Australian Anglicans worship in a wide variety of ways from traditional to contemporary. They may worship in cathedrals, large imposing churches, small chapels, contemporary church buildings, community facilities or homes. To help them in their worship Anglicans have different liturgies in 3 books. The Books we use:
1. The Book of Common Prayer
This is based on the first books put together during what is known as the Reformation. It includes Morning and Evening Prayer, the Holy Communion, with accompanying Collects (prayers) and readings from the Bible. It also has services for Baptism, Marriage, the Burial of the Dead, Confirmation, Ordination, as well as the Psalms and the Catechism. It has formed the basis of all revised prayer books within the Anglican Communion.
2. An Australia Prayer Book
This was approved by General Synod in 1977 and published in April 1978 and provides two revised forms. The first is a conservative revision of the Book of Common Prayer (updating the language but maintaining the same structure), and a modern revision where services may have new features.
3. A Prayer Book for Australia
This is the most recent revision of the prayer book and was approved by General Synod in 1995. It extends the work of An Australian Prayer Book by providing a third form of Holy Communion as well as many new prayers for different occasions. This book consistently uses inclusive language.
Another integral part of Anglican worship are the sacraments. In the Catechism - the traditional teaching manual of the church- a sacrament is described as " an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace." God uses ordinary objects and actions to convey grace to us. The Anglican Church of Australia celebrates two sacraments:
This is done by immersion or by pouring and in the name of the Trinity (the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit). Baptism signifies cleansing, the washing away of sin and identifies us with the death and resurrection of Jesus. Through baptism we become part of the Christian community (the church). Anglicans traditionally are baptised as infants but adult baptism also occurs.
2. Holy Communion
Also known as the Eucharist, or the Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion is the sharing together of bread and wine. In the bread and wine we believe that we are invited to share God’s life in Christ. There is a diversity of emphasis in understanding and in practice about Holy Communion within The Anglican Church of Australia, but there are essential elements common to all – reading from the Bible, prayers, thanksgiving, the repetition of ‘the words of institution’ reminding us of Jesus’ words and actions at the last Supper, and the sharing of the bread and wine. In some dioceses children are included in receiving Holy Communion, while in others they receive a blessing from the priest instead. This practice varies from church to church.
As well as the sacraments there are other services that are often held:
Confirmation is the laying on of hands by the bishop with prayers for the gift of the Holy Spirit for mission and ministry. It is a time when baptised persons confirm the promises made on their behalf in infant baptism and take on adult responsibility for their Christian life. In the past confirmation occurred in the teenage years and allowed those confirmed to participate in Holy Communion. With the admission of children to Holy Communion at an earlier age, confirmation may occur later.
Marriage is when a man and a woman are joined together in the sight of God and the community. It includes the making of solemn vows, the giving and receiving of rings, and prayers for God’s blessing on the marriage.
Ordination is when someone is set apart for particular office and ministries in the church community – as a deacon, priest or bishop. The bishop lays hands on the candidates with prayers for the gift of the Holy Spirit for the work to which they are called. Ordination is generally regarded as "indelible" meaning for life even if the person’s work circumstances changes.
Funerals may be held in a church, funeral chapel, or at the home. A further service may be held at the graveside or crematorium and at the interment of the Ashes.