The Anglican Orthodox Church (AOC) is one of the older conservative Anglican denominations in the United States (founded in 1963) that is not in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury of the Church of England due to the abandonment of Reformation doctrine by that church. Our founding bishop was James Parker Dees who left the Episcopal Church over issues of immoral policies and perceived doctrinal error. He served as Presiding Bishop of the AOC until his death on December 25, 1990.
The Anglican Orthodox Church today firmly holds to the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, the use of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, the Homilies, and the King James Version of the Bible. The Bible is believed by the AOC to be the divinely inspired word of God and to contain all that is necessary for salvation. Additionally, the church preaches the importance of biblical morality both in an individual's life and as public policy.
The AOC strongly identifies itself as being in the Anglican low church tradition and rejects the use of the title "Father" for its clergy, many of the priestly vestments commonly used in other Anglican jurisdictions, and any veneration of the saints.
The church has been led by the Most Reverend Dr. Jerry Ogles of Enterprise, Alabama since October 22, 2000. He is the Bishop of the United States and the Metropolitan of the Anglican Orthodox Church's worldwide communion.
Lent Reading and Meditations by Rt. Rev. Dr Jerry Ogles, Presiding Bishop, AOC
Daily Reading and Devotional from the BCP Lectionary by Rt Rev Dr Dennis Campbell, Bishop at Large, AOC
Random Reflections by Rt. Rev Dr Joshua Raj, Bishop of South Asia Missions
Thoughts on Biblical Counseling by Dr Elizabeth Thambiraj, Living Hope Couseling
Welcome to the Anglican Orthodox Church
Every Christian denomination has its own set of doctrines and methodologies for worship. Our Communion is no different. Consider the following helpful items which will assist you in your worship and study with us.
Prior to organized worship:
As Anglicans, when we enter our place of worship prior to any service, we ought to privately do the following:
1. We confess to God our sins and trespasses.
2. We give him thanks for the blessings which we have received from his hand over the past week and pray for those in need.
In general, this is a time to prepare our hearts for Christian worship. Effectual and fervent prayer, we are told, availeth us much so let us remember to keep the world out and God in during this important time.
We are a liturgical church:
We follow the order of worship set forth in the 1928 Book of Common Prayer which includes the following mechanics in our services.
1. We stand when we sing, and when we hear a reading of the gospel.
2. We kneel (if we are able and where convenient) when we pray.
3. We sit for announcements, the sermon, and the reading of the epistle lesson.
4. When it is time to receive communion, we draw near to the holy table and kneel (or stand if one has trouble kneeling) to receive the elements. Communion is received by placing one’s right hand in the hollow of the left with the palm open to receive the Unleavened Bread. To receive the wine, one should grasp the cup either from the bottom with one hand and tilt it up, or guide the cup to one’s lips with both hands. We also permit intinction, or the dipping of the bread in the cup.
Our worship is a time to honor our heavenly Father as we lift up our prayers and praises to his throne of grace. We also honor him with our substance via our gifts and offerings, as well as with our undivided attention. There should not be any conversing with others and that includes cell phone and texting during the service. In fact, all cell phones should be switched off for our worship. If you are expecting an emergency call, please set your phone to “vibrate” rather than “ring”.
Church Authority and Selected Doctrines
Oversight and authority of the presiding Bishop:
The episcopal authority resides with the bishop of each diocese, and with the Presiding Bishop of the wider Communion. All ecclesiastical matters are decided or enforced by the Presiding Bishop and those other bishops under his oversight. But even the Presiding Bishop has no authority to bypass the Constitution, Canons, and Bylaws of the Communion.
A bishop’s duty is to:
1. Ddefend the faith and doctrine of the church from corrupting influences and heretical doctrines.
2. He is to teach, preach, and advocate the Christian Gospel
3. He is the minister of the priests and watches over them in Christian love.
4. He also is the under-shepherd of the churches under his authority.
The gender roles within the Communion:
All biblical training of men must be performed by a man in Holy Orders. Women, however, may teach the younger women, the children, and conduct adult women Bible studies. Our ministries around the world must be guided and directed by male clergy.
The forms of address for our ministers:
In the Gospel of St. Matthew we are told that we have one Heavenly Father. None of our ministers are to be called Father. They should be called Mr. (last name) or Rev. (last name) .
The institution of marriage:
The Holy State of Matrimony is defined by Holy Writ as that existing only between one man and one woman.
No fellowship with apostate denominations and groups:
We are forcefully commanded in the Scriptures to have no affiliation with those who do not accept the Word of God as their compass and guide. The AOC has, over its history, carefully avoided uniting with other churches and groups who do not advocate an uncompromising conformity to Scripture. Therefore, inviting a priest, not approved by our Bishop, to come into our church from a denomination that teaches and commits error is strictly forbidden.
Immorality not sanctioned:
Our Communion encourages all who have sinned to come clean through private confession to God in the name of Jesus Christ. If immoral behavior is found within the body, the minister is duty bound to admonish the evil liver to come clean before God, or else he will deny to said person the sacraments until such time as he receives a satisfactory assurance of such a confession by the offending party.
Forgiveness and acceptance:
All who are members of the body of Christ ought to possess a spirit of forgiveness for our Lord commanded that we have such in our relationships both within and without the congregation. When a brother or sister has wronged us in any way and seeks our forgiveness, we ought to accept their offering and give our pardon much as God through Christ has pardoned us for our transgressions against him. And in every case, we ought to go to God and forgive them before his throne of grace, not bearing a grudge in our hearts regarding any offense by others.
Tithes and offerings:
We have no set rule on tithing except that which is in the Scriptures wherein St. Paul saith, Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver (II Corinthians 9:7).
Standing for the truth and contending for the faith:
Each of us as born-again Christians should, as the apostle Jude once commanded, contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. Witnessing to others as God gives us leave to do is one of our principal duties as Christians. We may not know if we are successful, nevertheless, if God wills, those who hear our witness might come to him and be saved. Remember the Great Commission: Go ye therefore, and teach all nations... (Matthew 28:19, 20).
Doctrines and tenets:
Our doctrines and tenets are found within the Holy Bible and the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion found on pages 603-611 in the Book of Common Prayer.
Our Statement of Faith
1. We believe that there is one God, Father, Son and Holy Ghost which is referred to in the Holy Scriptures as the Godhead. We believe that God is immortal, invisible, everlasting, omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent.
2. We believe that he is a just, righteous, merciful and loving God, who in his infinite wisdom, created all things both visible and invisible. We accept his divine hand in the ordering of the creation as found in the Holy Bible.
3. We accept God’s moral law, which he gave to Moses, as articles which convict us of sin and which reveal our gross unworthiness to offer him any sacrifice which would eternally cleanse us from all unrighteousness apart from the atoning work of Jesus Christ.
4. We believe that Jesus Christ is God’s only begotten Son, in whose blood we obtain victory over both sin and death. We further acknowledge and accept Jesus Christ as the only name under heaven in whom men and women must be saved.
5. We acknowledge that the Holy Spirit of God proceeds from the Father and the Son and that through his divine assistance we who were dead are now made alive in God through Jesus Christ our Lord. We further acknowledge that the Holy Ghost guides us as believers into all truth and away from all error and false doctrine as well as the unequal yoke with the ungodly.
6. We believe that the Holy Scriptures are the true, inspired and inerrant word of God and that the best translation of them into the English language is that of the 1611 King James, or Authorized Version, of the Holy Bible.
7. We adhere to the ancient tenets of the Christian faith as articulated in the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds and the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion of the Anglican faith. And we adhere to a firm Protestant understanding of godly worship and practice in our exclusive use of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer.
The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion contain the particulars of our Anglican faith and practice. Most of them are self-explanatory, and all contain some sort of description to assist the reader in his or her understanding of their meaning. The following contains a brief overview for each of the articles of our faith.
Article I: Defines our faith as Trinitarian as we believe in a triune Godhead of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit ( see St. Matthew 28:19).
Article II: Speaks of God the Son as having two natures: both fully man and fully God, who was virgin-born, and whose death on the cross reconciles all true Christians to the Father (see St. John 1:14).
Article III: Makes mention of Christ going down into "Hell." While there remains some debate concerning his actually going into the portion of the underworld where the evil and notorious are held until the Great White Throne Judgment, it is accepted that he did descend to the lower world (see Ephesians 4:9).
Article IV: Teaches us about the resurrection of Christ and that he will return and judge all people at the last day. (See Revelation 22:12.)
Article V: Defends the inclusion of the filioque as found in the Nicene Creed, which states that the Holy Ghost does indeed proceed from both the Father and the Son (see St. John 14:16, 15:26, and 16:7).
Article VI: Affirms the sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for salvation. It also confirms the canon of Scripture in the sixty-six "commonly received" books of the Old and New Testaments. It also states that the Apocryphal books are outside of the established canon of the church (see II St. Timothy 3:16, 17).
Article VII: In this article, we learn that the Old and New Testaments are not contrary to one another but are two halves of a whole. From its sacred pages, we read of not only the Law, and its attendant ceremonies which are but a shadow of things in heaven (Hebrews 8:5), but of the prophecies and promises regarding not only the redemption of Israel, but our redemption as well through the atoning work of the coming Messiah whom we know from the New Testament as our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ ( see Galatians 3:24).
Article VIII: Affirms our use of the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds. The Apostles' Creed is the oldest, probably being used in some form in the early Second Century A.D. The Nicene Creed came out of the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D.
Article IX: Refers to our birth in this world under original sin. Original sin was given to us by our first parents. On its account, our flesh is drawn to satisfy its lustful desires. And although there is no condemnation for them that believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and are baptized, yet our flesh still contains this malady. Only by the workings of the Holy Spirit within the believer will he or she produce the fruits of repentance that are pleasing and acceptable to God.
Article X: Rejects the concept of "Free-Will." Our sinful natures are in open rebellion against God and without the working of the Holy Ghost within us, we will never turn to God on our own accord.
Article XI: Affirms the concepts of justification by faith alone, in Christ alone.
Article XII: Affirms the notion that we cannot work our way into God's good graces. Only after our acceptance into the fold of Christ will our works bear fruit that is acceptable to God and will reveal that we are in possession of a true and lively faith.
Article XIII: States that all of our works prior to receiving the grace of Christ and the inspiration of his Spirit are not acceptable to God (see Isaiah 64:6).
Article XIV: Contradicts the notion that we could ever do more than what God expects of us in the first place (see St. Luke 17:10).
Article XV: Affirms our belief in the sinless nature of our Lord Jesus Christ (see Hebrews 4:15).
Article XVI: In this article we learn that not every sin willingly committed after baptism is a sin against the Holy Ghost and unpardonable. It is by God's grace that we repent and withdraw from sin, amending our lives through the work of the Holy Spirit within us. This article also condemns those who say "they can no more sin as long as they live here [in the world], or [who] deny the place of forgiveness to such as truly repent." Such are unbiblical and should be rejected as heresies (see Romans 7:14-25; I St. John 1:7-10 and 2:1-2).
Article XVII: Affirms the doctrines of Predestination and Election (see St. John 6:37, 44; 8:44-47; 10:14-16; 17:5-10, 20; Acts 2:47; Romans 8:28-30; I Corinthians 1:2, 4, 9, and 26-31; Ephesians 1:4-5 and 9; 2:1, 8-10; Colossians 3:12; I Thessalonians 1:4; II St. Timothy 1:9; St. Titus 3:3-7; Hebrews 2:10-13; I St. Peter 1:2, 15, 17, and 20-21; St. Jude 1).
Article XVIII: Condemns those who say one can be saved apart from the atoning work of Jesus Christ (see St. John 3:23; 11:25-26; Acts 4:10-12; Philippians 2:9-11; I St. John 5:13; Revelation 22:4).
Article XIX: Sets forth the parameters for a true Christian church.
Article XX: States that the church has the power to establish its order of worship and such ceremonies as it sees fit within the framework of"God's Word written" (see II St. Timothy 3:15-17).
Article XXI: This article is self-exclamatory: “General councils may not be gathered together without the commandment and will of princes. And when they be gathered together, (forasmuch as they be an assembly of men , whereof all be not governed with the Spirit and Word of God,) they may err, and sometimes have erred, even in things pertaining unto God. Wherefore things ordained by them as necessary to salvation have neither strength nor authority, unless it may be declared that they be taken out of holy Scripture."
Article XXII: Concerns several unscriptural beliefs and practices of the Roman Church at the time of the Reformation (see Hebrews 9:27; Colossians 2:8-9 and 18-19; Exodus 20:4-5; Psalm 34:17-18; Psalm 49:7-8; St. Matthew 4:10, 17; 5:17-18 and 16:26; Revelation 12-15; 19:10; 20:1-6; and 22:8-9).
Article XXIII: Affirms the authority of the Vestry of a respective congregation to call such men as are duly qualified, via the episcopate, to the office of minister. This article precludes the ordination of women, the immoral or other degenerated persons (see I St. Timothy 3:1-16; 4:14 and St. Titus 1:5-9).
Article XXIV: Prohibits speaking in a tongue that the people clearly would not understand.
Article XXV: Addresses the issue of Sacraments within the church. A sacrament is defined as an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. Anglicans have traditionally recognized only two sacraments: Baptism and the Supper of the Lord.
Article XXVI: Denies that an unworthy minister will hinder the effect of the Sacraments upon the faithful. It also permits the removal of any godless, or profane man from his position as deacon, priest, presbyter or bishop within the Church if it can be objectively demonstrated that he is of such a character.
Article XXVII: Addresses the Sacrament of Baptism.
Article XXVIII: Affirms that the Lord’s Supper is consumed only after an heavenly and spiritual manner. We also learn that the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is not supposed to be set aside for common purposes, carried about, and it is not to be worshiped as the actual body and blood of Christ.
Article XXIX: Addresses the issue of the those of the unregenerate and wicked who partake of the Lord’s Supper.
Article XXX: Affirms the offering of the communion cup to the laity because our Lord instructed that we should both eat of the unleavened bread and drink of the cup until he comes again.
Article XXXI: Affirms that our Lord Jesus Christ made one offering of himself for the sins of the whole world. It goes on to point out that the use of the Roman Mass is contrary to Scripture because it attempts to communicate the very body and blood of Christ to those present for worship even though our Lord is physically present in heaven at the right hand of God (see Hebrews 9:24-28).
Article XXXII: Permits the marriage of bishops, priests and deacons within the Church.
Article XXXIII: Reminds us as Christians to avoid the ungodly and those in error (see II Corinthians 6:14-18).
Article XXXIV: Accepts the various traditions and ceremonies that exist across the Anglican Communion as long as they agree with God’s word written.
Article XXXV: At the time of the Reformation there was a shortage of clergy who were properly trained in Protestant doctrines, so it was necessary to have a set of teachings which were to be read to the people that defined the exclusively Protestant ideals of the Anglican Church. The Homilies provided such doctrine in a specific form which were to be read to the people.
Article XXXVI: Affirms the order for consecrations of bishops and ministers as being by the approved formularies of the Church and that all such as have been consecrated or ordained will be recognized as being legitimate ministers of the Church.
Article XXXVII: States that the clergy of the church are subject not only to ecclesiastical courts but to the civil courts of the state.
Article XXXVIII: Dispenses with the socialistic notions that all men’s goods are held in common or ought to be among all Christians.
Article XXXIX: Affirms that a Christian can take and oath in court or other place and swear to do this or that without violating God’s word written.
~Courtesy of The Rev. Bryan Dabney (St. John's Anglican Orthodox Church, Vicksburg, USA)