Anglicanism, in its structures, theology and forms of worship, is commonly understood as a distinct Christian tradition representing a middle ground between what are perceived to be the extremes of the claims of 16th-century Roman Catholicism and the Lutheran and Reformed varieties of Protestantism of that era.As such, it is often referred to as being a via media (or "middle way") between these traditions.While it has since undergone many revisions and Anglican churches in different countries have developed other service books, the Prayer Book is still acknowledged as one of the ties that bind Anglicans together.
They are in full communion with the See of Canterbury, and thus the Archbishop of Canterbury, whom the communion refers to as its primus inter pares (Latin, "first among equals").
He calls the decennial Lambeth Conference, chairs the meeting of primates, and the Anglican Consultative Council.
The degree of distinction between Protestant and Catholic tendencies within the Anglican tradition is routinely a matter of debate both within specific Anglican churches and throughout the Anglican Communion.
Unique to Anglicanism is the Book of Common Prayer, the collection of services that worshippers in most Anglican churches have used for centuries, and is thus acknowledged as one of the ties that bind the Anglican Communion together.
In the 19th century, the term Anglicanism was coined to describe the common religious tradition of these churches; as also that of the Scottish Episcopal Church, which, though originating earlier within the Church of Scotland, had come to be recognised as sharing this common identity. As an adjective, "Anglican" is used to describe the people, institutions and churches, as well as the liturgical traditions and theological concepts developed by the Church of England.
As a noun, an Anglican is a member of a church in the Anglican Communion.Unique to Anglicanism is the Book of Common Prayer (BCP), the collection of services that worshippers in most Anglican churches used for centuries.It was called common prayer originally because it was intended for use in all Church of England churches which had previously followed differing local liturgies.The Eucharist is central to worship for most Anglicans as a communal offering of prayer and praise in which the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are proclaimed through prayer, reading of the Bible, singing, giving God thanks over the bread and wine for the innumerable benefits obtained through the passion of Christ, the breaking of the bread, and reception of the bread and wine as representing the body and blood of Christ as instituted at the Last Supper.While many Anglicans celebrate the Eucharist in similar ways to the predominant western Catholic tradition, a considerable degree of liturgical freedom is permitted, and worship styles range from the simple to elaborate.After the American Revolution, Anglican congregations in the United States and British North America (which would later form the basis for the modern country of Canada) were each reconstituted into autonomous churches with their own bishops and self-governing structures; these were known as the American Episcopal Church and the Church of England in the Dominion of Canada.