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lindagray

Church of England History

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The Church of England’s earliest origins date back to the Roman Catholic Churchs influence in Europe during the 2nd century.

However, the church’s official formation and identity are typically thought to have started during the Reformation in England of the 16th century. King Henry VIII (famous for his many wives) is considered the founder of the Church of England.

Henry VIII
Henry VIII broke ties with the Pope in the 1530s after the Catholic church wouldn’t allow him to annul his marriage to his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, who failed to produce any male heirs.

Henry passed the Act of Succession and the Act of Supremacy, which essentially declared himself the supreme head of the Church of England.

After Henry’s death, Protestant reforms made their way into the church during the reign of Edward VI. But, when Edward’s half-sister, Mary, succeeded the throne in 1553, she persecuted Protestants and embraced traditional Roman Catholic ideals.

After Elizabeth I took the title of Queen in 1558, however, the Church of England was revived. The Book of Common Prayer and the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion became important texts that outlined moral doctrine and worship principles.

Church Movements
The Puritan movement in the 17th century led to the English Civil Wars and the Commonwealth. During this time, the Church of England and the monarchy were quelled, but both were re-established in 1660.

The 18th century brought the Evangelical movement, which promoted the Protestant customs of the Church. Conversely, the Oxford Movement in the 19th century highlighted the Roman Catholic heritage.

These two movements and their philosophies have endured in the Church and are sometimes referred to as “Low Church” and “High Church.”

Since the 20th century, the Church of England has been active in the Ecumenical Movement, which promotes ideas of worldwide Christian unity.

Church of England in America
Many of the early American colonists were Anglican Puritans. During the Colonial era, the Anglican Church set up establishments in Virginia, New York, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.

After the American Revolution, the Anglican Church became an independent organization in the United States and called itself the Protestant Episcopal Church.

The Episcopal Church, USA, is the official organization of the Anglican Communion in the United States. It’s been a self-governing body since 1785 and has about 1.9 million members.

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