Our Church History
In 1980, a group of faithful Christians in the Orange Park area prayerfully decided to plant a new parish loyal to the scriptures and the worship traditions of the Anglican Church. Because the parish was founded in September, the founding members chose the name St. Michael and All Angels commemorating the feast day which is celebrated on September 29.
The small group originally met in the Orange Park Lion's Club, but as their number increased they were able to purchase a plot of land with a small building which served as the church building for many years, and which has since been transitioned to the parish hall.
The current church building was completed in 2002.
In May 2017, Fr. Richard Tarsitano was given tenure at the parish as St. Michael and All Angel’s second rector.
Throughout the parish's growth, our founding rector, Fr. Laurence Wells, served as our faithful shepherd. Fr. Wells continues to remain active in the parish in an advisory role as rector emeritus.
What is an Anglican?
Just as St. Paul and the early Christian evangelists travelled to Corinth and Philippi and Thessalonica, men and women of faith brought Christianity to the British Isles in the A.D. 50s. These saints were the beginning of the "Anglican" (Latin for English) Church. We are the first English speaking Christians, and so our heritage predates and develops within and around both Protestant and Roman Catholic Christianity.
At various times over the last 2,000 years, we have been allied closely with both Rome and Protestant churches, but our total and undying allegiance is to
1. The Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit
2. The Holy Scriptures (which "contains all things necessary to salvation")
3. The creeds and councils of the undivided church
4. The teaching of the ancient catholic bishops and doctors.
We are catholic because our bishops are sacramentally and doctrinally linked to the 12 chosen by our Lord Jesus Christ; we are reformed because our tradition bears the fruit of the Protestant Reformation's focus on Scripture and Grace.
The Anglican Way
Anglicans believe that the Bible not only contains the Word of God but truly is the Word of God. In the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, God reveals Himself as Creator, Judge, and Redeemer of the world. The Scriptures contain “all things necessary for our salvation.”
Anglicans believe that Jesus Christ is God- Made-Man, God in the flesh. Through His life, death, resurrection, and ascension, He has “opened the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.” We believe that He will come again to raise the dead and to welcome us into our eternal home of the new heaven and the new earth. He is our Lord and Savior, our prophet, priest, and king. We look to Him, and to Him alone, for salvation. There is no other name given under heaven whereby men must be saved, other than the Name of Jesus Christ.
Anglican Christians are Gospel Christians! We confess that we are sinners. We know that our human race is estranged from our Creator because of our disobedience. This is a desperate predicament which we are powerless to resolve. As the Book of Common Prayer tells us, “We have no power of ourselves to help ourselves.” But in Jesus Christ, God Incarnate, the Triune God has created for us a “new and living way into the holiest of all.” We can be saved only through His grace, favor, and mercy—extended to us in the preaching of the Cross, as the perfect sacrifice and satisfaction (once offered) for our sin. We cannot possibly be saved through anything in ourselves, our good works, our resolutions to do better, or our good intentions. God wills for all people to be saved and invites us to surrender to Him. By His Spirit, He creates new life in us. All persons who look to Jesus Christ in faith are accepted, pardoned, declared righteous, welcomed into the family of God, and enabled to live a new life of obedience to God. This is the Good News we have been commissioned to preach to all nations.
This word confuses many people who mistakenly think that it means Roman Catholic. But Anglicans confess that the Greek word "katholicos" means "whole or complete." The word "Catholic" is also often misunderstood as an opposition to the word "Protestant." However, in the early church, the word catholic stood in opposition to the word, "heretic." Those who held to the catholic or universal faith stood in opposition to those who rejected some essential aspect of that faith. When we speak of the Catholic Church, we mean the Church in its integrity, its entirety, its wholeness. We are a branch of the Church founded by Jesus Christ in A.D. 30. For this reason, we greatly value the teachings of the Ecumenical Councils of the ancient Church. We share the faith of Irenaeus, Athanasius, Augustine, Gregory, Anselm, Thomas Aquinas, and all the Fathers and Doctors of the early Christian centuries. The Catholic Church includes all the faithful departed in Christ. We rejoice in our fellowship with all of God’s holy people who reign with Christ and wait for us in heaven.
Anglicans believe that Christ established His Church to continue through history “until He comes again.” He left His Apostles to preach His Gospel and to “teach them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you even unto the end of the world.” The faith Jesus gave to the Apostles must be handed on without alteration, distortion, or diminution.
Anglicans believe that God gave us minds to inquire into and to understand His revelation. The Christian faith requires no “sacrifice of the intellect.” On the contrary, genuine Christian faith always seeks to understand. A truly Christian mind always wants to know more about God and His revelation.
Anglicans believe that Jesus Himself established the ministry of the Church when He chose and ordained His Twelve Apostles. That ministry, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of truth who leads us into all truth), rather quickly developed into the three holy orders of bishop, priest, and deacon. Bishops are the successors to the Apostles. As long as they are faithful to Christ, the presence of bishops in the Church is a sign and guarantee of our continuity with the one true Church Jesus founded. Having bishops of apostolic succession among us is, therefore, a great gift—a gift we share with the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches, making us, along with them, a true and authentic branch of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. That Church is the Body of Christ, the covenant people of God, outside of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.
Anglicans believe that God communicates His love and power through tangible natural things like water, bread, and wine. The sacraments are not just symbols or rituals. They are effective, powerful acts of Jesus Christ, still present in His Church as He promised. Because God created the natural world and pronounced it “very good,” it is only logical that He would use material things to convey His grace. The sacraments found in the New Testament are:
The Dominical Sacraments
The Holy Communion
The Minor Sacraments
Confirmation, or the Laying on of Hands
The Anointing of the Sick