ANGLICAN AND CATHOLIC
St. Francis, Gainesville is a parish of the Anglican Catholic Church. We are Anglican because our liturgy and spiritual heritage are derived from the Church of England. We are Catholic because we believe and practice the ancient and universal, or catholic, faith of the church.
Contrary to what some might think, the word catholic is not synonymous with Roman Catholic. The early church described itself and the faith it believed as catholic. One of the best expressions of this can be found in the famous Commonitory of St. Vincent of Lérins (fl. 430). In this work, St. Vincent states that the Catholic faith is that which has been believed quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus--everywhere, always, and by all. For the early church, the opposite of a Catholic was not a Protestant; the opposite of a Catholic was a heretic.
The essentials of the ancient and universal faith of the church, then, can be summarized under four headings: The Bible, The Creeds and Traditions, The Apostolic Ministry, and The Sacraments.
- The Bible
The early church, guided by the Holy Spirit, selected the writings that were inspired and placed them together to form the Bible. We believe that the Bible is the Word of God.
- The Creeds and Traditions
When issues of biblical interpretation arose, the church met to decide the issues under the guidance of the Holy Spirit (cf. John 16:13). These meetings are called The Ecumenical Councils. Seven councils of the undivided church were held between AD 325 and 787. They produced definitive statements of the church's faith. The teaching of the councils is summarized in the creeds. We accept the teachings of the Ecumenical Councils and the three ancient creeds: the Apostles' Creed, the Nicene Creed and the Creed of St. Athanasius.
- The Apostolic Ministry
Before the apostles died, they appointed certain men in the church to succeed them in their apostolic ministry. These men were called bishops. The New Testament also mentions elders or presbyters (who came to be known as priests) and deacons. We maintain the apostolic ministry of bishops, priests and deacons, standing in unbroken line of succession from the apostles.
- The Sacraments
The Word was made flesh in the person of Jesus Christ (John 1:1f). Jesus continues to be present to his church through visible signs called sacraments. We become members of the body of Christ through the water of baptism (Romans 6:3f., Galatians 3:27). The church gathers together each Sunday to celebrate the Lord's Supper, in which we feed on "the bread of life" (John 6:48:51). Other sacraments such as Confirmation, Confession, Matrimony, Ordination, and Holy Unction deal with various stages and states of life. We continue to administer the sacraments, through which God pledges grace to his people.
Interested in finding out more? Click the link to learn more about the relationship of the ACC to the tradition of reform.