Our church has a formal title, the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, which is, to be frank, a bit of a mouthful.
A great alternative (and used on the cover of our modern prayer book) is Te Haahi Mihinare (the missionary church).
Comments on my previous post on Anglican Apostolicity rightly reminded me that apostolicity is about preaching the gospel and founding new churches as much as it is about faithfulness to what the apostles taught.
This suggests that "Anglican Apostolicity" concerns both how we preserve and hand on the revelation of God in Jesus Christ (the Doctrine of Christ, according to our constitution) and how we grow and develop the church via proclamation of the gospel.
From this perspective we could argue that Anglican apostolicity has a lot going for it. The strengths of Eastern Orthodoxy as an apostolic church, for instance, have arguably not translated well into missionary work around the globe. (By contrast the Catholic and Anglican churches have good track records spreading the gospel and planting new churches in many lands beyond commencement points in Europe).
Of course some historians of Western Christian mission would say of both Anglican and Roman Catholic churches that bishops have often been an impediment to missionary work (e.g. resisting initiatives by laypersons and priests). Here in Te Haahi Mihinare, CMS missionaries and the fledgling Te Haahi Mihinare were trucking along pretty fine without a bishop and when one turned up, George Augustus Selwyn, there were plenty of awkward moments which followed.
We might further make a specifically Anglican self-critical point by observing that despite the English Reformation being a movement to renew the apostolic faith of the church by sheering off medieval accretions, there was absolutely no apostolic impulse to new missionary work. That would only come later with the likes of the Wesleys' preaching in America and the evangelical renewal of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries spawning the Church Missionary Society. Later still the Anglo-Catholic revival also led to new mission work outside of England.
So, with that very potted history in the above paragraphs, we see that apostolicity is a desirable quality in the church which in practice is not easy to achieve. Here is zeal to preserve the apostolic teaching but little concern for apostolic mission. There is motivated mission in the footsteps of the apostles with little concern to preserve and promote that mission via introduction of bishops as successors to the apostles. Over there are bishops with a profound sense of their continuity with the apostles but with little vision for preaching the gospel.
Anglican apostolicity, in other words, is a precious but often fragile treasure.
How might we strengthen our apostolicity for the rigours of the 21st century?
Another post is coming ...