Online Publication: Anglican Identity in the 21st century

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Anglican Identity in the 21st Century
The Most Rev’d Drexel W. Gomez

I. In 1883 the eight Anglican dioceses in the West Indies – Jamaica, Belize, Nassau with
the Turks and Caicos Islands, Antigua, Windward Islands, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago and
British Guyana – agreed to form a new Anglican Province to be known as “The Church in the
Province of the West Indies”. All of these dioceses existed in British colonial territories in which
the official church of the colonial overlord formed part of the political and religious identity of the
colonies. It was only natural for these colonies, and other territories elsewhere, to be attached to
the mother church in England, the Church of England.
It is no accident that the term ‘Anglican’ derives etymologically from the Latin Anglicanus –
meaning English. The term Ecclesia Anglorum (the church of the English people) goes back to
Pope Gregory the Great who used it in his letters to Augustine of Canterbury early in the
seventh century. The expression ‘Ecclesia Anglicana’ was commonly used from the middle of
the twelfth century to describe the Church of England which, at that time referred to the two
provinces of the western church situated in England with antecedents going as far back in
history as the early fourth century.
At the time of the sixteenth century Reformation the Church of England rejected the jurisdiction
of the Bishop of Rome along with certain medieval departures from the faith of the undivided
church. Anglicans defended their continuity with the pre-Reformation Church rebuffed charges
of schism, and refuted the claims of the papacy. Thus they emphasised the catholicity of the
Church of England, as a church that lacked no essential part of the catholic faith and order

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