Major World Religions Christianity Anglican or Episcopal
About the Anglican or Episcopal denomination of Christianity, some of the history of the church, beliefs and meanings behind the Christian religious tradition.
Anglicanism is a Protestant branch of Christianity with churches throughout the world that have the same form of worship as the Church of England. American adherents call their church the Episcopal or Protestant Episcopal Church. The term "Anglicanism" comes from the Latin word for "English"; "Episcopal" comes from episkopos, a Greek word meaning "bishops."
Anglicanism began in England after Henry VIII (1497-1547) declared that the King, not the Pope, was the supreme head of the English Church. Although Henry took this step because he wanted to annual his marriage to Catherine of Aragon and the Pope had refused the annulment, the break with Rome came as the climax to over 100 years of protest by Englishmen against the authority of the Pope and the heavy financial burden of supporting the Church. The Archbishop of Canterbury was made the head of the Church of England, which prepared its own prayer book and statement of doctrine (the 39 Articles). Anglicanism was introduced into America in Jamestown, Va., in 1607 and many of the Founding Fathers of the U.S. were Episcopalians. Sometimes called the "bridge Church," Anglicanism agrees with Roman Catholicism on most issues, but like other Protestant groups, Anglicans reject the authority of the Popes. They believe that the Bible represents the final statement of life and religion, but it is not always to be interpreted literally. In general, Episcopalians do not believe in a physical heaven or hell and hold that God, after the Last Judgment, will re-create man with a "spiritual body"; however, members differ in their beliefs to some degree.
Anglicanism has some 65 million members throughout the world; in the U.S. it has over 3 million.
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