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Anglicanism is a Western Christian tradition which has developed from the practices, liturgy and identity of the Church of England following the English Reformation.
Adherents of Anglicanism are called "Anglicans". The majority of Anglicans are members of national or regional ecclesiastical provinces of the international Anglican Communion, which forms the third-largest Christian communion in the world, after the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church. They are in full communion with the See of Canterbury, and thus the Archbishop of Canterbury, whom the communion refers to as its primus inter pares (Latin, "first among equals"). He calls the decennial Lambeth Conference, chairs the meeting of primates, and the Anglican Consultative Council. Some churches that are not part of the Anglican Communion or recognized by the Anglican Communion also call themselves Anglican, including those that are part of the Continuing Anglican movement and Anglican realignment.
Anglicans base their Christian faith on the Bible, traditions of the apostolic Church, apostolic succession ("historic episcopate") and the writings of the Church Fathers. 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. Many of the new Anglican formularies of the mid-16th century corresponded closely to those of contemporary 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.
In the first half of the 17th century, the Church of England and its associated Church of Ireland were presented by some Anglican divines as comprising a distinct Christian tradition, with theologies, structures, and forms of worship representing a different kind of middle way, or via media, between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism – a perspective that came to be highly influential in later theories of Anglican identity and expressed in the description of Anglicanism as "Catholic and Reformed". The degree of distinction between Protestant and Catholic tendencies within the Anglican tradition is routinely a matter of debate both within specific Anglican churches and throughout the Anglican Communion. Unique to Anglicanism is the Book of Common Prayer, the collection of services in one Book used for centuries. The Book is acknowledged as a principal tie that binds the Anglican Communion together as a liturgical rather than a confessional tradition or one possessing a magisterium as in the Roman Catholic Church.
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 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 dioceses of the Church of England
are administrative territorial units governed by a bishop
, of which there are currently 44. These cover all of England
, and also the Isle of Man
, the Channel Islands
, the Isles of Scilly
, and a small part of Wales
. The structure of diocese within the Church of England was initially inherited from the Roman Catholic Church
as part of the English Reformation
. During the Reformation, a number of new dioceses were founded. No new dioceses were then created until the middle of the 19th century, when dioceses were founded mainly in response to the growing population, especially in the northern industrial
The last dioceses were created in 1927. The 44 dioceses are divided into two Provinces, the Province of Canterbury (with 30 dioceses) and the Province of York (with 14 dioceses). The archbishops of Canterbury and York have pastoral oversight over the bishops within their province, along with certain other rights and responsibilities.
Saint Alban is venerated as the first-recorded British Christian martyr.
A world map showing the Provinces of the Anglican Communion (Blue). Shown are the Churches in full communion with the Anglican Church: The Nordic Lutheran churches of the Porvoo Communion (Green), and the Old Catholic Churches in the Utrecht Union (Red).
The vestments of a deacon, including a stole over the left shoulder.
1854 image of the ruins of Jamestown Church, the first Anglican church in North America
Queen Elizabeth I revived the Church of England in 1559, and established a uniform faith and practice. She took the title "Supreme Governor".
Jesus Christ supporting an English flag and staff in the crook of his right arm depicted in a stained glass window in Rochester Cathedral, Kent
The Arms of the See of Canterbury.
Richard Hooker (1554–1600), one of the most influential figures in shaping Anglican theology and self-identity.
Did you know...
V. Gene Robinson
(born May 29, 1947) is the ninth bishop
of the Diocese of New Hampshire
in the Episcopal Church in the United States of America
. Robinson was elected bishop in 2003 and entered office on March 7, 2004. Before becoming bishop, he served as assistant to the retiring New Hampshire bishop. Robinson is widely known for being the first openly gay
, noncelibate priest to be ordained to the historical episcopate
. Robinson's appointment prompted a group of 19 bishops, led by Bishop Robert Duncan
of the Diocese of Pittsburgh
, to make a statement warning the church of a possible schism between The Episcopal Church
and the Anglican Communion
. The Archbishop of Canterbury
, Rowan Williams
, stated that "[it] will inevitably have a significant impact on the Anglican Communion throughout the world and it is too early to say what the result of that will be." He added: "[I]t is my hope that the church in America and the rest of the Anglican Communion will have the opportunity to consider this development before significant and irrevocable decisions are made in response." Since Robinson's election, theologically conservative parishes have aligned themselves with bishops outside The Episcopal Church
, a movement called the Anglican realignment
. His story has appeared in print and film.
Selected holy days
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