Why attend church at all?
Coming together for worship and fellowship is crucial in our walk with Christ. Belonging to a church family and being with other Christians to experience support, love, fellowship and worship is as necessary to our well-being as food, shelter, clothing and employment. Think about it - if you only saw your spouse and children once a year, how successful would those relationships be? It is not (and has never been) easy to be a practicing Christian. We need the continual love and support of fellow believers to help us. Jesus did not die on the cross so that His message could be hidden and cherished within one person’s heart - the good news of salvation is to be shared with everyone!
What is an Anglican Church?
St John's Anglican Church is a Christian church, a part of the Anglican Church of Canada, which is part of the Anglican Communion, the worldwide body of Anglicans currently numbering nearly 70 million members in 164 countries. We are part of the Diocese of Calgary, with current Archbishop the Most Reverend Greg Kerr-Wilson, who is also the Metropolitan for the Ecclesiastical Province of Rupert's Land. The Anglican Church of Canada has its roots in the Church of England, which separated from the Roman Catholic Church in the 16th century. Influenced by the Protestant Reformation, the new English church simplified rituals and introduced the Book of Common Prayer (1549), which enabled services in English instead of Latin. At the same time, the church preserved certain traditions, including the early church creeds and the succession of bishops from the line of the apostles. Because of this history, Anglicanism is sometimes referred to as “Reformed Catholicism.” Use of a liturgy to give shape to services and prayers, and so that everyone may participate, is still a hallmark of the Anglican Church.
Anglicanism traveled abroad with British colonial expansion. In 1578, near present-day Iqaluit, NU, a chaplain celebrated the Eucharist as a member of Martin Frobisher’s Arctic expedition. This was the first Anglican Eucharist in what is now Canada, but it wasn’t until the 18th and 19th centuries that Anglicanism truly took hold, as military chaplains, Loyalists, and British immigrants fanned out and settled across the growing colony. Missionaries arrived as well, endeavouring to meet the spiritual needs of settlers and to evangelize Indigenous Peoples.
Gradually the Canadian church carved out its own identity. In 1787, Charles Inglis of Nova Scotia became the first bishop in British North America. More dioceses cohered as the population grew, and in 1893, the dioceses created the national body of General Synod. In 1955, the church changed its name from “the Church of England in the Dominion of Canada” to “the Anglican Church of Canada.”
Today the Anglican Church of Canada is an independent, self-governing church in communion with the other 44 churches of the worldwide Anglican Communion. It includes more than 500,000 members in nearly 1,700 parishes, and like Canada, the church has become culturally diverse. On any given Sunday the tradition of common prayer is expressed across Canada in many languages, including Inuktitut, French, Spanish, and Cree.
For a list of Frequently Asked Questions about the Anglican Church of Canada, click HERE!
Content on this page is adapted from and used with the kind permission of the Anglican Church of Canada, www.anglican.ca.
What can I expect at St John's?
First of all, you can expect a warm welcome and acceptance!
St John's, like most Anglican churches, uses a Liturgy in most services, a prescribed set of forms for public religious worship. Liturgy gives beauty and order to services, gives shape to our prayers and petitions, and ensures that everyone can participate in worship, even if it is his or her first time attending. Using a liturgy or prayer book is not unlike using a hymn book; it guides our worship with a unified voice.
When you attend you will notice that common prayer is an important part of how we worship together. Anglican services draw from a rich tradition of set prayers, either from the Book of Common Prayer, based on 16th century rites, or the more modern Book of Alternative Services (1985).
The Eucharist (also known as the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion) is a central part of most Sunday services. We also have other services such as morning and evening prayer, and services of thanksgiving.
Anglican services usually follow a pattern that begins with the gathering of the community, then listening to and reflecting on the Scriptures. The community then brings the needs of the world and the community to God in prayer, a general confession of sin is made, and then all baptised Christians are invited to partake in the Holy Eucharist of bread and wine, before being sent forth into the mission of daily life.
Our services follow the six seasons of the church year (Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost) and the lectionary, a set list of Bible readings for the year. To view our beautiful stained glass windows that celebrate these six seasons, click on the "Stained Glass" menu. We are currently in the season of Pentecost, which we celebrated on 25 May. Pentecost celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit to the Apostles and the gentiles (non-Jews). For information on Pentecost, click here.
Anglican worship is enhanced by the presence of symbols, including liturgical colours. Our little church contains many symbols of faith and remembrance, including many banners made lovingly by hand by the ladies of St John's Guild. Some of the most important symbols are the Altar, the Lord's table; the Cross, the symbol of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection; and candles, which remind us of the light of Christ and the fire of the Holy Spirit.
Do I have to kneel?
Many of the traditional actions of Anglican worship are the result of Roman Catholic tradition, one of which was kneeling, to indicate humbleness before God. Today we encourage people to do what they feel comfortable with, to sit, stand or kneel during prayer, as long as it honours God.