- Anglican Communion/Anglican Consultative Council
- The worldwide Anglican Communion includes those national and regional churches that emerged from the international spread of the Church of England and today continue in a formal communion with that church and its primary official, the archbishop of Canterbury. The Church of England itself traces its origins to the emergence of Christianity in the British Isles, though modern Anglicanism is generally defined with regard to the 16th-century split between the British church and the Roman Catholic communion.Modern Anglicanism emerged from the compromises proposed by Elizabeth I in the late 16th century, reaffirmed after the Puritan episode in the 17th century. This was the era when England began to build a global presence, initially with colonies in North America. The colonial enterprise moved on to include many Caribbean islands, Australia, New Zealand, various South Pacific island groups, much of Africa, and most of southern Asia from India to Hong Kong. The Church of England eventually established foreign branches in all these territories.Efforts to grow and develop the church in lands outside of the British Isles began with the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (1698) and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (1701) but received a significant boost from the Church Missionary Society (1799). The first bishop to establish his residence outside of England, Charles Inglis, was sent to Canada in 1787. By that time, the United States had been created, an independent Protestant Episcopal Church in the U.S. organized, and three bishops consecrated: Samuel Seabury (1784), William White (1787), and William Provost (1787). As the church grew around the world, additional bishops were consecrated, but it was the establishment of the episcopacy in Australia in 1842 that really began the process of normalizing the hierarchy in British lands around the world.in the 19th century, the number of independent Anglican churches increased, administratively separate but otherwise in communion with the Church of England. in 1867, the Canadian bishops requested a gathering of Anglican leadership. The idea led to the Lambeth conferences, now held every 10 years. These conferences provide a time for discussion and debate on the issues facing the communion. The Lambeth Conference of 1888 clarified the basic doctrinal commitments of the Anglican Communion.The considerable latitude of belief and practice in the Anglican Communion tended to make it an inclusive body. Nevertheless, in the 19th century, the Reformed Episcopal Church (United States) and the Church of England in South Africa were both established independently outside the communion.in 1897, the bishops created the Consultative Body of the Lambeth Conference to provide for continuity between conferences. The body evolved into the Anglican Consultative Council, now headquartered at Lambeth Palace in London. The council brings together clergy and lay people to work on common problems, meeting biannu-ally at different locations around the world. The Anglican Communion Secretariat serves the Consultative Council as well.in the middle of the 20th century, the various branches of the Church of England in different countries matured into autonomous provinces, each with their own bishops and archbishops. The move to grant autonomous status to different national and regional churches was spurred by the post-World War II drive toward independence in former colonies. Through the postwar era, some 40 provinces spread across more than 160 countries have been recognized. These provinces remain in communion with the See of Canterbury and find a degree of unity as the Anglican Communion through the Anglican Consultative Council. The bishops meet every 10 years for the Lambeth Conference.Many of the churches in older British colonies remain the dominant religious community of the now independent country. Several provinces, such as the Church of the Province of the West Indies and the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone of America, cover a vast territory where Anglican membership is relatively sparse. Among the more interesting churches are the Church of South India and the Church of North India, both products of a merger of several Protestant churches, but still able to meet the minimal requirements to be considered Anglican.The Anglican provinces range from the more theologically liberal bodies such as the Episcopal Church (in the United States), which has taken the lead in consecrating females and most recently a homosexual to the episcopacy, to staunchly traditional conservative churches such as the Anglican Provinces of Singapore and Rwanda.The communion has been hard pressed by changes in its member churches through the latter half of the 20th century, including attempts to alter/update the liturgy of the Prayer Book. In several countries, independent conservative churches claiming Anglican orders have arisen to challenge the legitimacy of the Episcopal Church and, more recently, any other churches that remain in communion with it. The Episcopal Church's acceptance of women priests in 1976 precipitated a schism in the United States, though the groups that left were unable to agree among themselves and splintered into more than 50 jurisdictions. Traditionalists were reenergized by the 2003 consecration of a bishop who is a practicing homosexual. In 2000, Archbishops Kolini of Rwanda and Yong of the Province of South East Asia consecrated Chuck Murphy and John Rodgers as bishops of an Anglican Mission to America to raise up conservative churches outside the jurisdiction of the Episcopal Church, but having status in the communion through the archbishops who appointed them.Meanwhile, several of the more substantial conservative Anglican groups have formed the Traditional Anglican Communion to resist what they see as the continuing secularization of the church. As the new century began, the communion reported 14 member churches with a total of 300,000 members spread over six continents.Further reading:■ Richard Holloway, The Anglican Tradition (Wilton, Conn.: Morehouse-Barlow, 1984)■ Stephen Neill, Anglicanism (London: A. R. Mowbrays, 1977)■ Andrew Wingate, et al., eds., Anglicanism: A Global Communion (London: A. R. Mowbrays, 1998)■ John Whale, The Anglican Church Today: The Future of Anglicanism (London: A. R. Mowbrays, 1988).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.