(3) By degrees, also, the relations of colonial churches to the archbishop of Canterbury have changed. Until 1855 no colonial bishop was consecrated outside the British Isles, the first instance being Dr. MacDougall of Labuan, consecrated in India under a commission from the archbishop of Canterbury; and until 1874 it was held to be unlawful for a bishop to be consecrated in England without taking the suffragan's oath of due obedience. This necessity was removed by the Colonial Clergy Act of 1874, which permits the archbishop at his discretion to dispense with the oath. This, however, has not been done in all cases; and as late as 1890 it was taken by the metropolitan of Sydney at his consecration. Thus the constituent parts of the Anglican communion gradually acquire autonomy: missionary jurisdictions develop into organized dioceses, and dioceses are grouped into provinces with canons of their own. But the most complete autonomy does not involve isolation. The churches are in full communion with one another, and act together in many ways; missionary jurisdictions and dioceses are mapped out by common arrangement, and even transferred if it seems advisable; e.g. the diocese Honolulu (Hawaii), previously under the jurisdiction of the archbishop of Canterbury, was transferred in 1900 to the Episcopal Church in the United States on account of political changes.
Though the see of Canterbury claims no primacy over the Anglican communion analogous to that exercised over the Roman Church by the popes, it is regarded with a strong affection and deference, which shows itself by frequent consultation and interchange of greetings. There is also a strong common life emphasized by common action.
The conference of Anglican bishops from all parts of the world, instituted by Archbishop Longley in 1867, and known as the Lambeth Conferences (q.v.), though even for the Anglican communion they have not the authority of an ecumenical synod, and their decisions are rather of the nature of counsels than commands, have done much to promote the harmony and co-operation of the various branches of the Church. An even more imposing manifestation of this common life was given by the great pan-Anglican congress held in London between the 12th and 24th of June 1908, which preceded the Lambeth conference opened on the 5th of July. The idea of this originated with Bishop Montgomery, secretary to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, and was endorsed by a resolution of the United Boards of Mission in 1903. As the result of negotiations and preparations extending over five years, 250 bishops, together with delegates, clerical and lay, from every diocese in the Anglican communion, met in London, the opening service of intercession being held in Westminster Abbey. In its general character, the meeting was but a Church congress on an enlarged scale, and the subjects discussed, e.g.. the attitude of churchmen towards the question of the marriage laws or that of socialism, followed much the same lines.
The congress, of course, had no power to decide or to legislate for the Church, its main value being in drawing its scattered members closer together, in bringing the newer and more isolated branches into consciousness of their contact with the parent stem, and in opening the eyes of the Church of England to the point of view and the peculiar problems of the daughter-churches.
The Anglican communion consists of the following: - (1) The Church of England, 2 provinces, Canterbury and York, with 24 and 11 dioceses respectively. (2) The Church of Ireland, 2 provinces, Armagh and Dublin, with 7 and 6 dioceses respectively. (3) The Scottish Episcopal Church, with 7 dioceses. (4) The Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States, with 89 dioceses and missionary jurisdictions, including North Tokyo, Kyoto, Shanghai, Cape Palmas, and the independent dioceses of Hayti and Brazil. (5) The Canadian Church, consisting of (a) the province of Canada, with 10 dioceses; (b) the province of Rupert's Land, with 8 dioceses. (6) The Church in India and Ceylon, 1 province of 11 dioceses. (7) The Church of the West Indies, 1 province of 8 dioceses, of which Barbados and the Windward Islands are at present united. (8) The Australian Church, consisting of (a) the province of New South Wales, with 10 dioceses; (b) the province of Queensland, with 5 dioceses; (c) the province of Victoria, with 5 dioceses. (9) The Church of New Zealand, 1 province of 7 dioceses, together with the missionary jurisdiction of Melanesia. (10) The South African Church, 1 province of 10 dioceses, with the 2 missionary jurisdictions of Masbonaland and Lebombo. (11) Nearly 30 isolated dioceses and missionary jurisdictions holding mission from the see of Canterbury.
Official Year-book of the Church of England; Phillimore, Ecclesiastical Law, vol. ii. (London, 1895); Digest of S. P. G. Records (London, 1893); E. Stock, History of the Church Missionary Society, 3 vols. (London, 1899); H. W. Tucker, The English Church in Other Lands (London, 1886); A. T. Wirgman, The Church and the Civil Power (London, 1893).