Church of England


Please help a Catholic brother out :slight_smile:

In another thread one poster said to another poster: “I thought you were Anglican”.

The other poster replied: “I am Anglican”.

As incredibly funny as that can be, it does hold true that not 2 Anglicans are alike? :slight_smile:

So, how does it work? Is the Church under the hierarchy of the crown? And does that mean that the Crown has the ability to direct the Church in a Pope like manner?

There’s High Church and Low Church - are there further levels within those 2?

Some ordain women, some don’t.

Do all branches/off shoots have Bishops? Which ones have Bishops?


The Church of England is the reformed catholic Church within the country of England (not identical with the UK or GB). The catholic dioceses were reformed during the sixteenth century; one of the reforms was the rejection of the universal and immediate jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome, and the acknowledgement of the Crown’s supremacy both civil and ecclesiastical within the realm of England.

The Anglican Communion is a worldwide communion of churches which are derived from the Church of England. On the whole, they were originally the Church of England’s parishes and dioceses within the British Empire; with secular independence usually came ecclesiastical independence.

Overall authority within the Church of England is vested in the Queen in parliament; in practice, legislative authority is devolved to the General Synod, which functions as a devolved parliament not entirely unlike the Scottish parliament, or the Welsh Assembly. For this reason, the Church of England’s canon law and Measures passed in Synod are technically part of the law of the land. In terms of teaching, preaching and the administration of the sacraments, the Church is run by its bishops, assisted by priests, deacons and laypeople.

All Anglicans have bishops. Some Anglican national churches ordain women, some do not.

Ah, memories. Around 15+ years ago, my first post, anywhere, addressed similar questions (and received, as my first reply, a post from an erudite Anglican, not necessarily of my stripe, who has long been an ornament to this board). And many many posts since have addressed this issue.

I stand ready to rectify your situation; it is my destiny. But my wife has just given me a more time sensitive charge: weed the flower bed out at the blueberry bushes. I shall return and post bon mots, regardless of whether any interlopers reply in the interim.


No 2 Anglicans are necessarily alike. Anglicanism has, since its origin, been a range of opinions, from more reformed/evangelical, to more high church or Anglo-Catholic (as that latter grew out of the Oxford movement). and this range, which was under an umbrella of basic mere Christianity, has sprouted more exotic tentacles in the past 50+ plus years, resulting in even more dimensions in which Anglicans can be motley.

To address your 2nd question requires more time than I have in hand. Later. It will begin within distinguishing between Anglicanism, as a genus, and the Church of England, as a particular species of that.

High Church and Low Church are not best thought of as levels, but as point on a continuum, related to “churchmanship”: what vestments, how many candles, when to kneel, incense, stuff like that. More complicated, but you know my current situation. SWMBO is waiting.

Many Anglicans think they are ordaining females. Many Anglicans think those Anglicans are not. RCs, of course, think that no Anglicans are ordaining anyone.

All Anglicans have bishops, or at least bishop shaped objects. They are an episcopal peoples.

Consider more questions. Meanwhile, I go to attack the wild greenery. Avoiding the poison ivy is essential. Wish me luck.


Well, that may do.


Ok, so far so good.

So the ecclesiastical independence severed the hierarchical order as well? Say a Bishop in New York is not longer overseen by other Bishopric Office in England?

Does the Queen participate in the General Synod?
And can Her Majesty exercise authority in matters of Faith and Morals?

Does it work in like manner to the Orthodox? Several Independent Bishopric Offices in agreement with one Faith?

Would you mind listing the different Anglican Churches? Sorry if they are too many :o

Best of luck with the green devils! That’s on my honeydo’s for tomorrow :slight_smile:

I will address your other responses as time permits. Thanks

Thanks GKC and Novo for your replies! I specifically had the 2 of you in mind as I asked the questions.


Yep. The American Church is independent.

Does the Queen participate in the General Synod?
And can Her Majesty exercise authority in matters of Faith and Morals?

In practice, not really. She opens Synod, much like she opens parliament; likewise the two are seen as receiving legislative authority from her.

Does it work in like manner to the Orthodox? Several Independent Bishopric Offices in agreement with one Faith?

In theory, though not in practice!

Would you mind listing the different Anglican Churches? Sorry if they are too many :o

From wikipedia:

All 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion are autonomous, each with its own primate and governing structure. These provinces may take the form of national churches (such as in Canada, Uganda, or Japan) or a collection of nations (such as the West Indies, Central Africa, or Southeast Asia). They are, in alphabetical order:

Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia
Anglican Church of Australia
Church of Bangladesh
Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil (Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil)
Anglican Church of Burundi
Anglican Church of Canada
Church of the Province of Central Africa
Iglesia Anglicana de la Region Central America (Anglican Church in the Central Region of America)
Province de l’Église anglicane du Congo (Province of the Anglican Church of Congo)
Church of England
Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui (Hong Kong Anglican Church (Episcopal))
Church of the Province of the Indian Ocean
Church of Ireland
Nippon Sei Ko Kai (Japan)
Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East
Anglican Church of Kenya
Anglican Church of Korea
Church of the Province of Melanesia
Anglican Church of Mexico
Church of the Province of Myanmar
Church of Nigeria
Church of North India
Church of Pakistan
Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea
Episcopal Church in the Philippines
Church of the Province of Rwanda
Scottish Episcopal Church
Church of the Province of South East Asia
Church of South India
Anglican Church of Southern Africa
Anglican Church of the Southern Cone of America
Episcopal Church of the Sudan
Anglican Church of Tanzania
Church of Uganda
Episcopal Church of the United States of America
Church in Wales
Church of the Province of West Africa
Church in the Province of the West Indies

In addition, there are six extraprovincial churches, five of which are under the metropolitical authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Anglican Church of Bermuda (extraprovincial to the Archbishop of Canterbury)
Iglesia Episcopal de Cuba (Episcopal Church of Cuba) (under a metropolitan council)
Parish of the Falkland Islands (extraprovincial to the Archbishop of Canterbury)
Lusitanian Catholic Apostolic Evangelical Church (extraprovincial to the Archbishop of Canterbury)
Spanish Reformed Episcopal Church (extraprovincial to the Archbishop of Canterbury)
Church of Ceylon (extraprovincial to the Archbishop of Canterbury)

In addition to other member churches, the churches of the Anglican Communion are in full communion with the Old Catholic churches of the Union of Utrecht and the Scandinavian Lutheran churches of the Porvoo Communion in Europe, the India-based Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian and Malabar Independent Syrian churches and the Philippine Independent Church, also known as the Aglipayan Church.

Thanks again Novo!

Is the Episcopal Church also Anglican? Or is that a different subject? :slight_smile:

As to your first query, no. All the Churches in the Anglican Communion (38 of them) are autocephalous, totally independent. And not all Anglicans are members of the Anglican Communion. You can google the Anglican Communion, which should give you the membership. As to those not in the Communion, goggling Anglican Continuum will give an idea of those. Not a totality, though.

I’ll let Novocastrian address the Sovereign’s role, in the CoE. More his turf.


Yep. Although there’s a growing divide in the American Church, with the conservatives tending to use the term “Anglican” in preference to “Episcopal”, to claim identity with the orthodox majority of worldwide Anglicanism.

A frequently asked question. Somewhere I have saved an extensive reply I made to it. But yes, the Episcopal Church is Anglican. Anglican, as I said somewhere today, is tghe genus, of which the particular Anglican Churches are the species.

Once upon a time, say 300 years ago, if you said “Anglican”, perforce you meant “Church of England”. That’s all there was. But as the British flag wandered around the globe and found a home and an empire, the Church of England followed. Anglicans weren’t great shakes at evangelizing, but they were great at making Little England wherever the map was colored red. At first these were merely colonial extensions of the CoE, run by the Bishop of London, but eventually colonial bishops were appointed. And eventually colonies became dominions and independent countries, and the various colonial Churches became independent Churches.

That’s a bit of my old stuff, above. And the independent Anglican Churches are now the Episcopal Church in the US/Anglican Church of Canada/Anglican Church of Australia/Anglican Church of South Africa/Episcopal Church of Scotland/ etc, etc.


Those who use the term “Anglican” in the US are those who have formally left the Episcopal Church. I know of no exceptions, though an odd parish may exist.


Well, I made a start, on the green witchery.

Otherwise, I am standing by, or perhaps smoking a pipe in the back yard.


You basically wrote in a few lines what I spent a year of my degree turning into a BA dissertation!

The Episcopal Church (as it now is in the US) was organised in Philadelphia in 1787 (can’t think what else was going on in the same city at the same time!), because in the aftermath of the war e and British recognition of American independence, obviously it would have been impossible to have ‘the Church of England’ operating in the United States. Only the year before was secured the consecration of the first three bishops of the American branch of the church, courtesy of a special act of the British parliament to allow it - these were actually the first Anglican bishops for anywhere outside the British Isles. In fact a campaign to acquire bishops for the American colonies in the 1750s and '60s has been seen by some historians as one of the causes of what happened in the 1770s.

The new church in the US in the 1780s called itself the ‘Protestant Episcopal Church’ (the ‘protestant’ bit was dropped officially some time in the 20th century I think) - because to call oneself an ‘Anglican’ (“English”) church in the political climate of the 1780s wouldn’t have been very wise - but they also wished to emphasise that the church had an episcopal polity, unlike (at the time) every other denomination in the new country.

True, and I agree… but…but… not to question a years work and a dissertation, but… what 3 bishops do you have in mind and what act of Parliament? Something here is not meshing with the tale of Samuel Seabury and the Non-Jurors.


The Church of England played a significant role in bringing Christianity to the Nords even after the Reformation. Church of Sweden has been in official full communion with the CofE for more than a century. Now nearly all Lutherans are in full communion with the Anglican Church and view them as close cousins.

[The second photo may be mis-titled as a Provoo signing]

Any excuse to dig out the files on my computer… :thumbsup:

The act I referred to is the ‘Consecration of Bishops Abroad Act’ of 1786 (26 Geo III, c.80). Under it, the Archbishop of Canterbury and two others (or any English bishops he deputised) were allowed to consecrate bishops for ministry outside ‘His Majesty’s dominions’ (i.e. the United States). However these bishops - and anyone subsequently drawing their ordination or consecration from them - was forbidden from exercising their ministry inside British dominions. So, for instance, someone made priest in the United States couldn’t then take up a parish in Canada (although this restriction was repealed in the 19th century).

Samuel Seabury was indeed consecrated by the nonjuring Scottish Episcopal Church in 1784 (I didn’t want to muddy the waters in my previous answer!). The argument of my dissertation, in fact, was basically that the Church of England was concerned that the emerging church in the US would be entirely nonjuring in origin, and thus Parliament was persuaded to pass the act.

The act was needed because customarily English bishops swore (and still swear) an oath to obey the monarch and his/her successors…which an American bishop, of course, could not in all conscience do.

The three bishops consecrated in England were William White, Samuel Provoost and James Madison (not the president, but in fact I believe his first or second cousin). Madison was consecrated a year or so after the other two. While Seabury was the ‘first’ bishop, he never participated in any consecrations (or rather, he was at a number of services but did not lay on hands himself). This was because his position as an ostensibly nonjuring bishop led many in the Episcopal Church to view him with suspicion as not being ‘properly’ Anglican. (As, similarly, the Roman Catholic church views the Anglican Church with suspicion, despite, arguably, the A/C also being in the apostolic succession).

For those readers wondering who the ‘nonjurors’ are - they were those Anglican priests and bishops who in 1688 refused to swear a new oath of loyalty to William III and Mary, who had ousted the previous (Catholic) monarch, James II, because James II had not abdicated and therefore they thought their oath was still valid; they were thrown out by the ‘mainstream’ Anglican church. More nonjurors were ‘created’ in 1714 when George I succeeded to the throne; the alternative candidate was the son of James II, known by supporters (the ‘Jacobites’) as James III. The nonjuring church in Scotland became the Scottish Episcopal Church (the Anglican Church in Scotland), and in England it died out/was subsumed back into the main A/C, by around 1800.

Edit - Seabury was one of the consecrators for Thomas Clagett, the first bishop consecrated in America, in 1792. All four bishops (as were then) participated, even though only 3 are required canonically, because of doubts about Seabury's own consecration: Madison was made bishop just in time for Clagett's consecration. The idea being that just in case Seabury's consecration was actually invalid, Madison made up the numbers anyway).

That helps, yes. Thanks.

Well done, says I. And I knew not of the Act mentioned (though, now knowing of it, I’ll bet I’ve got a compendium of Parliamentary Ecclesiastical Acts that might contain it).

I thank you for adding to my store of minutiae with that. Which I will incorporate into my show and tell as appropriate.

I certainly agree that the RCC has a negative view of the Anglican world (as concerns holy orders), per Apostolicae Curae/1896. Suspicion is not the word.

Thank you again. Learning something new, especially in an area that interests me, is something to be grateful for.


Added: and you show what care the Episcopal Church took, in their eyes, as to the idea of having valid orders and an apostolic episcopal line. The concern over the Non-Jurors lines was unnecessary, IMO, but I can appreciate the idea. Seabury bore the episcopal line of what was arguably an analog of a Continuing Anglican Church, when the hands that were laid on him were of those who had left the CoE.


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