Church of England

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The Church of England (sometimes referred to as C of E) is the officially established Christian Church in England, the mother church of the worldwide Anglican Communion or "Anglican Church", and the oldest among the communion's thirty-eight independent national and regional churches. The Archbishop of Canterbury is the chief bishop and principal leader of the Church of England and the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The current Archbishop of Canterbury is the half-Jewish Justin Welby.

Anglicanism is a tradition within Christianity comprising the Church of England and churches which are historically tied to it or hold similar beliefs, worship practices and church structures

The Church of England was founded during a time of religious upheaval across Europe in general at the onset of Protestantism across much of Northern Europe. The main plan of the organisation was to form a political compromise and avoid religious civil war in England. The most lasting effect of this was the Elizabethan Settlement, where the entity is beholden to the state and claims to take elements from both Catholicism and Protestantism.[1] Today there are many different factions in the Anglican Church, including Ritualists ("Catholics"), Evangelicals and Liberals.

The Church of England views itself as a via media, or a middle way between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, and sees itself as incorporating features of each:

  • Catholic in that it views itself as a part of the universal church of Christ in unbroken continuity with the early apostolic and later mediæval church. This is expressed in its strong emphasis on the teachings of the early Church Fathers, in particular as formalised in the Apostolic, Nicene and Athanasian creeds. [2] However, in practice, until the Tractarians during the Victorian period, the mainstream was strongly iconoclastic and opposed to veneration of the Virigin Mary found in both Orthodoxy and Catholicism.
  • Reformed to the extent that it has been influenced by some of the doctrinal principles of the 16th century Protestant Reformation. The more Reformed character finds expression in the Thirty-Nine Articles of religion, established as part of the settlement of religion under Queen Elizabeth I. The customs and liturgy of the Church of England, as expressed in the Book of Common Prayer, are based on pre-Reformation traditions but have been influenced by Reformation liturgical and doctrinal principles.[3]

Historically, Anglicanism has, almost from its beginning, been marked by a rift between believers who tend more strongly toward the Catholic or Reformed elements of the denomination. Those who favor a more liturgical form of worship are called High Church, while those who prefer informal services with a focus on evangelism are called Low Church. A third tendency, Broad Church, arose in the 19th century, denoting a liberal indifference or openness to eclecticism; today the term is nearly synonymous with Central Churchmanship, the position of those who value both the High and Low traditions, between which they perceive themselves as holding the middle ground.

Since the Oxford Movement in the mid-19th century, the Anglo-Catholics within High Church Anglicanism, who view the Anglican Communion as a branch of the apostolic Catholic Church (along with Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy), and often believe in transubstantiation, have been a continual source of conversions to the Church of Rome. Notable converts, including John Henry Newman and Gerard Manley Hopkins, became disillusioned with the episcopal leadership of the Church of England, or came to believe their adherence to Catholic ecclesiology incompatible with the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, while those who remained Anglican were instrumental in bringing religious orders into the C of E, and resisting theological innovation. Care must be taken not to simply equate High Church with conservatism, or Low Church with liberalism, however.

On February 10, 2009, the General Synod of the Church of England voted 322 to 13, with 20 abstentions, in favor of banning members of its clergy from membership in the British National Party.[4] A list of 12,000 BNP members leaked the previous year had revealed only 5 BNP members among the Anglican clergy, all inactive.

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Part of this article consists of modified text from Wikipedia, and the article is therefore licensed under GFDL.
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