The Worldwide Anglican Communion is an association or federation of Anglican churches that are in full communion with the Church of England, and specifically with the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Anglican Communion is the third largest Christian communion in the world with approximately 70 to 80 million members, after the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches. Many churches in the Communion identify themselves as “Anglican”, recognizing their historical link to the Church of England. Others, such as the American and Scottish churches call themselves “Episcopal,” reflecting the hierarchical structure of the church with the Bishop as the ecclesiastical head.
Each church has its own doctrine and liturgy based primarily on that of England, but with considerable latitude allowed for local custom, culture and traditions. Each Anglican church also has adopted its own legislative process and governance procedure (in The Episcopal Church known as the General Convention) under the leadership of a presiding bishop.
The Archbishop of Canterbury is the religious head of the Church of England and recognized as the symbolic head – “first among equals” – of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The Anglican Communion considers itself to be part of the “One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church” and to be both Catholic and Reformed.
Learn more about the Anglican Communion at www.anglicancommunion.org.