The Church of England

Differences between the various denominations may be based on their form and style of worship, aspects of their theology, or their administrative structure and organisational hierarchy. On the other hand, individual churches of the same denomination might also vary in some of these ways, and today, you will almost certainly find individual members of any given church who will have very different beliefs from the other members of the same church.

This is particularly true of the Church of England and the Anglican communion, it’s colonial offshoots across the Commonwealth and further afield. At its formation in the 1500s Henry VIII established a Catholic church, but of Britain alone, and separate from the authority of the Pope in Rome. Later, it took on a more Protestant theology, but retained the liturgy and form of the Catholic church.

In its modern form, individual parishes of the Church of England and Wales may still have an emphasis in one or other of these different directions: some are very Catholic, venerating Mary, using candles and incense, even using Catholic language and genuflections, and, to a visitor at their services, seem almost identical to a Catholic church. Other Anglican churches are much more Protestant, maybe still following the general service order of the Church of England, but in every other respect reflecting more the theology and liturgical practice of many non-conformist churches. The worldwide Anglican communion is also divided on the ordination of women priests and issues of sexuality, with some groups, such as the Episcopal church of USA feeling that it needs to become more liberal in its theology and practice, while Anglican Christians in Africa and other southern countries retain a more conservative or traditionalist social outlook. Even within Britain itself, special provision has had to be made for those Anglicans who do not feel that they can accept ministry from women priests, with special arrangements being made to ensure that their individual spiritual provision is not compromised.

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