Short history of Anglicanism
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. 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 stage 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.
Anglicans uphold the Catholic and Apostolic faith. Following the
teachings of Jesus Christ, the 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.
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. Until the late
twentieth century the great uniting text was The Book of Common
Prayer, in its various revisions throughout the Communion, and
the modern language liturgies, such as Common Worship, which now exist
alongside it still bear a family likeness. Both The Book of
Common Prayer, and more recent Anglican liturgies give
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.
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
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.