An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Church of England

Before the sixteenth-century Reformation in western Europe, the Christian church in a given country or region was customarily described as the church of the region, such as the Gallican Church, the Spanish Church, the English Church (Lat. ecclesia anglicana), or the Church of England. After the Reformation, the English national church continued to be called the Church of England, but it repudiated the supremacy of the Pope. It retained, however, its ancient episcopal polity. By the 1534 Act of Supremacy, King Henry VIII became “Supreme Head of the Church of England,” and by the 1559 Act of Supremacy, Elizabeth I became “Supreme Governor of the Church of England,” supplanting the Pope. To this day the Church of England is episcopal in polity, with the sovereign, who still bears the Elizabethan title, as its legal administrative head. The Church of England is divided into the Province of Canterbury and the Province of York. The Archbishop of York is the Primate of England and Metropolitan, and the Archbishop of Canterbury is the Primate of all England and Metropolitan. The Province of Canterbury consists of thirty-one dioceses and the Province of York consists of fourteen dioceses. The Episcopal Church derives much of its doctrine, discipline, and worship from the Church of England.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.