Church of England
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Church of England:see England, Church ofEngland, Church of,
the established church of England and the mother church of the Anglican Communion. Organization and Doctrine
The clergy of the church are of three ancient orders: deacons, priests, and bishops.
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England, Church of,the established church of England and the mother church of the Anglican CommunionAnglican Communion,
the body of churches in all parts of the world that are in communion with the Church of England (see England, Church of). The communion is composed of regional churches, provinces, and separate dioceses bound together by mutual loyalty as expressed in the
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Organization and Doctrine
The clergy of the church are of three ancient orders: deacons, priests, and bishops. Except for the celebration of the mass and giving absolution, deacons have the same clerical functions as priests. Only the bishop can ordain, confirm, and consecrate churches. A bishop is given consecration at the hands of other bishops. There are two archbishoprics, Canterbury and York, with the archbishop of Canterbury taking precedence over the archbishop of York. The church is established, and all episcopal appointments are still made by the crown; however, the clergy are not paid by the state. Women have been ordained as deacons since 1987 and as priests since 1994. In 2008 and 2010 the church voted to begin consecrating women as bishops, a move that Anglican traditionalists and evangelicals objected to; further approvals are needed before the decision can take effect. Homosexuality is not a bar to ordination, but being in a homosexual relationship is.
In 1919 the Church Assembly was established, consisting of three houses: the upper and lower houses of convocation (i.e., the bishops and other clergy) and an elected house of laity, with the power to prepare measures for enactment by Parliament. In 1970 the Church Assembly was replaced by the General Synod, which retained the basic administrative structure but streamlined certain aspects of church government and allowed for greater participation by the laity. Worship is liturgical and is regulated by the Book of Common Prayer and its revised alternatives, but it varies in degree of ritual between parishes. The creeds in use are the Apostles', the Nicene, and the Athanasian. General standards of doctrine are found in the Thirty-nine Articles, the Book of Common Prayer, the Catechism, and two 16th-century books of homilies. Authority rests in Scripture as interpreted by tradition.
Christianity, introduced by the Romans, was fairly well established in Britain by the 4th cent., but was almost destroyed by the Anglo-Saxon invasions beginning in the 5th cent. Surviving in isolation, the Celtic ChurchCeltic Church,
name given to the Christian Church of the British Isles before the mission (597) of St. Augustine of Canterbury from Rome. Founded in the 2d or 3d cent. by missionaries from Rome or Gaul, the church was well established by the 4th cent.
..... Click the link for more information. developed practices at variance with those on the Continent. This led to conflict when St. Augustine of CanterburyAugustine of Canterbury, Saint
, d. c.605, Italian missionary, called the Apostle of the English, first archbishop of Canterbury (from 601). A Roman monk, he was sent to England, as the head of some 40 monks, by Pope St. Gregory I.
..... Click the link for more information. arrived (597) to reconvert England. Roman usages were eventually adopted in preference to Celtic ones (see Whitby, Synod ofWhitby, Synod of,
called by King Oswy of Northumbria in 663 at Whitby, England. Its purpose was to choose between the usages of the Celtic and Roman churches, primarily in the matter of reckoning the date of Easter (see calendar; Celtic Church).
..... Click the link for more information. ), but the English Church remained somewhat isolated until the Norman Conquest, when Continental churchmen undertook its reform.
Creation of the Church
During the Middle Ages the church in England was affected by the same clashes that bedevilled the relationship between church and statechurch and state,
the relationship between the religion or religions of a nation and the civil government of that nation, especially the relationship between the Christian church and various civil governments.
..... Click the link for more information. elsewhere in Europe. A modus vivendi was finally achieved in the matter of investitureinvestiture,
in feudalism, ceremony by which an overlord transferred a fief to a vassal or by which, in ecclesiastical law, an elected cleric received the pastoral ring and staff (the symbols of spiritual office) signifying the transfer of the office.
..... Click the link for more information. , but quarrels over the taxes demanded by Rome and appeals going from English courts to Rome were not resolved until Henry VIIIHenry VIII,
1491–1547, king of England (1509–47), second son and successor of Henry VII. Early Life
In his youth he was educated in the new learning of the Renaissance and developed great skill in music and sports.
..... Click the link for more information. broke the union of the English church with Rome. This action, which created the Church of England, was occasioned by the pope's refusal to grant Henry's request for an annulment of his marriage to Katharine of AragónKatharine of Aragón,
1485–1536, first queen consort of Henry VIII of England; daughter of Ferdinand II of Aragón and Isabella of Castile. In 1501 she was married to Arthur, eldest son of Henry VII.
..... Click the link for more information. . The Act of Supremacy (1534) acknowledged the king as "the only supreme head on earth of the Church of England." Thus the Reformation in England under Henry was at first a matter of policy, not doctrine.
The theology of the new national church as shown in the Six Articles (1539) and the King's Book (1543) was largely unchanged, although some Lutheran influence may be detected. Henry authorized the Great Bible (1539), a revision of the English translations of William Tyndale and Miles Coverdale, and some slight alterations in service. The monasteries were suppressed, chiefly at the hands of Thomas CromwellCromwell, Thomas, earl of Essex,
1485?–1540, English statesman. While a young man he lived abroad as a soldier, accountant, and merchant, and on his return (c.1512) to England he engaged in the wool trade and eventually became a lawyer.
..... Click the link for more information. . Under Edward VI changes came rapidly, and Protestantism gained ground. The first and second Book of Common PrayerBook of Common Prayer,
title given to the service book used in the Church of England and in other churches of the Anglican Communion. The first complete English Book of Common Prayer was produced, mainly by Thomas Cranmer, in 1549 under Edward VI.
..... Click the link for more information. , produced by Thomas CranmerCranmer, Thomas
, 1489–1556, English churchman under Henry VIII; archbishop of Canterbury. A lecturer at Jesus College, Cambridge, he is said to have come to the attention of the king in 1529 by suggesting that Henry might further his efforts to achieve a divorce from
..... Click the link for more information. , were adopted in 1549 and 1552, respectively, and a statement of doctrine, the Forty-two Articles, was drawn up.
Under Mary I all the measures that had separated the Church of England from Rome were reversed; the Roman ritual was brought back, and the nation was received again into the communion of Rome. Elizabeth IElizabeth I,
1533–1603, queen of England (1558–1603). Early Life
The daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, she was declared illegitimate just before the execution of her mother in 1536, but in 1544 Parliament reestablished her in the succession after
..... Click the link for more information. restored independence. The Elizabethan Settlement steered the English church upon a middle course between Roman Catholicism and Calvinism. The prayer book of 1552 was restored, and the Forty-two Articles, revised toward a more Catholic position and reduced to Thirty-nine, were adopted as a doctrinal standard. The national church maintained the historical episcopate and retained its continuity with the early church of Britain and much of the ritualism sanctioned by the older rubrics. By the Act of Supremacy (1559) ecclesiastical jurisdiction was restored to the crown to be exercised by a court of high commission. The classical statement of the peculiar Anglican position was made by Richard HookerHooker, Richard,
1554?–1600, English theologian and clergyman of the Church of England. He studied and lectured at Oxford and preached at Drayton-Beauchamp, Buckinghamshire; at the Temple Church, London; at Boscombe, Wiltshire; and at Bishopsbourne, Kent.
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Under James IJames I,
1566–1625, king of England (1603–25) and, as James VI, of Scotland (1567–1625). James's reign witnessed the beginnings of English colonization in North America (Jamestown was founded in 1607) and the plantation of Scottish settlers in Ulster.
..... Click the link for more information. the steadily rising tide of Puritanism made necessary the Hampton Court Conference (1604). At that conference, James gave his decision for the existing doctrine. The great achievement of the conference was the King James, or Authorized, Version of the English Bible (1611).
The English Civil War and the Restoration
Under Charles ICharles I,
1600–1649, king of England, Scotland, and Ireland (1625–49), second son of James I and Anne of Denmark. Early Life
He became heir to the throne on the death of his older brother Henry in 1612 and was made prince of Wales in 1616.
..... Click the link for more information. the extreme measures of the party headed by Archbishop William LaudLaud, William,
1573–1645, archbishop of Canterbury (1633–45). He studied at St. John's College, Oxford, and was ordained a priest in 1601. From the beginning Laud showed his hostility to Puritanism. He became president of St.
..... Click the link for more information. , in maintaining the discipline and worship of the church against the Calvinists, had much to do with bringing on (1642) the English civil warEnglish civil war,
1642–48, the conflict between King Charles I of England and a large body of his subjects, generally called the "parliamentarians," that culminated in the defeat and execution of the king and the establishment of a republican commonwealth.
..... Click the link for more information. . The Long Parliament, after excluding the bishops, substituted Presbyterianism for the episcopacy in 1646, in accordance with the Solemn League and Covenant (see CovenantersCovenanters
, in Scottish history, groups of Presbyterians bound by oath to sustain each other in the defense of their religion. The first formal Covenant was signed in 1557, signaling the beginning of the Protestant effort to seize power in Scotland.
..... Click the link for more information. ). Under Oliver Cromwell, Independent rather than Presbyterian doctrines triumphed; it was a penal offense to use the Book of Common Prayer. Many bishops were imprisoned, and many churches were pillaged.
With the Restoration (1660) the episcopacy was reestablished. After failure of the Savoy Conference (1661) to create a compromise with the Puritans, the prayer book was revised in a Catholic direction (1662) and made the only legal service book by an Act of Uniformity, which required the episcopal ordination of all ministers. About 2,000 nonconformist clergymen, instead of complying, resigned and with their adherents established their own worship in Protestant nonconformist chapels, in spite of severe acts passed against them by Parliament (see nonconformistsnonconformists,
in religion, those who refuse to conform to the requirements (in doctrine or discipline) of an established church. The term is applied especially to Protestant dissenters from the Church of England.
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The Glorious Revolution
The Roman Catholic James IIJames II,
1633–1701, king of England, Scotland, and Ireland (1685–88); second son of Charles I, brother and successor of Charles II. Early Life
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, 1617–93, English prelate, archbishop of Canterbury. His opposition to Calvinist doctrine caused him to remain abroad during the latter part of the Commonwealth.
..... Click the link for more information. , archbishop of Canterbury, and six other bishops refused the king's order to read his declaration of toleration in all churches. They were imprisoned but acquitted by trial. After the overthrow of James in the Glorious Revolution (1688), the Bill of Rights (1689) declared that the monarch must be Protestant and the Act of Settlement (1701) required that he or she be a member of the Church of England. Some of the clergy, however, including Sancroft, refused to swear allegiance to William and Mary and therefore lost their positions (see nonjurorsnonjurors
[Lat.,=not swearing], those English and Scottish clergymen who refused to break their oath of allegiance to James II and take the oath to William III after the Glorious Revolution of 1688.
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The Eighteenth Century
In the 18th cent. latitudinarians held control in the church; dogma, liturgy, and ecclesiastical organization were subordinated to the appeal to reason, abhorrence of religious enthusiasm, and Erastianism. In 1701 the first Anglican missionary society, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (SPG), was founded for work overseas, and much of its early work was done in America. In George I's reign the Bangorian ControversyBangorian Controversy
, religious dispute in the Church of England during the early part of the reign of George I. Benjamin Hoadly, bishop of Bangor, Wales, delivered a sermon (1717) before the king in which he denied that the church had any doctrinal or disciplinary authority.
..... Click the link for more information. led to the prorogation of convocation in 1717; the next council of the church was not reconvened until 1852. The revival of religious fervor in the late 18th cent. resulted both in the rise of the evangelical movement within the Church of England and in the Methodist schism. The Church Missionary Society, founded in 1799, grew out of the evangelical movement.
The Oxford Movement to the Present
In the first half of the 19th cent., the Catholic and apostolic character of the Church of England was strongly reaffirmed by the Oxford movementOxford movement,
religious movement begun in 1833 by Anglican clergymen at the Univ. of Oxford to renew the Church of England (see England, Church of) by reviving certain Roman Catholic doctrines and rituals.
..... Click the link for more information. , which was led by John KebleKeble, John
, 1792–1866, English clergyman and poet. His career (1807–11) at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, was one of unusual distinction. Made fellow of Oriel College in 1811 and ordained in 1816, he became tutor and examiner, but resigned in 1823 to become his
..... Click the link for more information. and Edward Bouverie PuseyPusey, Edward Bouverie
, 1800–1882, English clergyman, leader in the Oxford movement. Having studied at Christ Church College, Oxford, Pusey was elected a fellow of Oriel College (1823) and thus became associated with John Keble, John Henry Newman, and their group.
..... Click the link for more information. and also by John Henry NewmanNewman, SaintJohn Henry,
1801–90, English churchman, theologian, and writer, cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, one of the founders of the Oxford movement, b. London. Newman was canonized in 2019 by Pope Francis.
..... Click the link for more information. until he converted to Roman Catholicism. The Oxford movement—with its emphasis on ritual and its belief in the doctrines of apostolic succession and the Real Presence—gave new life and direction to the High Church tradition, which became known also as Anglo-Catholicism. At the same time the Broad Church movement was developing. It advocated liberal views in theology and biblical studies. Both of these movements challenged the position of the Evangelical, or Low Church, party, which emphasized the Bible and preaching and was the leading party of the church through the 19th cent.
In the 20th cent. the Church of England became involved in revision of canon law and the prayer book, in church building, in attempts to minister to the world of industry (e.g., the Sheffield Industrial Mission), and in the ecumenical movementecumenical movement
, name given to the movement aimed at the unification of the Protestant churches of the world and ultimately of all Christians.
During and after the Reformation Protestantism separated into numerous independent sects.
..... Click the link for more information. . The traditional divisions within the church remain, though the focus of their disagreements have changed. The issue of homosexuality among the clergy has been divisive, and the selection of a celibate gay priest as a candidate for bishop of Reading in 2003 led to a sometimes bitter public fight over the choice that was resolved only when the candidate withdrew his name. In 2012 the church's bishops, however, approved the candidacy of celibate gay priests for the episcopate. Traditionalists within the church also have objected to the consecration of women as bishops. The general synod narrowly failed to approve women bishops in 2012, but the change was approved in 2014. The current archbishop of Canterbury is Justin WelbyWelby, Justin Portal,
1956–, archbishop of Canterbury (2013–), b. London, grad. Trinity College, Cambridge (B.A., 1978). An oil executive until 1989, he studied theology at St. John's College, Durham (grad. 1992) and was ordained a deacon in 1992 and a priest in 1993.
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See W. R. W. Stephens et al., ed., A History of the English Church (8 vol., 1899–1910; repr. 1973); E. W. Watson, The Church of England (3d ed. 1961); G. Mayfield, The Church of England (2d ed. 1963); S. C. Neill, Anglicanism (3d ed. 1965); R. B. Lloyd, The Church of England, 1900–1965 (1966); W. P. Haugaard, Elizabeth and the English Reformation (1968); M. A. Crowther, Church Embattled (1970); S. L. Ollard et al., ed., A Dictionary of English Church History (9th ed. rev. 1970); J. Cox, The English Churches in a Secular Society (1982); R. Manwaring, From Controversy to Co-Existence: Evangelicals in the Church of England, 1914–1980 (1985).