About the Anglican Catholic Church
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The Beginning of the ACC
In 1977, following increasing liberalisation of member churches of the Anglican Communion, an international congress of nearly 2,000 Anglican bishops, clergy and lay people met in St. Louis, Missouri.
As a result of this meeting "The Affirmation of St Louis" was issued. You may fiind this document (in pdf format) by clicking on the button below, which will take you to our Resources Page.
In addition many of those present placed themselves under the jurisdiction of the retired bishop of Springfield, Illinois, the Right Reverend Albert Chambers. In October 1978 the Church adopted the name 'ANGLICAN CATHOLIC CHURCH'. The ACC has a presence in North, Central and South America, Africa, Australia and New Zealand and in India you will find the Second Province of the ACC. (Click on the Map above to see the ACC world wide).
Diocese of the United Kingdom
In 1992 the Diocese of the United Kingdom was formally established after the Church of England broke with catholic faith and tradition by admitting women to the priesthood. In August 1992 The Right Revd Leslie Hamlett was consecrated as the first Bishop Ordinary for the Diocese, in 1997 Bishop Hamlett left the ACC.
On 20th September 2008 Father Damien Mead, who was Vicar General, was consecrated as 2nd Bishop Ordinary.
The Succession of Bishops in the Anglican Catholic Church can be traced here:
The Bishop is assisted in the administration of the Diocese by his Council of Advice which is appointed annually at the Diocesan Synod. The Diocese of the United Kingdom is divided into two Deaneries; North and South and each has a Dean appointed by the Bishop for a three year term. In addition the Diocese also has an Arcdeacon who is, after the Bishop, the senior clergyman, also appointed for a three year term.
Diocesan Bishops 1992 - 1997 & 2008 -
Our Episcopal Visitors 1997 - 2008
From 1997 until 2008 the Diocese of the United Kingdom was looked after by Episcopal Visitors appointed by the Archbishop of the Original Province from Bishops overseas. (pictured above)
Why Anglican & Catholic?
The Anglican Catholic Church is Anglican, which means 'English'. In other words, we are Christians who have an English liturgical and theological heritage and a spiritual heritage and an ancestral connection to the Church in England. The Anglican Catholic Church is Catholic, because it accepts the doctrine of the ancient Church, which has been "believed everywhere, always, and by all".
But aren't you Protestants?
The terms 'Protestant' and 'Catholic' are often used and very often misunderstood!
Firstly one must understand that to be 'Catholic' one doesn't necessarily have to be 'Roman' Catholic despite what some in the Roman Church may claim. The Orthodox Churches of the East and in other places are Catholic Churches but not in communion with the Pope. The term protestant is equally often misunderstood.
The Catholic Church of England separated from the Roman Catholic Church during the sixteenth century. However, although a Protestant Reformation was taking place on the Continent the English Reformation was fundamentally different in nature and intention. Primarily the reasons for its formation were political. King Henry VIII, whilst wanting to be independent of Rome, was not a Protestant in intention, although his reasons for separation were not especially honourable.
Of course there are Anglicans who have wanted to be Protestant (in the way that continental reformers meant), just as there are Anglicans who want complete union with Rome. However, the Church of England was not formed in the same way as the Continental Protestant Churches. The Continental Reformation was primarily German, under the leadership of Martin Luther; French, under John Calvin and Swiss, under Ulrich Zwingli. The Continental Reformers accepted the principle called Sola Scriptura, that is, Scripture alone as the basis for faith and practice. However, the English Reformers appealed to Scripture as interpreted by the ancient Church, especially through the Seven Ecumenical Councils of the Undivided Church. The Continental Reformers also almost unanimously rejected or dropped the principle of apostolic succession. That is, bishops, by virtue of their consecration, being successors of the apostles, tracing a straight link back to them through history. But the English Reformation retained apostolic succession.
Since the Continental Reformers rejected the apostolic succession of bishops and indeed developed a different understanding of the priesthood, they lost a 'valid' ordained priesthood. But at the English Reformation, the Church of England deliberately retained the title 'priest', because it contained a real truth and intention. Christ is the perfect priest. The Church is His body. The organ of a priestly body cannot be less than priestly.
The Church of England maintained its apostolic ministry of bishops, priests and deacons. Its form of worship, though translated into English and somewhat reformed, nonetheless stood in continuity with the Church's historical worship. The goal of the English Reformation was to reform the practice of the Church and return to the ancient and Catholic faith of the Undivided Church.
(Click on the individual pictures for information about each notable Anglican)
From the time of Henry VIII there has always been a theological position within Anglicanism which has sought to stress the continuing Catholic nature of the Church of England. Through the reign of his daughter Elizabeth I this was championed by the Elizabethan divine, Richard Hooker. Then later by Archbishop Laud and the Caroline divines including George Herbert and Lancelot Andrews (pictured above), up to the time of the Oxford Movement, Tractarians, and the Anglo-Catholic Congresses, notables include John Henry Newman, Edward Bouverie Pusey, John Keble and John Mason Neale (pictured below).
What do Anglican Catholics believe?
The Anglican Catholic Church accepts the teachings of the Undivided Church, the Church of the first millennium of Church history. From the Day of Pentecost, when the Church was born, to the Great Schism in A.D. 1054, the Church was truly Catholic: one in faith and doctrine, even though there were differences between the way Eastern and Western Churches worshipped. Therefore, the Anglican Catholic Church claims, in essence, to be both an English Catholic Church and a Western Orthodox Church.
The Anglican Catholic Church is part of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, faithfully continuing the English Catholic tradition. We practice and uphold the historic Catholic Faith, with Apostolic Order, Orthodox Worship, and Evangelical Witness.
We believe that there is one true and eternal God in Holy Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, without any difference or inequality, Consubstantial, Undivided and of one Essence in Three Divine Persons through whom all that is, was and ever shall be, was created and has its being.
We believe that Jesus Christ is the unique and final revelation of the Person and Purpose of God, in whom alone is the fullness of God's truth and grace, and that there is no other through whom salvation may be obtained.
Holy Scripture, Holy Tradition & the Holy Spirit
We believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be Inspired by the Holy Ghost as the authentic record of the revelation of God, and as conveying His saving Word to us. We believe in the holy Tradition of the Church as set forth by the ancient catholic bishops and doctors, as defined by the Seven Ecumenical Councils of the undivided Church.
We believe that the Holy Spirit gives life to and inspires and guides the Church.
We believe in Seven Sacraments
We believe in the Seven Sacraments as outward, visible symbols of the inward, spiritual Grace, Presence and working of our Lord Jesus Christ. In accordance with the faith and practice of Holy Mother Church, We declare these Sacraments to be:
Baptism, whereby the forgiveness of sins and new life in Christ and membership into His Mystical Body the Church is proclaimed and that this sacrament is necessary for Salvation.
Confirmation as the "seal of the Holy Spirit" in completion of Baptism.
The Mass, as the sacrifice whereby our Lord, Jesus Christ, unites us to His all-sufficient Sacrifice, once made, to bestow on us "remission of sins, and all other benefits of His Passion", whereby He is truly present under the forms of bread and wine, and gives Himself to us in His Body and Blood, to be our heavenly food and to unite us to Himself and to all in His Sacred Body the Church.
Holy Matrimony, which is a mystical bond of one man and one woman together in lifelong commitment and unity.
Holy Orders, which is the perpetuation of the sacred and apostolic ministry in accordance with the will of Christ established for the Government of His Church as the ministers of His Gospel and Sacraments; and that the three orders of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons by Christ's institution are to be confined to the male sex; and that Bishops alone possess the fullness of apostolic authority as Overseers of the faithful and conveyers of Holy Orders.
Confession, through which the faithful are called to conversion of life, confession of sins and reconciliation with God, and through which we are called to forgive others.
Holy Unction, whereby the healing power and consolation of God is specifically bestowed upon the faithful who are sick in body, mind or soul.
The Communion of Saints
We believe in the Communion of Saints, which is the blessed company of all faithful people both living and departed.
Traditionally the Universal Church has been considered to comprise of the Church Triumphant (those Christians who are in Heaven), The Church Militant (those Christians who are living) and the Church at Rest (Those Christians who are dead but who are not yet in Heaven).
Furthermore we believe that the Blessed Virgin Mary is the Mother of our Lord and God Jesus Christ, and that she is preeminent above all others as the first-fruits of those who are saved by Him.
The prayers of the saints in heaven assist the faithful on earth according to the Revelation of St John (Revelation 5:8 and 8:3-4 in the light of 6:9-11). The Saints are not to be given worship or adoration that belongs to God alone, but their prayers support Christians on earth just as the prayers of Christians on earth support one another in prayer).
Sanctity of Human Life
We believe in the sanctity of human life; that life begins at the moment of conception; and that the willful taking of that life in the womb by abortion to be a grave sin.
Furthermore we believe that the wilful, intentional, and direct taking of any innocent human life is murder, whether disguised as "euthanasia", "mercy-killing" or "assisted suicide".
We believe that all men will appear before Our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the ultimate Judge and Ruler of all Mankind to receive the due recompense of their faith and works.
But didn't the Pope declare Anglican Holy Orders null and void?
In response to Pope Leo XIII's Apostolicae Curae of 1896, which declared the Anglican apostolic succession invalid, the Anglican Archbishops of Canterbury, Frederick Temple and York, William D Maclagan, (pictured above) made an official response, Saepius Officio, stating that there is an unbroken apostolic succession in the Anglican priesthood, and that the historical episcopate has been in the British Isles from the earliest days of the Church.
However, the Roman Catholic Church maintains that this apostolic succession was broken by the use of the Ordination Rite of King Edward VI, which deletes all reference to the central priestly function and was deliberately designed to contain no indication of the "fullness of the ministry", specific tasks of the Catholic bishop or the "high priesthood", which the Holy See considers essential. The Romans assume that their point of view, based on Late Medieval sacramental theory, is valid for all periods of church history.
In their refutation the Archbishops pointed out, amongst other matters, that no such priestly functions or sacramental theology were evident in the Papal ordination rites of the 9th and 10th centuries, which would render their ordinations invalid as well, using the same criteria aimed at the Anglicans.
Apostolic Succession in the Anglican Catholic Church
What about the authority of the Pope?
Since we have stated that the Anglican Catholic Church is not a 'Roman' but an 'English' Catholic Church it will come as no surprise that we do not consider ourselves to be under the Bishop of Rome's 'Universal Jurisdiction'. Again our position is comparable to the practice of the Undivided Church. Furthermore the Pope claims to be infallible in certain matters. Anglican Catholics believe in infallibility, but they believe that it is found not within the Office of the Pope, but within the Church itself, and that this is best expressed when it is acting as an undivided unity through the medium of the Ecumenical Councils. But since A.D. 1054 this hasn't happened. As a result the pronouncements and decisions of Church Council's within the Roman Catholic Church, such as the Council of Trent, Vatican I and Vatican II are not considered to have the same authority.
We do however recognise and give due honour to the Pope as Bishop of Rome and as Patriarch of the West on the ancient principle of primus inter pares. He is the 'first among equals' in the episcopate and has a special role and responsibility because of this.
Recently there has been much in the media about Rome's Offer to receive Former Anglicans into the Roman Catholic Church. Please click on the link below to read the ACC's Response to this offer.
What are 'Continuing' Anglicans?
There are several present-day bodies, often described collectively as 'Continuing Anglicans' or the 'Anglican Continuum', some which claim and some which do not claim (or possess) descent from the 1977 Congress of St Louis. However, we believe that, strictly speaking, it is only within the Anglican Catholic Church (ACC), The Anglican Province of Christ the King (APCK), and The United Episcopal Church of North America (UECNA) that one finds the 'legitimate' continuation of traditional Anglican Catholicism.
These three all share a common origin, stemming from the same apostolic succession - via The Right Revd Albert Chambers and bear the same responsibility for preserving apostolic order and for being custodians of faith and morals as envisaged by the Congress of St Louis. A recent, exciting development, in terms of Church unity, is a reaffirmation of the mutual recognition and inter-communion between these jurisdictions.
As you will see from this website, at the time of writing the Diocese of the United Kingdom has only a small number of Parishes and Missions. In the Anglican Catholic Church there are a number of different Liturgies (Orders of Service) for celebrating Holy Communion.
The Book of Common Prayer (BCP) is used for the Daily Offices of Morning and Evening Prayer. The Order for Holy Communion (Commonly called 'The Mass') is from either the 'English Missal' or the 'Anglican Missal'. The Order in the 'English Missal' uses the Eucharistic Prayer known as the 'Gregorian (or sometimes called the 'Roman') Canon'. The Anglican Missal may be found to be celebrated with either the '1549 BCP Canon', the 'American 1928 BCP Canon' or the 'Gregorian Canon'.
All of our services are conducted in 'traditional english' and the liturgical readings from Holy Scripture are taken from the Authorised (King James) Version of the Bible. Hymns are sung at some of our services and these are usually taken from the English Hymnal.
Sometimes our liturgical use in this Diocese - being predominantly 'High Church' or 'Anglo Catholic', is suggested to be off putting to those who come from a more 'middle of the road' or from a 'Low Church' Anglican liturgical tradition.
It would be true to say that we are representitive of the people who have taken the step to commit themselves and join us. We are, however, very much open to the establishment of new Missions using other ACC authorised liturgies in the Diocese.
It is our faith that unites us and if you share that faith, or seek to, you are welcome.
To all, and especially those of you who having waded through this page of text, we extend a hand of friendship and Christian Love and offer you an alternative - Please consider seriously the challenges presented to you and we hope that you will join us.
Join us ...
In the ACC we have the essentials. We have, as the Affirmation of St Louis puts it, Orthodox Catholic Faith, Orthodox Anglican Worship, Apostolic Catholic Order in order to grow we need also Evangelical Witness.