A Non-Conformist in an Anglican Church

Since we came to live in High Wycombe, Sue and I have been worshipping at Christ Church in Flackwell Heath.  We initially started going there because we have a few friends who are involved in the Church (we were at Bible college with the vicar). This is the first time I have regularly worshipped at an Anglican church and I thought that I’d put down a few of my thoughts about the experience.

Firstly, I have to say that I am enjoying the more liturgical style of worship. It is a personal thing, but I like to know where a church service is going. The old hymn-sandwich was great for me, as I knew what to expect at each point. The newer non-conformist style of mixing things up leaves me rather confused. Having a liturgy means that at any point in the service I have an idea of what we are doing and where we are going – I rather like that.

I also enjoy the participatory aspect of the liturgy. I’m not a great sitter and listener, and being able to join in with the prayers and creed.

I have to admit that I hate the peace and at the same time think it is excellent. Forcing me to greet the people around me, makes me feel very uncomfortable, but I need to be pushed out of my comofort zone. For English people who do not easily meet and greet strangers (or even friends), it is good to have a part of the service which makes us get to know one another.

The services at Christ Church are not ‘sermon based’ the way that I have grown used to in other contexts. At times, I do miss the rigour and discipline of consecutive biblical exposition. However, I find that having the liturgy and communion at the centre of the service to be very inspiring.

That being said, I find wandering up to the front of the church and taking communion from clergy who are seperated from the rest of the congregation by a barrier to be very off putting. At root, I am a theological non-conformist and I believe strongly in the priesthood of all believers.  I just simply can’t accept anything that makes such a strong distinction between the clergy and laity.

The bottom line is that there are some things that will stop me ever being an Anglican.  I’m not keen on the idea of an established church and I don’t like a strong laity clergy divide. On the other hand, I thoroughly enjoy the services at Christ Church and at this point in my life it is doing me good, so I’ll put my reservations on hold and carry on benefitting from meeting God’s people at Christ Church whenever I’m not preaching elsewhere. I’ll let Sue comment for herself if she wants to.

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2 thoughts on “A Non-Conformist in an Anglican Church

  1. Thanks for being so honest, Eddie. I accept that your reservations are alive and well, and you make a good positive case for your present situation.

    But as you’ve brought the subject up, I’d like to float what I have felt for years: that there is an element of social aspiration – maybe even without them being conscious of it – in the transfer of some people from chapel (or hall) to church. And then there is advancing age (or the generation gap), that can make a less demanding environment seem attractive. Any thoughts out three in cukouyaland?

  2. hi, also from non-conformist background (URC) but with happy memories of “C of E” from past and now part of… as a brownie enjoyed church parade in quite a high anglican church in weston green, surrey..hearing choir singing “Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world, have mercy on us”, then at uni, joining students in final year going for tea at vicarage then trooping down to Walcot, Bath where one of the most “holy” vicars (Phil Myatt), whose face seemed to reflect something of the glory of Jesus, preached (on stuff like David Watson’s book Discipleship, and the Baptism in the Holy Spirit); and then joining a group formed from Ditton Fellowship (charismatic) and Anglicans from Oxshott/ Claygate, which became Esher Green Baptist…this all interspersed with “house church/ community church/ newfrontiers”, and finally in soul survivor…minimal litergy but some aspects eg on baptism that raise questions.. Communion from front ok, as I guess, we’re not only participating as family (where sitting in groups is nice) but also approaching God and the healing inherent in the taking of the bread and wine..

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