“Anglicostal”: How Pentecostal Faith Prepared Me for the Anglican Church

By |2018-08-24T10:33:52+00:00August 29th, 2017|Categories: Anglican Life|Tags: , , , , , , , |3 Comments

This post is a part of Rookie Anglican, a blog dedicated to Making Anglicanism Accessible.


At my ordination, the bishop gave me the option of kneeling or laying prostrate while he prayed over me. Laying face-down in a worship service in front of hundreds of people? That might seem odd, but for me it was a no-brainer. As a Pentecostal, this was my assumed position for laying it all before Jesus. And as an Anglican pastor, I was ready to lay down my life.

Anglican and Pentecostal

My spiritual formation and upbringing were in charismatic Christianity. In 1994, my home church in Buffalo, New York, experienced a revival that saw weeks of daily services, healings and conversions, and (notably) people falling on the floor and laughing. It was in the same stream of 1994 revivals that swept not only the famed Toronto Blessing, but also Holy Trinity Brompton in the UK and the Brownsville revival in Pensacola the next year.

As a child, I tip-toed over rolling, jubilant bodies as children’s church let out, looking for my family’s belongings. Later, my own spiritual formation was rooted in a transformative year around age 19 when I pursued the realities of charismatic experience for myself.

After college, though, I left the region and found myself in an evangelical, church-planting Anglican church in Washington, DC.

As I wear my clerical collar these days, planting a new church back in Buffalo, people are often surprised to hear that my roots are in something entirely different. “How did that happen?” They expect a story about a falling-out or a rejection.

But I cannot give it to them. It’s much more complicated.

Same and Different

In a Pentecostal church service, people may shout or dance. There may be opportunities to give spontaneous additions to the service as the Holy Spirit directs. People jump and dance.

These elements are much less likely in an Anglican church.

Don’t get me wrong – there is a lot of overlap. Both traditions emphasize physical gestures in worship: kneeling and genuflecting in the one, going down in the Spirit in the other. Prostration in both. Both see the worship experience as a central element in the service. Both have a spiritual appreciation for physical space.

For example, Pentecostals pray over the chairs before church services, or command demons out of rooms; Anglicans consecrate churches and make the sign of the cross over just about anything. I recently did a house blessing at my new home, and to be honest the whole thing would have made total sense in either Anglican or Pentecostal circles, as we anointed the door with oil, rebuked the devil, and prayed through the rooms.

But there are also differences. Not merely opposing beliefs, but areas where the other doth not stray.

First, the liturgy.

Pentecostals do have “liturgies” in the sense of expectations and order, but it was in Anglican churches that I learned spiritual rhythms to sustain my soul. For me, the identifying mark of charismatic spirituality is striving, and this left me exhausted until I began to understand the regular methods of soul formation inherent in the Prayer Book. I needed this.

Second, the sacraments.

The sacraments gave me an opportunity to receive God’s presence in a way that did not depend on my striving or spiritual ambition. The grace of the Eucharist has an objectivity that gives rest to my weary, sinful soul. Christ did this for me, not I for him.

Third, the submission.

I began to see that I alone (or I and my little group) am not the whole Church. I have responsibilities to generations of Christians past, with whom I join together in the company of the saints. The priests and bishops are part of a global network. They are not infallible and change does happen. But Anglicanism at its best fosters a biblical submission leading to the ultimate Christian posture: “Yes, Lord.”

Fourth, the holistic view of mission.

Anglicans understand that bodies and spirits are one, that Christians are formed in Christian communities, that souls are etched out over a lifetime – and that Christ’s redemptive work touches all of these things.

On the other hand, I don’t reject my Pentecostal roots. (Full disclosure: I still speak in tongues occasionally. (Fuller disclosure: I still feel uncertainties about it.))

In fact, there are many Anglicans I’d love to inject with a healthy dose of charismatic passion for the Lord. I’ve led many prayer gatherings in Anglican churches, and I believe that a healthy training and confidence in intercessory prayer would be powerful for our congregations. Our imaginations and love for the right words does not need to stop when we close the Prayer Book.

Anglicostal

Can we merge them together?

I know there are charismatic Anglican churches out there, using both elements in the service. Personally, I think it would be a distraction from the typical Anglican flow. Anglicanism does not need to be everything for me. I have chosen to make my home in the spiritual rhythms, so that from there I can strive for God’s presence and kingdom more healthfully, more sustainably. I submit to the collects and responses so that extemporaneous prayers can be better formed in my spirit.

If you, like me, have been renewed in charismatic churches, I invite you to experience the Anglican tradition. What flavors of the gospel have you missed out on? Where have you been in danger of slipping off the rails, and need guidance?

Don’t ask how you could make this the perfect church by combining elements of all your favorite churches. Simply receive the grace of Jesus Christ and be transformed. Kneel. Make the sign of the cross. Receive the pastor’s blessing.

You may find yourself unusually at home.


Father Bryan Wandel is an Anglican priest, planting a new church in Buffalo, New York. Fr. Bryan returned his family back to Buffalo after a decade in Washington, DC, and they are spreading the gospel through liturgy and mission. He is also an accountant, and he organizes a public drinks & discussion series called The Nickel City Forum: Microbrews, Macroquestions.

Bryan Wandel is an Anglican priest, planting a new church in Buffalo, New York. Fr. Bryan returned his family back to Buffalo after a decade in Washington, DC, and they are spreading the gospel through liturgy and mission. He is also an accountant, and he organizes a public drinks & discussion series called The Nickel City Forum: Microbrews, Macroquestions.

3 Comments

  1. Doug August 29, 2017 at 9:53 am - Reply

    Growing up in NoVa charismatic Anglicanism, my experience was much different. It was more of a biblical seeking of the gifts and baptism of the Spirit. I never encountered laughing, dancing, or anything I’d term out of control or wild (certainly weird is on the table). If a tongue was used in a service/publically, it was always in anticipation of a translation and in a controlled, time delimited manner. It also occurred after communion, the center of the service. Prophecy and the greater gifts were always in sight too. I trust Anglicanism will take the best from the charismatic and Pentecostal movements (as it has from many other movements/reforms) and leave the unbiblical stuff out. And the best of it is strictly biblical!

  2. Lawrence DuBose August 29, 2017 at 2:49 pm - Reply

    I really appreciate this perspective. I’m Baptist, but served with the Christian Missionary Alliance for 24 years. While serving as pastor in Pittsburgh, my church was blessed by the Presbyterians with a beautiful building. We also made friends with Methodists, Lutherans, Episcopalians, and Catholics as we shared Lenten services together. We discovered that those Wednesday night groupings contained the “cream of the crop” in each of our churches and that we were immediately comfortable praying together, worshiping, and our fellowship was some of the most genuine fellowship I’ve ever experienced.
    Rev. L.A. DuBose, Ph.D.

  3. Robin Jordan December 27, 2017 at 4:10 pm - Reply

    The wind of the Holy Spirit blew through the Anglican Church and the Episcopal Church during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s with the charismatic renewal movement and the “third wave” movement. In a number of parishes and missions the Holy Spirit would thaw out “God’s frozen chosen.” Rather than distracting from “the typical Anglican flow” – whatever that is – the manifestations of the Holy Spirit greatly enriched Anglican worship.

    Congregations discovered that bowing, and kneeling were not the only way that they could worship God with their bodies. They were freed from the rigid formalism that that the nineteenth century Catholic Revival had introduced into the Anglican/Episcopal Church in the United Kingdom and the United States and around the world. Congregations discovered that praising God and praying to Him with uplifted hands was not just something that priests do. It was an ancient posture of praise and prayer that all Christians had used in the New Testament Church and the post-apostolic Church.

    Buoyed by the signs of God’s presence in their midst, congregations came to church on Sundays and other occasions with the expectation that they would indeed meet God there. Christ would fulfill his promise to be present when two or three were gathered in his name. This expectation imbued new life into their worship. A new spirit of prayer infused the liturgy. Congregations were not just mouthing the words of the liturgy, going through the motions of worship. They were praying from the heart. They were worship God “in spirit and in truth.” They sang with enthusiasm. They were eager to sing “new songs unto the Lord.” Congregations also recovered the ancient practice of jubilation – of improvised singing of praise to God in the vernacular as well as in tongues.

    The wall that the nineteenth century Catholic Revival had erected between clergy and laity with its sacerdotalism, sacramentalism, and ritualism came tumbling down and many people discovered for the first time that they were a part of a royal priesthood, a holy nation to which God calls all Christians. They learned that God endues every Christian with spiritual gifts for the strengthening and upbuilding of His Church, not just the clergy.

    Congregations discovered that God indeed heals and delivers. Clergy and laity prayed together for healing and people were healed. They prayed for deliverance from evil spirits and people were delivered.

    The charismatic renewal movement and the “third wave” movement had its critics in the Anglican/Episcopal Church. They dismissively referred to those experiencing new life in the Holy Spirit as “happy-clappy Holy Rollers.” Often as not their own churches were strongholds of rigid formalism. Yet their criticism was for the most part unfounded. In Anglican/Episcopal churches touched by these two movements of the Holy Spirit one did not observe what has been described as the “rawness” that was observable in the Assembly of God and Pentecostal churches of the time. Nor did one encounter the excesses that were sometimes encountered in these churches.

    As I read your article, I noted that a number of things that you were describing as “Anglican,” were practices that the nineteenth century Catholic Revivalists borrowed from the Roman Catholic Church and were not a part of historic Anglicanism. The ordinand prostrating himself before the altar is a Roman Catholic practice, for example. The later Percy Dearmer who himself was an Anglo-Catholic criticized as extremists those members of the Anglo-Catholic school of thought who confused Catholicism with Roman Catholicism and sought to emulate the practices of the Roman Catholic Church. As he was wont to point out, they did not represent the spirit of authentic Anglicanism.

    I must also note that I regularly pray over the pews in my church on Sundays before the service, asking God to renew His Spirit within the members of the congregation and to enable them to worship Him “in spirit and in truth” and to glorify him in everything that they say and do, not only there in the sanctuary that morning or evening but beyond its walls throughout the week. This is a practice that is not particular to Pentacostalism. I know Baptist and Methodist preachers who also pray for their congregations before the service.

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