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Anglicans Online last updated 7 February 2016
AN ANGLICAN CHURCH IS categorised by its relationship to the See of Canterbury. There are four kinds of relationships that a church can have to that See, and hence to the rest of the Anglican Communion. The differences between them are not entirely crisp, but the concepts in the abstract are clear enough:
In order to have an Anglican church in valid apostolic succession, one needs to have one bishop whose consecration is through an Anglican origin. While that bishop may have been consecrated in the Anglican church, he or she has no obligation to remain administratively part of it. Each of these churches that we list in categories two and four has at least one independent bishop.
Administratively the Anglican Communion is very complex. It is divided into transnational provinces, extraprovincial dioceses, national churches, intranational provinces, and such. You needn't understand any of them in order to find what you are looking for, and in fact if you know too much about them you might have trouble finding things. For example, the Diocese of Colombia, in South America, is administratively part of the Episcopal Church in the USA, the Diocese of Peru, next door, is administratively part of the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone of America, and the Anglican Church of Brazil, next door to Peru, is its own province with ten dioceses. There is also an Anglican Centre in Rome, an outpost of the Anglican Communion near the Vatican.
If you would like to read a short summary of the structure of the Anglican Communion, see our Anglican Communion and Governance page. If you want to study the administrative structure of the Anglican Communion, we refer you to the web site of the Anglican Communion Office in London.
In doing the research necessary to produce these web pages, we came across a paragraph in one of the Not In Communion church pages that seems a suitable way to end our discussion of interchurch relationships. We have slightly rewritten the quotation so that it is not so specific to that particular church:
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