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Portal:Anglicanism

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A map showing the provinces of the Anglican Communion (blue). Also shown are the churches in full communion with the Anglicans: The churches of the Porvoo Communion (green) and the Union of Utrecht (red)

Anglicanism is a Western Christian tradition which has developed from the practices, liturgy, and identity of the Church of England following the English Reformation.

Adherents of Anglicanism are called "Anglicans". The majority of Anglicans are members of national or regional ecclesiastical provinces of the international Anglican Communion, which forms the third-largest Christian communion in the world, after the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church. They are in full communion with the See of Canterbury, and thus the Archbishop of Canterbury, whom the communion refers to as its primus inter pares (Latin, "first among equals"). He calls the decennial Lambeth Conference, chairs the meeting of primates, and is the president of the Anglican Consultative Council. Some churches that are not part of the Anglican Communion or recognised by the Anglican Communion also call themselves Anglican, including those that are part of the Continuing Anglican movement and Anglican realignment.

Anglicans base their Christian faith on the Bible, traditions of the apostolic Church, apostolic succession ("historic episcopate"), and the writings of the Church Fathers. Anglicanism forms one of the branches of Western Christianity, having definitively declared its independence from the Holy See at the time of the Elizabethan Religious Settlement. Many of the new Anglican formularies of the mid-16th century corresponded closely to those of contemporary Protestantism. These reforms in the Church of England were understood by one of those most responsible for them, Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and others as navigating a middle way between two of the emerging Protestant traditions, namely Lutheranism and Calvinism.

In the first half of the 17th century, the Church of England and its associated Church of Ireland were presented by some Anglican divines as comprising a distinct Christian tradition, with theologies, structures, and forms of worship representing a different kind of middle way, or via media, between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism – a perspective that came to be highly influential in later theories of Anglican identity and expressed in the description of Anglicanism as "Catholic and Reformed". The degree of distinction between Protestant and Catholic tendencies within the Anglican tradition is routinely a matter of debate both within specific Anglican churches and throughout the Anglican Communion. Unique to Anglicanism is the Book of Common Prayer, the collection of services in one Book used for centuries. The Book is acknowledged as a principal tie that binds the Anglican Communion together as a liturgical rather than a confessional tradition or one possessing a magisterium as in the Roman Catholic Church.

After the American Revolution, Anglican congregations in the United States and British North America (which would later form the basis for the modern country of Canada) were each reconstituted into autonomous churches with their own bishops and self-governing structures; these were known as the American Episcopal Church and the Church of England in the Dominion of Canada. Through the expansion of the British Empire and the activity of Christian missions, this model was adopted as the model for many newly formed churches, especially in Africa, Australasia, and Asia-Pacific. In the 19th century, the term Anglicanism was coined to describe the common religious tradition of these churches; as also that of the Scottish Episcopal Church, which, though originating earlier within the Church of Scotland, had come to be recognised as sharing this common identity.

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Statue of Augustine of Canterbury from Canterbury Cathedral
The Gregorian mission was a group of Italian monks and priests sent by Pope Gregory the Great to Britain in the late 6th and early 7th century to convert the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity. The first group consisted of about 40 monks and priests, some of whom had been monks in Gregory's own monastery in Rome. After a long trip, during which they almost gave up and returned to Rome, they arrived in the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Kent in 597. Gregory sent a second group of missionaries in 601 as reinforcements, along with books and relics for the newly founded churches. From Kent, the missionaries spread to the East Anglian kingdom and to the north of Britain, but after King Æthelberht of Kent's death, the mission was mostly confined to Kent. Another mission was sent to the kingdom of Northumbria when Æthelberht's daughter married King Edwin of Northumbria around 625. Many of the known members became bishops or archbishops, while most of the remainder became abbots. Among the archbishops were the first five Archbishops of Canterbury: Augustine, Laurence, Mellitus, Justus, and Honorius; all five of them were later canonized as saints and are seen as founders of the Church in England.

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Cosmo Lang as Archbishop of Canterbury, c. 1932
William Cosmo Gordon Lang, 1st Baron Lang of Lambeth (31 October 1864 – 5 December 1945), was an Anglican prelate who served as Archbishop of York (1908–1928) and Archbishop of Canterbury (1928–1942). His rapid elevation to Archbishop of York, within 18 years of his ordination, is unprecedented in modern Church of England history. As Archbishop of Canterbury during the abdication crisis of 1936 he took a strong moral stance and comments he made in a subsequent broadcast were widely condemned as uncharitable towards the departed king.

Beginning in 1890, his early ministry was served in slum parishes in Leeds and Portsmouth, except for brief service as an Oxford college chaplain. In 1908 Lang was nominated Archbishop of York, his religious stance was broadly Anglo-Catholic. After World War I, he began to promote church unity and at the 1920 Lambeth Conference was responsible for the Church's Appeal to All Christian People. Lang became Archbishop of Canterbury in 1928. He presided over the 1930 Lambeth Conference, which gave limited church approval to the use of contraception. After denouncing the Italian invasion of Abyssinia in 1935 and strongly condemning European antisemitism, he retired in 1942. He was then created Baron Lang of Lambeth and continued to attend and speak in House of Lords debates until his death in 1945. Lang himself believed that he had not lived up to his own high standards. Others, however, have praised his qualities of industry, his efficiency and his commitment to his calling.

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