By baptism in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, a person is made one with Christ and received into the fellowship of the Church. This sacrament of initiation is open to children as well as to adults.
Central to worship for Anglicans is the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, also called the Holy Communion, the Lord's Supper or the Mass. In this offering of prayer and praise, the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are recalled through the proclamation of the word and the celebration of the sacrament. Other important rites, commonly called sacraments, include confirmation, holy orders, reconciliation, marriage and anointing of the sick.
Worship is at the very heart of Anglicanism. Its styles vary from simple to elaborate, or even a combination. The great uniting text is The Book of Common Prayer, in its various revisions throughout the Communion. The Book of Common Prayer, alongside additional liturgies gives expression to the comprehensiveness found within the Church whose principles reflect that of the via media in relation to its own and other Christian Churches. The Lambeth Conferences of the 1950s and 1960s called for more up-to-date national liturgies and this is going on today. No matter how distinctive each is, they are all clearly of the lineage of The Book of Common Prayer.
Another distinguishing feature of the corporate nature of Anglicanism is that it is an interdependent Church, where parishes, dioceses and provinces help each other to achieve by mutual support in terms of financial assistance and the sharing of other resources.
To be an Anglican is to be on a journey of faith to God supported by a fellowship of co-believers who are dedicated to finding Him by prayer and service.
2) Today's Organisation of the Church of EnglandThe 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 every inch of English soil, 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 GeneralSynod 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 Church of England issues its own newspaper: The Church Times, founded in 1863. It has become the world's leading Anglican weekly newspaper. It has always been independent of the Church of England hierarchy. It was a family concern until 1989, when ownership passed to Hymns Ancient & Modern, a Christian charitable trust. The Church Times was started to campaign for Anglo-Catholic principles, which it did with vigour and rudeness. But in the 1940s and '50s the paper began the move to broaden its outlook and coverage. It now attempts to provide balanced and fair reporting of events and opinions across the whole range of Anglican affairs. The rudeness we now leave to our readers. For a longer history of the paper
III. Church of England becomes an International Church
Anglicans trace their Christian roots back to the early Church, and their specifically Anglican identity to the post-Reformation expansion of the Church of England and other Episcopal or Anglican Churches. Following the discovery of the "New World", Anglicanism spread to the Americas, Asia, Africa and Oceania (the central and south Pacific). Some 37 national and regional Anglican Churches were established in various parts of the world, which together became known as the Anglican Communion.
Historically, there were two main stages in the development and spread of the Communion. Beginning with the seventeenth century, Anglicanism was established alongside colonisation in the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa. The second state began in the eighteenth century when missionaries worked to establish Anglican churches in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
As a worldwide family of churches, the Anglican Communion has more than 70 million adherents in 38 Provinces spreading across 161 countries. Located on every continent, Anglicans speak many languages and come from different races and cultures. Although the churches are autonomous, they are also uniquely unified through their history, their theology, their worship and their relationship to the ancient See of Canterbury.
The Anglican Communion has no constitution, governing body, central authority or common liturgy. It is merely a loose association of autonomous Churches with similar origins. Since 1970 it has been disintegrating, as some member churches have brazenly tampered with essential elements of the Faith and con no longer claim to have the same Scriptures, Creeds, Sacraments and Ministry as the rest of the Catholic church. Since 1987 those Churches have included the CHURCH OF ENGLAND herself.
There have been Christians in Britain since AD200 and probably earlier. Through war, peace, famine and prosperity, the Church was critical in the development of society, law, buildings and the quiet piety of the people. English civil power and the Church developed in an increasingly uneasy parallel. Two points of contention were the Church's wealth and its ties with Rome. These differences came to a head in the 1530s, when King Henry VIII wished to obtain a divorce from Queen Catherine of Aragon. And Act of Supremacy was issued. This Act reaffirmed the King's sovereignty over the English Church and State and gave Henry power over all moral, organizational, heretical, and ecclesiastical reform which until this point had been left to the Church. The new church was christened Ecclesia Anglicana.
But in 1550's, however, under Edward VI, the English Church became Protestant in doctrine and ritual, and even then it remained traditional in organization. Under the Roman Catholic Mary I a politico-religious reaction resulted in the burning at the stake of some prominent Protestants and the exile of many others, which led in turn to a popular association of Catholicism with persecution and Spanish domination. When Elizabeth I succeeded to the throne in 1558, however, she restored a moderate Protestantism, codifying the Anglican faith in the Act of Uniformity, the Act of Supremacy, and the Thirty-Nine Articles.
Under reign of Charles II. Puritan laws and censorship are repealed; the theaters re-open. The conflict with Puritanism leaves distrust for religious individualism and emotionalism ("enthusiasm") among Anglicans. This will continue through the "Great Awakening". During "Great Awakening" Christian revival took place in England and America.
The trend during Victorian Era rediscovered of liturgy and church history and spreading Christianity. In the mid-nineteenth century, then, the Church of England was disorganized. Though its adherents were largely conservative, a considerable portion of its leadership was, ideologically speaking, perilously close to Catholicism, and the religious census of 1851 showed that it was reaching only about fourteen percent of the population of England.
When the British Empire expanded in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, so too did the Church. And today the Anglican Communion has more than 70 million adherents in 38 Provinces spreading across 161 countries. Te Churches are committed to the proclamation of the good news of the Gospel to the whole creation. In practice this is based on the revelation contained in Holy Scripture and the Catholic creeds, and is interpreted in light of Christian tradition, scholarship, reason and experience. The Anglican Church is open for people who are united in their creed and their love of Christ Jesus, the Son of God and what He means for them and for the world around them.
The Anglican Catholic Church, second edition, 1998, published by The Anglican Catholic Church
Dickens, A.G. The English Reformation. Second Ed. University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1989
Rupp, Gordon. Religion in England 1688-1791. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986
Morgan, Kenneth O., ed. The Oxford Illustrated History of Britain. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986.