Anglican Communion, the body of churches in all parts of the world that are in communion with the Church of England (see England, Church of). The communion is composed of regional churches, provinces, and separate dioceses bound together by mutual loyalty as expressed in the Lambeth Conference of 1930. There are 44 churches in the Anglican Communion, including the Episcopal Church in the United States, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Church in Wales, the Church of Ireland (see Ireland, Church of), and the Nippon Sei Ko Kwai (Japan). There are nearly 77 million members worldwide (1997); in the late 20th cent. the communion experienced tremendous growth in Africa. Worship is liturgical and is regulated by the Book of Common Prayer and its revised alternates; about half of the churches ordain women as well as men as priests.
The consecration in 2003 of an openly homosexual priest as a bishop by the Episcopal Church and the blessing of gay unions by the U.S. and Canadian churches led to tensions within the communion, especially with more conservative African churches, some of which broke their ties the Episcopal Church; the 1998 Lambeth Conference had rejected homosexual practice as incompatible with the Bible and refused to advise blessing same-sex unions and ordaining individuals involved in such unions. In 2005 the two North American churches were asked to withdraw from the Anglican Consultative Council, which they did voluntarily, attending as observers in June, 2005. In September, however, the Anglican Church of Nigeria removed explicit references to being in communion with the Church of England from its constitution, again raising the possibility of a schism in the Anglican Communion.
Following the Episcopal Church's call in 2006 for a moratorium on the consecration of openly homosexual bishops, a move that many Anglican conservatives regarded as inadequate, the archbishop of Canterbury proposed that Anglicans adopt a formal covenant concerning their shared beliefs, a suggestion that seemed likely to exclude the Episcopalians from full membership in the Anglican Communion or split the American church. Homosexuality, however, is not the only issue dividing the communion; the ordination of women as priests and bishops is also a subject on which the churches are split. A 2007 proposal by the Anglican primates to establish a separate vicar for conservative American parishes was strongly opposed by Episcopal bishops, who regarded it as foreign interference in their provincial affairs and contrary to the principles of the Episcopal Church and the nature of the Anglican Communion.
Nigerian primate Peter Akinola subsequently installed a Virginia bishop as leader of a conservative North American Anglican group, despite a request not to do so from the archbishop of Canterbury. In 2008 conservative Anglicans met in Jerusalem and formed their own organization, but did not break completely with the Anglican Communion. Many conservatives, however, did not attend the subsequent Lambeth Conference (July, 2008). The Episcopal Church ended its moratorium on consecrating openly homosexual bishops in 2009, and after a lesbian was elected (2010) as an assistant bishop of Los Angeles, Episcopalians were suspended from serving as official members on ecumencial commissions involving the Anglican Communion. In 2012, the bishops of the Church of England approved the election of homosexual priests as bishops as long as they were celibate.
See S. Neill, Anglicanism (4th ed. 1977); G. J. Cumings, A History of Anglican Liturgy (2d ed. 1980).
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As defined by the lambeth conference of 1930, the Anglican Communion is "a fellowship, within the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, of those duly constituted Dioceses, Provinces or Regional Churches in communion with the See of Canterbury." They "uphold and propagate the Catholic and Apostolic faith and order as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer," and are "bound together not by central legislative and executive authority, but by mutual loyalty sustained through the common counsel of the Bishops in conference." The latter is a reference to the decennial Lambeth Conference of all the bishops of the Communion. As at the beginning of the 21st century, the Anglican communion comprised 37 autonomous provinces in more than 160 countries, with some 70 million Anglicans.
Churches of the Anglican Communion also sub-scribe to the lambeth quadrilateral of 1888, which affirms as the essential elements of faith and order in the quest for Christian unity:
- The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament as the revealed Word of God
- The Nicene Creed as the sufficient statement of the Christian Faith
- The two Sacraments instituted by Christ: Baptism and the Eucharist
- The historic Episcopate
Other elements which unite the Anglican Communion include the celebration of Holy Eucharist, and the book of common prayer in its various recensions throughout the Communion.
The 37 provinces of the Anglican Communion are:
The Church of Bangladesh
The Church of the Province of the Indian Ocean
The Holy Catholic Church in Japan (Nippon Seikokai)
The Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East
The Anglican Church of Korea
The Church of the Province of Myanmar (Burma)
The Church of Pakistan The Philippine Episcopal Church
The Church of the Province of South East Asia
The Church of the Province of Burundi
The Church of the Province of Central Africa
The Province of the Anglican Church of the Congo
The Anglican Church of Kenya
The Church of the Province of Nigeria
The Province of the Episcopal Church of Rwanda
The Church of the Province of Southern Africa
The Episcopal Church of the Sudan
The Church of the Province of Tanzania The Church of the Province of Uganda
The Church of the Province of West Africa
The Anglican Church of Canada The Episcopal Church in the United States of America
The Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil (Episcopal Church of Brazil)
The Anglican Church of the Central American Region
The Anglican Church of Mexico
The Anglican Church of the Southern Cone of America The Church in the Province of the West Indies
The Lusitanian Church of Portugal
The Spanish Reformed Episcopal Church
In addition to the foregoing, the Anglican Communion also comprises the Extra Provincial Dioceses of Bermuda, Cuba, Hong Kong and Macau, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela, and the Church of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) Extra Provincial.
The following are churches which are in full communion with the See of Canterbury, as defined by the 1958 Lambeth Conference, but which are not denominationally Anglican:
Die Alt-Katholiken in Deutschland (Old Catholic Church of Germany)
Old Catholic Church of the Netherlands
Church of North India
Church of South India
Mar Thoma Syrian Church of India
The Philippine Independent Church
A move to give Anglicanism greater cohesion without providing it with a central governing head was proposed by the Lambeth Conference of 1968 and subsequently adopted by unanimous approval of the member churches. This is the Anglican Consultative Council, a representative advisory body of bishops, clergy, and laity. The objective of the Anglican Consultative Council council is to supply a continuity of consultation and guidance on policy. Like the Lambeth Conference, the council has only advisory power, with no coercive authority.
Bibliography: The Episcopal Church Annual (New York). c. e. simcox, The Historical Road of Anglicanism (Chicago 1968). f. l. cross, ed., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Ox-ford, New York 1957). j. s. higgins, One Faith and Fellowship (New York 1958).
c. e. simcox/eds.]
"Anglican Communion." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (March 21, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/anglican-communion
"Anglican Communion." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Retrieved March 21, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/anglican-communion