Anglican Community

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Anglican Community
Logo of the Anglican Community
Basic data
Archbishop of Canterbury : Justin Welby
Worldwide distribution (click on map to enlarge)
World map of the provinces: Anglican Community (blue)
Member churches : 38
Founding: Lambeth Conference
Founder: Thomas Cranmer
Origin: Roman Catholic Church
↳ Henry VIII (England)
↳ Church of England
Members worldwide: 80 million
Address: Canterbury Cathedral
Website: Anglican Communion

The Anglican Communion (also Anglican Communion , English Anglican Communion ; from Latin anglicanus 'English'), colloquially the Anglican Church , is a worldwide Christian church fellowship , which in its tradition unites Protestant and Catholic elements of faith, with the Catholic tradition in the liturgy and in the Understanding of the sacrament (especially the understanding of ministry) predominates and the evangelical in theology .

The Anglican national churches see themselves as parts of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church , which are committed to the tradition and theology of the English (and partly Scottish) Reformation. However, the Anglican Church understands its “ Reformation ” not as a break with the pre-Reformation Church, but as a necessary reform of the Catholic Church in the British Isles. This means that the Anglican Church is both a Catholic Church and a Reformation Church, although since the Reformation it has developed a consciously independent Christian-Anglican tradition and theology. It has around 80 million members. Worldwide the church community consists of around 385 dioceses .

Organization and dissemination

The church fellowship consists of 38 independent regional churches or provinces. In addition to the Church of England , these are, for example, the Anglican Church of Canada , the Episcopal Church of the United States and the Church of South India . For a complete list of all members of the fellowship see List of Member Churches of the Anglican Fellowship . The provinces or regional churches, each of which a primate (primate) protrude, consist of several bishoprics.

There are around 80 million Christians in Anglican Communion worldwide, around 42 million of them in the United Kingdom (mostly in England (Church of England) , as the independent Anglican national churches in Scotland and Wales are neither state churches nor are the majority of the population members ). The Church of England - often simply called “Anglican Church” - is the third largest church in the world after the Roman Catholic Church (1.2 billion believers) and the Orthodox Church Fellowship ( ) (283 million believers); If you count them among the Protestant churches, they even come in second place with 543 million believers.

The Anglican Church is a leader in English-speaking areas as well as in the Commonwealth of Nations (particularly the Commonwealth Realms ). A few communities can also be found in most of the other states.

In addition, there are a few people who attend a church in the Anglican tradition but who do not belong to the Anglican community (including the so-called Anglican continuing churches ) because they have broken off communion with the community. Such churches should not (and do not want to) be counted among the churches of the Anglican Communion.

Leadership of the church fellowship

The community has no centralized structures of authority, but since the English Reformation it has represented the principle that no bishop (whether from Rome, Canterbury or Constantinople) is authorized to direct the affairs of another diocese. However, there are four so-called Instruments of Unity in the community . In order of age, these are: The Archbishop of Canterbury , the Lambeth Conference , the Anglican Consultative Council, and the Meeting of the Primasse (the most senior bishops of each national church).

  • The chief spiritual director of the Church is the Primate of the Church of England , i.e. the Archbishop of Canterbury (currently Justin Welby , since January 1, 2013) as primus inter pares . He, whose office has existed since the founding of Augustine of Canterbury in 597, has no authority over the other churches of the ecclesial fellowship.
  • The Lambeth Conference , a conference of the bishops of all churches in the Anglican Communion, has met every ten years since 1867 . The most recent meeting took place in summer 2008.
  • The Anglican Consultative Council (ACC ) has met approximately every three years since 1968 and has primarily coordinating functions. It is composed of one to three delegates, depending on the size of the respective Anglican church (province).
  • The Archbishop of Canterbury has convened and presided over the meetings of the Primasses (rulers) of the Church of England since 1979. These meetings, which initially took place every two to three years and since 2000 annually, also have no right to give instructions to the individual churches. Usually a joint pastoral letter is issued.

Building an Anglican Church / Church Province

The member churches are called the regional church or province. Some of these ecclesiastical provinces coincide with the borders of political states, some include several states, while others only include parts of a nation. Each church is led by a synod made up of bishops, clergy representatives and lay representatives. The assembly can consist of one house (synod) or two chambers (e.g. house of bishops, house of deputies) and always meets at certain times. In some cases, however, it is continuously maintained by the provincial office, which handles all day-to-day affairs of the Church. In other provinces, instead of the provincial office, there is an Executive Committee which also deals with questions of finance or clerical training. Often the office or committee is headed by a general secretary.

Every Anglican church is headed by a primate . This may be the bishop of a certain seat, as in England in Canterbury, but is usually not bound by it, but is elected at the provincial synod. In most cases he has the title of archbishop and his term of office is often limited. In the US Episcopal Church , the primate is called Presiding Bishop .

Establishment of an Anglican diocese

Each diocese is headed by a bishop who - if the diocese is of the appropriate size - is assigned suffragan bishops. These have a role similar to that of the auxiliary bishops of the Roman Catholic Church. It can happen that they are assigned their own district within the diocese, but in any case they remain subordinate to the diocesan bishop. Sometimes the regional supervision is carried out instead by a so-called archdeacon or a dean (see below).

The church fellowship sees itself as standing in the Apostolic Succession . This claim is recognized by both the Orthodox and the Old Catholic Church , but not by the Roman Catholic Church (see Apostolicae curae ).

The diocesan bishop usually owns a cathedral at which there is the cathedral clergy . This is subordinate to the dean ( dean ) or provost ( provost ) and can be divided into residential canons , honorary canons (praebendare) and lower canons.

The diocesan clergy consists of priests who are vicars or rectors (pastors), curates (chaplains / vicars) or assistant curates / priests, as well as deacons, depending on the parish in which they work. Several parish churches are grouped together in deaneries. Particularly large dioceses are divided into Archdeaneries ( Archdeanates ) headed by Archdeacons (sometimes identical to the Suffragan Bishops ). These archdeanates are similar to the regions in large Roman Catholic dioceses.

To be accepted into the ranks of the clergy of the Anglican Church, an application is made to the bishop of a diocese. This will forward this application to a committee (Selection Conference) , which will examine the applicant for his or her suitability in the spiritual, spiritual, health and family areas. Once this has happened, it sends an opinion to the respective bishop in which it recommends, conditionally recommends or rejects the applicant. At the same time, it also makes suggestions for training, which range from normal university studies to regional courses. If the applicant has received the approval of the bishop, he is now subject to a Diocesan Director for Ordinands , who accompanies the applicant in all areas of his life and gives a certificate of suitability at the end of the training. If this is positive, nothing stands in the way of the applicant's ordination.

Development in continental Europe

In the 19th century, both the Church of England and the US Episcopal Church established parishes in Europe. The target group were religious believers abroad and travelers. The Bishop of London (in the case of the Church of England) or the Presiding Bishop (in the case of the US Episcopal Church) was originally responsible for these parishes . The Bishop of London later transferred responsibility to the newly installed Bishop of Gibraltar.

All Saints Church, Cologne-Marienburg

1980 was a Union Diocese of Gibraltar and by the Bishop of Fulham headed jurisdiction of North and Central Europe, the Diocese in Europe (Diocese [of Gibraltar] in Europe) established that since then for the communities in Europe outside the UK and Ireland is responsible . At the same time, the US Church strengthened the autonomy of European parishes through the structure of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe , a diocese-like organization with a suffragan bishop , who was originally appointed by the Presiding Bishop , and with the election of the current incumbent, Pierre Whalon , for the first time Clergy and people of the convocation was chosen.

In Germany there are around 40 Anglican or Episcopal congregations, of which the English-speaking congregations merged in 1997 to form the Council of Anglican and Episcopal Churches in Germany ( CAECG ). Many of them were founded in the 19th century and experienced a new boom during the occupation after the Second World War , some - like the municipality in Hamburg - go back to trade relations between England and continental Europe in the 17th century. A number of German-speaking congregations have emerged in recent years and are part of the Church of England, the Anglican Independent Communion or the Anglican Church in North America .

Church of England congregations may exist. a. in Berlin, Bonn / Cologne, Düsseldorf, Freiburg im Breisgau, Hamburg, Heidelberg, Leipzig and Stuttgart. They belong to the Archdiakonie of Northern Europe and Germany, which are headed by an Archdeacon. Episcopal Church in the USA (ECUSA) congregations may exist. a. in Frankfurt am Main, Munich , and Wiesbaden ; there are also missions in Augsburg, Karlsruhe, Nuremberg and Ulm.

The Anglican congregations in Switzerland belong to the Church of England and form their own archdiakonia in their diocese in Europe, which is the Ven. Arthur Siddall presides over. It has eight local parishes in larger cities and a few other parishes that are looked after from there. The US Episcopal Church has a congregation in Geneva.

In Austria there is an Anglican congregation in Vienna, the Christ Church Vienna ; from there, so-called satellite communities z. B. supervised in Klagenfurt. It is directed by Ven. Patrick Curran , Episcopal Vicar of Eastern Europe.


The Anglican Church is a Christian church which "professes itself to the triune God as he revealed himself in Jesus Christ". The basis of the teaching are the 39 articles , the Book of Common Prayer and the order for the appointment of bishops, priests and deacons . The latter three were made in the 16th century and are largely the work of Thomas Cranmer , Archbishop of Canterbury.

In Anglican doctrine there is a wide spectrum between the High Church ( Anglo-Catholicism ), which is close to the other Catholic churches in liturgy and teaching, and the Low Church , which is close to Protestantism , especially Calvinism .

Theologically very liberal as well as strictly evangelical and conservative Anglo-Catholic tendencies are represented within the Anglican Church.

This very broad spectrum of opinion is seen in part as a strength of the Anglicans, who can thus encompass a broad spectrum of contemporary Christianity without church division in one church. In some cases, however, it is also criticized that the church no longer stands for anything and that it gives too much space to arbitrariness.

Worship and practice

The divine service of the Anglican Church is liturgically similar to that of the Catholic Churches. It is recorded in the Book of Common Prayer , of which the individual member churches have their own editions.


The liturgy of the Anglican Church has the Eucharist as a central element and in other ways too it testifies to the Anglican self-image as part of the universal Catholic Church. In contrast to the Roman Catholic Church , worship services in Anglicanism have been held in the respective national language since the Reformation .


The Liturgy of the Hours , referred to as the Daily Office in the Anglican Church , is an important tradition of the Anglican Church. In particular the morning and evening prayer are widespread and are prayed daily in some churches. The Anglican Church also knows the rosary tradition , whereby the structure of the rosary and the prayers differ from those of the Catholic Church and are less focused on Mary and more on Jesus Christ . However, this tradition is only practiced in the more Anglo-Catholic communities; many Anglicans from other wards are unfamiliar with Ave Maria , which is not in the Book of Common Prayer .


Like the Catholic Church, the Anglican Church also knows orders of men and women. After the Church in England broke away from the Pope in 1531 (see below), the existing monasteries were dissolved. Monastic life was forbidden in England and Scotland for around 300 years. In the middle of the 19th century, under the influence of the Oxford movement (see below), spiritual communities that lived according to the evangelical councils were formed again for the first time . Women's orders have been in existence since the 1840s. Most of the existing Catholic orders at the time of the Reformation have Anglican counterparts. These live according to the evangelical councils and in community, are either contemplative or active in education or care.


The Church of England dates its history back to Roman times when Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire. After the withdrawal of the Romans and the incursion of the Angles, Saxons and Jutes, who brought their pagan religion with them, only the Celtic tribes of Britain in the far north and west of the islands remained as Christians. (See: Celtic Church ) With the mission of Augustine of Canterbury to the court of Kent in 597, the Christian religion came again from Rome to England. This missionary activity was supplemented with a mission by Irish monks (see Columban ).

The bishoprics in England were divided into the two ecclesiastical provinces of Canterbury and York . When in 1529 disputes arose between the English throne and the Pope in Rome under Henry VIII over the legality of royal marriages, the bishops of England declared on February 11, 1531 that they saw Henry and not the Pope as head of the English Church, which means the English Church broke away from Rome. It so happened that ideas of the Reformation could be put into practice in the ecclesiastical provinces of York and Canterbury in the 16th century .

Initially, very little changed for the English Church under Henry VIII. The use of Latin was abandoned in favor of English. With Edward VI. however, the first Book of Common Prayer was introduced on Pentecost 1549, with significant work from Thomas Cranmer , Archbishop of Canterbury. This also introduced a tradition according to which Anglicanism primarily defined itself through an episcopal church order and a uniform worship practice.

After a short intermediate episode under the Roman Catholic monarch Maria I , the reform movement of the English Church continued under Elizabeth I and the first two Stuart kings. A deepening dispute developed between Puritans, who pursued a more Reformed theology, and theologians like Lancelot Andrewes , who took a more Catholic position. This dispute caused, among other things, the English Civil War . After the restoration of the Stuarts under Charles II , these disputes were settled in a new Book of Common Prayer (1661). This is still the official version that is used in England alongside the Book of Alternative Services.

The split of a small religious community in the wake of the Glorious Revolution of 1688/89 is largely unknown . The group of non-jurors split off due to their strict interpretation of the Anglican conceptions of the state and liturgically fell back on the first Book of Common Prayer . This short-lived religious community had no influence on the overall development of the Church of England; in Scotland, however, the refusal of the bishops to take the oath of allegiance led to the establishment of the Presbyterian Church and consequently to the establishment of a separate Anglican Church, the Scottish Episcopal Church .

After American independence , another Anglican Church was formed in the USA, which now also existed alongside the non-established Episcopal Church of Scotland. Other churches followed in other countries, but all of them together maintain a church fellowship in the so-called Anglican Communion.

In the 19th century, under the influence of the romantic movement, a new turn to liturgical tradition took place. This movement started in Oxford and was therefore called the Oxford Movement . Among her supporters was John Henry Newman . See also Anglo-Catholicism (High Church), Low Church .

In the second half of the 20th century, a liturgical reform movement took place in many Anglican churches , which led to new Books of Common Prayer . These were based more closely on ancient church liturgies, but contained a more modern language and theology. At the same time, the priesthood was opened to women. The first female bishops were ordained in apostolic succession in the late 1980s.


The Anglican Communion is a member of the World Council of Churches . It is also in church fellowship with the Utrecht Union of Old Catholic Churches , the Independent Philippine Church and the Indian Mar-Thoma Church . In 2003 Methodist and Anglican representatives signed an agreement that promotes cooperation between the two denominations - u. a. joint places of worship and services - should strengthen and deepen relationships.


Ordination of women

Disagreement about the admission of women to ordinations leads to controversy within the Anglican churches up to the present day. For the member churches of the Anglican Communion, only the principles of the Lambeth Quadrilateral are binding. The question of the ordination of women is not dealt with in it, so there is no uniform regulation that is binding for all member churches. The individual church provinces therefore have different attitudes, some reject the ordination of women in principle, some allow ordination to the deacon, others also to the priesthood or bishopric.

Florence Li Tim-Oi was the first woman to be ordained anglican priestly in Hong Kong in 1944 by Ronald Owen Hall , Bishop of Victoria, Hong Kong and Macau. However, this is considered a war-related individual case, after the end of the war she suspended her priesthood to avoid a dispute with the Archbishop of Canterbury as early as 1945. It was not until the 1970s that women's ordination was established in the churches of the USA, Canada, and New Zealand. The first Anglican female bishop was Barbara Clementine Harris , who was ordained suffragan bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts in 1989 . The first diocesan bishop was Penny Jamieson in the Diocese of Dunedin in New Zealand from 1990 to 2004 . On June 18, 2006, Katharine Jefferts Schori was elected as Presiding Bishop to the head of the Episcopal Church in the USA and thus as the first woman primate of an Anglican church. The General Synod of the Church of England has described the majority of women as bishops as "theologically justified". While the application received the necessary two-thirds majority from the bishops and the clergy, it missed it by five votes from the lay representatives. A working group should initiate appropriate church legislation. The topic was discussed again at the General Synod in 2008. On July 7th, 2008 the Synod decided to set up a working group to regulate the ordination of women to the episcopate. The wishes of the members who refuse to ordain women bishops for theological reasons should be taken into account. There was a proposal to set up a male suffragary seat in every ecclesiastical province, if necessary, to which congregations who refuse to ordain women bishops can join. It was drafted by 2010 and adopted by 42 of 44 dioceses by February. At the general synod in November 2012, however, this church law did not achieve the necessary majority among lay members. It was not until 2014 that the necessary majorities were reached at the general synod. On January 25, 2015, Libby Lane became the first female bishop to be ordained in the Church of England. Rachel Treweek was appointed the first diocesan bishop of Gloucester on March 26, 2015 . Pat Storey was ordained as the first female bishop of the Church of Ireland in September 2013 . The first female bishop in the Church in Wales , Joanna Penberthy , was ordained for office on November 30, 2016. In March 2018, Anne Dyer was ordained as the first female bishop of the Scottish Episcopal Church .

The 38 provinces have different positions on the ordination of women:


The worldwide Anglican Communion is since the consecration of Gene Robinson on November 2, 2003 in New Hampshire ( USA ) in a discussion process in which the unity of the Church community is threatened. Not only the execution of episcopal ordination has led to controversy, but also the parallel decision of the Canadian diocese of New Westminster to develop rites for the blessing of same-sex couples . Since Robinson does not hide his relationships with his same-sex partner, his ordination once again made it clear that there are disagreements on the subject of homosexuality within the Anglican Communion, although this was already clear at the Lambeth Conferences in 1988 and 1998. Conservative clergy and members (mainly from Asia and Africa, but also from the American Anglican Council ) see this step as incompatible with the teaching of the church so far represented and as a breach of communion. The majority of the conferences found that homosexual practice was incompatible with the Holy Scriptures; However, a Lambeth conference in Anglicanism does not have the status of a legislative body or a teaching body, but can only establish consensus as long as and as far as this is available, because Anglicanism is not hierarchical but decentralized.

Within the Anglican Communion, the Scottish Episcopal Church, and in the non-Anglican ecumenism, the Metropolitan Community Church has welcomed the decisions of the North American churches. Proponents of consecration (especially from North America, Europe, New Zealand and South Africa) emphasize on the one hand the Anglican tradition that the local church may regulate its affairs on the spot, and on the other hand they argue that homosexual and heterosexual Christians are equally worthy to hold leadership positions in the church .

On February 19, 2007, the Anglican church leaders in Dar es Salaam published a statement calling on the American Episcopal Church to change their attitude towards homosexuality and to consecrate homosexual bishops. There are considerable concerns within the US Church that the demands of the other churches are compatible with the canon law of the US Church itself, and the proposals are also viewed as "an unprecedented shift in power in favor of the primates ." The US Church also criticized the unwillingness of other church leaders to take stronger steps against the criminalization of homosexuality in other countries , and the refusal of many Anglican national churches to be requested by several Lambeth conferences (1998, 2008) and the Windsor Report Listening process (dialogue) to connect with homosexual Anglicans. In March 2010, the openly lesbian Mary Douglas Glasspool was elected Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Los Angeles. In May 2010, the bishops of the Anglican Church in southern Africa opposed any form of criminalization of homosexuals.

In September 2013 the Church of England allowed homosexual Anglican clergymen to enter into civil partnership as long as they were celibate. In April 2014, a homosexual Anglican priest was officially married and was subsequently released. In November 2013, the Church of England allowed same-sex couples to be blessed in a service. 2017 which allowed Anglican Church in Scotland , the marriage of same sex couples , as they are already in the Anglican Church in the United States and in the Anglican Church in Canada was made possible under canon law. In May 2018 the general synod of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia endorsed the public blessing of same-sex couples. In June 2018, the Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil allowed same-sex couples to be married.

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. See
  2. Note: The Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) is numerically the largest, the Romanian Orthodox Church with 17 million members the second largest ( autocephalous ) Orthodox church in the world.
  3. ^ Status of Global Christianity, 2015 . International Bulletin of Missionary Research, Vol. 39, No. 1, p. 28-30; PDF; Retrieved April 4, 2016.
  4. See succession list of the Anglican bishops ( Memento of July 11, 2006 in the Internet Archive )
  5. ^ A b Martin Davie: A Guide to the Church of England. Mowbray, London 2008, ISBN 1-906286-13-2 , pp. 80 ff.
  6. ^ Nicolas Stebbing: Anglicans et bénédictins . In: Alliance Inter-Monastères: Bulletin de l'AIM , ISSN  1779-4811 , vol. 2020, no. 118, pp. 51–56, here p. 51.
  7. ^ Nicolas Stebbing: Anglicans et bénédictins . In: Alliance Inter-Monastères: Bulletin de l'AIM , ISSN  1779-4811 , vol. 2020, no. 118, pp. 51–56, here p. 52.
  8. Website of the commission that produced the document ( memento of July 16, 2012 in the Internet Archive ), accessed on November 22, 2012.
  9. See ( Memento from May 6, 2006 in the Internet Archive )
  10. First woman bishop receives fond farewell from US church ( Memento from December 12, 2005 in the Internet Archive )
  12. epd: Church of England for women in the episcopate ( Memento of July 17, 2006 in the Internet Archive )
  13. ^ Telegraph: Women can be bishops, Synod rules
  14. ^ N-tv: dispute about female bishops .
  15. The legislative process is documented in detail here: Women Bishops (in English) , in:, accessed on November 20, 2012.
  16. ^ General Synod rejects draft legislation on women bishops , in: Anglican Communion News Service, ACNS5254, Nov. 20, 2012.
  17. ^ Pat Storey: First Anglican bishop appointed in Ireland ; Spiegel Online, September 20, 2013
  18. ^ Election of Wales' first woman bishop is confirmed. The Church in Wales, December 1, 2016
  19. Scottish Episcopal Church appoints first female bishop
  20. Source: epd press service ( memento from September 27, 2007 in the Internet Archive ).
  21. German translation of the final communique of the leading bishops of the Anglican Church, Dar es Salaam 2007 ( Memento of March 8, 2008 in the Internet Archive )
  22. ^ Letter from the US Bishops of March 21, 2007 ( Memento of March 28, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  23. See introduction of the video on the following page:
  24. ^ Statement from the Anglican Bishops in Southern African
  25. Gay priests are allowed to become bishops in England
  26. BBC: Chaplain defies gay church wedding ban
  27. BBC: Gay Canon Jeremy Pemberton was not discriminated against
  28. ^ Advocate: com: Church England plans blessing of gay couples
  29. : Scottish Anglicans vote for marriage of gay couples
  30. Anglican Church wants to bless same-sex relationships, May 9, 2018
  31. IEAB synod adopts same-sex marriage canon (en) . In: Anglican Ink 2018 © , June 1, 2018. Archived from the original on June 5, 2018. Retrieved June 2, 2018.