Despite being the third-largest Christian denomination in the world with an estimated 80 million members (that’s more than the populations of Portugal, Sweden, Ecuador, Switzerland, Serbia, Estonia, Belize, and Canada combined), many Americans have never heard of the Anglican Church.
In part this is because American Anglicans have usually gone by another name: Episcopalians, which when said slowly, sounds like a group of extra-terrestrials specialized in performing ghastly medical procedures. It really just means that the leaders of the church are bishops (episkopoi in greek) that can trace their succession back to the twelve apostles.
The reason for the name change involves a little thing called the American Revolution. This prompted a mess of awkwardness, as the British monarch’s title happens to be “Supreme Governor of the Church of England”. Bad feelings between the Episcopal Church and the rest of the Anglican Communion resolved themselves eventually.
…that is until a more recent awkward story involving not a little heresy, a half-dozen African nations, and the revival of the label “Anglican” to connote orthodoxy.
Anyhow, one shouldn’t know about Anglicans just because there is a lot of us – Anglicans have made amazing contributions to the Church throughout history.
Can you quote the original King James Bible? … compiled by Anglicans. Did you or a friend take the Alpha Course? … produced by Anglican priests. Have you vowed, “till death do us part”? … from the original Anglican marriage rite. Want America to return to the faith of the Founding Fathers? …most were Anglicans. Fan of the Chronicles of Narnia? … C.S. Lewis was – you guessed it – an Anglican.
In spite of all this, conversations tend to follow the same basic pattern:
“What kind of Church do you go to?”
“Well, it’s an Anglican Church.”
“What is it?
…blank stare… “Do you eat the blood of pigs?”
Just kidding, that last part only happened once.
And when our Church ordered a projector from a Christian office supply company, the customer service person never could pronounce it right.
It is silly, and makes for a good awkward Anglican moment, but honestly prior to meeting Anglicans I was just as clueless.
My point in bringing this up is not to piss and moan about being unrecognized. Rather, the true awkwardness lies in the Body of Christ being uninterested in, or just unaware of brothers and sisters that don’t denominationally look, sound, or smell like them.
We may not have to agree on worship styles or how to conduct a Sunday morning celebration, but we do assemble weekly to glorify the same God.
“ For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body…and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” 1 Corinthians 12:13
If we’re part of the Body of Christ, we should know who else is part of it too.