Archbishop of Canterbury
The Churches of the Anglican Communion are linked by affection and common loyalty.  They are in full communion with the See of Canterbury and thus the Archbishop of Canterbury, in his person, is a unique focus of Anglican unity.  He calls the once-a-decade Lambeth Conference, chairs the meeting of Primates, and is President of the Anglican Communion Council [formerly called the Anglican Consultative Council].   The 104th Archbishop, in the succession of St Augustine, is the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Rowan Williams, enthroned in February 2003.

The Lambeth Conference
The Lambeth Conference is a gathering of bishops, meeting every ten years under the presidency of the Archbishop of Canterbury.  There have been 13 conferences to date, with the first being held in 1867.   Until 1978 the conferences were for bishops only, but in 1988 the full Anglican Consultative Council membership and representative bishops of the Churches in Communion (the Churches of Bangladesh, North and South India, and Pakistan) joined with the bishops in the discussions, as did bishops of the Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht.

The Primates Meeting
Since 1979, the primates (the senior archbishops or presiding bishops) of the autonomous Churches of the Anglican Communion have met every two or three years in consultation on theological, social, and international issues.  Meeting locations: Ely, England 1979; Washington, USA 1981; Limuru, Kenya 1983; Toronto, Canada 1986; Cyprus 1989; Ireland1991; Cape Town, Southern Africa 1993; Windsor, England 1995; Jerusalem 1997; and Oporto 2000.

The ACC was formed following a resolution of the 1968 Lambeth Conference which discerned the need for more frequent and more representative contact among the Churches than was possible through a once-a-decade conference of bishops.   The constitution of the Council was accepted by the general synods or conventions of all the Member Churches of the Anglican Communion. The Council came into being in October 1969.

The ACC meets every two or three years and its present policy is to meet in different parts of the world.  Since it began there have been nine meetings of the Council: Limuru, Kenya 1971; Dublin, Republic of Ireland 1973; Trinidad 1976; London, Ontario, Canada 1979; Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England 1981; Badagry, Nigeria 1984; Singapore 1987; Wales 1990; Cape Town, South Africa 1993; Panama 1996 and Scotland 1999.

The following activities and projects were inaugurated, implemented, and supported, in some way, by the Lambeth Conference, the Primates Meeting and the Anglican Communion Council:

  • Partners in Mission  
  • Companion Dioceses Programs  
  • Inter-Church Ecumenical Conversations (with the Lutheran, Oriental Orthodox, Orthodox, Reformed, and Roman Catholic Churches)  
  • Anglican Cycle of Prayer  
  • Anglican World  

  • Inter-Anglican Theological and Doctrinal Commission  
  • The Anglican Centre in Rome  
  • The Liturgical Consultation  
  • Inter-Anglican Publishing  
  • Inter-Anglican Information Network  
  • United Nation Observer  
  • Inter-Anglican networks

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Anglican Communion
There are nearly 70 million members of the Anglican family in 36 self-governing Member Churches or Provinces in more than 160 countries.  The Anglican Communion has developed in two stages.  Following the first stage, which began in the 17th century in Britain, Anglicanism was later established by colonization in places such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Southern Africa, and the USA.  The second stage began in the late 18th century.  During that era Anglican churches were planted all over the world as a result of the missionary work of the Churches in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, which were joined in this task by the Churches formed in the previous two centuries.  Anglican Churches uphold and proclaim the Catholic and Apostolic faith, based on the scriptures, interpreted in the light of tradition, scholarship and reason.  Following the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Churches are committed to the proclamation of the Good News of the Gospel to the whole creation.  Faith, order and practice have found expression in the Book of Common Prayer, Ordinals of the 16th and 17th centuries, and most succinctly in the 'Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral' which was first approved by the Lambeth Conference of 1888.   This document affirms as the essential elements of faith and order in the quest for Christian unity:
  • the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament as the revealed Word of God;
  • the Nicene Creed as the sufficient statement of the Christian Faith;
  • the two Sacraments—Baptism and the Eucharist—ministered with the unfailing words and elements used by Christ;
  • the historic Episcopate.

Central to worship for Anglicans is the celebration of the Holy Eucharist (also called the Holy Communion, the Lord's Supper, the Mass).  In this offering of prayer and praise are recalled the life, death and resurrection of Christ, through the proclamation of the word and celebration of the Sacrament.  Worship is at the heart of Anglicanism.   Its styles vary from simple to elaborate, from Evangelical to Catholic, as well as from Charismatic to Traditional.   The Book of Common Prayer, in its various revisions throughout the Communion, gives expression to the comprehensiveness found within the Church whose principles reflect, since the time of Elizabeth I, a via media in relation to other Christian traditions.  Baptism, with water in the name of the Trinity, unites one with Christ and the Church.  Other rites include Confirmation, Holy Orders, Reconciliation, Marriage, and Anointing of the Sick.

All the Churches of the Anglican Communion are listed on the Anglican Communion website

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Anglicanism at a glance
The best introduction to The Anglican Church of Canada and The Anglican Communion (world-wide) is the small booklet:

Meet the Family: Welcome to the Anglican Church of Canada. by Patricia Bays, 1996.
This booklet is available locally from Canterbury House Bookstore.

Another description of the Anglican Church, this one also a Canadian view, can be found at "What is the Anglican Church?" on the Diocese of New Westminster's website.

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Compass Rose
Compass RoseThe emblem of the Anglican Communion, the Compass Rose was originally designed by the late Canon Edward West of New York. The modern design is that of Giles Bloomfield. The symbol, set in the nave of Canterbury Cathedral, was dedicated by the Archbishop of Canterbury at the final Eucharist of the Lambeth conference 1988.   The Archbishop dedicated a similar symbol in Washington Cathedral in 1990, and one in the original design in New York's cathedral in 1992, demonstrating that its use is becoming increasingly world-wide.  The centre holds the Cross of St George, reminding Anglicans of their origins.  The Greek inscription 'The Truth Shall Make You Free' (John 8:32) surrounds the cross, and the compass recalls the spread of Anglican Christianity throughout the world.  The mitre at the top emphasises the role of the episcopacy and apostolic order that is at the core of the Churches of the Communion.  The Compass Rose is used widely by the family of Anglican/Episcopal Churches and is the logo of the Inter-Anglican Secretariat, and is used as the Communion's identifying symbol.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the love of God
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore.

Produced by the Communications Department—January 1997
Content: Copyright © 1997
Canon James Rosenthal
Director of Communications, The Anglican Communion
London, England

For more information visit the official
Anglican Communion site on the Web.

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Online resources
We also have on our website:

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There is a permanent secretariat, based in London, England, led by its 99th Secretary General, the Rev. Canon John L. Peterson.  The staff serves the Lambeth Conference, the Primates Meeting, and the Anglican Communion Council.   All are funded by the Inter-Anglican budget which is supported by all Member Churches according to their membership and means.  Member Churches and other organizations are also invited to contribute to special projects authorized by the Council, such as the Personal Emergencies Fund.

The Anglican Communion Secretariat
157 Waterloo Road, London SE1 8UT, England
Tel: (0171) 620 1110
Fax: (0171) 620 1070

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