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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.

One definition of the Anglican Communion is: "The 1930 Lambeth Conference described the Anglican Communion as a 'fellowship, within the one holy catholic and apostolic church, of those duly constituted dioceses, provinces or regional churches in communion with the see of Canterbury.'" - Colin Buchanan, Historical Dictionary of Anglicanism

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A stone church with a slim metal spire
St Mary's Church is a Grade A listed Anglican church in Chesham, Buckinghamshire, and is part of the Diocese of Oxford. Built on the site of a Bronze Age stone circle of puddingstones, parts of the church building date to the 12th century. Remodelled in the 15th and 17th centuries, the church is architecturally a mixture of English Gothic styles. Structurally weakened by additions to the church tower and undermined by burials in and around the church, by the 19th century the building was structurally unsound. The church was remodelled and strengthened in the 1860s by George Gilbert Scott and again in the 20th century by Robert Potter. Formerly part of the Diocese of Lincoln, it served what was historically the largest parish in Buckinghamshire, and the church traditionally had two vicars. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries Woburn Abbey, together with its half of the advowson, was granted to the Earls of Bedford, while the half that had belonged to Leicester Abbey passed through a succession of private owners. In 1769 the Duke of Bedford acquired the Leicester half of the advowson and unified the parish, and from then on the parish was served by a single vicar. The town of Chesham grew rapidly in the 19th century, and after the parish was transferred to the Diocese of Oxford, reforms introduced by the Bishop of Oxford, Samuel Wilberforce, led to the parish being repeatedly partitioned, eventually becoming seven independent parishes. In 1980 it was decided to reverse this decision, and over the 1980s and 1990s the seven parishes were reunited under St. Mary's Church.

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Darwin restored2.jpg
Credit: Bain News Service, publisher.

Charles Darwin's views on religion have been the subject of much interest. Even later in life, Darwin continued to play a leading part in the parish work of his local Anglican church. In 1879 he stated that he had never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God, and that generally "an Agnostic would be the more correct description of my state of mind."

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Edington Priory

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Anne Boleyn
Anne Boleyn (1501/1507–19 May 1536) was the second wife of Henry VIII of England and the mother of Elizabeth I of England. Henry's marriage to Anne, and her subsequent execution, made her a key player in the political and religious upheaval that was the start of the English Reformation. In 1525, Henry VIII became enamoured with Anne and began his pursuit of her. It soon became the one absorbing object of the king's desires to secure an annulment from his wife, Catherine of Aragon so he could marry Anne. As a result of Anne's marriage to the king, the Church of England was forced to break with Rome and was brought under the king's control. Anne gave birth to a baby girl who would one day reign as Queen Elizabeth I of England. When Anne failed to quickly produce a male heir, the king grew tired of her and a plot was hatched by Thomas Cromwell to do away with her. Although the evidence against her was unconvincing, Anne was beheaded on charges of adultery, incest, and high treason in 1536. Following the coronation of her daughter Elizabeth as queen, Anne was venerated as a martyr and heroine of the English Reformation, particularly through the works of John Foxe.

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