What we believe
The Diocese of Sheffield is part of the Church of England, which is itself part of the wider Anglican Communion.
One of the strengths of Anglicanism is its variety. Since the dramatic events of the Reformation, the Church of England has evolved into a series of dioceses, deaneries and parishes which contain a wide variety of different styles of worship, all based on a firm foundation.
This foundation is an obvious combination of the authority of the Bible as the sacred text - the Word of God, and the preaching of the Word to this generation in the context of the sacraments including the Eucharist, baptism, confirmation and rites of passage such as marriage and death.
The BBC website summarises the beliefs of the Church of England as follows:
- a belief that the Bible contains the core of all Christian faith and thought
- a loyalty to a way of worship and life that was first set out in the Book of Common Prayer
- celebration of the sacraments ordained by Jesus - that of Baptism and Eucharist or Holy Communion
- a system of Church order that stems from ancient times and is focused in the ordained ministry of Bishop, Priest and Deacon
- a firm commitment to the ministry of the whole people of God, lay and ordained together
- a way of Christian thinking that involves Scripture, Tradition and Reason held together in creative tension.
Individual parishes can decide how many services they hold in the week, how often they conduct Eucharistic services and how they structure the service to include hymns/songs, readings, the Creed, a sermon and prayers. Despite this flexibility, each priest is expected to conduct a service which has been authorised by the church in the service book.
In this Diocese, you will find many different ways of worshipping the God of the Trinity - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. From parishes more in tune with the catholic tradition, you will also discover churches where the key emphasis in on preaching and teaching the word. The Church of England is essentially an Episcopalian church - which means that we believe in the office and work of a bishop as a focus of unity through our diversity.
The Christian year begins with Advent. Then Christmas comes and the incarnation is celebrated before the Wise Men arrive and the season of Epiphany (revelation and manifestation) takes over. Gifts are offered, God guides us. Jesus is revealed. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday with the solemn observation of Jesus entering into the Wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights. Christians usually study more, pray harder, focus earnestly on their faith and belief (rather than just giving up chocolate!) before the dramatic week of Holy Week finally arrives.
Psalm Sunday, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday (the day Jesus dies on the cross, come in quick succession); then the night before Easter is celebrated with a vigil and a longing for the joy of the resurrection to be made real.
Eastertide is full of joy: new life is offered and replaces the darkness of death. Christians believe that Jesus overcomes death one and for all and offers all believers a way to salvation.
Then, after weeks of celebration and joy, Jesus departs on the Feast of the Ascension before the birthday of the Church is celebrated on the Feast of Pentecost (also known as Whitsuntide).
So, to be an Anglican means that our pilgrimage takes us on an exciting and dramatic journey - covering every aspect of life and living. Conversion involves transformation.
Through prayer, through reading the Bible, through joining in fellowship with others in celebrating the sacraments - the church only actually exists when human beings gather to worship the one true God. The buildings are really sacred space rather than the church itself!