I got asked this question a lot this week: “How many Plain Anglicans are there?” I guesstimated that world-wide we number about five hundred. Now I’m not so sure how good that number is; I probably counted people who aren’t officially Anglican, and some who aren’t officially Plain. It’s not as if we need to sign a confession or a covenant to be Anglican or Plain, but it is a matter of self-identity.
I’ve never been too concerned about whether my friends are Anglican, Plain, or Anglican Plain. How we live in witness to Christ and fulfill His mission in this world is the real issue. Some of us are called to be the visible witneses, to put our sincerity on the line and let people see that Christians can be what they say they are. (Most of the time, or at least without failing some of the time. All have fallen short of the glory of God!) Plain does mean that any hypocrisy will be very visible to the world. We stand for the apostolic Christian faith, the first century church translated to our own day, and when we fall short of the apostolic model, people know it. So we are called to be sincere, to be fully informed, to be mindful, and to pray, pray, pray for help at all times. I certainly do not want to shame my Lord or the others who carry His name.
How to define what it is to be Plain? Our variety of practices is great, yet we are united in faith. We are, mostly, people called through the witness of the Anabaptists and the Quakers, we are convicted of Biblical principles of life, we are generally traditional in lifestyle. We don’t all agree on doctrine or practice; we do agree on the conviction of conscience. I think I work at keeping a balance between open-heartedness and the way of Christ, so that I am not in error and do not accept error from others.
As Christians who are Plain, almost Plain, or just living a life of simplicity and faith, our practices in appearance range from my austere Plain to a feminine simplicity of others, with men who are in the category mostly in the Mennonite or Conservative Quaker mold. Some of are noticably Plain, others less so. Some of us could be identified as belonging to a specific group, others not. It is not a concern for me; we don’t have an ordnung and likely never will.
Are you called to Plain or the simple life? If so, how will that express itself? In your daily life? In your household? In your appearance? If you are a seeker in this mode of faith, be assured that there is love and support along the way. No one expects that you will turn out as a finished product overnight; most of us have worked at our expressions over years!
But welcome; there is room for all.