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Bennett Lewis
Bennett Lewis

Anglican Church



Adherents of Anglicanism are called Anglicans; they are also called Episcopalians in some countries. The majority of Anglicans are members of national or regional ecclesiastical provinces of the international Anglican Communion,[4] which forms the third-largest Christian communion in the world, after the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church.[5] These provinces are in full communion with the See of Canterbury and thus with the Archbishop of Canterbury, whom the communion refers to as its primus inter pares (Latin, 'first among equals'). The Archbishop calls the decennial Lambeth Conference, chairs the meeting of primates, and is the president of the Anglican Consultative Council.[6][7] Some churches that are not part of the Anglican Communion or recognised by it, also call themselves Anglican, including those that are within the Continuing Anglican movement and Anglican realignment.[8]




anglican church


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Anglicans base their Christian faith on the Bible, traditions of the apostolic church, apostolic succession ("historic episcopate"), and the writings of the Church Fathers.[1] Anglicanism forms one of the branches of Western Christianity, having definitively declared its independence from the Holy See at the time of the Elizabethan Religious Settlement.[9] Many of the new Anglican formularies of the mid-16th century corresponded closely to those of historical Protestantism. These reforms in the Church of England were understood by one of those most responsible for them, Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and others as navigating a middle way between two of the emerging Protestant traditions, namely Lutheranism and Calvinism.[10]


After the American Revolution, Anglican congregations in the United States and British North America (which would later form the basis for the modern country of Canada) were each reconstituted into autonomous churches with their own bishops and self-governing structures; these were known as the American Episcopal Church and the Church of England in the Dominion of Canada. Through the expansion of the British Empire and the activity of Christian missions, this model was adopted as the model for many newly formed churches, especially in Africa, Australasia, and the Asia-Pacific. In the 19th century, the term Anglicanism was coined to describe the common religious tradition of these churches; as also that of the Scottish Episcopal Church, which, though originating earlier within the Church of Scotland, had come to be recognised as sharing this common identity.


The word Anglican originates in Anglicana ecclesia libera sit, a phrase from the Magna Carta dated 15 June 1215, meaning "the Anglican Church shall be free".[12] Adherents of Anglicanism are called Anglicans. As an adjective, "Anglican" is used to describe the people, institutions, and churches, as well as the liturgical traditions and theological concepts developed by the Church of England.[7]


As a noun, an Anglican is a member of a church in the Anglican Communion. The word is also used by followers of separated groups that have left the communion or have been founded separately from it, although this is considered a misuse by the Anglican Communion. The word Anglicanism came into being in the 19th century.[7] The word originally referred only to the teachings and rites of Christians throughout the world in communion with the see of Canterbury but has come to sometimes be extended to any church following those traditions rather than actual membership in the modern Anglican Communion.[7]


Although the term Anglican is found referring to the Church of England as far back as the 16th century, its use did not become general until the latter half of the 19th century. In British parliamentary legislation referring to the English Established Church, there is no need for a description; it is simply the Church of England, though the word "Protestant" is used in many legal acts specifying the succession to the Crown and qualifications for office. When the Union with Ireland Act created the United Church of England and Ireland, it is specified that it shall be one "Protestant Episcopal Church", thereby distinguishing its form of church government from the Presbyterian polity that prevails in the Church of Scotland.[13]


The word Episcopal is preferred in the title of the Episcopal Church (the province of the Anglican Communion covering the United States) and the Scottish Episcopal Church, though the full name of the former is The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America. Elsewhere, however, the term "Anglican Church" came to be preferred as it distinguished these churches from others that maintain an episcopal polity.


Anglicans believe the catholic and apostolic faith is revealed in Holy Scripture and the Catholic creeds and interpret these in light of the Christian tradition of the historic church, scholarship, reason, and experience.[18]


Unique to Anglicanism is the Book of Common Prayer (BCP), the collection of services that worshippers in most Anglican churches have used for centuries. It was called common prayer originally because it was intended for use in all Church of England churches, which had previously followed differing local liturgies. The term was kept when the church became international because all Anglicans used to share in its use around the world.


In 1549, the first Book of Common Prayer was compiled by Thomas Cranmer, who was then Archbishop of Canterbury. While it has since undergone many revisions and Anglican churches in different countries have developed other service books, the Prayer Book is still acknowledged as one of the ties that bind Anglicans together.


The historian Charles Thomas, in addition to the Celticist Heinrich Zimmer, writes that the distinction between sub-Roman and post-Roman Insular Christianity, also known as Celtic Christianity, began to become apparent around AD 475,[28] with the Celtic churches allowing married clergy,[29] observing Lent and Easter according to their own calendar,[30][31] and having a different tonsure; moreover, like the Eastern Orthodox and the Oriental Orthodox Churches, the Celtic churches operated independently of the Pope's authority,[32] as a result of their isolated development in the British Isles.[33]


In what is known as the Gregorian mission, Pope Gregory I sent Augustine of Canterbury to the British Isles in AD 596, with the purpose of evangelising the pagans there (who were largely Anglo-Saxons),[34] as well as to reconcile the Celtic churches in the British Isles to the See of Rome.[35] In Kent, Augustine persuaded the Anglo-Saxon king "Æthelberht and his people to accept Christianity".[36] Augustine, on two occasions, "met in conference with members of the Celtic episcopacy, but no understanding was reached between them."[37]


In 1662, under King Charles II, a revised Book of Common Prayer was produced, which was acceptable to high churchmen as well as some Puritans, and is still considered authoritative to this day.[49]


Reluctantly, legislation was passed in the British Parliament (the Consecration of Bishops Abroad Act 1786) to allow bishops to be consecrated for an American church outside of allegiance to the British Crown (since no dioceses had ever been established in the former American colonies).[51] Both in the United States and in Canada, the new Anglican churches developed novel models of self-government, collective decision-making, and self-supported financing; that would be consistent with separation of religious and secular identities.[52]


In the following century, two further factors acted to accelerate the development of a distinct Anglican identity. From 1828 and 1829, Dissenters and Catholics could be elected to the House of Commons,[53] which consequently ceased to be a body drawn purely from the established churches of Scotland, England, and Ireland; but which nevertheless, over the following ten years, engaged in extensive reforming legislation affecting the interests of the English and Irish churches; which, by the Acts of Union of 1800, had been reconstituted as the United Church of England and Ireland. The propriety of this legislation was bitterly contested by the Oxford Movement (Tractarians),[54] who in response developed a vision of Anglicanism as religious tradition deriving ultimately from the ecumenical councils of the patristic church. Those within the Church of England opposed to the Tractarians, and to their revived ritual practices, introduced a stream of bills in parliament aimed to control innovations in worship.[55] This only made the dilemma more acute, with consequent continual litigation in the secular and ecclesiastical courts.


Over the same period, Anglican churches engaged vigorously in Christian missions, resulting in the creation, by the end of the century, of over ninety colonial bishoprics,[56] which gradually coalesced into new self-governing churches on the Canadian and American models. However, the case of John Colenso, Bishop of Natal, reinstated in 1865 by the English Judicial Committee of the Privy Council over the heads of the Church in South Africa,[57] demonstrated acutely that the extension of episcopacy had to be accompanied by a recognised Anglican ecclesiology of ecclesiastical authority, distinct from secular power.


Consequently, at the instigation of the bishops of Canada and South Africa, the first Lambeth Conference was called in 1867;[58] to be followed by further conferences in 1878 and 1888, and thereafter at ten-year intervals. The various papers and declarations of successive Lambeth Conferences have served to frame the continued Anglican debate on identity, especially as relating to the possibility of ecumenical discussion with other churches. This ecumenical aspiration became much more of a possibility, as other denominational groups rapidly followed the example of the Anglican Communion in founding their own transnational alliances: the Alliance of Reformed Churches, the Ecumenical Methodist Council, the International Congregational Council, and the Baptist World Alliance. 041b061a72


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