|Anglican Circle of Faith|
Anglican Communion, worldwide fellowship of national and regional churches in communion with the Church of England and the archbishop of Canterbury. With 540 dioceses throughout the world, the total membership of the churches is approximately 73 million. Intended to promote mutual understanding and cooperation in common tasks, the Communion unites churches that share a common heritage and subscribe to the Lambeth Quadrilateral of 1884. The Quadrilateral, a statement of the doctrines considered essential from the Anglican standpoint, upholds the catholic and apostolic faith and order of the Christian church as found in Scripture, the sacraments of baptism and the Eucharist, the Apostles' Creed and Nicene Creed, and episcopal government. All the churches use the Book of Common Prayer, reformed and adapted to the needs of the times and of particular locales.
Although the Anglican Communion has existed since the 16th and 17th centuries, when the Church of England established foreign missions, its effective function as a communion of independent churches began in 1867. In that year, the first Lambeth Conference, an assembly of the bishops of the whole Anglican Communion under the presidency of the Archbishop of Canterbury, was held at Lambeth Palace, London. A conference has met there about every ten years since then to deal with doctrinal, disciplinary, and ecumenical matters, as well as missionary responsibilities. Much of the agenda has concerned the unity of the church. In 1948, the Lambeth Conference heralded the birth of the Church of South India, which united certain Anglican dioceses with non-Anglican churches in that area. The Lambeth Conference of 1968 established the Anglican Consultative Council under the presidency of the archbishop of Canterbury. The council, composed of 60 representatives from every part of the Anglican Communion who meet every two to three years, is intended to supply guidance on policy matters of importance to the Communion, to forward ecumenical relations, and to provide cooperation in missionary work. Regional councils are also active in South America, East Asia, the South Pacific, and North America, with more to be established. These councils were created to promote better communication among the churches of a given area and to advance cooperative planning efforts.
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