Church of England

Church of England

Overview
The Church of England is the officially established
State religion
A state religion is a religious body or creed officially endorsed by the state...

 Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 church in England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 and the Mother Church
Mother Church
In Christianity, the term mother church or Mother Church may have one of the following meanings:# The first mission church in an area, or a pioneer cathedral# A basilica or cathedral# The main chapel of a province of a religious order...

 of the worldwide Anglican Communion
Anglican Communion
The Anglican Communion is an international association of national and regional Anglican churches in full communion with the Church of England and specifically with its principal primate, the Archbishop of Canterbury...

. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity
Western Christianity
Western Christianity is a term used to include the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church and groups historically derivative thereof, including the churches of the Anglican and Protestant traditions, which share common attributes that can be traced back to their medieval heritage...

 and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St Augustine of Canterbury in AD 597.

As a result of Augustine's mission, the church in England became an integral part of the Roman Catholic Church and acknowledged the authority of the Pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

.
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Encyclopedia
The Church of England is the officially established
State religion
A state religion is a religious body or creed officially endorsed by the state...

 Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 church in England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 and the Mother Church
Mother Church
In Christianity, the term mother church or Mother Church may have one of the following meanings:# The first mission church in an area, or a pioneer cathedral# A basilica or cathedral# The main chapel of a province of a religious order...

 of the worldwide Anglican Communion
Anglican Communion
The Anglican Communion is an international association of national and regional Anglican churches in full communion with the Church of England and specifically with its principal primate, the Archbishop of Canterbury...

. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity
Western Christianity
Western Christianity is a term used to include the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church and groups historically derivative thereof, including the churches of the Anglican and Protestant traditions, which share common attributes that can be traced back to their medieval heritage...

 and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St Augustine of Canterbury in AD 597.

As a result of Augustine's mission, the church in England became an integral part of the Roman Catholic Church and acknowledged the authority of the Pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

. Prompted by a dispute over the annulment of the marriage of Henry VIII, the Church of England separated
Schism (religion)
A schism , from Greek σχίσμα, skhísma , is a division between people, usually belonging to an organization or movement religious denomination. The word is most frequently applied to a break of communion between two sections of Christianity that were previously a single body, or to a division within...

 from the Roman Catholic Church in 1534 and became the established church by an Act of Parliament in the Act of Supremacy, beginning a series of events known as the English Reformation
English Reformation
The English Reformation was the series of events in 16th-century England by which the Church of England broke away from the authority of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church....

. Both Catholic and Reformed factions vied for determining the doctrines and worship of the church. This ended temporarily with the Elizabethan settlement, which developed the understanding that the church was to be both Catholic
Four Marks of the Church
The Four Marks of the Church is a term describing four specific adjectives—one, holy, catholic and apostolic—indicating four major distinctive marks or distinguishing characteristics of the Christian Church...

 and Reformed
English Reformation
The English Reformation was the series of events in 16th-century England by which the Church of England broke away from the authority of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church....

:
  • Catholic in that it views itself as a part of the universal church of Jesus Christ in unbroken continuity with the early apostolic
    Apostolic Age
    The Apostolic Age of the history of Christianity is traditionally the period of the Twelve Apostles, dating from the Crucifixion of Jesus and the Great Commission in Jerusalem until the death of John the Apostle in Anatolia...

     church. This is expressed in its emphasis on the teachings of the early Church Fathers
    Church Fathers
    The Church Fathers, Early Church Fathers, Christian Fathers, or Fathers of the Church were early and influential theologians, eminent Christian teachers and great bishops. Their scholarly works were used as a precedent for centuries to come...

    , as formalised in the Apostles', Nicene, and Athanasian creed
    Athanasian Creed
    The Athanasian Creed is a Christian statement of belief, focusing on Trinitarian doctrine and Christology. The Latin name of the creed, Quicumque vult, is taken from the opening words, "Whosoever wishes." The Athanasian Creed has been used by Christian churches since the sixth century...

    s.

  • Reformed in that it has been shaped by some of the doctrinal principles of the 16th century Protestant Reformation
    Protestant Reformation
    The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

    , in particular in the Thirty-Nine Articles
    Thirty-Nine Articles
    The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion are the historically defining statements of doctrines of the Anglican church with respect to the controversies of the English Reformation. First established in 1563, the articles served to define the doctrine of the nascent Church of England as it related to...

     and the Book of Common Prayer
    Book of Common Prayer
    The Book of Common Prayer is the short title of a number of related prayer books used in the Anglican Communion, as well as by the Continuing Anglican, "Anglican realignment" and other Anglican churches. The original book, published in 1549 , in the reign of Edward VI, was a product of the English...

    .


During the 17th century, political and religious disputes raised the Puritan
Puritan
The Puritans were a significant grouping of English Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries. Puritanism in this sense was founded by some Marian exiles from the clergy shortly after the accession of Elizabeth I of England in 1558, as an activist movement within the Church of England...

 and presbyterian faction to control of the church, but this ended with the Restoration
Restoration (1660)
The term Restoration in reference to the year 1660 refers to the restoration of Charles II to his realms across the British Empire at that time.-England:...

. The contemporary Church of England still continues to contain several doctrinal strands, now generally known as Anglo-Catholic and Evangelical, which reflect the early divisions. In recent times, tensions between theological conservatives and progressives find expression in debates over women's ordination
Ordination of women in the Anglican communion
The ordination of women in the Anglican Communion has become increasingly accepted in recent years.-Introduction:Some provinces within the Anglican Communion, such as the Episcopal Church in the United States of America , the Anglican Church of New Zealand, the Anglican Church of Canada and the...

 and homosexuality within the church. The Church of England has ordained women as priests since 1994 and is in the process of considering the consecration of female bishops.

Since the Reformation, the Church of England has used an English liturgy
Liturgy
Liturgy is either the customary public worship done by a specific religious group, according to its particular traditions or a more precise term that distinguishes between those religious groups who believe their ritual requires the "people" to do the "work" of responding to the priest, and those...

. The Book of Common Prayer was based on original writings and translations from the Latin services
Latin liturgy
A Latin liturgy is a ceremony or ritual conducted in the Latin language. Generally, the term 'Latin liturgy' is used in conjunction with the Christian religion, and especially in association with a Catholic Mass, which may conducted in Latin or another language...

 by Thomas Cranmer
Thomas Cranmer
Thomas Cranmer was a leader of the English Reformation and Archbishop of Canterbury during the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI and, for a short time, Mary I. He helped build a favourable case for Henry's divorce from Catherine of Aragon which resulted in the separation of the English Church from...

. This liturgy has been updated and modernised at various times. The church also adopted congregational singing of hymns and psalms.

The governing structure of the church is based on the traditional parishes which are gathered into dioceses presided over by a bishop. The Archbishop of Canterbury
Archbishop of Canterbury
The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop and principal leader of the Church of England, the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury. In his role as head of the Anglican Communion, the archbishop leads the third largest group...

 is the Primate of All England and a focus of unity for the whole Anglican Communion worldwide. The General Synod
General Synod of the Church of England
The General Synod is the deliberative and legislative body of the Church of England. The synod was instituted in 1970, replacing the Church Assembly, and is the culmination of a process of rediscovering self-government for the Church of England that had started in the 1850s.- Church Assembly: 1919...

 is the legislative body for the church and is comprised of bishops, clergy and laity. However, as the established church in England, Parliament
Parliament of the United Kingdom
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the supreme legislative body in the United Kingdom, British Crown dependencies and British overseas territories, located in London...

 has the right of final approval of all measures.

Early history


According to tradition, Christianity arrived in Britain in the first
Christianity in the 1st century
The earliest followers of Jesus composed an apocalyptic, Jewish sect, which historians refer to as Jewish Christianity. The Apostles and others following the Great Commission's decree to spread the teachings of Jesus to "all nations," had great success spreading the religion to gentiles. Peter,...

 or 2nd century
Christianity in the 2nd century
The 2nd century of Christianity was largely the time of the Apostolic Fathers who were the students of the apostles of Jesus, though there is some overlap as John the Apostle may have survived into the 2nd century and the early Apostolic Father Clement of Rome is said to have died at the end of the...

, during which time southern Britain became part of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

. The earliest historical evidence of Christianity among the native Britons
Britons (historical)
The Britons were the Celtic people culturally dominating Great Britain from the Iron Age through the Early Middle Ages. They spoke the Insular Celtic language known as British or Brythonic...

 is found in the writings of such early Christian Fathers as Tertullian
Tertullian
Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, anglicised as Tertullian , was a prolific early Christian author from Carthage in the Roman province of Africa. He is the first Christian author to produce an extensive corpus of Latin Christian literature. He also was a notable early Christian apologist and...

 and Origen
Origen
Origen , or Origen Adamantius, 184/5–253/4, was an early Christian Alexandrian scholar and theologian, and one of the most distinguished writers of the early Church. As early as the fourth century, his orthodoxy was suspect, in part because he believed in the pre-existence of souls...

 in the first years of the 3rd century
Christianity in the 3rd century
The 3rd century of Christianity was largely the time of the Ante-Nicene Fathers who wrote after the Apostolic Fathers of the 1st and 2nd centuries but before the First Council of Nicaea in 325...

, although the first Christian communities probably were established some decades earlier. Three Romano-British
Romano-British
Romano-British culture describes the culture that arose in Britain under the Roman Empire following the Roman conquest of AD 43 and the creation of the province of Britannia. It arose as a fusion of the imported Roman culture with that of the indigenous Britons, a people of Celtic language and...

 bishops, including Restitutus, are known to have been present at the Council of Arles in 314. Others attended the Council of Sardica
Council of Sardica
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Sofia and Plovdiv is a Roman Catholic diocese of the Latin Rite, which includes the whole southern part of Bulgaria. The remainder of Bulgaria is comprised in the Diocese of Nicopoli. The seat of the episcopal see is in Plovdiv. The diocese is immediately subject of...

 in 347 and that of Ariminum
Council of Rimini
The Council of Rimini was an early Christian church synod held in Ariminum ....

 in 360, and a number of references to the church in Roman Britain
Roman Britain
Roman Britain was the part of the island of Great Britain controlled by the Roman Empire from AD 43 until ca. AD 410.The Romans referred to the imperial province as Britannia, which eventually comprised all of the island of Great Britain south of the fluid frontier with Caledonia...

 are found in the writings of 4th century
Christianity in the 4th century
Christianity in the 4th century was dominated by Constantine the Great, and the First Council of Nicea of 325, which was the beginning of the period of the First seven Ecumenical Councils and the attempt to reach an orthodox consensus and to establish a unified Christendom as the State church of...

 Christian fathers. Britain was the home of Pelagius
Pelagius
Pelagius was an ascetic who denied the need for divine aid in performing good works. For him, the only grace necessary was the declaration of the law; humans were not wounded by Adam's sin and were perfectly able to fulfill the law apart from any divine aid...

, who opposed Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo , also known as Augustine, St. Augustine, St. Austin, St. Augoustinos, Blessed Augustine, or St. Augustine the Blessed, was Bishop of Hippo Regius . He was a Latin-speaking philosopher and theologian who lived in the Roman Africa Province...

's doctrine of original sin
Original sin
Original sin is, according to a Christian theological doctrine, humanity's state of sin resulting from the Fall of Man. This condition has been characterized in many ways, ranging from something as insignificant as a slight deficiency, or a tendency toward sin yet without collective guilt, referred...

.

Anglo-Saxon Christianity



While Christianity was long established as the religion of the Britons
Britons (historical)
The Britons were the Celtic people culturally dominating Great Britain from the Iron Age through the Early Middle Ages. They spoke the Insular Celtic language known as British or Brythonic...

 at the time of the Anglo-Saxon invasion, Christian Britons made little progress in converting the newcomers from their native paganism. Consequently, in 597, Pope Gregory I
Pope Gregory I
Pope Gregory I , better known in English as Gregory the Great, was pope from 3 September 590 until his death...

 sent Saint Augustine of Canterbury
Augustine of Canterbury
Augustine of Canterbury was a Benedictine monk who became the first Archbishop of Canterbury in the year 597...

 from Rome to evangelise the Angles
Angles
The Angles is a modern English term for a Germanic people who took their name from the ancestral cultural region of Angeln, a district located in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany...

. This event is known as the Gregorian mission
Gregorian mission
The Gregorian mission, sometimes known as the Augustinian mission, was the missionary endeavour sent by Pope Gregory the Great to the Anglo-Saxons in 596 AD. Headed by Augustine of Canterbury, its goal was to convert the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity. By the death of the last missionary in 653, they...

 and is the date the Church of England generally marks the beginning of its formal history. With the help of Christians already residing in Kent
Kingdom of Kent
The Kingdom of Kent was a Jutish colony and later independent kingdom in what is now south east England. It was founded at an unknown date in the 5th century by Jutes, members of a Germanic people from continental Europe, some of whom settled in Britain after the withdrawal of the Romans...

, Augustine established his church in Canterbury
Canterbury
Canterbury is a historic English cathedral city, which lies at the heart of the City of Canterbury, a district of Kent in South East England. It lies on the River Stour....

, the capital of the Kingdom of Kent, and became the first in the series of Archbishops of Canterbury in 598. A later archbishop, the Greek Theodore of Tarsus
Theodore of Tarsus
Theodore was the eighth Archbishop of Canterbury, best known for his reform of the English Church and establishment of a school in Canterbury....

, also contributed to the organisation of Christianity in England.

Synod of Whitby and papal authority


While some Celtic Christian practices were changed at the Synod of Whitby, the church in the British Isles was under papal authority from earliest times. Queen Bertha of Kent was among the Christians in England who recognised papal authority before Augustine arrived and Celtic Christians were carrying out missionary work with papal approval long before the Synod of Whitby.


The Synod of Whitby
Synod of Whitby
The Synod of Whitby was a seventh century Northumbriansynod where King Oswiu of Northumbria ruled that his kingdom would calculate Easter and observe the monastic tonsure according to the customs of Rome, rather than the customs practised by Iona and its satellite institutions...

 established the Roman date for Easter and the Roman style of monastic tonsure in Britain. This meeting of the ecclesiastics with Roman customs with local bishops was summoned in 664 at Saint Hilda's double monastery of Streonshalh (Streanæshalch), later called Whitby Abbey. It was presided over by King Oswiu, who did not engage in the debate but made the final ruling.

Secession from Rome


In 1534 King Henry VIII
Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later King, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France...

 separated the English Church from Rome. A theological separation had been foreshadowed by various movements within the English church such as Lollardy
Lollardy
Lollardy was a political and religious movement that existed from the mid-14th century to the English Reformation. The term "Lollard" refers to the followers of John Wycliffe, a prominent theologian who was dismissed from the University of Oxford in 1381 for criticism of the Church, especially his...

, but the English Reformation
English Reformation
The English Reformation was the series of events in 16th-century England by which the Church of England broke away from the authority of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church....

 gained political support when Henry VIII wanted an annulment
Annulment
Annulment is a legal procedure for declaring a marriage null and void. Unlike divorce, it is usually retroactive, meaning that an annulled marriage is considered to be invalid from the beginning almost as if it had never taken place...

 of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon
Catherine of Aragon
Catherine of Aragon , also known as Katherine or Katharine, was Queen consort of England as the first wife of King Henry VIII of England and Princess of Wales as the wife to Arthur, Prince of Wales...

 so he could marry Anne Boleyn
Anne Boleyn
Anne Boleyn ;c.1501/1507 – 19 May 1536) was Queen of England from 1533 to 1536 as the second wife of Henry VIII of England and Marquess of Pembroke in her own right. Henry's marriage to Anne, and her subsequent execution, made her a key figure in the political and religious upheaval that was the...

. Under pressure from Catherine's nephew, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 and, as Charles I, of the Spanish Empire from 1516 until his voluntary retirement and abdication in favor of his younger brother Ferdinand I and his son Philip II in 1556.As...

, Pope Clement VII refused the annulment. Eventually, Henry, although theologically a doctrinal Catholic, took the position of Supreme Head of the Church of England
Supreme Governor of the Church of England
The Supreme Governor of the Church of England is a title held by the British monarchs which signifies their titular leadership over the Church of England. Although the monarch's authority over the Church of England is not strong, the position is still very relevant to the church and is mostly...

 to ensure the annulment of his marriage. He was excommunicated by Pope Paul III
Pope Paul III
Pope Paul III , born Alessandro Farnese, was Pope of the Roman Catholic Church from 1534 to his death in 1549. He came to the papal throne in an era following the sack of Rome in 1527 and rife with uncertainties in the Catholic Church following the Protestant Reformation...

.

Henry maintained a strong preference for traditional Catholic practices and, during his reign, Protestant reformers were unable to make many changes to the practices of the Church of England. Indeed, this part of Henry's reign saw the trial for heresy of Protestants as well as Roman Catholics.

Under his son, Edward VI
Edward VI of England
Edward VI was the King of England and Ireland from 28 January 1547 until his death. He was crowned on 20 February at the age of nine. The son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, Edward was the third monarch of the Tudor dynasty and England's first monarch who was raised as a Protestant...

, more Protestant-influenced forms of worship were adopted. Under the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer
Thomas Cranmer
Thomas Cranmer was a leader of the English Reformation and Archbishop of Canterbury during the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI and, for a short time, Mary I. He helped build a favourable case for Henry's divorce from Catherine of Aragon which resulted in the separation of the English Church from...

, a more radical reformation proceeded. A new pattern of worship was set out in the Book of Common Prayer
Book of Common Prayer
The Book of Common Prayer is the short title of a number of related prayer books used in the Anglican Communion, as well as by the Continuing Anglican, "Anglican realignment" and other Anglican churches. The original book, published in 1549 , in the reign of Edward VI, was a product of the English...

 (1549 and 1552). These were based on the older liturgy but influenced by Protestant principles. The confession of the reformed Church of England was set out in the Forty-two Articles (later revised to thirty-nine). The reformation however was cut short by the death of the king. Queen Mary I
Mary I of England
Mary I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from July 1553 until her death.She was the only surviving child born of the ill-fated marriage of Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon. Her younger half-brother, Edward VI, succeeded Henry in 1547...

, who succeeded him, returned England again to the authority of the Pope, thereby ending the first attempt at an independent Church of England. During Mary's reign, many leaders and common people were burnt for their refusal to recant of their reformed faith. These are known as the Marian martyrs and the persecution has led to her nickname of "Bloody Mary
Mary I of England
Mary I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from July 1553 until her death.She was the only surviving child born of the ill-fated marriage of Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon. Her younger half-brother, Edward VI, succeeded Henry in 1547...

".


Mary also died childless and so it was left to the new regime of her half-sister Elizabeth to resolve the direction of the church. The settlement under Elizabeth I
Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty...

 (from 1558), known as the Elizabethan settlement, developed the via media (middle way) character of the Church of England, a church moderately Reformed in doctrine, as expressed in the Thirty-nine Articles
Thirty-Nine Articles
The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion are the historically defining statements of doctrines of the Anglican church with respect to the controversies of the English Reformation. First established in 1563, the articles served to define the doctrine of the nascent Church of England as it related to...

, but also emphasising continuity with the Catholic and Apostolic traditions of the Church Fathers
Church Fathers
The Church Fathers, Early Church Fathers, Christian Fathers, or Fathers of the Church were early and influential theologians, eminent Christian teachers and great bishops. Their scholarly works were used as a precedent for centuries to come...

. It was also an established church (constitutionally established by the state with the head of state as its supreme governor). The exact nature of the relationship between church and state would be a source of continued friction into the next century.

Stuart period



For the next century, through the reigns of James I
James I of England
James VI and I was King of Scots as James VI from 24 July 1567 and King of England and Ireland as James I from the union of the English and Scottish crowns on 24 March 1603...

, who ordered the creation of what became known as the King James Bible, and Charles I
Charles I of England
Charles I was King of England, King of Scotland, and King of Ireland from 27 March 1625 until his execution in 1649. Charles engaged in a struggle for power with the Parliament of England, attempting to obtain royal revenue whilst Parliament sought to curb his Royal prerogative which Charles...

, and culminating in the English Civil War
English Civil War
The English Civil War was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists...

 and the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell was an English military and political leader who overthrew the English monarchy and temporarily turned England into a republican Commonwealth, and served as Lord Protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland....

, there were significant swings back and forth between two factions: the Puritans (and other radicals) who sought more far-reaching Protestant reforms, and the more conservative churchmen who aimed to keep closer to traditional beliefs and Catholic practices. The failure of political and ecclesiastical authorities to submit to Puritan demands for more extensive reform was one of the causes of open warfare. By Continental standards, the level of violence over religion was not high, but the casualties included a king, Charles I, and an Archbishop of Canterbury, William Laud
William Laud
William Laud was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1633 to 1645. One of the High Church Caroline divines, he opposed radical forms of Puritanism...

. Under the Commonwealth and then the Protectorate of England from 1649 to 1660, the bishops were dethroned and former practices were outlawed, and in their place, Presbyterian
Presbyterian polity
Presbyterian polity is a method of church governance typified by the rule of assemblies of presbyters, or elders. Each local church is governed by a body of elected elders usually called the session or consistory, though other terms, such as church board, may apply...

 ecclesiology was introduced in place of the episcopate. In addition, the 39 Articles were replaced with the Westminster Confession, and the Book of Common Prayer was replaced by the Directory of Public Worship. Despite this, about one quarter of English clergy refused to conform to this form of State Presbyterianism.

With the Restoration of Charles II, Parliament restored the Church of England to a form not far removed from the Elizabethan version. One difference was that the ideal of encompassing all the people of England in one religious organization, taken for granted by the Tudors, had to be abandoned. The religious landscape of England assumed its present form, with the Anglican established church occupying the middle ground, and those Puritans and Protestants who dissented from the Anglican establishment, and Roman Catholics, too strong to be suppressed altogether, having to continue their existence outside the National Church rather than controlling it. Continuing official suspicion and legal restrictions continued well into the 19th century.

19th century


By the Fifth Article of the Union with Ireland 1800, the Church of England and Church of Ireland
Church of Ireland
The Church of Ireland is an autonomous province of the Anglican Communion. The church operates in all parts of Ireland and is the second largest religious body on the island after the Roman Catholic Church...

 were united into "one protestant episcopal church, to be called, the united church of England and Ireland". Although this union was declared "an essential and fundamental Part of the Union", nevertheless the Irish Church Act 1869 separated the Irish part of the Church again and disestablished it, the Act coming into effect on 1 January 1871.

Overseas developments



As the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 expanded, British colonists and colonial administrators took the established church doctrines and practices together with ordained ministry and formed overseas branches of the Church of England. As they developed many became completely separate churches organizationally but remained linked to the Church of England through the Anglican Communion
Anglican Communion
The Anglican Communion is an international association of national and regional Anglican churches in full communion with the Church of England and specifically with its principal primate, the Archbishop of Canterbury...

.

Doctrine and practice



Church of England doctrine can be summarised in its canon law
Canon law
Canon law is the body of laws & regulations made or adopted by ecclesiastical authority, for the government of the Christian organization and its members. It is the internal ecclesiastical law governing the Catholic Church , the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches, and the Anglican Communion of...

 as follows:

"Of the doctrine of the Church of England" (Canon A5):
"The doctrine of the Church of England is grounded in the Holy Scriptures, and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures. In particular such doctrine is to be found in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, The Book of Common Prayer, and the Ordinal."

As the Church of England bases its teachings on the Holy Scriptures, the ancient Catholic teachings of the Church Fathers
Church Fathers
The Church Fathers, Early Church Fathers, Christian Fathers, or Fathers of the Church were early and influential theologians, eminent Christian teachers and great bishops. Their scholarly works were used as a precedent for centuries to come...

 and some of the doctrinal principles of the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

 (as expressed in the 39 Articles and other documents such as the Book of Homilies
Book of Homilies
The Books of Homilies are two books of thirty-three sermons developing the reformed doctrines of the Church of England in greater depth and detail than in the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion...

), Anglicanism can therefore be described as "Reformed Catholic" in character rather than Protestant
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

. In practice, however, it is more mixed, with Anglicans who emphasise the Catholic tradition and others the Reformed tradition. There is also a long history of more liberal or latitudinarian
Latitudinarian
Latitudinarian was initially a pejorative term applied to a group of 17th-century English theologians who believed in conforming to official Church of England practices but who felt that matters of doctrine, liturgical practice, and ecclesiastical organization were of relatively little importance...

 views. These three "parties" in the Church of England are sometimes called high church
High church
The term "High Church" refers to beliefs and practices of ecclesiology, liturgy and theology, generally with an emphasis on formality, and resistance to "modernization." Although used in connection with various Christian traditions, the term has traditionally been principally associated with the...

 (or Anglo-Catholic), low church
Low church
Low church is a term of distinction in the Church of England or other Anglican churches initially designed to be pejorative. During the series of doctrinal and ecclesiastic challenges to the established church in the 16th and 17th centuries, commentators and others began to refer to those groups...

 (or Evangelical
Evangelicalism
Evangelicalism is a Protestant Christian movement which began in Great Britain in the 1730s and gained popularity in the United States during the series of Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th century.Its key commitments are:...

) and broad church
Broad church
Broad church is a term referring to latitudinarian churchmanship in the Church of England, in particular, and Anglicanism, in general. From this, the term is often used to refer to secular political organisations, meaning that they encompass a broad range of opinion.-Usage:After the terms high...

 (or Liberal). In terms of church government, unlike many of the Protestant denominations it has retained episcopal
Episcopal polity
Episcopal polity is a form of church governance that is hierarchical in structure with the chief authority over a local Christian church resting in a bishop...

 (bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

) leadership.
The teachings of Richard Hooker
Richard Hooker
Richard Hooker was an Anglican priest and an influential theologian. Hooker's emphases on reason, tolerance and the value of tradition came to exert a lasting influence on the development of the Church of England...

, the 16th century divine, summarised the Anglican position well, affirming bishops as ancient, allowable and for the good of the church.

In many people's eyes today the Church of England has, as one of its distinguishing marks, a breadth and "open-mindedness". This range of belief and practice includes those of the Anglo-Catholics
Anglo-Catholicism
The terms Anglo-Catholic and Anglo-Catholicism describe people, beliefs and practices within Anglicanism that affirm the Catholic, rather than Protestant, heritage and identity of the Anglican churches....

, who emphasise liturgy and sacrament
Sacrament
A sacrament is a sacred rite recognized as of particular importance and significance. There are various views on the existence and meaning of such rites.-General definitions and terms:...

s, to the far more preaching-centred and less ritual-based services of Evangelicals
Evangelicalism
Evangelicalism is a Protestant Christian movement which began in Great Britain in the 1730s and gained popularity in the United States during the series of Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th century.Its key commitments are:...

 and gatherings of the Charismatics
Charismatic movement
The term charismatic movement is used in varying senses to describe 20th century developments in various Christian denominations. It describes an ongoing international, cross-denominational/non-denominational Christian movement in which individual, historically mainstream congregations adopt...

. But this "broad church" faces various contentious doctrinal and social questions.

Women's ministry


Women were appointed as deaconesses from 1861 but they could not function fully as deacons and were not considered ordained clergy. Women have been lay reader
Lay Reader
A lay reader is a layperson authorized by a bishop of the Anglican Church to read some parts of a service of worship. They are members of the congregation called to preach or lead services, but not called to full-time ministry.Anglican lay readers are licensed by the bishop to a particular parish...

s for a long time. During the First World War some women were appointed as lay readers but known as "Bishop's Messengers". However, after that no more lay readers were appointed until 1969.

Legislation authorising the ordination of women as deacons was passed in 1986 and they were first ordained in 1987. The ordination of women
Ordination of women
Ordination in general religious usage is the process by which a person is consecrated . The ordination of women is a regular practice among some major religious groups, as it was of several religions of antiquity...

 as priests was passed by the General Synod
General Synod of the Church of England
The General Synod is the deliberative and legislative body of the Church of England. The synod was instituted in 1970, replacing the Church Assembly, and is the culmination of a process of rediscovering self-government for the Church of England that had started in the 1850s.- Church Assembly: 1919...

 in 1993 and began in 1994. In July 2005 the synod voted to "set in train" the process of allowing the consecration of women as bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

s. In February 2006 the synod voted overwhelmingly for the "further exploration" of possible arrangements for parishes that did not want to be directly under the authority of a woman bishop. On 7 July 2008 the church's governing body voted to approve the ordination of women as bishops and rejected moves for alternative episcopal oversight for those who do not accept women bishops. Actual ordinations of women to the episcopate will require further legislation which is anticipated to be considered before 2014.

Worship and liturgy



The Church of England's official book of liturgy as established in English Law is the Book of Common Prayer
Book of Common Prayer
The Book of Common Prayer is the short title of a number of related prayer books used in the Anglican Communion, as well as by the Continuing Anglican, "Anglican realignment" and other Anglican churches. The original book, published in 1549 , in the reign of Edward VI, was a product of the English...

(BCP), but there are many examples of local variations throughout the churches of the Anglican Communion. In addition to this book the General Synod has also legislated for a modern liturgical book
Liturgical book
A liturgical book is a book published by the authority of a church, that contains the text and directions for the liturgy of its official religious services.-Roman Catholic:...

, Common Worship
Common Worship
Common Worship is the name given to the series of services authorised by the General Synod of the Church of England and launched on the first Sunday of Advent in 2000. It represents the most recent stage of development of the Liturgical Movement within the Church and is the successor to the...

, dating from 2000, which can be used as an alternative to the BCP. Like its predecessor, the 1980 Alternative Service Book
Alternative Service Book
The Alternative Service Book 1980 was the first complete prayer book produced by the Church of England since 1662. Its name derives from the fact that it was proposed not as a replacement for the Book of Common Prayer but merely as an alternative to it...

, it differs from the Book of Common Prayer in providing a range of alternative services, mostly in modern language, although it does include some BCP-based forms as well, for example Order Two for Holy Communion. (This is a revision of the BCP service, altering some words and allowing the insertion of some other liturgical texts such as the Agnus Dei before communion.) The Order One rite follows the pattern of more modern liturgical scholarship.

The use of hymns and music in the Church of England has changed dramatically over the centuries. Traditional Choral evensong
Evening Prayer (Anglican)
Evening Prayer is a liturgy in use in the Anglican Communion and celebrated in the late afternoon or evening...

 is a staple of most cathedral
Cathedral
A cathedral is a Christian church that contains the seat of a bishop...

s. The style of psalm chanting harks back to the Church of England's pre-reformation roots. During the 18th century, clergy such as Charles Wesley
Charles Wesley
Charles Wesley was an English leader of the Methodist movement, son of Anglican clergyman and poet Samuel Wesley, the younger brother of Anglican clergyman John Wesley and Anglican clergyman Samuel Wesley , and father of musician Samuel Wesley, and grandfather of musician Samuel Sebastian Wesley...

 introduced their own styles of worship with poetic hymns.

In the latter half of the 20th century, the influence of the charismatic movement
Charismatic movement
The term charismatic movement is used in varying senses to describe 20th century developments in various Christian denominations. It describes an ongoing international, cross-denominational/non-denominational Christian movement in which individual, historically mainstream congregations adopt...

 significantly altered the worship traditions of numerous Church of England parishes, primarily affecting those of evangelical persuasion. These churches now adopt a contemporary worship
Contemporary worship
Contemporary worship is a form of Christian worship that emerged within Western evangelical Protestantism in the twentieth century. It was originally confined to the charismatic movement, but is now found to varying extents in a wide range of churches, including many that do not subscribe to a...

 form of service, with minimal liturgical or ritual elements, and incorporating contemporary worship music.

Membership


Membership in the Church of England is by baptism although, due to its status as the established church, in general anyone may be married, have their children baptised or their funeral in their local parish church
Church of England parish church
A parish church in the Church of England is the church which acts as the religious centre for the people within the smallest and most basic Church of England administrative region, known as a parish.-Parishes in England:...

, regardless of whether they are baptised or regular church goers.

Churchgoing in the United Kingdom, including the Church of England, has been declining steadily since around 1890. In the years 1968 to 1999, Anglican church attendances almost halved, from 3.5 per cent of the population to just 1.9 per cent. One study published in 2008 suggested that if current trends continue, Sunday attendances could fall to 350,000 in 2030 and just 87,800 in 2050. The Church of England responded by stating that the figures on which this were based overlooked the level of midweek attendance and that 1.7 million people attend Church of England parish and cathedral services each month, and argued that this figure has remained stable since 2000.

Structure



Article XIX (Of the Church) of the 39 Articles defines the church as follows:
Despite the complexities of the structure, the Church of England at its heart views the local parish church as the basic unit.

The British monarch, at present Queen Elizabeth II
Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom
Elizabeth II is the constitutional monarch of 16 sovereign states known as the Commonwealth realms: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize,...

, has the constitutional title of Supreme Governor of the Church of England
Supreme Governor of the Church of England
The Supreme Governor of the Church of England is a title held by the British monarchs which signifies their titular leadership over the Church of England. Although the monarch's authority over the Church of England is not strong, the position is still very relevant to the church and is mostly...

. The canon law of the Church of England states, "We acknowledge that the Queen’s most excellent Majesty, acting according to the laws of the realm, is the highest power under God in this kingdom, and has supreme authority over all persons in all causes, as well ecclesiastical as civil." In practice this power is often exercised through Parliament
Parliament of the United Kingdom
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the supreme legislative body in the United Kingdom, British Crown dependencies and British overseas territories, located in London...

 and the Prime Minister
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the Head of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister and Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Sovereign, to Parliament, to their political party and...

.

In addition to England proper, the current jurisdiction of the Church of England extends to the Isle of Man
Isle of Man
The Isle of Man , otherwise known simply as Mann , is a self-governing British Crown Dependency, located in the Irish Sea between the islands of Great Britain and Ireland, within the British Isles. The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who holds the title of Lord of Mann. The Lord of Mann is...

, the Channel Islands
Channel Islands
The Channel Islands are an archipelago of British Crown Dependencies in the English Channel, off the French coast of Normandy. They include two separate bailiwicks: the Bailiwick of Guernsey and the Bailiwick of Jersey...

 and a few parishes in Flintshire
Flintshire
Flintshire is a county in north-east Wales. It borders Denbighshire, Wrexham and the English county of Cheshire. It is named after the historic county of Flintshire, which had notably different borders...

, Monmouthshire
Monmouthshire
Monmouthshire is a county in south east Wales. The name derives from the historic county of Monmouthshire which covered a much larger area. The largest town is Abergavenny. There are many castles in Monmouthshire .-Historic county:...

 and Radnorshire
Radnorshire
Radnorshire is one of thirteen historic and former administrative counties of Wales. It is represented by the Radnorshire area of Powys, which according to the 2001 census, had a population of 24,805...

 in Wales
Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

 (the present Church in Wales
Church in Wales
The Church in Wales is the Anglican church in Wales, composed of six dioceses.As with the primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Archbishop of Wales serves concurrently as one of the six diocesan bishops. The current archbishop is Barry Morgan, the Bishop of Llandaff.In contrast to the...

 was an integral part of the Church of England until 1920). Expatriate congregations on the continent of Europe have become the Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe
Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe
The Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe is geographically the largest diocese of the Church of England and arguably the largest diocese in the Anglican Communion, covering some one-sixth of the Earth's landmass, including Morocco, Europe , Turkey, and the territory of the former Soviet...

.

The church is structured as follows (from the lowest level upwards):

  • Parish
    Parish
    A parish is a territorial unit historically under the pastoral care and clerical jurisdiction of one parish priest, who might be assisted in his pastoral duties by a curate or curates - also priests but not the parish priest - from a more or less central parish church with its associated organization...

    , this is the most local level, often consisting of one church building and community, although nowadays many parishes are joining forces in a variety of ways for financial reasons. The parish will be looked after by a parish priest who for various historical or legal reasons may also be called by one of the following offices: vicar
    Vicar
    In the broadest sense, a vicar is a representative, deputy or substitute; anyone acting "in the person of" or agent for a superior . In this sense, the title is comparable to lieutenant...

    , rector
    Rector
    The word rector has a number of different meanings; it is widely used to refer to an academic, religious or political administrator...

    , priest in charge
    Priest in charge
    A priest in charge or priest-in-charge is a priest in charge of a parish who does not receive the temporalities of the parish. He or she is not legally responsible for the churches and glebe, simply holds a licence rather than freehold and is not appointed by advowson.The appointment of priests in...

    , team rector, team vicar. The first, second, and fourth of these may also be known as the 'incumbent'. The running of the parish is the joint responsibility of the incumbent and the Parochial Church Council
    Parochial Church Council
    The parochial church council , is the executive body of a Church of England parish.-Powers and duties:Two Acts of Parliament define the powers and duties of PCCs...

     (PCC), which consists of the parish clergy and elected representatives from the congregation. The Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe is not formally divided into parishes.
  • There are also a number of local churches which do not have a parish. In urban areas there are a number of proprietary chapel
    Proprietary Chapel
    A proprietary chapel is a chapel that originally belonged to a private person. In the 19th century Britain they were common, often being built to cope with urbanisation. Frequently they were set up by evangelical philanthropists with a vision of spreading Christianity in cities whose needs could no...

    s (mostly built in the 19th century to cope with urbanisation and growth in population). Also in more recent years there are increasingly church plants and Fresh expressions
    Fresh expressions
    Fresh expressions are any of a number of new church groups that have developed within the Church of England since 1990. These believe that 21st century British society is very different from the society when most British churches were formed and that traditional expressions of church have become...

     of church, whereby new congregations are planted in a variety of locations (such as schools or pubs) in order to spread the Gospel of Christ in fresh and non-traditional ways.

  • Deanery
    Deanery
    A Deanery is an ecclesiastical entity in both the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England. A deanery is either the jurisdiction or residence of a Dean.- Catholic usage :...

    , e.g., Lewisham, or Runnymede. This is the area for which a rural dean
    Rural Dean
    In the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church, a Rural Dean presides over a Rural Deanery .-Origins and usage:...

     is responsible. It will consist of a number of parishes in a particular district. The rural dean will usually be the incumbent of one of the constituent parishes. The parishes each elect lay (that is non-ordained) representatives to the deanery synod
    Synod
    A synod historically is a council of a church, usually convened to decide an issue of doctrine, administration or application. In modern usage, the word often refers to the governing body of a particular church, whether its members are meeting or not...

    . Deanery synod members each have a vote in the election of representatives to the diocesan synod.
  • Archdeaconry, e.g., the seven in the Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe
    Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe
    The Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe is geographically the largest diocese of the Church of England and arguably the largest diocese in the Anglican Communion, covering some one-sixth of the Earth's landmass, including Morocco, Europe , Turkey, and the territory of the former Soviet...

    . This is the area under the jurisdiction of an archdeacon
    Archdeacon
    An archdeacon is a senior clergy position in Anglicanism, Syrian Malabar Nasrani, Chaldean Catholic, and some other Christian denominations, above that of most clergy and below a bishop. In the High Middle Ages it was the most senior diocesan position below a bishop in the Roman Catholic Church...

    . It will consist of a number of deaneries.
  • Diocese
    Diocese
    A diocese is the district or see under the supervision of a bishop. It is divided into parishes.An archdiocese is more significant than a diocese. An archdiocese is presided over by an archbishop whose see may have or had importance due to size or historical significance...

    , e.g., Diocese of Durham
    Diocese of Durham
    The Diocese of Durham is a Church of England diocese, based in Durham, and covering the historic County Durham . It was created in AD 1000 to replace the Diocese of Lindisfarne...

    , Diocese of Guildford
    Diocese of Guildford
    The Diocese of Guildford is a Church of England diocese based in Guildford, covering most of Surrey and part of Hampshire. The cathedral is Guildford Cathedral and the bishop is the Bishop of Guildford. It is part of the Province of Canterbury....

    , Diocese of St Albans. This is the area under the jurisdiction of a diocesan bishop
    Bishop
    A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

    , e.g., the Bishops of Durham, Guildford and St Albans, and will have a cathedral
    Cathedral
    A cathedral is a Christian church that contains the seat of a bishop...

    . There may also be one or more assisting bishops, usually called suffragan bishops
    Suffragan bishop
    A suffragan bishop is a bishop subordinate to a metropolitan bishop or diocesan bishop. He or she may be assigned to an area which does not have a cathedral of its own.-Anglican Communion:...

    , within the diocese who assist the diocesan bishop in his ministry, e.g., in Guildford diocese, the Bishop of Dorking. In some very large dioceses a legal measure has been enacted to create "episcopal areas", in which case the diocesan bishop will run one such area himself and will appoint an "area bishop" to run each of the other areas as mini-dioceses; in such cases, the diocesan bishop legally delegates many of his powers to the area bishops. Dioceses with episcopal areas include London
    Diocese of London
    The Anglican Diocese of London forms part of the Province of Canterbury in England.Historically the diocese covered a large area north of the Thames and bordered the dioceses of Norwich and Lincoln to the north and west. The present diocese covers and 17 London boroughs, covering most of Greater...

    , Chelmsford
    Diocese of Chelmsford
    The Diocese of Chelmsford is a Church of England diocese, part of the Province of Canterbury. The diocese covers Essex and the five East London boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Havering, Newham, Redbridge, and Waltham Forest, and is co-terminous with the boundaries of the Catholic Diocese of...

    , Oxford
    Diocese of Oxford
    -History:The Diocese of Oxford was created in 1541 out of part of the Diocese of Lincoln.In 1836 the Archdeaconry of Berkshire was transferred from the Diocese of Salisbury to Oxford...

    , Chichester
    Diocese of Chichester
    The Diocese of Chichester is a Church of England diocese based in Chichester, covering Sussex. It was created in 1075 to replace the old Diocese of Selsey, which was based at Selsey Abbey from 681. The cathedral is Chichester Cathedral and the bishop is the Bishop of Chichester...

    , Southwark
    Anglican Diocese of Southwark
    The Diocese of Southwark is one of the 44 dioceses of the Church of England, part of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The Diocese forms part of the Province of Canterbury in England. It was formed on May 1, 1905 from part of the Diocese of Rochester...

    , and Lichfield
    Diocese of Lichfield
    The Diocese of Lichfield is a Church of England diocese in the Province of Canterbury, England. The bishop's seat is located in the Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Chad in the city of Lichfield. The diocese covers 4,516 km² The Diocese of Lichfield is a Church of England...

    . The bishops will work with an elected body of lay
    Laity
    In religious organizations, the laity comprises all people who are not in the clergy. A person who is a member of a religious order who is not ordained legitimate clergy is considered as a member of the laity, even though they are members of a religious order .In the past in Christian cultures, the...

     and ordained representatives, known as the diocesan synod
    Diocesan Synod
    In the Anglican Communion, the model of government is the 'Bishop in Synod', meaning that a diocese is governed by a bishop acting with the advice and consent of representatives of the clergy and laity of the diocese. In much of the Communion the body by which this representation is achieved is...

    , to run the diocese. A diocese is subdivided into a number of archdeaconries.
  • Province
    Ecclesiastical Province
    An ecclesiastical province is a large jurisdiction of religious government, so named by analogy with a secular province, existing in certain hierarchical Christian churches, especially in the Catholic Church and Orthodox Churches and in the Anglican Communion...

    , i.e., York or Canterbury (these are the only two in the Church of England). This is the area under the jurisdiction of an archbishop
    Archbishop
    An archbishop is a bishop of higher rank, but not of higher sacramental order above that of the three orders of deacon, priest , and bishop...

    , i.e. the Archbishops of Canterbury and York. Decision making within the province is the responsibility of the General Synod
    General Synod
    -Church of England:In the Church of England, the General Synod, which was established in 1970 , is the legislative body of the Church.-Episcopal Church of the United States:...

     (see also above). A province is subdivided into dioceses.
  • Primacy
    Primacy
    Primacy Effect may refer to:The tendency to form impressions of people based on the first information we receive about them. The primacy effect has most effect during repeated message when there is little or no delay between the messages....

    , i.e., Church of England. In addition to his specific authority in his own province, each archbishop is "Primate of All England" (Canterbury) or "Primate of England" (York) and has certain powers that extend over the whole country—for example his license to marry without the banns (marriage licence).
  • Royal Peculiar
    Royal Peculiar
    A Royal Peculiar is a place of worship that falls directly under the jurisdiction of the British monarch, rather than under a bishop. The concept dates from Anglo-Saxon times, when a church could ally itself with the monarch and therefore not be subject to the bishop of the area...

    , a small number of churches are more closely associated with the Crown
    The Crown
    The Crown is a corporation sole that in the Commonwealth realms and any provincial or state sub-divisions thereof represents the legal embodiment of governance, whether executive, legislative, or judicial...

    , and a very few with the law and are outside the usual church hierarchy though conforming to the rite. These are outside episcopal jurisdiction.


All rectors and vicars are appointed by patrons
Advowson
Advowson is the right in English law of a patron to present or appoint a nominee to a vacant ecclesiastical benefice or church living, a process known as presentation. In effect this means the right to nominate a person to hold a church office in a parish...

, who may be private individuals, corporate bodies such as cathedrals, colleges or trusts, or by the bishop or even appointed directly by the Crown. No clergy can be instituted and inducted into a parish without swearing the Oath of Allegiance to Her Majesty, and taking the Oath of Canonical Obedience "in all things lawful and honest" to the bishop. Usually they are instituted to the benefice by the bishop and then inducted by the archdeacon into the actual possession of the benefice property—church and parsonage. Curates are appointed by rectors and vicars, but if priests-in-charge then by the bishop after consultations with the patron. Cathedral clergy (normally a dean and a varying number of residentiary canons who constitute the cathedral chapter) are appointed either by the Crown, the bishop, or by the dean and chapter themselves. Clergy officiate in a diocese either because they hold office as beneficed clergy or are licensed by the bishop when appointed (e.g. curates), or simply with permission.

Primates



The most senior bishop of the Church of England is the Archbishop of Canterbury
Archbishop of Canterbury
The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop and principal leader of the Church of England, the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury. In his role as head of the Anglican Communion, the archbishop leads the third largest group...

, who is the archbishop of the southern province of England, the Province of Canterbury. He also has the status of Primate
Primate (religion)
Primate is a title or rank bestowed on some bishops in certain Christian churches. Depending on the particular tradition, it can denote either jurisdictional authority or ceremonial precedence ....

 of All England and Metropolitan
Metropolitan bishop
In Christian churches with episcopal polity, the rank of metropolitan bishop, or simply metropolitan, pertains to the diocesan bishop or archbishop of a metropolis; that is, the chief city of a historical Roman province, ecclesiastical province, or regional capital.Before the establishment of...

. He is also the focus of unity for the worldwide Anglican Communion
Anglican Communion
The Anglican Communion is an international association of national and regional Anglican churches in full communion with the Church of England and specifically with its principal primate, the Archbishop of Canterbury...

 of independent national or regional churches. The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Rowan Williams
Rowan Williams
Rowan Douglas Williams FRSL, FBA, FLSW is an Anglican bishop, poet and theologian. He is the 104th and current Archbishop of Canterbury, Metropolitan of the Province of Canterbury and Primate of All England, offices he has held since early 2003.Williams was previously Bishop of Monmouth and...

 has served as Archbishop of Canterbury since 2002.

The second most senior bishop is the Archbishop of York
Archbishop of York
The Archbishop of York is a high-ranking cleric in the Church of England, second only to the Archbishop of Canterbury. He is the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of York and metropolitan of the Province of York, which covers the northern portion of England as well as the Isle of Man...

, who is the archbishop of the northern province of England, the Province of York. For historical reasons (relating to the time of York's control by the Danes
Danelaw
The Danelaw, as recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle , is a historical name given to the part of England in which the laws of the "Danes" held sway and dominated those of the Anglo-Saxons. It is contrasted with "West Saxon law" and "Mercian law". The term has been extended by modern historians to...

) he is referred to as the Primate of England. The Most Reverend and Right Honourable John Sentamu
John Sentamu
John Tucker Mugabi Sentamu is the 97th Archbishop of York, Metropolitan of the province of York, and Primate of England. He is the second most senior cleric in the Church of England, after the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.-Life and career:...

 has served as the Archbishop of York since 2005. The Bishop of London, the Bishop of Durham and the Bishop of Winchester are ranked in the next three positions.

Diocesan bishops


The process of appointing diocesan bishops is complex and is handled by a body called the Crown Nominations Committee
Appointment of Church of England bishops
The appointment of Church of England diocesan bishops follows a somewhat convoluted process, reflecting the church's traditional tendency towards compromise and ad hoc solutions, traditional ambiguity between hierarchy and democracy, and traditional role as a semi-autonomous state church...

 which submits names to the Prime Minister (acting on behalf of the Crown) for consideration.

Representative bodies



The Church of England has a legislative body, the General Synod
General Synod of the Church of England
The General Synod is the deliberative and legislative body of the Church of England. The synod was instituted in 1970, replacing the Church Assembly, and is the culmination of a process of rediscovering self-government for the Church of England that had started in the 1850s.- Church Assembly: 1919...

. Synod can create two types of legislation, measures and canons
Canon law
Canon law is the body of laws & regulations made or adopted by ecclesiastical authority, for the government of the Christian organization and its members. It is the internal ecclesiastical law governing the Catholic Church , the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches, and the Anglican Communion of...

. Measures have to be approved but cannot be amended by the UK Parliament
Parliament of the United Kingdom
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the supreme legislative body in the United Kingdom, British Crown dependencies and British overseas territories, located in London...

 before receiving the Royal Assent
Royal Assent
The granting of royal assent refers to the method by which any constitutional monarch formally approves and promulgates an act of his or her nation's parliament, thus making it a law...

 and becoming part of the law of England. Canons require Royal Licence and Royal Assent, but form the law of the church, rather than the law of the land.

Another assembly is the Convocation of the English Clergy
Convocation of the English Clergy
The Convocation of the English Clergy is a synodical assembly of the Church of England consisting of bishops and clergy.- Background and introduction :...

 (older than the General Synod and its predecessor the Church Assembly). There are also diocesan synods
Diocesan Synod
In the Anglican Communion, the model of government is the 'Bishop in Synod', meaning that a diocese is governed by a bishop acting with the advice and consent of representatives of the clergy and laity of the diocese. In much of the Communion the body by which this representation is achieved is...

 and deanery synods.

House of Lords



Of the forty-four diocesan archbishop
Archbishop
An archbishop is a bishop of higher rank, but not of higher sacramental order above that of the three orders of deacon, priest , and bishop...

s and bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

s in the Church of England, only twenty-six are permitted to sit in the House of Lords
House of Lords
The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the House of Commons, it meets in the Palace of Westminster....

. The Archbishops of Canterbury
Archbishop of Canterbury
The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop and principal leader of the Church of England, the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury. In his role as head of the Anglican Communion, the archbishop leads the third largest group...

 and York automatically have seats, as do the Bishops of London
Bishop of London
The Bishop of London is the ordinary of the Church of England Diocese of London in the Province of Canterbury.The diocese covers 458 km² of 17 boroughs of Greater London north of the River Thames and a small part of the County of Surrey...

, Durham and Winchester
Bishop of Winchester
The Bishop of Winchester is the head of the Church of England diocese of Winchester, with his cathedra at Winchester Cathedral in Hampshire.The bishop is one of five Church of England bishops to be among the Lords Spiritual regardless of their length of service. His diocese is one of the oldest and...

. The remaining twenty-one seats are filled in order of seniority by consecration
Consecration
Consecration is the solemn dedication to a special purpose or service, usually religious. The word "consecration" literally means "to associate with the sacred". Persons, places, or things can be consecrated, and the term is used in various ways by different groups...

. It may take a diocesan bishop a number of years to reach the House of Lords, at which point he becomes a Lord Spiritual
Lords Spiritual
The Lords Spiritual of the United Kingdom, also called Spiritual Peers, are the 26 bishops of the established Church of England who serve in the House of Lords along with the Lords Temporal. The Church of Scotland, which is Presbyterian, is not represented by spiritual peers...

. The Bishop of Sodor and Man
Bishop of Sodor and Man
The Bishop of Sodor and Man is the Ordinary of the Diocese of Sodor and Man in the Province of York in the Church of England. The diocese covers the Isle of Man. The see is in the town of Peel where the bishop's seat is located at the Cathedral Church of St German, elevated to cathedral status on 1...

 and the Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe
Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe
The Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe is the ordinary of the Church of England's Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe in the Province of Canterbury.The diocese covers not only the area of Gibraltar in British jurisdiction but also all of mainland Europe, Morocco and the territory of the former Soviet Union...

 are not eligible to sit in the House of Lords as their dioceses lie outside the United Kingdom.

Financial situation



The Church of England, although an established church, does not receive any direct government support. Donations comprise its largest source of income, though it also relies heavily on the income from its various historic endowments. , the Church of England had estimated total outgoings of around £900 million.

See also


  • Appointment of Church of England bishops
    Appointment of Church of England bishops
    The appointment of Church of England diocesan bishops follows a somewhat convoluted process, reflecting the church's traditional tendency towards compromise and ad hoc solutions, traditional ambiguity between hierarchy and democracy, and traditional role as a semi-autonomous state church...

  • Architecture of the medieval cathedrals of England
    Architecture of the medieval cathedrals of England
    The medieval cathedrals of England, dating from between approximately 1040 and 1540, are a group of twenty-six buildings which together constitute a major aspect of the country’s artistic heritage and are among the most significant material symbols of Christianity. Though diversified in style, they...

  • British monarchy
    British monarchy
    The monarchy of the United Kingdom is the constitutional monarchy of the United Kingdom and its overseas territories. The present monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, has reigned since 6 February 1952. She and her immediate family undertake various official, ceremonial and representational duties...

  • Church of England Newspaper
    Church of England Newspaper
    The Church of England Newspaper is an independent Anglican weekly newspaper. It is published in the United Kingdom on Fridays.The Church of England Newspaper was founded in 1828 and is notable as the earliest Church paper, and one of the oldest newspapers still in circulation. It is independent...

  • Church of England parish church
    Church of England parish church
    A parish church in the Church of England is the church which acts as the religious centre for the people within the smallest and most basic Church of England administrative region, known as a parish.-Parishes in England:...

  • Mothers' Union
    Mothers' Union
    Mothers’ Union is an international Christian charity that seeks to support families worldwide. Its members are not all mothers or even all women, as there are many parents, men, widows, singles and grandparents involved in its work...

  • Historical development of Church of England dioceses
    Historical development of Church of England dioceses
    This article traces the historical development of the dioceses and cathedrals of the Church of England. It is customary in England to name each diocese after the city where its cathedral is located. Occasionally, when the bishop's seat has been moved from one city to another, the diocese may retain...

  • List of bishops in the Church of England
  • List of Church of England dioceses
  • Religion in the United Kingdom
    Religion in the United Kingdom
    Religion in the United Kingdom and the states that pre-dated the UK, was dominated by forms of Christianity for over 1,400 years. Although a majority of citizens still identify with Christianity in many surveys, regular church attendance has fallen dramatically since the middle of the 20th century,...

  • Ritualism
  • Shrinking the footprint
    Shrinking the footprint
    Shrinking the footprint is a campaign by the Church of England to reduce its carbon footprint.The campaign is being led by the Bishop of London, Dr Richard Chartres and was launched on World Environment Day in June 2006 with an invitation to all churches to carry out an energy audit and debate...

  • List of the first 32 women ordained as Church of England priests

External links