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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 that evolved out of the practices, liturgy and identity of the Church of England following the Protestant 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 the Anglican Consultative Council.[not in citation given] Some churches that are not part of the Anglican Communion also consider themselves Anglican, including those that are part of the Continuing Anglican movement.

Anglicans base their Christian faith on the Bible, traditions of the apostolic Church, apostolic succession ("historic episcopate"), and 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, 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 that worshippers in most Anglican churches have used for centuries, and is thus acknowledged as one of the ties that bind the Anglican Communion together.

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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Arms of a bishop marshalled with those of the diocese (left shield) and spouse (right shield)
Ecclesiastical heraldry is the tradition of heraldry developed by Christian clergy. Initially used to mark documents, ecclesiastical heraldry evolved as a system for identifying people and dioceses. Institutions such as schools and dioceses bear arms called impersonal or corporate arms. Ecclesiastical heraldry differs notably from other heraldry in the use of special symbols around the shield. The most prominent of these symbols is the ecclesiastical hat. The color and ornamentation of this hat carry indications of rank. Clergy of the Church of England who are not bishops historically bore arms identical to a layman, with a shield, helm and crest, and no ecclesiastical hat. In 1976 a system for deans and canons was authorized by the College of Arms for deans, archdeacons and canons, allowing a black ecclesiastical hat, black or violet cords, and three violet or red tassels on each side. A priest uses a black and white cord with a single tassel on each side, and a deacon a hat without tassels. A Doctor of Divinity may have cords interwoven with red and a hat appropriate to the degree, and members of the Ecclesiastical Household add a Tudor rose on the front of the hat. Other symbols include the cross, the mitre and the crosier.

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Hans Holbein, the Younger - Sir Thomas More - Google Art Project.jpg
Credit: Hans Holbein the Younger

Thomas More is chiefly remembered for his principled refusal to accept King Henry VIII's claim to be Supreme Head of the Church of England.

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Saint Paul's Episcopal Church in 1907

Selected biography

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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