Our Beliefs (taken from “This is St. Thomas” written by Richard Frith) Anglicans are Christians. They follow the way of Jesus Christ as set out in the New Testament of the Bible. They also accept the historic statements of the Christian faith – the Apostles and Nicene Creeds – which are the basis of faith for most Christians throughout the world. As a result, Anglican churches often include members who started their faith journeys in other Christian traditions as well as those who have been Anglicans all their lives. As well, some members of St. Thomas heard the good news about Jesus and came to faith as adults after coming here. Regardless of your background, you are welcome at St. Thomas. In the 1990’s, the singer Joan Osborne released a song called “What if God was one of us.” Christians believe that this happened 2000 years ago when Jesus was born. The Apostle Paul, one of the writers of the New Testament of the Bible, says that Jesus was the true image of God – God present among us. Thus God eliminated the separation between heaven and earth. God is not far off in heaven but with us all. This is known as the “incarnation,” a central belief of Anglicans. For thirty-three years Jesus lived with us, teaching, healing and doing good, providing a model for his followers. Many have found that following Jesus’ teachings and example brings a life of purpose, fulfillment and peace. Jesus was put to death by his opponents, but three days later he rose from the dead. In Jesus’ resurrection, God tears open the grave so that death is not an end. We receive this gift of eternal life through faith. This is the amazing grace of which the famous hymn speaks. In our services we say the same words together as we pray. Worshipping in accustomed patterns provides order and stability in our worship, which leads to a wonderful sense of togetherness. At St. Thomas we use the Book of Common Prayer – first produced by Archbishop Cramner in the sixteenth century – and the Canadian Book of Alternative Services, which was authorized for use in 1985. We also use material from other parts of the Anglican church and from partners in other churches, as authorized by the Bishop. The Anglican Church began in England. Up until the sixteenth century, the English church was Roman Catholic. When the English church broke away from Rome, it was heavily influenced by the Protestant movement, with its emphasis on the Bible, which was sweeping Europe. As a result, the Anglican Church includes elements that reflect both the Roman Catholic and Protestant traditions. This means that people of many Christian backgrounds feel at home at St. Thomas. The way Anglicans think about God has traditionally been shaped by three factors – the Bible, tradition, and reason. The Bible is a basic authority for Anglicans, and our services are filled with Bible readings and reflections on them. Tradition is the collective wisdom of the church accumulated over the centuries. Reason is a gift from God, and we use this gift to help discern God’s call. As a result, Anglicans place high value on scholarship and study. Some Anglicans would add a fourth factor – human experience. We believe that God is revealed in every age and culture through personal experience. So, the Anglican Church adapts itself to the language, culture and customs of the country where it is found. As a result, Anglican congregations include followers of Jesus with a variety of points of view related to their faith. Although the Anglican Church began in England, its missionaries spread the Good News about Jesus throughout the world. St. Thomas includes members who were born in Canada as well as in many other nations. Leadership in the Anglican Church includes both men and women clergy, and lay members are active in all aspects of church life. It is the policy of the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa to make marriage available to both opposite-sex and same sex-couples. As well, sexual orientation is not a barrier to full participation in the church, including ordination. This diversity enriches our life together.