Who are Anglicans and what is the Anglican Church?
The Anglican Church in Sydney is a network of Christian congregations where people from all backgrounds are introduced to Jesus Christ and live out what it means to follow him. The Bible is at the centre of our lives together and our message to the world because it is the word of God, given to us by the Spirit of God and pointing us to Jesus, the Son of God. It teaches us who he is, what he has done and how we should respond in repentance and faith.
Read on for more about Anglicans in Sydney and Wollongong.
Anglican churches around the world grew out of the Church of England and the word ‘Anglican’ derives from the word used to describe the people who settled England in about the middle of the first millennium. The Church of England as a distinct entity arose at the time of the Reformation in the sixteenth century, associated with figures such as Martin Luther, John Calvin and Thomas Cranmer. King Henry VIII, for his own reasons, had a large part in establishing it. The foundation documents from that period, the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer, the Ordinal and the Homilies, all continue to play an important role in Anglican identity under the final authority of the Bible.
Missionaries from England brought the gospel of Jesus to many parts of the world and that missionary work continues today through organisations such as the Church Missionary Society. Anglican churches were established throughout Africa, the Americas, Asia and South America. Christianity came to Australia through the chaplain of the first fleet, the Rev Richard Johnson, who was a minister in the Church of England and established the first Anglican Church on Australian soil in Sydney. Old ties to the Church of England and its Archbishop in Canterbury have now devolved into relationships much like the Commonwealth of Nations. The Anglican churches in various areas throughout the world, known as Provinces (divided into Dioceses), govern their own affairs and are linked by bonds of fellowship. Worldwide organisations such as the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) and the Global South connect provinces for mutual support and mission.
The Diocese of Sydney is led by the Archbishop, assisted by the regional bishops, and governed by the Synod (a kind of parliament). Each parish is led by a rector and may employ various ministers both clergy and lay people.
As well as churches, the Diocese has established its own theological college, Moore Theological College, and a specialist youth and children ministry training centre, Youthworks College. A number of other organisations bear the Anglican name such as schools and colleges. As well, organisations such as Anglicare run not-for-profit services like retirement villages, op-shops and food distribution and the Archbishop of Sydney’s Anglican Aid works to help the disadvantaged in dozens of countries.
Churches teach Special Religious Education in schools, for those families who choose to have their children learn about Christian faith.
All ministry takes place under strict policies governing professional standards of behaviour and seeking especially to protect and safeguard children and vulnerable people, collectively known as Safe Ministry standards.
As a Diocese, we have a particular concern for ministry to the indigenous people of Australia, to whom our God gave traditional custodianship of this land. Much of this work is coordinated by the Sydney Anglican Indigenous Ministry Committee.
What are the beliefs of the Anglican Church in Sydney?
The God who made all things has demonstrated his love and commitment to all people in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. All of us, inside and outside of the churches, have lived for ourselves (that’s why the Bible calls us all sinners). ‘All have sinned and falls short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23). Yet God has made forgiveness and a fresh relationship with him available to all people who will turn to Jesus in faith and as a result live according to his word. ‘But God who is rich in mercy … made us alive together with Christ. By grace you have been saved.’ (Ephesians 2:4–5) This is the central teaching of the Christian faith.
It is because all people share this need to be forgiven that our churches are open to everyone.
You can investigate what the Bible teaches about God, his Son Jesus and our need for a relationship with him by visiting sydneyanglicans.net/more.
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The Bible as our guide:
We have not been left to stumble around in the dark and try to find our own way in life. The God who made us wants us to know him and enjoy a relationship with him. He has given us his word, spoken to and through the prophets and apostles but ultimately through his Son, Jesus Christ. The coherent message of the Bible, from Genesis through to Revelation, is about God’s extraordinary love for his creation that triumphs over all evil, both within us and outside of us. Everything in the Bible points to that moment when God’s own Son enters the world to live the perfect life none of us have ever been able to live and to die the death that we deserve so we could be forgiven and free. It is the Bible, then, which is “able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” and direct us in life as forgiven people (2 Timothy 3:15–17). This is why the Bible is at the centre of life together in our churches. This is how we learn of God and his good and generous will for our lives.
Can anyone be forgiven?
The gospel of Jesus Christ is a message of forgiveness and new life as well as a summons to repentance and faith (Mark 1:15). The first disciples were commissioned to take this message to all nations until the end of the age (Matt. 28:19–20). In him we are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). Our lives have been entirely turned around.” By God's grace we are 'in Christ Jesus' (1 Corinthians 1:30), which means our identity is to be found in him. People from all nations and all backgrounds are united as forgiven people who now live for Jesus. We are liberated from our attempts to construct our identity and protect our own interests. The gospel does not do away with race or gender but transcends them as we are brought together as one in Christ (Galatians 3:28). Women, men and those of all nations are brought together as saved people. None of us has a privileged status before God since the basis of our standing before him is for all of us the forgiveness that Jesus made available through his death and resurrection (Romans 3:23–24). This forgiveness stretches out into a future hope, the promise of a day when all dissonance, frustration and distress will be gone forever (Revelation 21:4). Life in the interim is one of following Jesus and becoming more and more like him in the fellowship of his people (2 Corinthians 3:18). The forgiveness of Jesus is a continuing reality as each one of us continues to stumble and sin (1 John 1:8–9) and so is the call to repent, to deliberately turn away from the attitudes and behaviours which made forgiveness necessary in the first place 2 Peter 3:9).
What do you believe about our world?
Life in the universe is not the result of chance or impersonal forces. It is the result of the deliberate and loving activity of God who created all things. In particular, God created human life and loves all people (Genesis 1:27; Deuteronomy 10:18; John 3:16). Since he created all human beings in his image, his pattern for human life is good for all people, whether or not they have placed their trust in Christ (Matthew 5:43–45; Luke 6:35–36). The world in which we live is broken and convulsing because of human attempts to live independently and apart from God. This effects human relationships too. Yet Christians are called to do good to all people (Galatians 6:9–10), which includes encouraging them to embrace God’s pattern for human wholeness and sharing with them the good news of the Saviour through whom he will make all things new (Revelation 21:5). Christians are realistic about the state of the world, and our part in making it what it is, but it is a realism that is surrounded by hope.
What do you believe about human creation and relationships?
The Bible teaches us that God is the Creator of all things (Genesis 1:1; Hebrews 11:3) and that human beings are created in his image (Genesis 1:26), according to his design through and for his beloved Son, Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:16). All human beings receive their existence as a gift of God. We are creatures who are not able to create ourselves. We are always accountable to our Creator for the way we use what he has given to us (2 Corinthians 5:10; Hebrews 4:13). From the beginning, God created humanity in the form of two biological sexes – male and female (Genesis 1:26-27; Matthew 19:4).
Like the rest of creation, human nature was damaged and distorted as a result of the sin of the first man and woman, but not destroyed by it (Genesis 3:21-22; Romans 1:18-32; 8:19-23). All people continue to be made in the image of God as male or female, though they fall short of the glory of God (Genesis 5:1-2; 9:6; James 3:9; Rom 3:23). But this has impacted every facet of our human nature, including our biology and psychology. The normative relationship between biological sex and gender is disrupted in various ways, but not rendered void or irrelevant. Our gender identity is not simply a social construct. Jesus spoke of how ‘from the beginning God made them male and female’ (Matthew 19:4–6).
How do we live in a fractured world?
God is good, loving and just. He doesn’t turn a blind eye to injustice, suffering and sin. He has told us what we need to know as we live in the world we have and await that day when all things will be made new (Revelation 21:5; 2 Peter 3:13). His word is good and living in the way he directs brings the most benefit for us and the communities in which we live. God’s own sacrificial love in Jesus ought to characterise our lives. So too his concern that truth and righteousness be valued and protected. How we treat each other matters to God, in every context in which we encounter each other. The Bible provides us with the guidance we need to live rightly and lovingly in God’s world.
The Christian attitude towards marriage fits into this context. God’s design for marriage is clear. It is taught throughout the Bible and found on the lips of Jesus (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:4). When people turn aside from it there is inevitable hurt and harm. The exclusive life-long sexual bond of a man and a woman is an important part of God’s purposes. It uniquely reflects the relationship of God and his church (Eph. 5:32). The mutual love and intrinsic complementarity of the man and the woman is, in our world, not immune from the ravages of sin and selfishness, but it is still the proper context in which children are nurtured and the welfare of each other and the wider community is pursued.
What can I expect in church?
Anglican Christians assemble today in many different places and at many different times—from Sunday gatherings to small group meetings in homes to informal gatherings around a hospital bed. Some take place using classical Anglican forms, other may be more relaxed and spontaneous. Yet what is characteristic of each Anglican gathering is a sense that we are meeting with each other, around God’s word, in God’s presence and with a concern for God’s glory. So in each gathering the Bible will be opened (read and taught) and we respond with prayer and thanksgiving. Throughout our history, Anglican church meetings have been shaped by a distinctively biblical view of the gospel and the Christian life in which hearing the word of God and responding in repentance and faith, thanksgiving and prayer, are central features. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus lies at the heart of our common identity and so of our church gatherings. “Church” is not a performance but a common activity of the people of God, where the gifts each have been given for the welfare of the whole are exercised in love. Our clergy are not intercessors, somehow standing between God and the congregation. We have only one mediator, Jesus Christ. Rather they are God’s gifts to the congregation, using their gifts of teaching and pastoral care to encourage us to live in faith, love and hope in the light of what has been done for and in the hope of what lies ahead for us.
What is the vision of the church for Sydney?
Our vision is to see Christ honoured as Lord and Saviour in every community. We adopted this vision more than five years ago as a helpful reminder of the Lordship of Jesus Christ and his unchanging commission to make disciples of all nations. The mission statement says:
We commit ourselves afresh, in prayerful dependence on the Holy Spirit, to glorify God and love our neighbour by proclaiming the Lord Jesus Christ, calling people to repent and living lives worthy of him.