Anglicanism is the historic branch of the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Christian Church in the English-speaking world. Christianity was first brought to the island of Britain in the first century. It flourished (athough it was not the dominant religion) among both the native Celtic population and the Roman colonists. Christian missionaries, including the British-born Patrick, also carried Christianity to Ireland and Scotland. When the Roman Empire withdrew from Britain in the fifth century, the island was invaded by pagan German tribes (including the Angles, Jutes, and Saxons), who conquered the southern part of the island and drove the Celtic Britons into Wales and Cornwall. Although Christianity presevered in these Celtic strongholds, most of what is now England was under pagan control.
At the end of the sixth century, two missions began to evangelize the Anglo-Saxons: a mission of Benedictine monks was sent from Rome under Bishop Augustine (who established his base at Canterbury in Kent) and a mission of Irish monks was sent from Iona under Bishop Aidan (who established his base in northern England). Working separately, the two missions eventually converted most of the Anglo-Saxon population to Christianity; but there was a serious rivalry between the Roman and Irish missions. Finally, in the late seventh century, Bishop Theodore (a Greek from Tarsus in Asia Minor) brought the two missions together, along with the surviving Welsh Church, into a unified Church of England.
In the mid sixteenth century, a confluence of religious and political events brought about the separation of the the Catholic Church of England from the Church on the European continent, which was itself divided into Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and protestant (Lutheran and Calvinist) factions. The services of the Church were translated from Latin to English and compiled as the Book of Common Prayer in 1549. The separation became permanent during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, and remains in effect to this date. The Church of England, together with the national and regional churches of the English speaking world and the British commonwealth became the Anglican Communion.
Christianity came to what is now the United States of America with the earliest settlers at Roanoke and Jamestown. The Anglican Church eventually flourished even in the northern colonies, which had originally been founded by religious dissenters. In 1776, the separation of the American States from the British Empire also resulted in the jurisdictional separation of the American Church from the Church of England. At the end of the Revolutionary War, Anglicans in the new United States organized themselves as the “Episcopal Church in the United States of America.” American bishops were consecrated by the Anglican bishops of Scotland and England, and an American Book of Common Prayer was compiled (based on the English book, but adopting the Communion office of the Scottish Episcopal Church).
In the second half of the twentieth century, American Anglicanism suffered a series of shocks. In the 1960s, when Bishop James A. Pike of California publicly denied the basic tenants of Christianity, a committee of his fellow bishops decided that he could not be charged with heresy because the Episcopal Church had no recognized theological standards. Then, in the 1970s, the national synod (called “General Convention”) of the Episcopal Church decided that it was free to depart from more than nineteen centuries of Christian history by admitting women to Holy Orders; at about the same time, General Convention abandoned the traditional Book of Common Prayer and substituted a new liturgical standard of its own devising. General Convention also turned its back on scriptural morality, approving abortion, euthanasia, and homosexuality as acceptable moral choices.
Following the meeting of General Convention in 1976, a number of parishes (including Saint Mary’s, Denver, and Saint Mary of the Angels’, Los Angeles) withdrew from the Episcopal Church. Later that year, at a meeting in Los Angeles, they joined together as the Diocese of the Holy Trinity, and elected the rector of Saint Mary’s, Denver, James O. Mote, to be their bishop. In 1977, a great congress of orthodox Anglicans from the United States and Canada was held at St. Louis, Missouri; the Congress adopted the Affirmation of St. Louis as its manifesto and called for a Continuing Anglican presence in North America outside of the Episcopal Church.
In January 1978, in Denver, four bishops including Bishop Mote, were consecrated in the Apostolic succession to be the chief pastors of the Anglican Church in North America; the chief consecrator was the Right Reverend Albert A. Chambers, retired bishop of Springfield, Illinois. Two years later, a constitutional synod, at which dioceses from throughout the United States were represented, adopted the name “Anglican Catholic Church.” Over the following quarter century, the original province of the ACC expanded to include eight dioceses in the United States, with additional missionary jurisdictions in the Carribean, Latin America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Southern Sudan, Haiti, and the United Kingdom. The separate Church of India (Anglican), the remnant that survived the pan-protestant amagamation in that country, joined the ACC as its second province.
Since 2001, the Most Reverend John-Charles Vockler, FODC, has been the Archbishop-Metropolitan of the Original Province of the Anglican Catholic Church. Born in Australia, Brother John Charles was originally consecrated as a bishop in that country; he was later the Bishop of Polynesia, in the Anglican Province of New Zealand. A Franciscan friar, he has lived in recent years in England and the United States, and has conducted preaching and teaching missions throughout the world.
The Anglican Catholic Church continues to worship God using the Book of Common Prayer; the 1928 American book is used in the United States, while the 1549 English, 1954 South African, 1962 Canadian, and 1963 Indian books are used elsewhere. The Anglican Catholic Church accepts the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the Word of God and as containing all things necessary to salvation; it believes and transmits the historic teaching of the Church contained in the Nicene Creed and the doctrinal decrees of the seven Ecumenical Councils; it preserves the apostolic ministry of bishops, priests, and deacons, as that ministry has been known since the earliest days of the Church; it administers the Sacraments, both the two “dominical” sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion and the five “commonly called” sacraments (Confirmation, Reconciliation of Penitents, Anointing of the Sick, Matrimony, and Holy Orders), as the Church has always done.
The Anglican Catholic Church is not a museum of relgious antiquities, but a living community of the Christian faithful, contending earnestly for the faith once delivered to the Saints.