International association of churches
Top 10 Anglican Communion related articles
- 1 Ecclesiology, polity and ethos
- 2 Chicago Lambeth Quadrilateral
- 3 Instruments of communion
- 4 Organisation
- 5 History
- 6 Ecumenical relations
- 7 Historic episcopate
- 8 Controversies
- 9 See also
- 10 Notes
- 11 References
- 12 Further reading
- 13 External links
|Primate of All England||Archbishop of Canterbury|
|Secretary General||Josiah Idowu-Fearon|
|Deputy Secretary General||William Adam|
Lambeth Conference, London, England
|Separations||Continuing Anglican movement (1977)|
|Part of a series on Anglicanism|
|Liturgy and worship|
The Anglican Communion is the third largest Christian communion after the Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Church. Founded in 1867 in London, the communion has more than 85 million members within the Church of England and other national and regional churches in full communion. The traditional origins of Anglican doctrine are summarised in the Thirty-nine Articles (1571). The Archbishop of Canterbury (currently Justin Welby) in England acts as a focus of unity, recognised as primus inter pares ("first among equals"), but does not exercise authority in Anglican provinces outside of the Church of England. Most, but not all, member churches of the communion are the historic national or regional Anglican churches.
The Anglican Communion was founded at the Lambeth Conference in 1867 in London under the leadership of Charles Longley, Archbishop of Canterbury. The churches of the Anglican Communion consider themselves to be part of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church, and to be both catholic and reformed. Although aligned with the Church of England, the communion has a multitude of beliefs, liturgies, and practises, including evangelical, liberal, and Anglo-Catholic. Each church retains its own legislative process and episcopal polity under the leadership of local primates. For some adherents, Anglicanism represents a non-papal Catholicism, for others a form of Protestantism though without a guiding figure such as Luther, Knox, Calvin, Zwingli or Wesley, or for yet others a combination of the two.
Most of its members live in the Anglosphere of former British territories. Full participation in the sacramental life of each church is available to all communicant members. Because of their historical link to England (ecclesia anglicana means "English church"), some of the member churches are known as "Anglican", such as the Anglican Church of Canada. Others, for example the Church of Ireland, and the Scottish and American Episcopal churches, have official names that do not include "Anglican". Additionally, some "Anglican" churches are not part of the communion.
Anglican Communion Intro articles: 25
Ecclesiology, polity and ethos
The Anglican Communion has no official legal existence nor any governing structure which might exercise authority over the member churches. There is an Anglican Communion Office in London, under the aegis of the Archbishop of Canterbury, but it only serves in a supporting and organisational role. The communion is held together by a shared history, expressed in its ecclesiology, polity and ethos, and also by participation in international consultative bodies.
Three elements have been important in holding the communion together: first, the shared ecclesial structure of the component churches, manifested in an episcopal polity maintained through the apostolic succession of bishops and synodical government; second, the principle of belief expressed in worship, investing importance in approved prayer books and their rubrics; and third, the historical documents and the writings of early Anglican divines that have influenced the ethos of the communion.
Originally, the Church of England was self-contained and relied for its unity and identity on its own history, its traditional legal and episcopal structure, and its status as an established church of the state. As such, Anglicanism was from the outset a movement with an explicitly episcopal polity, a characteristic that has been vital in maintaining the unity of the communion by conveying the episcopate's role in manifesting visible catholicity and ecumenism.
Early in its development, Anglicanism developed a vernacular prayer book, called the Book of Common Prayer. Unlike other traditions, Anglicanism has never been governed by a magisterium nor by appeal to one founding theologian, nor by an extra-credal summary of doctrine (such as the Westminster Confession of the Presbyterian churches). Instead, Anglicans have typically appealed to the Book of Common Prayer (1662) and its offshoots as a guide to Anglican theology and practise. This has had the effect of inculcating in Anglican identity and confession the principle of lex orandi, lex credendi ("the law of praying [is] the law of believing").
Protracted conflict through the 17th century, with radical Protestants on the one hand and Catholics who recognised the primacy of the Pope on the other, resulted in an association of churches that was both deliberately vague about doctrinal principles, yet bold in developing parameters of acceptable deviation. These parameters were most clearly articulated in the various rubrics of the successive prayer books, as well as the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion (1563). These articles have historically shaped and continue to direct the ethos of the communion, an ethos reinforced by its interpretation and expansion by such influential early theologians such as Richard Hooker, Lancelot Andrewes and John Cosin.
With the expansion of the British Empire, and hence the growth of Anglicanism outside Great Britain and Ireland, the communion sought to establish new vehicles of unity. The first major expressions of this were the Lambeth Conferences of the communion's bishops, first convened in 1867 by Charles Longley, the Archbishop of Canterbury. From the beginning, these were not intended to displace the autonomy of the emerging provinces of the communion, but to "discuss matters of practical interest, and pronounce what we deem expedient in resolutions which may serve as safe guides to future action".
Anglican Communion Ecclesiology, polity and ethos articles: 18
Chicago Lambeth Quadrilateral
One of the enduringly influential early resolutions of the conference was the so-called Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral of 1888. Its intent was to provide the basis for discussions of reunion with the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches, but it had the ancillary effect of establishing parameters of Anglican identity. It establishes four principles with these words:
That, in the opinion of this Conference, the following Articles supply a basis on which approach may be by God's blessing made towards Home Reunion:
(a) The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as "containing all things necessary to salvation," and as being the rule and ultimate standard of faith.
(d) The Historic Episcopate, locally adapted in the methods of its administration to the varying needs of the nations and peoples called of God into the Unity of His Church.
Anglican Communion Chicago Lambeth Quadrilateral articles: 6
Instruments of communion
As mentioned above, the Anglican Communion has no international juridical organisation. The Archbishop of Canterbury's role is strictly symbolic and unifying and the communion's three international bodies are consultative and collaborative, their resolutions having no legal effect on the autonomous provinces of the communion. Taken together, however, the four do function as "instruments of communion", since all churches of the communion participate in them. In order of antiquity, they are:
- The Archbishop of Canterbury functions as the spiritual head of the communion. The archbishop is the focus of unity, since no church claims membership in the Communion without being in communion with him. The present archbishop is Justin Welby.
- The Lambeth Conference (first held in 1867) is the oldest international consultation. It is a forum for bishops of the communion to reinforce unity and collegiality through manifesting the episcopate, to discuss matters of mutual concern, and to pass resolutions intended to act as guideposts. It is held roughly every 10 years and invitation is by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
- The Anglican Consultative Council (first met in 1971) was created by a 1968 Lambeth Conference resolution, and meets usually at three-yearly intervals. The council consists of representative bishops, other clergy and laity chosen by the 38 provinces. The body has a permanent secretariat, the Anglican Communion Office, of which the Archbishop of Canterbury is president.
- The Primates' Meeting (first met in 1979) is the most recent manifestation of international consultation and deliberation, having been first convened by Archbishop Donald Coggan as a forum for "leisurely thought, prayer and deep consultation".
Since there is no binding authority in the Anglican Communion, these international bodies are a vehicle for consultation and persuasion. In recent times, persuasion has tipped over into debates over conformity in certain areas of doctrine, discipline, worship and ethics. The most notable example has been the objection of many provinces of the communion (particularly in Africa and Asia) to the changing acceptance of LGBTQ+ individuals in the North American churches (e.g., by blessing same-sex unions and ordaining and consecrating same-sex relationships) and to the process by which changes were undertaken. (See Anglican realignment)
Those who objected condemned these actions as unscriptural, unilateral, and without the agreement of the communion prior to these steps being taken. In response, the American Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada answered that the actions had been undertaken after lengthy scriptural and theological reflection, legally in accordance with their own canons and constitutions and after extensive consultation with the provinces of the communion.
The Primates' Meeting voted to request the two churches to withdraw their delegates from the 2005 meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council. Canada and the United States decided to attend the meeting but without exercising their right to vote. They have not been expelled or suspended, since there is no mechanism in this voluntary association to suspend or expel an independent province of the communion. Since membership is based on a province's communion with Canterbury, expulsion would require the Archbishop of Canterbury's refusal to be in communion with the affected jurisdictions. In line with the suggestion of the Windsor Report, Rowan Williams (the then Archbishop of Canterbury) established a working group to examine the feasibility of an Anglican covenant which would articulate the conditions for communion in some fashion.
Anglican Communion Instruments of communion articles: 12
Episcopal Church of the United States
Church in the Province of the West Indies
Anglican Church in Central America
Anglican Church of South America
Anglican Church of Southern Africa
Church of the Province of Central Africa
Church of the Province of West Africa
Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East
Church of the Province of the Indian Ocean
Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia
Church of the Province of Melanesia
Diocese in Europe of the Church of England
Extra-provincial to the Archbishop of Canterbury
Church of the Province of South East Asia
No organised Anglican presence
The Anglican communion consists of forty-one autonomous provinces each with its own primate and governing structure. These provinces may take the form of national churches (such as in Canada, Uganda, or Japan) or a collection of nations (such as the West Indies, Central Africa, or Southeast Asia).
In addition to the forty-one provinces, there are five extraprovincial churches under the metropolitical authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
|Extra-Provincial Church||Territorial Jurisdiction|
|Anglican Church of Bermuda||Bermuda|
|Church of Ceylon||Sri Lanka|
|Parish of the Falkland Islands||Falkland Islands|
|Lusitanian Catholic Apostolic Evangelical Church||Portugal|
|Spanish Reformed Episcopal Church||Spain|
|Province||Territorial Jurisdiction||Year Established||Year Dissolved|
|Chung Hua Sheng Kung Hui||China||1912||1949 (1958)|
|Church of Hawaii||Hawaii||1862||1902|
|Church of India, Pakistan, Burma and Ceylon||Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka||1930||1970|
|Protestant Episcopal Church in the Confederate States of America||Confederate States of America||1861||1865|
|United Church of England and Ireland||England, Wales, Ireland||1800||1871|
New provinces in formation
At its Autumn 2020 meeting the provincial standing committee of the Church of Southern Africa approved a plan to form the dioceses in Mozambique and Angola into a separate autonomous province of the Anglican Communion, to be named the Igreja Anglicana de Moçambique e Angola (IAMA). The plans were also outlined to the Mozambique and Angola Anglican Association (MANNA) at its September 2020 annual general meeting. The new province will be Portuguese-speaking, and will consist of twelve dioceses (four in Angola, and eight in Mozambique). The twelve proposed new dioceses have been defined and named, and each has a "Task Force Committee" working towards its establishment as a diocese. The plan has also received the consent of the bishops and diocesan synods of all four existing dioceses in the two nations, and has now been submitted to the Anglican Consultative Council.
In September 2020 the Archbishop of Canterbury announced that he had asked the bishops of the Church of Ceylon to begin planning for the formation of an autonomous province of Ceylon, so as to end his current position as Metropolitan of the two dioceses in that country.
Churches in full communion
In addition to other member churches, the churches of the Anglican Communion are in full communion with the Old Catholic churches of the Union of Utrecht and the Scandinavian Lutheran churches of the Porvoo Communion in Europe, the India-based Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian and Malabar Independent Syrian churches and the Philippine Independent Church, also known as the Aglipayan Church.