As a Diocese in the Anglican tradition, C4SO is founded upon the way of life commended to us by Jesus, the example of the Apostle Paul, and the missional heritage of Thomas Cranmer, leader of the English Reformation and Archbishop of Canterbury.
C4SO seeks to follow and extend the following historical path:
- Jesus said: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in [my] way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you.” (Mt. 28, The Message)
- Paul did this with the missional/contextual heart we seek to emulate: “I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!” (1 Cor. 9, The Message)
- Cranmer was clear about his intent: In keeping with Jesus and Paul, he sought to disciple his nation. He was a deeply spiritual leader and a seriously intellectual follower of Jesus who, knowing he was alive at a key moment in history, was a man of his times, trying to disciple his nation to an orthodox heart-religion of following Jesus. He did so by articulating a clear and distinctive theology expressed in the 39 Articles of Confession and The Homilies. He then set to prayer the theology of the Anglican Reformation, giving the church the invaluable gift of the Book of Common Prayer. The BCP edified the hearts, minds and spirits of a nation, stirring them to both love and gratitude that then found expression in good works.
Cranmer’s liturgy provided a vocabulary for prayer and worship whereby followers of Christ might deepen and mature in their faith and in evangelism. It is this precise intent that gave rise to what we now think of as Anglican history, liturgical and sacramental worship, beliefs and practice.
Cranmer’s missional genius was that he understood that people come to Christ best when Christ is presented to them in their heart language. Cranmer bet his life and the future of the Anglican Church on creating a liturgy in English, in the language of the common man and woman. Cranmer was concerned that his flock didn’t understand Latin, that they couldn’t profit from it; that at best they heard with theyr eares onely; and their hartes, spirite, and minde, have not been edified thereby.
As we reflect on and embody this Cranmerian ethos, we too seek to make disciples across North America by continually learning the language and culture of our times. The best way for C4SO to stay on the path created by Jesus, Paul and Cranmer is to implement what he wrote in the preface to his first version of The Book of Common Prayer: “It is a most invaluable part of that blessed ‘liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free,’ that in his worship different forms and usages may without offense be allowed, provided the substance of the Faith be kept entire…[that] by common consent and authority [this prayer book], may be altered, abridged, enlarged, amended, or otherwise disposed of, as may seem most convenient for the edification of the people, according to the various exigency of times and occasions” (Emphasis added).
Doing ministry in alignment with the history above, the Anglican Church has a rich tradition of making disciples around the world and now boasts some 85 million members worldwide. Anglican churches are part of what is called the Anglican Communion made up of 38 global member Provinces.