A closer look at Anglicanism and how it is structured
The Anglican Communion is a global network of churches that originated with the Church of England. The Church of England was the first Anglican Church.
Anglican Churches, provinces and dioceses
There is no single worldwide ‘Anglican Church’, rather there is a self-governing Anglican Church for every province – a province is often a single country, but can be a group of countries. For example, the Anglican Church of Korea covers Korea only; the Anglican Church of Central Africa covers Botswana, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Each province is divided into dioceses. For example, there are 43 dioceses in the Church of England (Diocese of Manchester, Diocese of Lincoln, etc). Each province is headed up by an archbishop (though the exact title may vary); each diocese is headed up by a bishop.
There are currently an estimated 80 million Anglicans in 44 Anglican Churches around the world.
The Anglican Communion is the third largest Christian communion in the world, after the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches.
The four Instruments of Communion
The Anglican Communion is given focus and direction by what are called the four ‘Instruments of Communion’. These instruments are:
- The Archbishop of Canterbury, as the ‘first among equals’;
- The Lambeth Conferences, held every ten years, to which all archbishops and bishops are invited;
- Primates Meetings, to which all leaders of provinces are invited (a primate is the head of a province);
- The Anglican Consultative Council, which meets every two years and whose membership includes representatives from throughout the church in every province, including people who aren’t ordained as church leaders.