About the Church of England and what we believe

The Church of England is part of the Anglican church worldwide. The Scriptures and the Gospels, the Apostolic Church and the early Church Fathers, are the foundation of Anglican faith and worship in the 44 self-governing churches that make up the Anglican Communion. 85 million people in 185 countries are Anglicans. Find out more about the Anglican Communion.

The Church of England is part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. It worships the one true God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Faith of Church of England

The Church of England professes the faith that is uniquely revealed in the Bible and set forth in the Catholic Creeds (the statements of faith developed in the Early Church that are still used in the Church’s worship today). The Church is called to proclaim that faith afresh in each generation. Led by the Holy Spirit, the Church of England bore witness to Christian truth in historic texts that were developed in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries: the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal (services for ordaining bishops, priests and deacons).

The bishops, priests and deacons of the Church of England and also some laypeople (Readers and certain lay officers) are required to declare their loyalty to this inheritance of faith as their ‘inspiration and guidance under God in bringing the grace and truth of Christ to this generation and making Him known to those in [their] care’. They do so by making a Declaration of Assent which is set out in Canon C 15 of the Canons of the Church of England. They are also printed in Common Worship: Services and Prayers for the Church of England.

Structure of the the Church of England

The Church of England is organised into two provinces; each led by an archbishop (Canterbury for the Southern Province and York for the Northern). These two provinces cover England, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, the Isles of Scilly and even a small part of Wales; not to mention continental Europe.

Each province is built from dioceses. There are 43 in England and the Diocese in Europe has clergy and congregations in the rest of Europe, Morocco, Turkey and the Asian countries of the former Soviet Union.

Each diocese (except Europe) is divided into parishes. The parish is the heart of the Church of England. Each parish is overseen by a parish priest (usually called a vicar or rector). From ancient times through to today, they, and their bishop, are responsible for the ‘cure of souls’ in their parish. That includes everyone. And this explains why parish priests are so involved with the key issues and problems affecting the whole community.

Her Majesty the Queen is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, and she also has a unique and special relationship with the Church of Scotland, which is a Free Church. In the Church of England she appoints archbishops, bishops and deans of cathedrals on the advice of the Prime Minister. The two archbishops and 24 senior bishops sit in the House of Lords, making a major contribution to Parliament’s work.

The Church of England is episcopally led (there are 108 bishops) and synodically governed. The General Synod is elected from the laity and clergy of each diocese and meets in London or York at least twice annually to consider legislation for the good of the Church.

The Archbishops’ Council was established in 1999 to co-ordinate, promote, aid and further the mission of the Church of England. It is composed of 19 members and 7 directors whose task is to give a clear sense of direction to the Church nationally and support the Church locally.

Find out more about the Church of England.

*Text reproduced with kind permission from www.churchofengland.org

 

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