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So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Romans 10:17 (NIV)

Anglican Church

   The Anglican Church is a branch of the holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. The meaning of Anglican is to be English. The head bishop is Archbishop of Canterbury. The Anglican Church was first founded when the gospel of Jesus Christ first arrived in England in the first few centuries of Christianity. Eventually, over a period of time, the English Church became more and more isolated from the rest of the Roman Communion and became more unique. This period is known as the Celtic Christianity. The Anglicans today still look at this form of Christianity for ideas and influences. Pope Gregory the Great sent Augustine to England to re-establish connections. He became the Archbishop of Canterbury in AD597. Because of this the Anglican Church came under the Roman rule and influence. In 1507-47 the Anglican Church became the Church of England when during the reign of Henry VIII, Pope Clement VII refused to approve the annulment of Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon. The English Parliament passed a series of acts that separated the English church from Rome, at Henry VIII insistence. In 1534 the English monarch became the head of the English church. Today the Archbishop of Canterbury is the key figure head in the church. 
   What are the distinguishing beliefs and practises of the church? There are three main sources of the Anglican doctrines and are called formularies. They are the 39 Articles, the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal. They are important to the church because in the 16th Century the Anglican Church broke communion with Rome. They were no longer under the rule of the Pope. 
   The 39 Articles of faith are the key documents that define Anglicism. They include, the Trinity, the two natures of Christ, pre-destination, justification by faith, what books are in the scriptures, the sacraments etc. These Articles are not seen as a confession of faith. The Book of Common Prayer is taken from the 1662 version. No matter where you are in the church this book is the standard of practice. The Anglican Church is found in many countries and is the third largest in the world behind the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. These countries might have their own Book of Common Prayer but they all acknowledge the 1662 version as the common standard. It contains liturgies (a form or formulary according to which public religious worship, especially Christian worship, is conducted) for the Sunday Eucharist (the Christian service, ceremony, or sacrament commemorating the Last Supper, in which bread and wine are consecrated and consumed), baptism, for funerals, weddings etc. These liturgies explains what the Anglican Church believe about them. The prayer book contains a part called the Daily Office. These are prayers for every morning and evening for every day of the week and can be prayed by individuals or groups. The Ordinal is the liturgy for the ordination of deacons, priests, and bishops. It defines their role.
   Anglicism can be described as mid-way between Protestantism and Catholicism. On the Protestant side they believe in justification by faith alone and rejects from the Catholic faith, their excessive veneration of Mary. From the Catholic they believe in apostolic succession, the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist but not in transubstantiation.
  Controversies in the church include having female bishops and gay ministers.

 

WHERE ARE THEY TODAY IN THE UK?

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Source: UK Church Statistics N0.4 2021, by Peter Brierley

You can see from the graph that there has been a sharp decline in membership and ministers over a period of 120 years. It is estimated that 30 churches are closing each year. The trend shows that if this sleeping giant does not wake up, it may never wake up.

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The current Archbishop of Canterbury
Justin Welby
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First female Bishop of the Church
of England Libby Lane - 2015
The 39 Articles of Faith
The Book of  Common Prayer
Ordinal
Anglican

Baptist Church

   In 1579, Faustus Socinus founded the Unitarian Church in Poland. They taught baptism by immersion.  They fled to Holland when they were persecuted by the Polish and introduced immersion  to the Dutch Mennonites. An English man called John Smyth fled from England to Holland, and believing in full water immersion used the title Baptist in 1609. 

   Why had he fled from England? It occurred after the Protestant Reformation. This was a period of time in the 16th century when Europe was undergoing political, religious and intellectual upheavals. People like Martin Luther, John Calvin and Henry VIII challenged the authority of the Pope to decide Christian practices. It led to wars which started around 1517 and lasted till 1555. The Anglican Church broke away from the Roman Catholics but they had their own internal struggles. Many of their Christians believed they had not done enough and were disappointed. Some decided to stay with the church and try to make changes within. They were called Puritans. Those that decided to leave were called Separatists. John Smyth, while a Fellow of Christ's College, Cambridge, broke from the Church of England, formerly the Anglican Church. He became a Puritan, then a Separatist and finally a Baptist Separatist. His final days were spent with the Mennonites. He broke away from the main body of 

Separatist because they believed in infant baptism and he believed in full water immersion with a declaration. When he fled to Amsterdam, Holland, he took with him his followers and a man called Thomas Helwys. In 1609 he baptised himself and then others. Eventually Thomas Helwys took over leadership and led the group back to England in 1611. Smyth became committed to believers baptism as the only biblical baptism. He believed that infants would not be dammed should they die in infancy.

   Smyth was convinced that his self baptism was invalid and so applied to the Mennonites for membership. However, he died before it was approved. Some of his followers became Mennonites. Thomas Helwys and others kept their baptism and their Baptists commitments. The modern Baptist is the outcome of Smyth's movement. Thomas Helwys established a Baptist congregation in London in 1612. A number of churches sprung up and they were known as General Baptists. Another group called Particular Baptists were established when Calvinist Separatists adopted believers Baptisms. By 1644 the Particular Baptist created a confession of faith called the First London Confession of Faith.

   Today, membership qualification varies from church to church but basically there is a confession of faith in Jesus followed by water baptism. Most churches do not believe that water baptism is a requirement for salvation but an expression of one's inner repentance and faith. There is no age restriction on membership but the individual must be able to freely and earnestly profess their faith. What Baptist believe are common to Christian faith but they are divided into two denominations. There are the General Baptist who uphold to Arminian theology and Particular Baptist who uphold Reformed theology.

WHERE ARE THEY TODAY IN THE UK?

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Roman Catholic Church

  The term Catholic church means universal church and was first used by the church father Ignatius of Antioch in 110AD. He was also the first to use the term Christianity in 100AD. Christianity was able to spread throughout the early Roman Empire, despite persecution from the pagan state religion. It was legalised in 313 AD by Emperor Constantine and Christian practices became the state religion in 380AD.

   Both the Greek speaking Catholic Church in the East and the Latin speaking  Catholic Church in the West were one and had their roots in the early church Fathers. However, in 1054 they divided into the Latin speaking Roman Catholics in the West and the Greek speaking Orthodox Catholic in the East. This was known as the East-West Schism and was caused mainly by a dispute over the authority of the pope. The Orthodox Church has dropped the word Catholic and is now referred to as the Orthodox Church.

   The Catholic Church, often referred to as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest religious denomination in the world with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics in 2019. The head of the church is the pope, who is also known as the Vicar of Jesus Christ and successor of St. Peter.  Their seat of administration is in  Rome, Italy. It is known as the Holy See and is situated in Vatican City. What they believe is founded in the Nicene Creed. They believe that they are the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church founded by Jesus Christ in the Great Commission and that its bishops are the successors of Christ's apostles. It maintains that it practices the Original Christian faith, reserving infallibility, passed down by sacred tradition. They teach that through the consecration by a priest, the sacrificial bread and wine becomes the body and blood of Christ. They venerate the Virgin Mary in the church as Mother of God and Queen of Heaven and she is honoured in dogmas and devotions. It also teaches Divine Mercy, sanctification through faith, evangelisation of the Gospel and social teachings, which focuses on voluntary support for the sick, the poor and the afflicted. They have many Catholic schools, hospitals and orphanages around the world.

   The only Englishman to be pope was, Nicholas Breakspear, who became Pope Adrian IV, and reigned from 1154 to 1159. The Catholic church dominated religion in England for nearly 1000 years before the Protestant Reformation.

WHERE ARE THEY TODAY IN THE UK?

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The current head of the Catholic Church - Pope Francis

Baptist
Catholic
Methodist

Methodist Church

   The Methodist church came out of the established Church of England. It's followers were called non-conformists because they did not conform to the rules of the Church of England. It was founded by John Wesley, 1703-1791, a minister of the Church of England. He studied at Oxford University and met regularly to study the Bible, pray and receive Communion. They were known as the Holy Club or Methodist because of their methodical way in which they did things. Also working with him was his brother Charles Wesley and George Whitefield. 

   John Wesley began his preaching to working class men and women in Bristol in 1739. This type of preaching started a revival as thousands came to hear him preach as he went up and down the country on horseback. He formed local societies of those converted and encouraged them to meet on a weakly basis. His preaching was denounced in print and from the pulpit and his life was threatened. He insisted that the movement remained in the Church of England but they did not accept it. In 1784 he started the Yearly Conference of the People called Methodists which ensured their continuation after his death. in 1795, four years after his death, the Methodist of Britain were permitted to legally conduct weddings and perform sacraments. In 1808 a Methodist lay preacher, Hugh Barnes and 200 of his supporters broke away from the Methodist church and formed what was called the Primitive Methodists. One of their main differences was that they encouraged female evangelists. Another Methodist group called themselves the United Methodist Church. In 1932 all three groups came together and formed what is now called the Methodist Church of Britain.

   The core beliefs are that of Orthodox Christianity. Their teachings is summed up in four particular ideas known as the four alls.

All need to be saved - The doctrine of original sin.

All can be saved - Universal salvation.

All can know they are saved - Assurance.

All can be saved completely - Christian perfection.

   They believe in the Eucharist or Holy Communion and Baptism. The singing of hymns are very popular and Charles Wesley wrote many. The church is strongly opposed to drinking alcohol and gambling. In 2003 the Methodist Church made a Covenant with the Church of England.

WHERE ARE THEY TODAY IN THE UK?

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John Wesley 1703-1791

Orthodox Church

   The word Orthodox is taken from the Greek words, orthos (right) and doxa (belief). So the word orthodox means the right belief or thinking. Its beliefs and practices developed in the Eastern part of the Roman Empire and Greek was spoken. This was contrasted with the Christian Church in the West who spoke Latin. Originally the East and West Christians were united until the great scism of 1054. They were originally called the Orthodox Catholic Church, became known as the Eastern Orthodox Church and then the Orthodox Church. The church in the West became the Roman Catholic Church or Catholic Church.

   The Orthodox beliefs in God are similar to other Christians. They believe that God revealed Himself in Jesus Christ, the incarnation of Christ, his crucifixion and resurrection. However, they do differ in the way they worship and some theology. Orthodox Christians are further divided. Eastern Orthodox Churches differ from Oriental Orthodox Churches in some of their theology and some Orthodox Churches are not in communion with others. The head of the Eastern Orthodox Churches is the Patriarch of Constantinople, however, he is only equal to other Patriarchs over other Churches and have no power over them. There are in total 15 autocephalous Churches, that is churches that appoints its own head and not influence other Patriarchs or archbishops. Nine are led by Patriarchs and six by Archbishops  or Metropolitans. 

   The Orthodox Bible is similar to the Western Christian Bible but their Old Testament is not based on the Hebrew translation but on the ancient Jewish translation into Greek called the Septuagint. Their Eucharist is surrounded by the Divine Office or the Cycle of Prayer which are sung at Sunset or Dawn. One of their prayers is called the Jesus Prayer which are words that are repeated over and over again to enable the person to concentrate on God. An example is , 'Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'

   Their priest can marry but not after ordination and their bishops must remain celibate. In their confession the priest is a witness since forgiveness can only come from God and not a priest. It is done in the open and not in a confessional box like the Roman Catholic. They came to the UK in the 1920 as immigrants and established their church.

WHERE ARE THEY TODAY IN THE UK?

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St. Basil the Great 
Born around 330AD

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The liturgy of St Basil the Great is used 10 times per year

Orthodox
Pentecostal

Pentecostal Church

   Pentecostalism is a movement rather than a church. Many churches are Pentecostal in worship but do not have the name in their title. It gets its name from the Bible when on the day of Pentecost the disciples of Jesus were filled with the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. This baptism of the Holy Spirit with the speaking of unknown tongues is what makes the Pentecostal churches different from other denominations. Pentecostals believe in having an experience of God to help them live a Christian life. They believe their faith relies on experience rather than ritual or thinking. They believe fully in the Bible. They believe in full immersion water baptism and do not practice infant baptism. They believe in spiritual gifts and divine healing.

   Pentecostalism emerged in the early 20th century amongst the Wesleyan Holiness movement whose members were energised by revivalism and expectation of the imminent Second Coming of Christ, believing that they were living in the end time. Charles Parnham, an American evangelist and faith healer, taught that speaking in tongues in the Bible was evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. William Seymour, one of his students, and a Wesleyan - Holiness preacher, found and led the Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles, California. This led to the rapid growth of Pentecostalism in the US and the rest of the world. Nearly all Pentecostal denominations today will trace their root back to Azusa Street. However, their are divisions in their theology.

WHERE ARE THEY TODAY IN THE UK?

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William J Seymour
1870 - 1922

Charles Fox Parham
1870 - 1929

Presbyterian Church

   The Presbyterian church started in the Church of England during the Reformation in the 16th century, as a Puritan movement. The Church of England was governed by an episcopal system, that is by the appointment of bishops, but they wanted it to be governed by a Presbyterian system, that is by elected elders in the church. This system proposed by the Puritan Presbyterians was rejected by the Church of England. They lost their influence in the Church of England and by the end of the 18th century they only had a few congregations. Presbyterians had a revival in 18th century England when Scottish settlers arrived and organised their own congregations. In 1707, in Scotland, the Acts of Union was passed which ensured their governance. The Presbyterian Church of England, 1876, was formed. Later in a  merger in 1972, they became the United Reformed Church of England and Wales. 

   Presbyterians believe in the sovereignty of God, the authority of scriptures and the necessity of grace through Christ Jesus. Most  Presbyterians in England can trace their roots back to Scotland. It is the Scottish or Irish Scottish that took it to North America. They follow the theology of John Calvin and his successors but the more contemporary Presbyterian have a range of theological views.

WHERE ARE THEY TODAY IN THE UK?

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John Calvin
1509-1564

Presbyterian
Lutheran

Small Denomination Churches

WHERE ARE THEY TODAY IN THE UK?

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LUTHERAN CHURCH

  The name Lutheran was originally a derogatory term used against Luther. It was a Roman Catholic custom to name a heresy after its leader. Therefore, all who identified with Martin Luther were called Lutherans. Martin Luther himself preferred the name Evangelical, which in Greek means 'good news'. Lutheranism is one of the largest church formed out of the Protestant Reformation. It was founded by Martin Luther, a 16th century German Reformer whose efforts to reform the church actually launched the Protestant Reformation. His 95 Theses divided Western Christianity. During the Reformation Lutheranism became the state religion of numerous Northern European countries, especially Germany and the Nordic countries. There were two main reasons for the split from the Roman Catholic church. One was the proper source of authority in the church and the other the doctrine of justification. They believe in the doctrine of justification by 'Grace alone through faith alone on the basis of Scripture alone', the doctrine that scripture is the final authority on all matter of faith. The Roman Catholics believed, as defined at the Council of Trent, that authority came from both Scripture and Tradition. Unlike Calvinism, Lutherans retain many of the sacramental teachings of the pre - Reformation Western Church. For example, the Eucharist, or the Lords Supper.

   In England the Protestant Reformation did not follow the Lutheran pattern. Henry VIII did not support them. However, a group of theologians at the University of Cambridge was influential in supporting Lutherans. Therefore, the first Lutherans living in Britain after the Reformation were not local people, but largely foreign merchants. The first officially sanctioned Lutheran congregation, organised in 1669, received a Royal Charter in 1672 from Charles II. The congregation were mostly German. Over the years it had several transformations and the current British Lutherans were strongly influenced by the Scandinavian countries. In 1978 it became known as the Lutheran Church in Great Britain or LCiGB.

Luther's 95 Theses
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Martin Luther
1483-1546

 

THE HISTORY AND BELIEFS OF THE MESSEY CHURCH

   

The Messy Church first began in 2004 in a village called Cowplain, situated north of Waterlooville, Hampshire. There are over 2'800 Messy Churches in England and they are also in Australia, New Zealand , Canada, USA and South America. It is part of BRF (Bible Reading Fellowship) which is a charity helping people grow in faith and understanding of the Bible. BRF consists of four ministries, Anna Chaplaincy, Living Faith, Messy Church and Parenting for Faith. BRF was founded by Revd Leslie Mannering.

   They aim at people who don't already belong to a church, and they meet about once a month, maybe more.

THE HISTORY AND BELIEFS OF THE SOCIETY OF FRIENDS - QUAKERS

During the English Civil War (1642–1651) George Fox, was unhappy with the teachings of the Church of England and nonconformists. He claimed to have a revelation that "there is one, even Christ Jesus, who can speak to thy condition", and was convinced that it was possible to have a direct experience of Christ without the help of ordained clergy. He travelled around England, the Netherlands, and Barbados preaching and teaching, aiming to converting people to his faith. The central theme of his Gospel message was that Christ has come to teach his people himself. He believed that he was restoring a true, "pure" Christian church.

  In 1650 he was brought before the court for heresy and Gervase Bennet and Nathaniel Barton were the magistrates in charge. It is believed that it was here that the name Quakers was first used as an insult against him. He said to them to tremble at the word of the Lord. Quakers describe themselves as true Christians, Saints, Friends of the Truth and Children of the Light.

   Quakers numbers grew in England and Wales and peaked to around 60’000 by 1680. They were persecuted under various Acts like the Quaker Act 1662 and the Conventicle Act 1664. This persecution was eventually stopped under the Act of Toleration 1689. Those that went to America in the early 1660’s were also persecuted but the Toleration Act of 1689 was enforced there.

   Over time the Quaker movement was split into various groups. They were prominent in abolishing slavery and won a noble Peace Prize for their war relief work. In 2009 the British Quakers campaigned for same sex marriage. There are about 210’000 Quakers worldwide of which there are about 17’000 in Britain. They have 400 meetings per week and 9’000 take part in worship in Britain who are not members of the Religious Society of Friends.

THE HISTORY AND BELIEFS OF THE SALVATION ARMY

The Salvation Army (TSA) was founded by an ex Methodist preacher called William Booth and his wife Catherine in 1865. It was originally called the East London Christian Mission. He reorganised it in 1878 and formed it along a military structure. William Booth was its first General and the organisations soldiers and officers were called Salvationists.

   It is a Protestant Christian church but its theology is derived from the Methodist movement with some distinct changes. They do not celebrate Baptism or Holy Communion. Their desire is to advance the Christian religion, to relieve poverty, and achieve other charitable objects beneficial to society or the community of mankind as a whole. They have over 1.7 million members worldwide in 132 countries. Their current international leader is General Brian Peddle.

Messey
Dispora

Diaspora Church

Independent Churches and New Churches 

WHERE ARE THEY TODAY IN THE UK?

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THE HISTORY AND BELIEFS OF THE CHRISTIAN BRETHREN

   Eight Christians met in Schuarzenau, Germany in 1708. They were led by Alexander Mack who was baptised by one of them and he in turn baptised the others. They formed a church called Schuarzenau Brethren. They disagreed with the Lutheran and Reform churches and rejected established state churches, including infant baptism and Eucharistic practices. They called themselves brethren and New Baptists and suffered persecution for their stand. They re-established themselves in America in 1723 in Pennsylvania. In 1871 they adopted the name, 'The German Baptist Brethren church. 

   In the 1880's the group divided several times. The conservatives opposed musical instruments, Sunday schools, and worldly amusements. They believed in plain clothes, simple living and church discipline. The progressives focused on grace and acceptance. They promoted higher education, Sunday schools, and revivalism. The Brethren have no creed but the New Testament. However, 'The Sermon on the Mount' is there best guide.

   In the UK there are two main Brethren groups, the Open Brethren and the Exclusive Brethren. The first Brethren assembly in England was established at Plymouth in 1831. In the 1840's the Brethren split into the Open Brethren and the Exclusive Brethren. There are currently up to 16'000 Exclusive Brethren in Britain and there are about 12'000 Plymouth Brethren churches.

THE HISTORY AND BELIEFS OF THE FELLOWSHIP OF INDEPENDANT EVANGELICAL CHURCHES

      The Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches was originally called a Fellowship of Undenominational and Unattached Churches and Missions and was formed in 1922. It brought together many independent churches and mission halls that felt isolated. The FIEC defines an independent church as self-governing. It has ultimate control over its own affairs. However, the FIEC encourages independent churches to share resources or work together to further the Christian faith.

   The FIEC is led by a team of directors and the senior director is John Stevens. The FIEC support pastors and help them find a church. They currently support 69 churches in Great Britain and the Channel Islands.

THE HISTORY AND BELIEFS OF THE VINEYARD CHURCHES

      The Vineyard Church was established in the UK by John and Eleanor Mumford in 1987 after they visited John Wimber in the US. It was originally called the South West London Vineyard but became the Vineyard Church UK and Ireland or VCUKI in 1996. There are over 120 Vineyard Churches in the UK and Ireland.

THE HISTORY AND BELIEFS OF THE UNION OF WELSH INDEPENTENTS CHRISTIAN BREATHREN

     The Welsh congregational churches followed the puritan traditions. The first was formed in 1639 but later ones embraced different theological positions and therefore formed separate denominations. In 1872 a voluntary organisation of churches were formed. They co-operate through association but see themselves as independent. They meet once a year and the Union help in six areas: finance, mission, ministry, education, churches and communication. In 2006 it had 16 associations of churches, 450 congregations, 31'000 members and about 107 ministers. The worship services are primarily in Welsh.

THE HISTORY AND BELIEFS OF THE SALT AND LIGHT MINISTRIES

      It was founded by Barney Coombs, a British religious leader in the 1980's. He was also the Senior Leader at the West Coast Christian Fellowship in Vancouver, Canada. The Salt and Light network consist of neo-charismatic Evangelical Christian churches and is part of the British New Church Movement. They have various groups of churches called spheres. They are named Forge, Momentum, Taking Ground, Maximise and Advance.

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