Of the three churches in the Richmond Team Ministry, St. John the Divine is the one most closely identified with the Catholic tradition of the Church of England. In general terms, if a ‘label’ is needed, the ethos of St. John’s can perhaps best be described as ‘modern/liberal Catholic.’ It has a fairly formal – though far from stuffy! – liturgical style.
The Eucharist is central to the life of the St. John’s community, and is the principal act of worship on Sundays and in the week. Vestments, candles and incense, together with a strong musical tradition and some exquisite art work (much of it influenced by the Arts and Crafts Movement) add a great deal to the experience of worship at St. John’s. The beautifully sculptured Stations of the Cross are a valued devotional aid and the Lady Chapel is a particularly conducive environment for quiet reflection and prayer.
The Anglican Catholic tradition affirms the Church of England as part of the ‘one holy, catholic and apostolic church’ attested to in the creeds. However, a modern/liberal slant on our inheritance takes seriously the need to proclaim the Gospel afresh in each generation, to promote theological thinking about the contemporary implications of the Catholic faith, and to further the spiritual growth of both lay people and clergy. Tradition, we believe, is something which is fed not only from the past – Scripture, the creeds, the Book of Common Prayer, the Thirty Nine Articles, etc. – but also from the present and from the potential of the future. In summary, it does not remain static, but is a dynamic force, continually urging us to be open-minded and open-hearted in order to discern where God’s Spirit may be leading us.
Such an approach consequently takes seriously the contemporary social and cultural context, entailing an active engagement with current issues in the church and in wider society. Whilst recognising the breadth of opinion in the Anglican Church here and in the wider Anglican Communion, and while valuing Anglican diversity, we state clearly that we support:
- the full inclusion of lay and ordained people in church government
- both men and women’s ordination to the threefold ministry of the church – bishops, priests and deacons
- the equal participation of lesbian and gay people in the life of the church. The Richmond Team Ministry has signed up to the ‘Welcoming Congregations’ scheme set up by Inclusive Church.
All this, we believe, affirms an authentically Catholic, all-embracing, vision.
St. John’s strives to preserve the best of the past while being open to the challenges and possibilities of the future. Whatever your background, you can be sure of a warm welcome from this friendly, accepting community and, if you wish, play an active part in its life.