One of my reasons for coming to study in Cambridge, England was to learn more about the Church of England. I got to work this past Sunday.
I went first to Holy Trinity Church solely because it is the church where Max Warren was once the vicar. As a result, I expected it to be a good representation of the evangelical wing of the C of E. It was. There was no liturgy to speak of. The music was from a band, not an organ. There was lots of hand- and arm-raising during the worship. The church was quite full and I was close to the average age or a little older. The sermon was a close exposition and teaching of a Biblical text. No one wore vestments. The dress among the congregants was quite casual.
Following the service, I walked 500 feet (or less) down the cobblestone streets to Great St. Mary’s and into the end of the matins service. The priest was giving a sermon about the faith and public life. He wore vestments, as did the choir. The music came from an organ and the hymns were easily recognizable “classics” to me. The church was practically empty. (I wondered how my Sudanese friends would react to the situation of showing up to church so late and having one’s pick of pews to have to oneself.) I skewed the average age much younger.
I’m not going to draw any conclusions on the basis of a single Sunday morning in Cambridge. The school term hasn’t begun yet and things will likely change when students return. But I was left wondering about what the common nub of Anglicanism was in each church that united them in the Church of England. And, if there is such great difference between two churches in such close physical proximity, what unites these churches with churches in Sudan or Nigeria or Japan or New Zealand?