Following the teachings of Jesus Christ, Anglicans are committed to the proclamation of the good news of the Gospel to all creation. Our faith and ministry have been expressed through the Book of Common Prayer, received and adapted by local churches, in the Services of Ordination (the Ordinal), and in the Chicago-Lambeth Qudrilateral, first expounded at the missionary Conference in Chicago in 1886, and revised by the Lambeth Conference of 1888.

Anglican-Compass-RoseThe quadrilateral sets out four essential elements of the Christian faith:

  1. The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as “containing all things necessary to salvation”, and as being the rule and ultimate standard of faith.
  2. The Apostles’ Creed, as the baptismal symbol; and the Nicene Creed as the sufficient statement of the Christian faith.
  3. The two Sacraments ordained by Christ himself – Baptism and the Supper of the Lord – ministered with unfailing use of Christ’s words of institution and of the elements ordained by Him.
  4. The Historic Episcopate, locally adapted in the methods of its administration to the varying needs of the nations and peoples called of God into the unity of His Church.

Central to Anglican worship 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, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ are made a present reality through the proclamation of the Word, and the celebration of the Sacrament.

Anglicans celebrate the Sacrament of Baptism, with water in the name of the Trinity, as the rite of entry into the Christian Church, and celebrate other sacramental rites, including Confirmation, Reconciliation, Marriage, Anointing of the Sick and Ordination.

Common prayer is at the heart of Anglicanism. Its styles may vary from the simple to the elaborate, from evangelical to catholic, charismatic to traditional. The various Books of Common Prayer give expression to a comprehensiveness found within the churches, which seeks to chart a via media in relation to other Christian traditions.

OUR CHURCHES

Deriving from the ancient Celtic and Saxon churches of the British Isles, Anglicanism found its distinctive identity in the sixteenth and seventeenth century Reformation, when the separate Church of England, along with the Church of Ireland and the Scottish Episcopal Church, came into being.

At the time of the American Revolution, an autonomous Episcopal Church was founded in the United States, and later Anglican or Episcopal churches were founded across the globe as a result of the missionary movements of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Many of these were given autonomy as Provinces in the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

In South Asia, the United Churches, formed between Anglican and several Protestant traditions, also joined the Anglican Communion, as did churches elsewhere such as the Spanish Episcopal Reformed Church and the Lusitanian Church of Portugal.

Today, the Anglican Episcopal family consists of an estimated 78 million Christians who are members of 44 different churches. These make up 34 provinces, 4 United Churches, and 6 other churches, spread across the globe.

THE INSTRUMENTS OF COMMUNION (Unity)

The churches of the Anglican Communion have traditionally held together by bonds of affection and common loyalty, expressed through links with the “Instruments of Communion” – the Archbishop of Canterbury as the focus for unity, the Lambeth Conference, the Primates Meeting and the Anglican Consultative Council.

Archbishop-Canterbury

Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury

The Archbishop of Canterbury

Anglican churches are all in communion with the See of Canterbury in the Church of England, and thus the Archbishop of Canterbury, in his person and ministry, is the unique focus of Anglican unity. He calls the Lambeth Conference, and Primates Meeting, and he is President of the Anglican Consultative Council. The 105th Archbishop of Canterbury in succession to Saint Augustine, is Justin Portal Welby, formerly Bishop of the Diocese of Durham, England.

Lambeth Conference

Every ten years or so, the Archbishop of Canterbury invites the bishops of the Anglican Communion to join with him in prayer, study and discernment. At the last Lambeth Conference in 1998, over 800 bishops were welcomed to the Conference which was held in Canterbury. The next conference would be planned for 2018.

The Primates Meeting

Since 1979, the Archbishop of Canterbury has also invited the primates (the presiding bishop, archbishop or moderator) of each of the 38 provinces, to join him in regular meetings for consultation, prayer and reflection on theological, social and international matters. These meetings take place approximately every eighteen months to two years.

The Anglican Consultative Council

In 1968 the bishops of the Lambeth Conference requested the establishment of a body representative of all sections (bishops, clergy and laity) of the churches, which could co-ordinate aspects of international Anglican ecumenical and mission work. With the consent of the legislative bodies of all the provinces, the Anglican Consultative Council was established, and has met regularly since.

ADDENDUM: FRAGMENTATION

Beginning with the 1988 Lambeth Conference many bishops sensed the need for greater spiritual and moral guidance for the Anglican Communion than the Instruments of Communion were then able to provide. The desire for an enhanced role of the Primates’ Meeting fell short under pressure from the very provinces which had made the call for increased discipline necessary in the first place. The tragic result of this failure was to be seen during the 2008 Lambeth Conference when the Archbishop of Canterbury was unable to gather more than two-thirds of all the bishops. A significant number of Primates now refuse to attend Primate’s Meetings as well, making it impossible for such meetings to be held.

“The result of all this has been that none of the ‘Instruments of Communion’, developed to sustain and promote the life of the Anglican Communion, is now working in the way it was supposed to…  Those Anglicans in every province, who wish to uphold the authority of the Bible, the historic faith of the Church down through the ages and the continuity of Apostolic order, have had to find ways of associating and moving forward in the context of a confused world-wide Communion” {Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali: How The Anglican Communion Came To Be And Where It Is Going}.

Movements within the Communion such as GAFCON [Global Anglican Future Conference] and the more diverse Global South along with Catholic Anglican organizations like Forward in Faith, have now come into existence to ensure that traditional understandings of Anglicanism are not simply extinguished under revisionist pressure.