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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Church of England

Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
The Church of England separated from the Roman Catholic Church in 1534 with the Act of Supremacy and understands itself to be both Catholic and Reformed:
Catholic in that it views itself as a part of the universal church of Jesus Christ in unbroken continuity with the early apostolic church. This is expressed in its emphasis on the teachings of the early Church Fathers, as formalised in the Apostles', Nicene, and Athanasian creeds.
Reformed in that it has been shaped by the doctrinal principles of the 16th century Protestant Reformation, in particular in the Thirty-Nine Articles and the Book of Common Prayer
Women were appointed as deaconesses from 1861 but they could not function fully as deacons and were not considered ordained clergy. Women have been lay readers for a long time. During the First World War some women were appointed as lay readers but known as "Bishop's Messengers". However, after that no more lay readers were appointed until 1969.
Legislation authorising the ordination of women as deacons was passed in 1986 and they were first ordained in 1987. The ordination of women as priests was passed by the General Synod in 1992 and began in 1994. In July 2005 the synod voted to "set in train" the process of allowing the consecration of women as bishops. In February 2006 the synod voted overwhelmingly for the "further exploration" of possible arrangements for parishes that did not want to be directly under the authority of a woman bishop. On 7 July 2008 the church's governing body voted to approve the ordination of women as bishops and rejected moves for alternative episcopal oversight for those who do not accept women bishops. Actual ordinations of women to the episcopate will require further legislation which is anticipated to be considered before 2014.
Church of England has a legislative body, the General Synod. Synod can create two types of legislation, measures and canons. Measures have to be approved but cannot be amended by the UK Parliament before receiving the Royal Assent and becoming part of the law of England. Canons require Royal Licence and Royal Assent, but form the law of the church, rather than the law of the land.
Another assembly is the Convocation of the English Clergy (older than the General Synod and its predecessor the Church Assembly). There are also diocesan synods and deanery synods.

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