The Archdiocese of the River Valley

High Church

The term “High Church” refers to beliefs and practices of Christian ecclesiology, liturgy, and theology that emphasize “ritual, priestly authority, and sacraments.” Although used in connection with various Christian traditions, the term originated in and has been principally associated with the Anglican tradition, where it describes churches using several ritual practices associated in the popular mind with Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy.

These churches stress liturgy and sacrament in worship, as well as emphasize ritualistic worship.

Low Church

Low Church refers to those who give little emphasis to ritual. The term is most often used in a liturgical sense, denoting a Protestant emphasis, whereas “high church” denotes an emphasis on ritual.

The term was initially derogatory. During the series of doctrinal and ecclesiastic challenges to the established church in the 17th century, commentators and others, who favored the theology, worship, and hierarchical structure of Anglicanism (such as the episcopate) as the true form of Christianity began referring to that outlook (and the related practices) as “high church“, and by the early 18th century those theologians and politicians who sought more reform in the church and a greater liberalization of church structure, were in contrast called “low church.”

Broad Church

Broad Church” as an expression is now increasingly replaced by references in the Church of England to “liberalism.” However, the definition of Broad Church is as follows: a group, organization, or set of beliefs that include a wide range of different opinions or ideas.

These churches stress the message of Jesus Christ more than ritualistic means of worship. Less emphasis is placed on the use of vestments by the clergy. However, the two primary sacraments (Baptism and the Holy Eucharist) are maintained.