Church of England

The Church of England is the established church in England, and acts as the "mother church" and originator of the worldwide Anglican Communion, as well as a founding member of the Porvoo (pronounced 'porvoh') Communion. The Church of England stands both in a catholic and yet a reformed tradition.
Catholic in that it sees itself as a continuation of the early Apostolic and then later medieval Universal church. Its practices and liturgy has more of that tradition than many other reformed churches. Reformed because many of the principles of the early Protestants (as well as the subsequent Protestant Reformation) have influenced it. The Church of England does not accept Papal authority. Before its' reformation it did accept Papal authority.

In belief and practice, and in forms of churchmanship, the Church of England is mixed: in some of its congregations worship remains similar to Roman Catholicism (see high church), but in others it is hard to distinguish between the Anglican forms in use and other Evangelical congregations (see low church). Its constitution preserves many relatively conservative theological beliefs, its worship liturgy is traditional, and it is organised in the historical episcopal hierarchy of bishops, priests and deacons.

The Church of England holds dear its heritage of breadth and "open-mindedness". It often refers to itself as a 'Broad Church'. Today, its beliefs and practices range from the Anglo-Catholics, who emphasise liturgy, sacraments and vestments, to the far more preaching-centred and less ritualistic services of Evangelicals and the powerful gatherings of the Charismatics. But this "broad church" faces various contentious doctrinal issues raised by the development of modern society: conflicts over the ordination of women as priests (accepted in 1992 and begun in 1994), and the status of non-celibate homosexual clergy (as yet unresolved). In July 2005 divisions once again surfaced, as the General Synod voted to set in motion the process of allowing the consecration of women as bishops; in February 2006 the Synod voted overwhelmingly for further exploration of a scheme that would also allow parishes that did not want a woman bishop to opt for a male bishop instead. There are some churches within the Church of England that do not recognise women as priests and gain their episcopal oversight from bishops other than the diocesan bishop. There are people moving from the C of E into the Roman Church at the moment (2011) after the RC created an ordinariate to receive them. On the other side of the debate, there are growing ties with the Methodist Church.The C of E will be a different church in the coming years.

In 1995 the Church of England along with a number of other Anglican communions established links with other like-minded European churches called Porvoo after Porvoo Cathedral in Finland where the agreement was reached.


Porvoo Communion
Anglicans Online
Anglican Communion

Back to Directory of Denominations