Anglo Catholic

or High Church, or Liberal Catholic

People sometimes ask what it means to be High Church or Anglo-Catholic. Labels are always unhelpful but it can be useful, sometimes, to try to explain to people what to expect at a Church service. Different people at St. Paul’s would say different things, of course, because we are all individuals with our own thoughts and experiences.

What we have in common is this. Worship is about coming together with other Christians to meet with God and to listen to God and to have space to let the busyness and the complexity of daily life settle. The hour and a bit in Church is what makes sense of the rest of the week. Then, at the end of the service, having met with God and listened to God, we are sent out into the world to live out everything we have heard and said and shared.

We find that beauty and structure in worship helps to free us to meet with God. All Church communities are open to the guidance of the Spirit. Some find it best to be spontaneous, but at St Paul’s we find that stillness and beauty and pattern and order allow us to rest and relax and be open to God’s guidance and love. We are a traditional Church in our style of worship, which is to say that we find great depth and wealth and beauty in what we have inherited. We don’t do what has been done for centuries because it has been done for centuries but because it lives for us and speaks for us and liberates us to worship.

Anglo- Catholic simply means that we are proud to be part of the Catholic part of the Church of England. Liberal Catholic, which also fits us, means that our worship is Catholic, beautiful and timeless, and that our ethics are liberal. We engage fully and creatively with the world around us. For example, we are in favour of women Bishops and open to the remarriage of those who have been divorced.

In a sense, none of this matters at all, interesting though it is. What matters is that we are a group of Christians who come together week by week to meet with God, to be challenged and changed by God and then to go out into the world to carry the love of God, and to be a light in the world. And a group of Christians who are eager for new people to join us on our shared pilgrimage, and who will value their (your) insights and ideas and questions and experiences.