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1. What we believe

A good source for understanding Christianity is the BBC World Service pages on Religions.  There you can find a section entitled ‘Christianity at a Glance’ and this will give you a good idea of the key aspects of the Christian Faith. Click here to visit the site.

2. What about the Anglican Church?

The Anglican Church is an organisation with branches in 165 countries and a total of about 80 million members worldwide.  The national Churches have a good deal of autonomy, but all recognise the spiritual leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and they talk to each other via a body called the Anglican Consultative Council.  Also, all Anglican bishops come together at the Lambeth Conference, held every ten years.

There are many differences between individual Anglican churches - and, indeed, between the style of different Anglican churches in the UK - but we hold four things in common:

The Bible as a basis of our faith;
The Nicene and Apostles' Creeds, basic statements of Christian belief;
Recognition of the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion, and
The historic episcopate; that is, the continuity of the line of bishops since the time of Christ.

It has been said that the Anglican Church rests on the three pillars of Faith, Reason and Tradition.  The unique strength of Anglicanism lies in our balance of these three aspects in our daily experience of living in the twenty-first century.

Wasn't the Anglican Church formed by Henry VIII so that he could annul his marriage?

Ouch.  Yes, it was, but leaders in the Church of England took the opportunity to make a number of reforms which the central authorities of the Roman Catholic Church opposed.  Something like the Anglican Church would probably have happened without Henry VIII’s political interference, but it might have taken longer.  King Henry's main concern was simply independence from Rome.

So what else changed?

At the time, there were a number of doctrinal concerns, such as the exact nature of the Eucharist.  The main practical difference between the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches nowadays is that the Anglicans, while maintaining a hierarchy of priests and bishops, give much more autonomy to individual churches.  This means that, while the basics of our belief are fixed, there are wide differences in our style of worship from parish to parish.

With thanks to the Parish of St John’s Roslyn, Dunedin, New Zealand

3. What Happens in Church?

The core of many Anglican services is Holy Communion, also known as Eucharist.  This is a ceremony derived from the supper which Jesus held with his followers on the night before his arrest and execution.  Christians believe that this ceremony creates a special sort of contact with God, which helps to strengthen us as Christians.

What actually happens?

Holy Communion involves the giving out of bread and wine which has been consecrated, or made holy, with special prayers.  In some parishes real bread is used; others use special wafers.  At the Minster we usually use the latter.  Normally the congregation walk up to the front of the church and kneel at the altar, receiving the bread from the priest in cupped hands.  The chalice, the ceremonial goblet containing the wine, is usually taken round by an assistant. In general, Communion strengthens your relationship with God in the same way as you can get to know people well by spending a lot of time with them over many years.

Can anyone take part in this ceremony?

Officially, you have to be baptised in order to receive Communion.  It doesn't have to be an Anglican baptism; any branch of the Christian Church will do.

The ceremony of Confirmation (a deliberate reaffirmation of the vows of baptism, made when we're old enough to know what we're doing) still exists in the Anglican Church, but it's no longer necessary to go through this process before you can receive Communion.

What else happens in a church service?

Anglican services are extremely varied and flexible – and that’s certainly true at the Minster.  Set forms of words are used, in the Common Worship prayer booklets and the Book of Common Prayer.  But there are also informal services which use no booklets at all and where the worship is more varied in style and content.

There are specific words to accompany Communion, and the Lord's Prayer will normally find its way into a service.  There will often be a Creed, a formal statement of basic Christian beliefs.  Most services include hymns, which may be either traditional or modern.  There will be prayers; some of these will be in set words, but we also pray about current issues and use silence from time to time.  Services also include readings from the Bible.

And a sermon?

Quite often.   We're fully aware that sermons have a reputation for inducing sleep.  This doesn't have to be the case.  Some preachers are very good speakers, adept at making Christianity relevant to everyday life.

And . . . ?

Yes, we admit it.  There will normally be a collection.  We need to meet running costs and pay salaries, and the Anglican Church is also a major social service organisation.  No one will pay attention to how much you're dropping in the basket, and you don't have to make a contribution at all.  If you see any value in what we're doing at the Minster, you'll probably want to help if you can.

Why do priests wear funny clothes?

The tradition of priests wearing robes has its origins in the history of the church, and in fact makes just as much sense today.  This is because a priest's robes are based roughly on the garments worn by Roman officials in the early days of the Church.  We've added Christian symbols to them, but (being Anglicans) we haven't actually changed anything much.  On a more serious note, wearing robes (just like others who wear a uniform, such as police or medical staff) means that the attention is focused on the role we’re fulfilling, rather than on ourselves and our sense of fashion!

With thanks to the Parish of St John’s Roslyn, Dunedin, New Zealand

4. Where do I Go from here?

Newcomers are always welcome at the Minster.  There are no membership fees and you don't have to fill in any forms unless you want to.  Anyone can attend any Anglican service and see what happens.

Where and when?

Our forthcoming services are listed on the right on our Home Page.  If you want to know more about any of them, then click here.

What if I like what I see?

There are two ceremonies relevant to becoming a fully functional Anglican.  The first is Baptism, and the second is Confirmation. See below for more details.

Baptism is a ceremony representative of spiritual cleansing, ‘renewing’ a person upon entry into the Church.  Originally the recipient was fully immersed in water; a modern baptism in the Anglican Church involves a ceremonial sprinkling of water on the head, and special prayers.  Some people are baptised as babies.  This is an indication that the parents have decided to bring up their child as a Christian.  In this case, people can be Confirmed when they are old enough to make their own decision to be part of the Church.

You can take part in most of the activities of the Church without going through either of these procedures, and there are no rules about how soon, or how late, you should make a formal commitment.  Talk to your friendly parish priest about it some time.

What can the Church do for you?

The Church can bring you closer to God.  We believe this is more important than anything in ‘ordinary’ physical existence.  It can also help teach you to become a better person by living in a more ‘God-like’ way.  The Church answers the human need for something greater than themselves in which to believe, and gives our lives a sense of meaning.  The Church also provides community with fellow humans, all working towards a common goal.

What can you do for the Church?

Many Christians become involved in the life of their Church in ways other than simple attendance.  Many functions in a church service, such as reading lessons from the Bible, or leading some of the prayers, can be undertaken by any member of the congregation.  Many churches – like the Minster - have choirs and music groups.

The Minster also has lots of activities which operate outside the confines of Sunday services.  Some of these are of particular interest to those with musical or artistic skills; others are for those who want to volunteer, or who want to serve the wider community in a whole variety of ways.

Christians can also become qualified as ministers.  Becoming a priest requires several years of study, and a deep commitment to Christianity.  However, all Christians have a part to play, using their own individual talents in their everyday lives to further the work of the Church and bring the world a little closer to the way God wants it to be.

With thanks to the Parish of St John’s Roslyn, Dunedin, New Zealand

Glossary of Terms

Baptism: the ceremony of cleansing used when a person becomes a member of the Christian Church.

Confirmation: a conscious reaffirmation of baptismal vows, for those baptised as babies.

Congregation: the group of people who attend a church.

Creed: a formal statement of Christian belief.

Diocese: a regional grouping of parishes under the direction of a bishop.

Eucharist: another term for Holy Communion, or the service containing it.

Gospel: one of the four accounts of the life of Jesus in the New Testament.

New Testament: the part of the Bible dealing specifically with Christianity, and containing the Gospels.

Old Testament: the part of the Bible predating Jesus, and containing Jewish religious laws and traditions.

Parish: an individual church, and the area for which it has responsibility.

Sacrament: one of the core ceremonies of the Church, defined as 'outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace'.

Theologian: a scholar who studies questions of God and religion.

Trinity: the combination of the three recognised aspects of God, known as Father, Son (Jesus of Nazareth) and Holy Spirit.

With thanks to the Parish of St John’s Roslyn, Dunedin, New Zealand


Baptism (or ‘Christening’) and Confirmation

Baptism is fundamentally about ‘belonging’ and ‘commitment’.  It is the way by which a person joins the Christian community and takes on responsibilities as a follower of Jesus Christ.  And it is a sign of commitment in two directions: firstly, it is a sign of God’s commitment to the person being baptised; and secondly, it is a sign of that person’s (or his or her parents’) commitment to God and their desire to follow Jesus Christ.

Many people come for Baptism or Christening when a child has been born and they want to give thanks and desire to bring up that child in the Christian faith.  As well as a ceremonial opportunity for giving the child a name, and a celebration for family and friends, a service of Baptism marks the point where a child begins his or her own personal journey as a follower of Jesus Christ.  And it recognises that they will need the love, care and nurture of their parents, godparents and the Christian community to help them.

Confirmation is a service, led by a bishop, for those who have been baptised as children and who now want to make an adult commitment to follow Jesus Christ.

If you would like to explore the possibility of Baptism or Confirmation, either for yourself or for your child, please contact the Parish Office and ask for more information.

Weddings

Parish churches – including the Minster – have, historically, been key venues for the conducting of marriages.  Indeed, across the country, the Church of England continues to welcome tens of thousands of couples each year who wish to be married in the presence of God and who seek God’s blessing on their life together.

We would love to welcome you.

However, in order to be married at the Minster (as with any parish church) you will need to fulfil what is called a ‘Qualifying Connection’.  In summary, these are as follows:

One of the couple was baptised or prepared for confirmation in the parish;
One of the couple has lived in the parish for six months or more;
One of the couple has at any time regularly attended public worship in the parish for six months or more;
One of the couple’s parents has lived in the parish for six months or more in their child’s lifetime;
One of the couples parents has regularly attended public worship there for six months or more in their child’s lifetime;
If you would like to know more, or discuss the possibility of being married at the Minster, please contact the Parish Office and ask for more information.
One of the couple’s parents or grandparents were married in the parish.

Funerals

If you are reading this because you have recently been bereaved, and would like to enquire about a Funeral Service, please accept our condolences.  Please contact  the Parish Office and we will be pleased to discuss your wishes.

How to book the Minster

All bookings should be made through the Parish Office. Forms which can be downloaded using the links below should be submitted to the Parish Office with the appropriate fees. Note the Minster has not been booked until you have received confirmation from the Parish Office.

General use of the Minster
Use of the Minster for a Concert
Guided Tours
Schools Guided Tours

How to book Church House

All bookings should be made through the Parish Office. Forms which can be downloaded here should be submitted to the Parish Office with the appropriate fees. Note the Minster has not been booked until you have received confirmation from the Parish Office.

How to book the Minster Green

All bookings should be made through the Parish Office. Forms which can be downloaded here should be submitted to the Parish Office with the appropriate fees. Note the Minster has not been booked until you have received confirmation from the Parish Office

 

Forthcoming Events

Wednesday 26 April 8:30 - 9:00am
Morning Prayer

Wednesday 26 April 2:00 - 4:00pm
U3A Singing in Church House Hall NOTE CHANGE

Wednesday 26 April 7:45 - 8:15pm
Prayer Groupin Church House Lounge

Thursday 27 April 9:30 - 11:00am
Two by Two in Church House Hall

Thursday 27 April 9:30 - 10:00am
Holy Communion

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