Published online by Cambridge University Press: 04 May 2010
The Anglican communion describes itself as a ‘fellowship’ or ‘communion’ of autonomous Christian churches, united by a common history, confessing a common faith and (traditionally) a common liturgy. There are thirty-eight distinct and independent Anglican churches or ‘provinces’, existing in a particular country or spread over a number of countries. Provinces vary in size from the big churches such as the Church of England (26 million baptised members), the Church of Nigeria (17.5 million), the Church of Uganda (8 million) and the Episcopal Church of Sudan (5 million) to the tiny communities of the Southern Cone of America (22,490), Mexico (21,000), the Anglican Church of Korea (14,558) and the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East (10,000).
This book is an attempt to write a history of the Anglican communion from its inception as a worldwide faith, at the time of the Reformation, to the present day. While it does not ignore the contribution of the Church of England or of those of British extraction who have established Anglican churches in other parts of the world, its emphasis is on the activity of the indigenous peoples of Asia and Africa, Oceania and America in creating and shaping the Anglican communion. In the British Isles, attention is paid to Welsh, Irish and Scottish contributions, not least because they played a disproportionate part in the establishment of Anglican churches in other parts of the world, both as colonists and as missionaries.