Overview of the Anglican/Episcopal Church

Trinity Church interior
Trinity Church interior, an Anglican/Episcopal church. Getty Images/Philip Dumas

Founded in 1534 by King Henry's Act of Supremacy, the roots of Anglicanism go back to one of the main branches of Protestantism that came about after the 16th century Reformation.

During the reign of King Edward, a power struggle emerged between English Protestants and ​Catholics. Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer contributed a great deal to the reforms away from Catholicism with two versions of the Book of Common Prayer and the 42 Articles of 1553.

Protestantism still struggled in England until the reign of Queen Elizabeth I when Anglicanism finally took shape. The 42 Articles were reduced to 39 and the Book of Common Prayer was reissued. In the late 17th and early 18th centuries, Anglicanism was typified by an emphasis on reason, moral living, and simple religious devotion. By the late 1600's the Church of England settled into the Anglican structure that still characterizes it today.

In 2012, the Right Reverend Justin Welby was announced as the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury, officially taking the office in February 2013. He succeeded Rowan Williams who retired in December 2012.

Sources: ReligiousTolerance.org, ReligionFacts.com, Religious Movements Web site of the University of Virginia.