One BIG Family!
By Rev. Caroline Osborne
As part of a denomination, Grace is part of a group of churches that are connected by theology, history, and church structure. In our tradition, those connections are defined geographically. Each church is responsible for a parish – the geographic area around the church and the people who live in that area. Parishes are grouped together into dioceses, and each diocese is spiritually governed by a bishop. For example, Grace is a part of the diocese of Central Florida which covers 15 counties and over eighty churches, and our bishop is The Rt. Rev. Gregory O. Brewer. At a larger level, our diocese is one of many dioceses that are part of The Episcopal Church, which is one of many branches of the Anglican Communion.
Okay. But just how big are we? I don’t mean Grace, and I don’t even mean our diocese. I mean the whole Episcopal Church – and beyond that, the Anglican Communion!
The Episcopal Church is made up of 111 dioceses and regional areas spread across 17 countries including the United States, Hong Kong, Honduras, and Cuba, among others. As of 2018, there were 1.8 million baptized members of The Episcopal Church, of whom about half a million are in church on any given Sunday.
If that sounds big, just wait until you hear about the Anglican Communion. The Anglican Communion is made up of 46 different Churches (i.e. The Episcopal Church, The Church of England, etc.) in over 165 different countries. When you combine all those Churches, there are more than 85 million people in the Anglican Communion!
Clearly, The Episcopal Church is not the biggest part of the Anglican Communion, so where are the majority of those 85 million people? The Church of England is the largest with 25 million baptized members, followed by The Church of Nigeria with 18 million, and The Church of Uganda with 8 million. The remaining members are spread across the globe in countries from Australia to Bangladesh to Scotland to Chile.
If you want to learn more about this big family of churches that we are a part of, check out the Anglican Communion’s website at http://www.anglicancommunion.org/.