The term Anglican is used to describe a broad array of religious traditions which all trace their roots back to the creation of a distinctive English Church under the leadership of King Henry VIII during the Protestant Reformation. The word Anglicanus is Latin for "English" and its use first appeared in John Jewel's Apology for the Anglican Church (1562).
Founded in 1534 by King Henry's Act of Supremacy, the roots of Anglicanism go back to one of the main branches of Protestantism that came about after the 16th century Reformation.During the reign of King Edward, a power struggle emerged between English Protestants and Catholics. Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer contributed a great deal to the reforms away from Catholicism with two versions of the Book of Common Prayer and the 42 Articles of 1553.
Protestantism still struggled in England until the reign of Queen Elizabeth I when Anglicanism finally took shape. The 42 Articles were reduced to 39 and the Book of Common Prayer was reissued. In the late 17th and early 18th centuries, Anglicanism was typified by an emphasis on reason, moral living and simple religious devotion. By the late 1600's the Church of England settled into the Anglican structure that still characterizes it today.
Anglicans trace their Christian roots back to the early Church, and their specifically Anglican identity to the post-Reformation expansion of the Church of England and other Episcopal or Anglican Churches. Historically, there were two main stages in the development and spread of the Communion. Beginning with the seventeenth century, Anglicanism was established alongside colonisation in the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa. The second stage began in the eighteenth century when missionaries worked to establish Anglican churches in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Located on every continent, Anglicans speak many languages and come from different races and cultures. Although the churches are autonomous, they are also uniquely unified through their history, their theology, their worship and their relationship to the ancient See of Canterbury.
Anglicans uphold the Catholic and Apostolic faith. Following the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Churches are committed to the proclamation of the good news of the Gospel to the whole creation. In practice this is based on the revelation contained in Holy Scripture and the Catholic creeds, and is interpreted in light of Christian tradition, scholarship, reason and experience.
In order to remain true to the teachings of Christ and the Apostles, Anglicans have historically upheld the Holy Scriptures as Godís Word, have held to the summary of evangelical beliefs known as the Thirty-Nine Articles of Faith and have accepted the three great Christian creeds, the Apostlesí, the Nicene and the Athanasian, as the fundamental statements of the Christian faith. We celebrate the sacraments of Baptism and the Lordís Supper as commanded by Jesus and we uphold the historic order of Bishops, Presbyters and Deacons in the administration of the churchís life and mission.
By baptism in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, a person is made one with Christ and received into the fellowship of the Church. This sacrament of initiation is open to children as well as to adults.
Central to worship for Anglicans 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 and resurrection of Jesus Christ are recalled through the proclamation of the word and the celebration of the sacrament. Other important rites, commonly called sacraments, include confirmation, holy orders, reconciliation, marriage and anointing of the sick.
Worship is at the very heart of Anglicanism. Its styles vary from simple to elaborate, or even a combination. Until the late twentieth century the great uniting text was The Book of Common Prayer.
To be an Anglican is to be on a journey of faith to God supported by a fellowship of co-believers who are dedicated to finding Him by prayer and service.