Posted by: AJ the Irish Lass | June 18, 2007

Is Anglicanism Strictly English?

low angle photography of westminster abbey

Photo by Dominika Greguu0161ovu00e1 on Pexels.com

Although the Episcopal Church has its origins in the Church of England, it’s wrong to define its membership as English or of English descent only. In addition to white Americans of British or Irish origin, the Episcopal Church also has a large black, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American membership. There are also many converts from Roman Catholicism and other churches with varying ethnic backgrounds.


From the fifth century to Henry the VIII’s Acts of Parliament in 1532 and 1534, the Church of England was under the authority of the Pope. The Church of England had originally grown out of Celtic forms of Christianity that were developing in the area, prior to its union with Rome. These Celtic churches were greatly influenced by Eastern Orthodox Christianity.

Shortly after the English Reformation, Anglican Christianity spread to the English colonies. After Anglicanism had arrived in the American colonies, in 1701, missionaries from the Society of the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts arrived. Even though the missionaries helped to spread the Gospel to non-Christians in the colonies, many parish churches also taught and furnished literature for the people. Although many of the SPG missionaries were English, others were Scottish, Welsh, or Irish.


Church membership in America at the time included people of English, Native American, African, Scottish, Irish, Welsh, French, German, Dutch, and Swedish origin, and even occasional Jewish converts. The Episcopal Church has developed a very diverse membership in its 200 plus years.


In addition, other churches of Anglican origin can be found in most countries. Some of the fastest-growing Anglican churches can be found in Africa and Asia. Other countries with Episcopal/Anglican churches include: Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Taiwan, France, Germany, and Italy , Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Costa Rica, Bermuda, Israel, Nigeria, Kenya, Sudan, Uganda, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Korea, Japan, New Guinea, Australia, and New Zealand, among others.


So, while it’s right to say that the Episcopal Church has its origins in the Church of England, it’s not just an English church. It’s a diverse church with a global membership where all are welcome.

©2001. Written on August 8, 2001. May not be reproduced without consent of the author.


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