Demographics is Destiny – Evangelicalism and Anglicanism

Last night, our community service at Berkeley Divinity School was in the style of Anglican evangelical worship—think Holy Trinity Brompton or Holy Trinity Cambridge: praise band, a Eucharistic prayer I wrote which only quoted the writings of St. Paul, the whole works.

The idea behind the service was to challenge our understandings of what constitutes distinctively “Anglican” worship. Evangelical churches may worship in ways other than those set out by the prayer book but still consider themselves Anglican. (I experienced something of this when I was studying in England a while back.) There was some, predictable, grumbling about the service. Evangelicalism, for a variety of reasons, has historically been weak in the American church so it can seem particularly foreign to us.

By chance—and this is the kind of thing that happens when you go to a place like Yale/Berkeley—we had with us last evening principals of two English theological colleges, Martin Seeley of Westcott House and George Kovoor of Trinity Bristol. (Rev. Kovoor is also the international general secretary of the Evangelical Fellowship of the Anglican Communion, which, I think, raised the stakes for our praise band a bit. They rose to them. Of all the guests to have on all of the nights, this was pretty ironic.)

Westcott is a moderately Anglo-Catholic place where I once spent a term. It has maybe 70 to 80 students training for ordination. I was chatting with Rev. Kovoor after the service and learned Trinity Bristol has 160 students training for ordination in the Church of England. Now, these are not the only training colleges in the Church of England, but these numbers should, I hope, give pause to those of us who sometimes are eager to dismiss evangelicalism as not truly Anglican (as if we can somehow get to decide that). If demographics is destiny, it seems like the evangelical wing of the church is certainly in a good position.

And, if one purpose of our seminary training is about learning about the breadth of the church and preparing for the future church, then a single evening of evangelical worship seems like a very good thing.

Our senior student preacher, Josh, put his sermon on YouTube

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