At Advent Anglican, we take God seriously, but ourselves--not too much. We value the blend of reverence for the holiness of God with the light-hearted freedom and joy that he plants in our lives. You'll find no formal greeters; instead you'll encounter ordinary people who are happy to be here and genuinely hopeful you'll enjoy it too. People tend to fit in easily here, as there's an emphasis on Christian charity and a belief that we work together in our worship and our spiritual growth.
When you start asking people at Advent about their previous experience with Christianity and church, you realize what an eclectic group we are. And if you stick around for a while, you'll start to notice we're a quirky bunch in plenty of other ways too! Curiously, that diversity extends to our addresses as well. While some of us are local, others drive from as far as an hour away to participate at Advent Anglican. You'll see why. This parish is made up of some fascinating people, and that's part of what draws us despite the distance for some. You'll surely find other good churches nearer to your home--maybe even ones that are a better fit for you--but you won't find a copy of Advent Anglican. Who we are and what we do is delightfully uncommon.
Sunday has always been the big day for churches. Increasingly though, there has been a pull to create midweek meetings and increase the demand on people's schedules. Naturally, there are pros and cons to this. Fighting midweek traffic in this area is probably the first con that comes to mind! The second is that many people today lead over-busy, over-committed lives already. Adding another midweek appointment to the calendar can be life-draining rather than life-giving.
So we've learned how to be an effective "Sunday church." All the components of parish life are accessible by attending on Sundays.
For us this means that our four graces (Food, Shelter, Family, Labor--described here) must be active on Sundays in order to bring the whole parish into them. If you visit us on Sundays for a while, you'll get a full picture of our parish life. You'll see us do "Second Breakfasts" during the season of Easter, offer intercessory prayer with clergy, play board games, watch and discuss films, hold poetry readings, enjoy picnics, work through new member courses, and more--not to mention standard Sunday elements like studying Scripture, receiving communion, corporate prayer, and occasionally Baptism and Confirmation. All of this is woven into the fabric of Sundays together.
We make sure a full portion of parish life happens on Sunday, but, of course, being a "Sunday Church" isn't a strict rule. There's occasional church activity outside of Sundays as well. And we encourage people to form their own groups, gatherings, and studies midweek as their individual schedules and proximities allow. Our goal is to have a robust Sunday experience that provides them with the chance to connect with each other; as those relationships grow, people naturally carry their connection beyond Sundays.
The Anglican way is ancient, rising from biblical patterns through early church roots. It is theologically influenced by the Reformation yet retains much of the Church's centuries-old customs. This is the inhabiting of practices that have guided generation after generation of Christians. Texts from the first few hundred years AD tell of Christians worshiping in ways that are strikingly similar to what you experience on Sundays at Advent Anglican.
And yet it is still as fresh today as the people who worship by it and the Spirit who inspires that worship. In fact, we live in a place and time when people are increasingly hungry for the stability and intimacy that ancient Church practices provide. Anglicanism has a way of reintroducing Christians to the depth of the Church's riches, and many today are embracing them.
When you worship with generations-old practices--practices still used globally--you develop a sense of belonging. Your faith is about more than just you. It has a fellowship within a long line of believers, stretching throughout centuries and around the world, crossing boundaries of time and place. You belong to something unthinkably grand: The Church of God.
That sense of participation in something beyond yourself is felt on Sundays. Much of what we do requires us to join together. Together we recite the psalms and pray aloud, together we affirm the Creed and confess that we are sinners, together we say the Lord's Prayer and receive communion. So much of our worship involves joining together, that our time opens with a particular type of prayer called a "Collect" (pronounced KAH-lect). Its name comes from the fact that we are seeking to collect the people from their various thoughts, worries, distractions, etc., into one place to be of one heart and one mind in worship. Sundays at Advent are not a time of individual effort but one of joining together.
Maybe it's the fact that Anglicanism is sacramental--seeing the activity of God in and through his tangible creation. Maybe it's the fact that Anglicanism emphasizes the participation of the people, not just a pastor. Maybe it's the fact that we do a lot of standing and speaking! Whatever the reason, at Advent you'll notice that your whole person is engaged in worship.
The way we worship reaches beyond simply filling your mind with ideas; it seeks to stir the emotions, to sense the mysteriousness of God, to provoke the imagination, and, yes, to get your body involved through song, speech, touch, taste, kneeling, standing, and so on. Worship is about more than just right beliefs; it invites participation with our whole self.
Occasionally someone will ask why we use words that are antiquated like "thee" and "thou." Most of our liturgy is contemporary in its vocabulary, but some of it still retains older phrases. There are three reasons for this. First, they are indeed old words, reminding us that our worship is part of something historic. Second, they infuse our speech with a reverential tone, distinguishing our worship as something special, more than just a common conversation. Lastly, there is a poetic quality to them that keeps our worship beautiful rather than strictly utilitarian.
Another question often asked about the language of the liturgy is why we recite scripted prayers rather than simply "praying from the heart." We do have space for unscripted (extemporaneous) prayer during the Prayers of the People, but much of our prayers are prescribed. While we enjoy extemporaneous prayer, written prayers tend to be stronger theologically, more robust aesthetically, and more precise in their petition. They also lend us words to pray when we have trouble articulating what is in our hearts. We pray them with the same sincerity and urgency as when we pray extemporaneously.
Our worship is guided by the six seasons that Christians have traditionally observed: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost. Each season reminds us of particular truths about God and ourselves. Each season guides us into a certain posture of the heart as we worship. At first it might be difficult, for example, to engage forbearance and penitence simply because it's Lent, or to choose joy and celebration because it's Easter Season. With time though, these seasons build a stable pacing into our lives, and they keep our eyes on the unchanging truths of the gospel when we might be otherwise bogged down in the mundane distractions of daily life.
The seasons have a way of building up helpful ruts in our souls over time. And as we engage them, we find ourselves increasingly able to steer our hearts into those ruts and enter into worship readily and fully because of them. This is a difficult phenomenon to explain; it is equally sweet to experience.
Lastly, through this endless cycle of steadily shifting seasons, we come to learn that discipleship as a Christian is not a one-time, high-impact, big-event sort of process. Rather, in the Anglican way, it is a slow and steady rhythm of growth, a long-term relationship nourished by the patience and persistence of a God whose love is not quickly spent.
Active in over 160 countries, Anglicanism accounts for approximately 80 million people spread around the world, making it one of the three largest expressions of the Christian church. The vast diversity of Anglicans presents challenges at times, but it is in those challenges that we learn how to prize brotherly love and listen to others. This broad mixture of cultures and perspectives gives Anglicanism an ecumenical flavor, and Christians of all traditions will find something familiar in it. It has a unique blend of ancient habits, historic liturgy, sacramental living, evangelical commitment, missional charity, aesthetic appreciation, and an undying emphasis on Jesus himself.
What unites us as a global Church of over 80 million adherents? Worship. Anglicans share a common way of worship through the various interrelated versions of the Book of Common Prayer. While we may disagree on finer points of doctrine, our commitment is to worship the same God side-by-side. The Book of Common Prayer is a significant agent in binding us together into a single expression of Christianity.
Anglicanism has long been called the via media, which is Latin for "the middle way," due to its ability to find and maintain common ground among all expressions of Christianity. It seeks to combine elements of Christianity that are often seen as mutually exclusive--like following the liturgy versus following the leading of the Spirit, or valuing sacraments versus valuing social justice. Often in the middle we find that these things, in fact, overlap. There, in the middle way, Anglicanism incorporates a surprising variety of Christian practices into a single, unified tradition.
The history of Anglicanism is fascinating. While the Reformation swept through much of Europe in a single, dramatic change, the Church in England went through a series of four rapid, focused "mini-Reformations." In the end, the result was a Church that was no longer tied to Rome, collegially led by archbishops and bishops rather than a pope, reformed in its theology, and yet largely unchanged in the rhythms of Sunday worship from the pew. This unique blend of biblically defined doctrine alongside ancient church practices is one of Anglicanism's most wholesome contributions to the Church.
Even if you've never visited an Anglican parish, chances are good you've been influenced by Anglicanism--or rather, by some particular Anglican. From apologists, theologians, and authors, to poets, politicians, and painters, Anglicans have left an interesting and significant mark on our cultures. Beyond this though, prominent Anglicans have been categorically described as having a "sweet reasonableness," owing to their ability to wield strong ideas in order to graciously serve, not proudly dominate.
Broadly speaking, the Christian Church has gone through some significant upheaval and transition in the last few decades--not all of it good. Much of this change is derived from questioning the role and authority of Scripture.
Anglicanism has not been exempt from these challenges. Especially in North America, new affiliations have formed within the worldwide Anglican Communion, as a way of staying within Anglicanism and within the historic faith of the Church.
The vanguard leader in this innovation of affiliations was the Anglican Province of Rwanda. In January of 2000, Rwanda began providing oversight for American clergy who found themselves at odds with their bishops because they wanted to continue preaching and practicing the same gospel they had always known. The result of Rwanda's interventions was the ability to be in America but under Rwanda's leadership. This fascinating movement of God breathed fresh life into Anglicanism in North America and gave birth to the Anglican Mission in America and PEARUSA, which was Advent Anglican's original affiliation.
The concept caught on, and the momentum continued to grow, with other global provinces following Rwanda's lead in North America. More and more, Anglicans in North America were hungry for fresh oversight and began to find it outside the U.S. Over time though, these various groups desired to come under a unified, local oversight, resulting in the formation of the Anglican Church in North America (the ACNA), a new Anglican Province in North America.
In 2016, in an act of true humbleness and wisdom, the Rwandan house of bishops decided it was time to relinquish their involvement in North America so that their affiliates could be wholly involved in this local movement, the Anglican Church in North America. Consequently, Advent Anglican now enjoys affiliation with the ACNA.
Today, the Anglican Church in North America unites some 100,000 Anglicans in nearly 1,000 congregations across the United States and Canada. It is an emerging Province in the global Anglican Communion, which itself consists of 80 million people around the world.
Anglicanism has always been a large part of Christianity in America, but after the American Revolution it became understandably unpopular to call anything "Anglican" or "of England" in the newly independent colonies. Consequently, the Anglican Church in America, without changing its substance in anyway, rebranded itself as the "Episcopal Church." And that is the name by which it is commonly known in America.
Over two centuries later (and the American Revolution far behind us), Americans are recapturing this formerly deported term, Anglican.
Interestingly, it now serves as a way of identifying ourselves with the historic Church, the faith handed down from the Apostles. It is in this spirit that we, and over a hundred thousand people in North America, now call ourselves Anglican.
Still curious? There's no substitute for visiting us on a Sunday! For details about that, see "What Next" at the bottom of our home page.
Or maybe you've already visited, and that's what has stirred your curiosity--beyond the scope of what this website explains. In that case, there's no substitute for coffee and conversation with a live person! Fr. Aaron is happy to buy, or you may enjoy connecting with another person in the parish. Ask anyone; we're a pretty friendly bunch. You can contact Fr. Aaron by clicking here.
Additionally, you can continue to the third and final page on our website, "Community Resources," to see what odds and ends are stashed there.