The Church of England is a world wide category of churches found in more than 160 different countries, and forms the part of the Anglican unity. There are more than a million of people who attend the Church of England practices on any Sunday to make it the largest percentage of Christian community in the country.
In the 4th century, the Romans introduced Christianity in Britain. The Christianity wasn’t even established reasonably that Anglo-Saxon invasions, in the beginning of the 5th century have almost destroyed the organization of the church what is now England. The Celtic Church extended its customs throughout the continent and remained isolated. The conflict started to begin when St. Augustine of Canterbury (597) reached England to reconvert. The practices of the Romans were adopted more than as compared to Celtic traditions. But on the other hand, the English Church stayed isolated until the Norman Conquest. And the Continental churchmen undertook the reforms of the English Church.
St. Alban was the first member of the British church who was martyred on the spot for his faith in Christianity, where now stands the St. Albans Abbey. St. Illtud, St Ninian and St Patrick were evangelizing in Wales, Scotland and Ireland and formed the missionary church, the British Church. All started to happen when a mission was sent to Kent by Pope Gregory the Great to convert people to Christianity, and that was led by St Augustine of Canterbury who landed in Kent in 597. Finally, was known as the Church of England (the Ecclesia Anglicana – or the English Church). It was actually established by the combination of three streams of Christianity known as, the Roman tradition led by St. Augustine and his descendants, remains of Romano-British Church and the Celtic Church practices and related practices of people, such as St Aidan and St Cuthberts.
Creation of the Church of England.
During the middle age the conflicts arose between church and state that affected their relationship and the church in England as well as in Europe. The quarrels over the taxes were not resolved, therefore, appeals were going from English courts to Rome, as demanded by Rome. As a result, Henry VIII broke the union of the church in England with Rome. This action led to the creation of the Church of England. Thus, the king, Henry VIII was acknowledged as the supreme head of the Church of England according to the Act of Supremacy (1534).
The Church of England, led by the two heads Archbishops of Canterbury and York, and divided into two provinces – Canterbury in the South of England and York in the North. Thus, The Church of England was the established/state church in England. It was influenced by the development of Western Christian customs and the development of monasticism. Only with the reformation in the 16th century that the Church of England acknowledged the authority of the Pope.
15th – 17th Century.
In the dynasty of Henry’s son Edward VI, the Protestant Reformation, driven by theologians reformed the Church of England. The theology that was developed had faith in the teachings of the Bible and the Early Church than to support the Pope. Further, in the dynasty of Mary Tudor the Church of England was surrendered to Papal authority. But this policy was turned around by Elizabeth I, when she came to the throne in 1558. Elizabeth I in 1559 reinstated the Act of Supremacy, as part of the Elizabethan Religious Settlement (Second Act of Supremacy). Elizabeth I, gave the Church of England the distinguished identity that it has maintained to this day. The Puritan movement appointed ministers to separate from the Church of England, and formed into two, the Presbyterians and the Separatists.
In the reign of James I the gradually rising tide of Puritanism made compulsory the Hampton Court Conference (1604). At that conference, the enormous accomplishment was the King James, or Authorized, Version of the English Bible (1611). The first general Baptist Church was prearranged by Thomas Helwys in (1611), Spitalfields, London.
The continuous conflicts over the theological and liturgical issues within the Church of England led to the English Civil War (1642). During the period 1649-1660 the Church lost its Royalist side. The bishops were abrogated and the prayer book commonly known as the Book of Common Prayer was banned. But this situation was reversed with the re-establishment of the monarchy in 1660.
In 1689 the Toleration Act gave legal survival to the Protestant groups outside the Church of England who acknowledged the doctrine of the Trinity. This settlement became the basis of the constitutional position, that gave the Church of England a particular range of legal privileges and responsibilities. As an established Church in England, the Church of England became the mother church of the Anglican Communion.
18th Century Onwards.
The 18th century onwards the history of the Church of England was broadly influenced and enhanced by the three main traditions, namely, the Evangelical tradition, the Catholic tradition and the Liberal tradition. Since 1960 a fourth influence, the Charismatic movement, roots has been Evangelicalism, has become increasingly significant. It has influenced the traditions of the Church through the work of the Holy Spirit.
Church- Mission And Unity In Present.
In the 20th century the Church of England got involved in modification of canon law and the prayer book, the church building, the Sheffield Industrial Mission, and in the ecumenical movement. In 2012 the church’s bishops, approved the candidacy of celibate gay priests after a public fight over the choice. Also, the consecration of women as bishops was opposed by the traditionalists in 2012. Justin Welby is the present Archbishop of Canterbury.
The Church of England has faced numerous of challenges since it was established and that it continues to face today. However, it has shown that the commitment of the Church of England to the faith (revealed in the Holy Scriptures and the catholic creeds) has remained common over the years. And shows its determination to bring the grace of God to the individuals in the course of word and sacrament to the power of the Holy Spirit.