The Anglican Church of Canada has its roots in the Church of England, which separated from the Roman Catholic Church in the 16th century. Influenced by the Protestant Reformation, the new English church simplified rituals and introduced the Book of Common Prayer (1549), which enabled services in English instead of Latin. At the same time, the church preserved certain traditions, including the early church creeds and the succession of bishops from the line of the apostles. Because of this history, Anglicanism is sometimes referred to as “Reformed Catholicism.”
Today the Anglican Church of Canada is an independent, self-governing church in communion with the other 44 churches of the worldwide Anglican Communion. It includes more than 500,000 members in nearly 1,700 parishes, and like Canada, the church has become culturally diverse. On any given Sunday the tradition of common prayer is expressed across Canada in many languages, including Inuktitut, French, Spanish, and Cree.
Our Primate, the Most Reverend Linda Nicholls, is the chief spokesperson for the Anglican Church of Canada. She is the Chair of General Synod, the supreme governing body of the Anglican Church in Canada.
The Canadian Provinces
Large national churches (like England, U.S.A, and Canada) are divided into ecclasiastical provinces to facilitate administration. There are four ecclesiastical provinces in the Anglican Church of Canada: the Province of Canada (Quebec and the Maritimes); the Province of Ontario (almost the same as the political province of Ontario); the Province of Rupert’s Land (prairies and the Arctic); the Province of British Columbia (B.C. and the Yukon).
In each province one of the bishops is also the archbishop or "metropolitan" of that province. The archbishop is normally the consecrator of new bishops in the province.
The diocese is the basic unit of the church. Each diocese has its own bishop and its own cathedral which is the "mother church” of the diocese and which contains the bishop's "seat" or "chair." The bishop is the chief pastor of the diocese. The dean (appointed by the bishop) is normally the rector of the cathedral and is regarded as the senior priest of the diocese.
The bishop presides over the diocesan synod which meets every one, two, or three years, depending on the diocese. The diocesan synod consists of all the clergy of the diocese, and one, two, or more lay representatives from each parish depending on the size of the parish.
The deanery is an area of parishes within the diocese. A rural dean, or regional dean is elected from amongst the clergy of a deanery to hold that office for a period of time.
An archdeacon is a priest who is appointed by the Bishop to be the bishop’s representative and consultant in a particular part of the diocese. An archdeacon’s area is called an archdeaconry. An archdeacon is given the title “the Venerable” rather than “the Reverend.”