What is the Church of England and who are the Anglicans?

The Anglican Church began as the Church of England in 1559 (Ecclesia Anglicana, or English Church), under the rule of Queen Elizabeth, but originally developed after years of quarrel, beginning in 1529, between King Henry VIII and the Roman Catholic Church (primarily because Pope Clement VII would not recognize King Henry's divorce and remarriage). The state-sanctioned Anglican Church was an official break from the Roman Catholic Church, although retaining much of the Catholic history, practices, doctrines, and government. It was not necessarily considered a Protestant church, rather, a Reformed church with church services in the native language of its members, the Bible made available to the common people, the national churches ordering their own affairs, and rejection of the pope's jurisdiction in England. To the Anglican Church, nothing is sanctioned by God which has not been defined by God in the Bible, which means that there is room for individual interpretation on many subjects (as well as lending to some vagueness in doctrine). Anglican churches outside of England are autonomous, with an estimated 70 million members worldwide making up the Anglican Communion, and are generally located in countries which are, or once were, controlled by Great Britain. Conferences are held every ten years at Lambeth Palace in London by invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury, although there is no centralized authority within the Anglican Community and reports and resolutions from each conference are not enforced. The Anglican Church as a whole continues to uphold the Catholic and Apostolic faith and maintains close ties with the Roman Catholic Church.

The basic beliefs of the Anglican Church are summed up in its five pillars: 1.) Holy Scripture of the Bible as supreme authority contains all things necessary for salvation. 2.) Apostolic, Nicene, and Athanasian creeds. 3.) Doctrine was established at the four great councils of the early Church -- Nicaea, Ephesus, Constantinople, and Chalcedon. 4.) Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England, indicating the position of the church taken during the sixteenth century in opposition to the Catholic Church. 5.) Theology and worship are comprised in the Book of Common Prayer, largely the work of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer who was martyred in 1556.

        "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you." (Romans 13:1-3)

The Anglican Catholic Church

"In the ANGLICAN CATHOLIC CHURCH the whole Catholic Faith is maintained, without any Roman additions or Protestant subtractions, as received by and from the CHURCH OF ENGLAND in the days of its orthodoxy. As indispensable elements of this faith, we have inherited essentially the same Scriptures, Creeds, Sacraments and Apostolic Ministry which the Catholic Churches of both East and West possess. This bears witness to our historic continuity with the Church of Jesus Christ and the Apostles, the orthodoxy of our doctrine and worship, and our fundamental unity with the wider CATHOLIC CHURCH. Such continuity is crucial, since it is upon this Faith that the assurance of salvation in Jesus Christ depends."

The Anglican Church in America

"As a member province of the Traditional Anglican Communion, The Anglican Church in America notes, and welcomes, the statement of the Council of Forward in Faith, North America, of November 5, 2003, reaffirming its submission to the Word of God and the Tradition of the Church catholic, and stands together in solidarity with Forward in Faith, North America along with such bishops, dioceses, primates and provinces, both within and outside of the structures of the Anglican Communion, as are prepared to move forward in a realignment of the Church in North America and of the Anglican Communion as a whole, in accordance with such principles of Scripture and Tradition. True religion is revealed to man by God. We cannot decide what is truth, but rather (in obedience) ought to receive, accept, cherish, defend and teach what God has given us. The Church is created by God, and is beyond the ultimate control of man... The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments (are) the authentic record of God's revelation of Himself, His saving activity, and moral demands - a revelation valid for all men and all time. We disclaim any right or competence to suppress, alter or amend any of the ancient Ecumenical Creeds and definitions of Faith, to set aside or depart from Holy Scripture, or to alter or deviate from the essential pre-requisites of any Sacrament. All people are bound by the dictates of the Natural Law and by the revealed Will of God, insofar as they can discern them. The God-given sacramental bond in marriage between one man and one woman is God's loving provision for procreation and family life, and sexual activity is to be practiced only within the bonds of Holy Matrimony. We believe, therefore, it is the duty of the Church and her members to bear witness to Christian Morality, to follow it in their lives, and to reject the false standards of the world."

The Anglican Communion Official Website

"The official Anglican Communion Web Portal is a "window" to information both about the Anglican Communion as well as from Anglican Provinces, Ministry Networks, Organisations, Commissions, Dialogues and Agencies. The web portal is published by the Anglican Communion Office (with staff in London and New York) in co-operation with Anglican Provinces and Dioceses and other official Anglican organisations. The portal includes Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS) and the Anglican-Episcopal World magazine, which are published by the ACO Communications Department. The portal also offers Internet links to official news releases and photos published or submitted by Anglican Provinces, Dioceses and their related organisations."

Anglicans Online

"IT CAN BE A LITTLE INTIMIDATING walking into a church for the first time. Or maybe it's just been a long time (like 30 years ago when your mom dragged you to Sunday School). A lot has changed since then. The songs are singable, the sermon understandable, and you don't need to come in a suit. (By the way, we'd love to see you this Sunday.) This page may help shed some light on aspects of the 80-million member, worldwide Anglican Communion. We hope you'll find the material here interesting, entertaining--even challenging. After all, we hold that Jesus Christ came to take away your sins, not your mind... Anglican church services are congregational. In the pews you will likely find the Book of Common Prayer, though some countries use supplementary prayer books (Canada, for instance, uses the Book of Alternative Services regularly.) This enables the congregation to share fully in every service... The principal service is the Holy Eucharist (Holy Communion). In some Anglican churches it is celebrated quite simply, without music, early on Sunday morning. Weekday celebrations also are frequently without music, and without sermon... It is the custom upon entering church to kneel in one's pew for a prayer of personal preparation for worship. In many churches it is also the custom to bow to the altar on entering and leaving the church as an act of reverence for Christ... Should you wish to know more about the Anglican Church or how one becomes an Anglican, the priest will gladly answer your questions and suggest the way to membership."

The Church of England

"The Church of England is organised into two provinces; each led by an archbishop (Canterbury for the Southern Province and York for the Northern). These two provinces cover England, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, the Isles of Scilly and even a small part of Wales. Each province is built from dioceses. There are 43 in England and the Diocese in Europe has clergy and congregations in the rest of Europe, Morocco, Turkey and the Asian countries of the former Soviet Union. Each diocese (except Europe) is divided into parishes. The parish is the heart of the Church of England. Each parish is overseen by a parish priest (usually called a vicar or rector). From ancient times through to today, they, and their bishop, are responsible for the 'cure of souls' in their parish. That includes everyone. And this explains why parish priests are so involved with the key issues and problems affecting the whole community. Her Majesty the Queen is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, and she also has a unique and special relationship with the Church of Scotland, which is a Free Church. In the Church of England she appoints archbishops, bishops and deans of cathedrals on the advice of the Prime Minister. The two archbishops and 24 senior bishops sit in the House of Lords, making a major contribution to Parliament's work. The Church of England is episcopally led (there are 108 bishops) and synodically governed. The General Synod is elected from the laity and clergy of each diocese and meets in London or York at least twice annually to consider legislation for the good of the Church. The Archbishops' Council was established in 1999 to co-ordinate, promote, aid and further the mission of the Church of England. It is composed of 19 members and 7 directors whose task is to give a clear sense of direction to the Church nationally and support the Church locally."

The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada

"The Anglican Church is divided into regional groupings called "dioceses". Each diocese has its own bishop (or bishops), who have the overall responsibility for the spiritual well-being and administration of the churches within the area. In Canada more than 800,000 Anglicans worship in 30 dioceses, from Vancouver Island to St. John's, Newfoundland, and from the country's southernmost point to the Arctic Circle. The Most Rev. Michael Peers is the head (called the "Primate") of the national church. The Anglican Church of Canada supports churches in large urban areas, small rural villages, and in remote northern regions. In addition to English, worship is conducted in many other languages, including French, Spanish, Cantonese, Japanese, Mandarin, as well as Indigenous languages."

New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia - Anglicanism

"The members of the Church of England are professed Christians, and claim to be baptized members of the Church of Christ. They accept the Scriptures as contained in the Authorized Version, as the Word of God. They hold the Scriptures to be the sole and supreme rule of faith, in the sense that the Scriptures contain all things necessary to salvation and that nothing can be required of anyone as an article of faith which is not contained therein, and cannot be proved thereby. They accept the Book of Common Prayer as the practical rule of their belief and worship, and in it they use as standards of doctrine the three Creeds�the Apostles', the Nicene, and the Athanasian. They believe in two sacraments of the Gospel�Baptism and the Lord's Supper�as generally necessary to salvation. They claim to have Apostolic succession and a validly ordained ministry, and only persons whom they believe to be thus ordained are allowed to minister in their churches. They believe that the Church of England is a true and reformed part, or branch, or pair of provinces of the Catholic Church of Christ. They maintain that the Church of England is free from all foreign jurisdiction. They recognize the King as Supreme Governor of the Church and acknowledge that to him "appertains the government of all estates whether civil or ecclesiastical, in all causes." The clergy, before being appointed to a benefice or licensed to preach, subscribe and declare that they "assent to the Thirty-nine Articles, and to the Book of Common Prayer, and of Ordering of Bishops, priests, and deacons, and believe the doctrine of the Church of England as therein set forth to be agreeable to the Word of God". One of the Articles (XXV) thus subscribed approves the First and Second Book of Homilies as containing "a godly and wholesome doctrine necessary for these times", and adjudges them to be read in churches 'diligently and distinctly'."

        "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched--this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete." (1 John 1:1-4)

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