Anglican Communion


Anglican Communion
Canterbury-cathedral-wyrdlight.jpg
Type Communion
Classification Protestant
Orientation Anglican
Polity Episcopal
Primate
of All England
Archbishop of Canterbury
Justin Welby
General Secretary Josiah Idowu-Fearon
Headquarters Canterbury Cathedral, Canterbury, England
Founder Archbishop Charles Longley
Origin 1867
Lambeth Conference, London, England
Separations Continuing Anglican movement (1977)
Members 85 million
Official website www.anglicancommunion.org

The Anglican Communion is the fourth largest Christian communion with 85 million members, [1] [2] founded in 1867 in London, England. It consists of the Church of England and national and regional Anglican episcopal polities in full communion with it, [3] with traditional origins of their doctrines summarised in the Thirty-nine Articles (1571). Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury acts as a focus of unity, recognised as primus inter pares ("first among equals"), but does not exercise authority in the provinces outside England.

The Anglican Communion was founded at the Lambeth Conference in 1867 in London, England, under the leadership of Charles Longley, Archbishop of Canterbury. The churches of the Anglican Communion considers 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 belief, liturgies, and practices, including evangelical, liberal and Anglo-Catholic. Each retain their 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 guiding figure such as Luther, Knox, Calvin, Zwingli or Wesley, [4] or for yet others a combination of the two.

Most of its 85 million members live in the Anglosphere of former British territories. Full participation in the sacramental life of each church is available to all communicant members. Due to 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. Some, for example the Church of Ireland, the Scottish and American Episcopal churches, and some other associated churches have a separate name.

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 which 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 Church). Instead, Anglicans have typically appealed to the Book of Common Prayer (1662) and its offshoots as a guide to Anglican theology and practice. This had the effect of inculcating the principle of Lex orandi, lex credendi ( Latin loosely translated as "the law of praying [is] the law of believing") as the foundation of Anglican identity and confession.

Protracted conflict through the seventeenth century with more 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 were 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. These Articles have historically shaped and continue to direct the ethos of the Communion, an ethos reinforced by their interpretation and expansion by such influential early theologians as Richard Hooker, Lancelot Andrewes, John Cosin, and others.

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 expression of this were the Lambeth Conferences of the communion's bishops, first convened by Archbishop of Canterbury Charles Longley in 1869. 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."

Other Languages
brezhoneg: Iliz anglikan
한국어: 성공회 연합
Bahasa Indonesia: Komuni Anglikan
interlingua: Communion Anglican
Basa Jawa: Gréja Anglikan
Bahasa Melayu: Golongan Anglikan
norsk nynorsk: Den anglikanske kyrkja
Simple English: Anglican Communion
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Anglikanska zajednica