What is Anglicanism?
Christianity is the world’s largest religion, with upwards of 2 billion followers on every continent. It is based on the teachings of Jesus Christ who lived in the Holy Land 2,000 years ago. Interested in learning more about who Jesus and what it means to follow him? You are invited to worship in any Episcopal Church.
Anglicanism is one of the traditions, or expressions, of this Christian faith. Other Christian traditions include Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Protestant Churches, which include Lutheran, Baptist, and Pentecostal Churches. The word Anglican originates in ecclesia anglicana, a medieval Latin phrase dating to at least 1246 that means the English Church, but in the past two centuries the tradition has been adopted around the world. Now 85 million members are part of national or regional Churches that call themselves Anglican (or Episcopal in some countries) which collectively are known as the Anglican Communion.
Anglicans and Episcopalians the world over share aspects of their history, tradition and ways of worshipping. (Learn more about Anglican belief HERE) But no two churches are exactly alike even within a diocese, let alone a province or between countries. This unity in diversity is one of the things that make the Anglican Communion so special and such rich ground from which to change the world.
The Anglican Communion Today
Today the Anglican Communion is 38 autonomous national and regional Churches plus six Extra Provincial Churches and dioceses; all of which are in Communion – in a reciprocal relationship – with the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is the Communion’s spiritual head.
There is no Anglican central authority such as a pope. Each Church makes its own decisions in its own ways, guided by recommendations from the Lambeth Conference, Anglican Consultative Council, the Primates’ Meeting and the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Anglicans and Episcopalians have always worked and worshipped together across national borders to support each others’ lives and ministry. The insight, experience and wisdom contributed to joint endeavours by Anglican Communion members from all provinces means that the Communion can pack a real punch at national and international levels. Examples of such collaboration can be found in the Communion’s Networks, in projects such as Anglican Witness, the Anglican Alliance, in its International Commission on Unity, Faith and Order and on the Anglican Communion News Service.
It has always been a strength of the Anglican Communion that such co-operation continues and flourishes despite significant disagreements on certain issues. Other Christian traditions look to the Anglican Communion to learn from its ability to have good disagreements. Projects such as Continuing Indaba and Living Reconciliation testify to how reconciliation is at the heart of our Communion.
Discover more about the Anglican Communion here.
Anglican Primates Meet at Canterbury