishop, "you seek my life, I forbid you, under the threat of an anathema, from touching any one of my followers. As for me, I willingly embrace death, provided only that the church obtain liberty and peace at the price of my blood." When he had said these words, he stretched forth his head to the blows of the murderers.

Fitz-Urse hastened forward, and with his whole strength he planted a blow upon the extended head; and he cried out, as if in triumph over his conquered enemy, "Strike! strike!" Goaded on by the author of confusion, these butchers, adding wound to wound, dashed out his brains; and one of them, following up the martyr, (who at this time was either in the act of falling, or had already fallen) struck the pavement with his sword but the point of the weapon broke off short. They now returned through the cloister, crying out, "Knights of the king, let us go; he is dead!" And then they pillaged whatever they found in the archbishop's residence.

See here a wonder. While he was yet alive, and could speak, and stand on his feet, men called him a traitor to the king; but when he was laid low, with his brains dashed out, he was called the holy Thomas, even before the breath had left his body.This blessed martyr suffered death in the ninth year of his patriarchate, on the fourth of the calends of January [29th Dec.], being the third day of the week, A.D. 1170, while the monks were singing their vespers. His dead body was removed and placed in the shrine before the altar of Christ. On the morrow it was carried by the monks and deposited in a tomb of marble within the crypt.

Now, to speak the truth - that which I saw with my eyes, and handled with my hands - he wore hair-cloth next his skin, then stamin, over that a black cowl, then the white cowl in which he was consecrated; he also wore his tunic and dalmatic, his chasuble, pall, and miter; lower down, he had drawers of sack-cloth, and over these others of linen; his socks were of wool, and he had on sandals."

Saturday, December 24, 2005

God bless you this Christmas, my friends

O God, you have caused this holy night to shine with the brightness of the true Light: Grant that we, who have known the mystery of that Light on earth, may also enjoy him perfectly in heaven; where with you and the Holy Spirit he lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Best Wishes for a Blessed Christ Mass

St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Sermon for Christmas--The Fountains of the Savior

[Christ is the fountain] in which we may wash ourselves clean, as it is written "Who hath loved us and washed us from our sins." But this is not the only use of water: it can serve us in more ways than by washing our stains. Thus it can also quench our thirst. … A third use of water is irrigation, of which young plants especially have the greatest need. … Whoever, therefore, has sown the seeds of good works should seek for the water of devotion, so that irrigated from the fountain of grace, the garden of his virtuous life may not wither but may flourish in a never fading bloom. … Do you think it possible to find … a fourth fountain, so that we may be able to cover paradise, which was watered and beautified by a four-branched stream? … In this living paradise we have now discovered three of the fountains, and the fourth is yet to seek. We have the:

waters of pardon from the fountain of mercy to wash away our sins;

waters of prudence from the fountain of wisdom to slake our thirst;

waters of devotion from the fountain of grace to irrigate the plants of our good works.

Let us now seek for the heated waters of ardent zeal with which to cook our food. For these waters serve both to spiritualize and to warm our affections, and they flow from the fountain of charity.

And see if the Prophet Isaiah is not alluding to these fountains when he says: "You shall draw waters with joy from the Savior’s fountains."

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle

To me Thy friends, O God, are made exceedingly honourable; their principality is exceedingly strengthened.

Lord, Thou hast proved me and known me; Thou hast known my sitting down and my rising up.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Fr Jolly on Anglo-Catholic Heaven

The Fireside Chat with the Rector is back on-line! This cartoon is a sample of the humor the rector features. Do peruse it at your leisure.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

"Basic Christianity" Course On-line

Audio recordings of the Rev. Richard Cantrell's course in "Basic Christianity" are now available on-line! This is the course Fr. Cantrell teaches to prepare adult candidates for confirmation at St. Vincent's Cathedral in Bedford, but any Christian would benefit from this high quality refresher course.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

"Choose this Day" Video

A group of lay people associated with the Anglican Communion Network has produced a video, Choose This Day, which discusses recent developments in ECUSA in theological perspective. It is well worth viewing, and may be found here. Please click on the first line, Main Video Selection. The worship service featured in the video was a Sunday morning Eucharist at my home parish, St. Vincent's Cathedral in Bedford, Texas. Dean Ryan Reed, the cathedral's pastor, is interviewed in the video along with the Rev. Kendall Harmon, Bishop Duncan of Pittsburgh and many others. A track from St. Vincent's choir also appears in the video. The film lasts about half an hour. Be sure to watch the Epilogue as well (where you learn that no Bibles were harmed in the filming of the video--thanks be to God!).

The image here is William Hole's Early Christians Worshipping.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Episcopal Church Statistics

ECUSA's national web site has a fascinating resource available on-line. It provides diocesan, parish and ZIP code level statistics on membership, attendance, and giving for every location in the United States. You may find the search engine for this data on ECUSA's web site. The chart for the diocese of Fort Worth may be found here. The chart for my home parish, St. Vincent's in Bedford, indicates growth in membership and giving at the cathedral since the Rev. Ryan Reed became dean four years ago, which is encouraging. Sunday morning attendance is up, but not nearly as much as we would like. Is fallout from GenCon 2003 responsible for the sluggish growth in attendance at St. Vincent's between 2003 and 2004? Still, there is a very lively atmosphere at St. Vincent's these days. Our school is growing well, and the parish nursery is being expanded because we have so many little ones coming to church these days!I feel confident that average attendance statistics will be up when the 2005 numbers are released. BTW, notice the steep drop at SVCC in 2000/2001. This reflects the departure of the long time dean, the Rev. Louis Tobola, at that time. Fr Tobola became founding vicar of a mission parish in a fast-growing near-by suburb, St. Barnabas' Church in Keller.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

A Sermon for Gaudete Sunday, Dec. 11th

Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I say again, rejoice!” Modestia vestra nota sit omnibus hominibus. Dominus prope est. “Let your gentleness”—your forbearance, your modesty—“be noted by all people. The Lord is near!” These are the words that give today its name—Gaudete Sunday, "Joyful Sunday." Since at least 750 AD (and probably for centuries before that date) Benedictine monks have begun Mass on the third Sunday of Advent by chanting this marvelous command from the fourth chapter of St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians: Be joyful in the Lord! On “Joyful” Sunday Christians around the world light the pink Advent candle and preparations for the great Feast of our Lord’s Incarnation take on a more festive tone. Today we are on a mission from God to “party”! “I say again, rejoice!”

Yet Paul’s apostolic summons to joy is immediately followed by an exhortation to gentleness, meekness, humility. We find the same curious pairing in today’s Gospel lesson. John the Baptist tells his followers that the sound of the bridegroom’s voice—the revelation of God’s Messiah—fills his heart with joy. The Baptist has been looking forward to this for years—in the recent past he has been “crying out in the wilderness” about it. John’s charismatic preaching and outlandish mannerisms made him a sort of first-century “rock star.” Crowds flocked from all over Palestine to hear him denounce their sinfulness and proclaim “the One who is to come.” John’s success as a preacher is astonishing when you think about the content of his message. But even more amazingly, the Baptist was proven right! Behold the Lamb of God! Behold Him who takes away the sin of the world! It actually happened! The Christ really came! No doubt John’s heart was filled to bursting with joy. But there is no gloating on John’s part—no “I told you so.” Instead John the Baptist’s response to the vindication of his entire ministry is: “He must increase, and I must decrease.” A greater One than John has come and a new age has dawned. The Baptist wants only to slip quietly off the stage. Rejoicing over the Lord’s immanent victory and cultivating humility in His Church—these are two touchstones of Advent that John the Baptist models for us this morning.

The monks in the early Middle Ages who first gave us “Joyful” Sunday understood something important: Advent is about paradox. In two weeks we will celebrate the piercing of the veil between Heaven and earth, when the sovereign Lord of the cosmos became one of His own creatures, united with us in joy and suffering by His own human flesh. We shall hear the familiar story again, a story that never grows old with retelling. God’s mighty arms, accustomed to swirling galaxies, will be bound in swaddling clothes. God the Son, serenaded from the dawn of creation by choirs of angels, will doze to his mother’s lullaby. New Life entering our world so that Death may no longer abide here--how can we not weep for joy at the very thought of such divine Love? How fulfilling it is to contemplate such beauty, such awesome grace! That pink candle reminds us that it will come very soon.

But the joy of “Joyful Sunday” is much greater than simply knowing we are two weeks away from midnight Mass. Advent is about far more than that! Two thousand years ago John the Baptist reminded the people of Judea that God is faithful to His promises of redemption, and I shall do the same this morning. God’s Holy Word promises that a day will soon come when our Lord will once again make His home among mortals. Every knee in Heaven, and on earth, and under the earth will bow to Him and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. The glory of God will light up the world and the nations will walk by its light. And the God-who-is-with-us will wipe every tear from our eyes. “Death will be no more; mourning and crying will be no more.” The entire Universe will gaze in adoration upon Christ’s radiant scars and know that nothing will ever triumph over the boundless Love of God. Perfect joy. Perfect peace. Soon, my dear brothers and sisters, it will come very soon. Today’s pink candle reminds us of that, as well.

Unfortunately, the fallen world which you and I inhabit scoffs at such thoughts. The same voices that shouted down the prophets of ancient Israel and taunted our Lord Jesus on the cross still call out today—“realistic” voices, cynical voices, voices of despair and emptiness. “You don’t really believe all that baloney in the Bible, do you?” they ask. “If your Christ really is coming back why is He taking so long?” If only these sad people could know the joy that you and I feel at Christmas and Easter! If they could comprehend just a fraction of the eternal glory that lay in that manger at Bethlehem, if they could see the love of God pouring out of Christ’s wounds on Calvary, if they realized that the power of sin and death has been crushed by the stone rolled away on Easter morning, their doubts would be quieted and their hearts would be opened. You and I have to tell them. We must tell them that God is faithful and just, and His promises are true. But more than that: you and I must show them the Love of God made manifest two millennia ago in the Babe of Bethlehem.

Advent is not simply about preparing ourselves for the glories of the Christ Mass. It is also about preparing ourselves to be living, breathing icons of the divine love that shows forth from the Nativity, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection. Christ, the perfect icon of God’s love, must increase within us, if we are to "bring the Lord near" an age that desperately needs Him. St. Paul pairs modesty--gentleness--forbearance--with rejoicing as a testimony to all men, a means of showing forth Christ in our fallen world. Our joy and the gentleness of Christ in which you and I partake--together they can draw the lost to Christ. And if the lost meet Christ in our gentleness, their darkness might finally lift. And what a great cause for rejoicing that would be! For them it would be dawn in the New Jerusalem. I say again, rejoice!

So the pink candle burns this Joyful Sunday, stoking our desire for that night two weeks from now when we will gather here to celebrate the coming of Christ’s light into the world so long ago at Bethlehem. The “joyful” candle also reflects our longing for that glorious day when all darkness will finally be put to flight, when “the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel's call and the sound of the trumpet of God.” But the candle’s small, steady flame also reminds us that Advent is not simply about the distant past and the indeterminate future. We worship the Holy One “who was, and is, and is to come.” Between the wonders of the Incarnation and the Second Coming our God has not stopped coming to His people. We have not been left as orphans. God the Holy Spirit, the sacred fire at the heart of Christ’s Church, abides with us, giving us life and growth, indwelling us at our baptism, sanctifying us in our walk through this world, and empowering us for service to the Kingdom. And in a few moments God our Savior will make Himself present for us in the most tangible of ways as Christ’s sacrifice at Calvary is re-presented here on this holy altar and our Lord shares His precious Body and Blood with those He has redeemed. He comes now to offer His very own life to us. Now that is most certainly an Advent worth celebrating!

And so, my brothers and sisters rejoice. I say again, rejoice!
“May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus
Christ. He who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.” In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Chronicles of Narnia

I exhort all of you, gentle readers, to see The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as soon as possible. I saw it this afternoon and it is marvelous! I was somewhat skeptical going in, considering Disney's wretched track record with films based upon fine literature and their dicey history when it comes to fair depictions of Christianity. But this film is FIRST RATE. It is without doubt the most faithful adaptation of a book onto film I have ever seen. Granted, it has been a year since I last read the story so I probably missed a few minor differences between Lewis' originally text and this film. But my strong impression today was that the screenplay was overwhelmingly faithful to the book (thanks be to God). The Christian allegory is all still there in full force. And the story is beautifully photographed. A big "thumbs up" from me. See it immediately!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Father Heidt on the One Holy Catholic Church

There is a thought-provoking essay on ecclesiology by the Rev. Dr. John Heidt posted on his blog, Transfiguration. Here is a sample:

Anglicans are Catholics. Originally they were English Catholics, spiritual descendents of the Celtic Christians of the earliest centuries and of St. Augustine, sent to England by Pope Gregory the Great in the 6th century to be the first Archbishop of Canterbury. Chiefly through the spread of the British Empire, Anglicans are now found throughout the world and of every culture and civilization. Being the largest communion of Christians after Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox, there are now more Anglicans in Nigeria than anywhere else in the world.

Anglicans officially adhere to the same ancient apostolic and catholic faith as Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox: the same scriptures, the same creeds, sacraments, and ministry. But unlike official Roman Catholic teaching we believe in what the Eastern Orthodox call autocephalous churches, that is to say, churches that are free to run their own affairs within the context of catholic faith and order.

Anglicans believe that local and regional bishops and pastors can understand and respond to the spiritual needs of their people better than a centralized authority.On controversial issues Anglicans have always relied on tradition. They look to the thought of the undivided church in the first Christian millennium, believing that the Holy Spirit has faithfully guided the whole church into all truth, not just one particular national church or denomination.

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