What does it mean to be Christian?
A good question! Thanks. Being Christian means many things but most simply put it is the practise of following Jesus. And what does that mean? First, biblically speaking it means believing in Christ’s resurrection (which we celebrate at Easter), his rising from the dead and that allows us as his followers to receive eternal life. Jesus’ death on the cross on Good Friday is also part of the resurrection package- that Jesus died so that we might be forgiven our sins. This is all free gift, or grace. The practise of following Jesus as a sign of our gratitude usually means worship on Sundays, participation in the sacraments (Baptism and Eucharist, or Communion), learning to pray, reading and understanding Jesus’ message (study of the Bible) and practising what we have learned. It means too that we serve humanity and care for God’s creation.
What do we believe in?
The above! Or put it another way Christians generally assent to believe in the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit; also often referred to as God the Creator, God the Redeemer and God the Sustainer.
What makes us Anglican?
Another good question! The Anglican tradition emerged from the Protestant Reformation, which began with Martin Luther in Germany in 1517 as a reaction to the abuses of the institutional church of the day. The English version of the reformation emerged some 30 years later and became known as Anglicanism. And then we produced the English classic, the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) in 1542. The author’s intention (Thomas Cramner, later beheaded by Henry VIII for heresy) was that all of England would be the peaceable Kingdom envisioned by Jesus and the Bible. Didn’t quite work out that way, but it was a good thought.
So the hallmarks of Anglicanism are centred on prayer through the BCP, scripture study, sacraments, preaching and a wonderful blend on Sunday morning of the meaningful Roman Catholic rituals (you can define meaningful!) and Protestant sensibilities (also for you to define!).
We are Anglicans by the way we organize ourselves. Bishops, priest, deacons and people all make up the community, some in leadership capacity, all carrying out the work of God into the community of Parkdale.
What’s unique about Epiphany and St. Mark?
So I think what is unique is our tradition is ‘Anglo-Catholic,’ which means meaningful ritual. However it is definitely not stuffy and starting the fall of 2013 we are introducing a variety of musical styles to complement the tradition, such as jazz, contemporary and Caribbean steel pan.
What is also unique is the vibrancy and genuine warmth of the congregation. These folks, as one visitor recently put it, ‘are here to be spiritually alive, there is no passive Christianity here.’ And this community is as open and diverse as any in the city: multi-ethnic, inclusive of orientation, rich, street person, young, teen, old, the got-it-together folks and those who struggle with mental illness- all here and we happily look out for each other. All are here and call this church home.
Finally, this neighbourhood is so unique. And Epiphany and St. Mark has reflected the evolution of the neighbourhood and will continue to do so. In the late 1800’s it was a wealthy neighbourhood, but by the 1960’s it was less so, and the Victorian mansions became rooming houses. Apartment buildings went up and new immigrants arrived. Artists moved in 80’s and 90’s, then in the new millennium some of the Victorians were renovated back to single family homes. Further lofts were made out of warehouses and condo development has come in. The church likewise began with well-healed support, welcomed an influx of people from the eastern Caribbean, expanded its ministry to the urban poor and street people and now welcomes artists, single families and condo-dwellers. If you are looking for a neighbourhood church, this is it!
Why Should I come to Epiphany and St Mark?
You should come if you are not sure what you believe, if you are looking for a community, if you know what you believe, if you want to get closer to God, and importantly, if you want to express your faith in God in action. In some sense we are a re-boot. We are in the process of re-imagining the shape of ministry and are looking for all people to be participants in ways that make sense for them. We are encouraging all to be involved in rebuilding and reshaping the ministry of the church to meet the needs of contemporary culture.
What is/why do you take communion?
Communion, Holy Communion, Eucharist or Holy Eucharist (different names for the same thing) is the act of receiving the bread and wine toward the end of the worship service. Jesus instituted this rich spiritual act at the Last Supper, the night before he was crucified on the cross. We participate in this sacrament weekly in response to Jesus command “Whenever you gather, do this in remembrance of me.”
Got a question not answered? Email Fr. Stephen at firstname.lastname@example.org