A Global Church
Active in over 160 countries, Anglicanism accounts for approximately 80 million people spread around the world, making it one of the three largest expressions of the Christian church. The vast diversity of Anglicans presents challenges at times, but it is in those challenges that we learn how to prize brotherly love and listen to others. This broad mixture of cultures and perspectives gives Anglicanism an ecumenical flavor, and Christians of all traditions will find something familiar in it. It has a unique blend of ancient habits, historic liturgy, sacramental living, evangelical commitment, missional charity, aesthetic appreciation, and an undying emphasis on Jesus himself.
What unites us as a global Church of over 80 million adherents? Worship. Anglicans share a common way of worship through the various interrelated versions of the Book of Common Prayer. While we may disagree on finer points of doctrine, our commitment is to worship the same God side-by-side. The Book of Common Prayer is a significant agent in binding us together into a single expression of Christianity.
The "Middle Way"
Anglicanism has long been called the via media, which is Latin for "the middle way," due to its ability to find and maintain common ground among all expressions of Christianity. It seeks to combine elements of Christianity that are often seen as mutually exclusive--like following the liturgy versus following the leading of the Spirit, or valuing sacraments versus valuing social justice. Often in the middle we find that these things, in fact, overlap. There, in the middle way, Anglicanism incorporates a surprising variety of Christian practices into a single, unified tradition.
The history of Anglicanism is fascinating. While the Reformation swept through much of Europe in a single, dramatic change, the Church in England went through a series of four rapid, focused "mini-Reformations." In the end, the result was a Church that was no longer tied to Rome, collegially led by archbishops and bishops rather than a pope, reformed in its theology, and yet largely unchanged in the rhythms of Sunday worship from the pew. This unique blend of biblically defined doctrine alongside ancient church practices is one of Anglicanism's most wholesome contributions to the Church.
C.S. Lewis, N.T. Wright, Dorothy L. Sayers, J.I. Packer, T.S. Eliot, et al...
Even if you've never visited an Anglican parish, chances are good you've been influenced by Anglicanism--or rather, by some particular Anglican. From apologists, theologians, and authors, to poets, politicians, and painters, Anglicans have left an interesting and significant mark on our cultures. Beyond this though, prominent Anglicans have been categorically described as having a "sweet reasonableness," owing to their ability to wield strong ideas in order to graciously serve, not proudly dominate.