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The Anglicanism Portal

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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 most commonly refers to the beliefs and practices of the Anglican Communion, a worldwide affiliation of Christian churches. There is no single "Anglican Church" with universal juridical authority, since each national or regional church has full autonomy. As the name suggests, the communion is an association of churches in full communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury. With an estimated 80 million members, the Anglican Communion is the third largest communion in the world, after the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches.

Anglicanism, in its structures, theology and forms of worship, is understood as a distinct Christian tradition representing a middle ground between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism and, as such, is often referred to as being a via media ("middle way") between these traditions. Anglicans uphold the Catholic and Apostolic faith and follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. In practice Anglicans believe this is revealed in Holy Scripture and the creeds and interpret these in light of Christian tradition, scholarship, reason and experience.

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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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Keble College Chapel - Oct 2006.jpg
Credit: David Iliff

Chapel at Keble College as viewed across the quadrangle in Oxford, England.

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Edington Priory

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Thomas Cranmer
Thomas Cranmer (2 July 1489 – 21 March 1556) was a leader of the English Reformation and Archbishop of Canterbury during the reigns of Henry VIII and Edward VI. He helped build a favourable case for Henry's divorce from Catherine of Aragon which resulted in the separation of the English Church from union with the Holy See. During Cranmer's tenure as archbishop, he was responsible for establishing the first doctrinal and liturgical structures of the Church of England. Under Henry's rule, he succeeded in publishing the first officially authorised vernacular service, the Exhortation and Litany. Later, he wrote and compiled the first two editions of the Book of Common Prayer, a complete liturgy for the English Church. Cranmer promulgated reformed doctrines through the Prayer Book, the Homilies and other publications. Cranmer was tried for treason and heresy when Mary I came to the throne. Imprisoned for over two years, he made several recantations and reconciled himself with the Roman Catholic faith. However, on the day of his execution, he dramatically withdrew his recantations and died as a martyr. His legacy lives on within the Church of England through the Book of Common Prayer and the Thirty-Nine Articles.

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