St. Luke's Orthodox Anglican Church:
Traditional Service from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer
In 2014 Reverend Billy Graham, the most famous evangelical pastor in the world today, made a startling statement. He said that if he had it all to do over again he would have become an "evangelical Anglican." He was drawn to the beauty of worship in the Anglican tradition.
Anglicanism is an ancient and authentic form of Christianity. It was the Christian tradition of many of the founding fathers of the United States: George Washington, Patrick Henry, and James Madison, to name a few. In fact, out of all the Christian churches in Bowling Green today, Washington, Henry, and Madison would be most at home in the Sunday service at St. Luke's; very little has changed in the form of worship since the nearly 200 years that those men worshiped in a Christian church.
Anglicanism gave the world the King James Bible, the most beloved Bible in English language in the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. Out of the Reformation Anglicanism represented the so-called via media or middle way. On the one hand, Anglicanism was Protestant and did not follow what was regarded as the errors of the Roman Catholic Church. On the other hand, Anglicanism wanted to retain the forms of worship in ancient churches that were part of authentic Christianity.
We hope that you will give Anglicanism a try! We believe that you too may be drawn to its beauty and majesty.
The word Anglicanism derives from a Latin word that merely means "of England." Anglicanism describes the traditions of Christian worship that grew in ancient times in the British Isles. But the roots of Anglicanism existed long before there even was an England. The Roman Empire controlled the South of the British Isles in the first several centuries after the death, resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus Christ. But north of Hadrian's Wall, the wall erected by the Roman Emperor Hadrian, there were clans, tribes and various small kingdoms. Christianity grew in the British Isles both north and south of Hadrian's Wall.
There are many stories and ideas how Christianity came quickly to the British Isles. Perhaps the most famous tradition is that St. Joseph of Arimathea traveled to England in the first century. He was the wealthy Judean who provided the burial crypt for Jesus Christ. There was the Holy Thorn Tree of Glastonbury in England, which was said to have sprouted where St. Joseph placed his staff when he traveled to the British Isles in the first century. Some have rightly observed that this tradition is plausible, considering that a wealthy merchant in the first century might well have traveled to the British Isles to trade in tin, a valuable metal, that was at that time mined in the South of the British Isles. In December, 2010 vandals who hated Christianity chopped down the Thorn Tree of Glastonbury.
Another tradition is that St. Paul actually traveled to the British Isles. Some writers have speculated that St. Paul converted Roman soldiers who were guarding him when he was imprisoned under the Roman Emperor Nero. These soldiers could have brought Christianity to the British Isles if they later were transferred there. Another tradition is that St. Simon the Zealot, also known as St. Simon the Canaanite, one of the original disciples, traveled to the British Isles and was martyred there.
A more recent idea derives from the fact that the Galatians in Asia minor at the time of Jesus were actually Celtic in origin.(Yes, those are the same Galatians who received St. Paul's famous letter in the New Testament.) Archaeological discoveries demonstrate that during the pagan Roman Empire the Celts from the the British Isles had settled in Galatia, which was located in the nation that we now call Turkey. Celtic Galatians who had converted to Christianity could have traveled back to the British Isles and spread the Gospel.
We really do not know exactly how Christianity came so early to the British Isles. But we do know this: Christianity began to flourish in the British Isles soon after the death, resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus. An archaeological artifact from the second century uncovered in Manchester, England, shows the words "Pater Noster", Latin for Our Father, an obvious reference to the Lord's Prayer. In Kent, England, a piece of fresco from the fourth century has inscriptions that are obvious references to Jesus Christ: the Chi Rho as well as the Alpha and Omega.
Tertullian, the famous North African theologian of Carthage, wrote in circa 200 A.D. concerning the growth of Christianity. He said that the faith had spread to "all the limits of the Spains, and the diverse nations of the Gauls, and the haunts of the Britons, inaccessible to the Romans, but subjugated to Christ."
The worst of the persecutions of Christians by pagan Rome was the persecution of Diocletian, which occurred towards the end of the third century. St. Alban is traditionally regarded as the proto-martyr of England. The tradition is that he suffered beheading during the persecution of Diocletian. But there is evidence that numerous other Christians were martyred at that time in the British Isles.
There appears to have been considerable development of Christian churches in the third century in England. Three Anglican bishops attended in 314 A.D. a Council of Bishops in Arles, Gaul, which is now France: Eborius of York, Restitutus of London, and Adelphius, apparently of Lincoln.
The vigor of early Anglican and Celtic Christianity is well known. The stories of the famous Christian missionaries are stirring: Saints Patrick, Bridget, Columcille, David, Aidan, and Chad, to name a few. There is a beautiful tradition in early Anglican Christianity in so many realms: poetry, hymnody, liturgy, theology, manuscript illustrations, and stonework.
In the English Reformation hundreds of years later the English reformers compiled various editions of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. The intent was to return to an early Anglican Christianity, to re-form the ancient and authentic Christianity that early on grew in the British Isles. At St. Luke's we use the 1928 Book of Common Prayer.
We are steadfast in our belief that you can experience this authentic and ancient Christianity at St. Luke's. Please give St. Luke's a try! You may have regrets at the end of your life on this earth. I imagine that we all will. As St. Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans, we "all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God...." Romans 3:23. But at least you will not share with Billy Graham his regret that if he could live his life over again, he would choose Anglican Evangelical Christianity.