Origins - Early Church
The Anglican Church of Australia draws on the rich social and religious heritage of Britain. It seems probable that Christianity was transported to the Roman colony of Britain by soldiers and traders who shared their faith with the local inhabitants. While its specific origins are unclear, there was a Church in Britain by the year 208AD. The first recorded English martyr was Alban who died in 303. When the Roman armies withdrew from Britain and the country was subsequently overrun by the Picts, Scots and Saxons, the British people fled to the south and west of the island, taking the Church and it's teaching with them. In 563, Columba left Ireland with twelve companions to establish a monastery on the remote island of Iona from which they conducted a successful mission to the tribes of the mainland. With the Church divided for several centuries by political instability and tribal warfare. In 664 the northern Christians decided to adopt Roman customs. From that date there may be said to have existed a 'Church of England'.
The English Church continued to grow through the Middle Ages and showed great independence. In the later Middle Ages, a succession of corrupt and worldly popes used their position to gain wealth and power. The Church, the most important institution in Western Europe, gradually accumulated great wealth while the clergy became involved with civil affairs and political intrigue. From around 1400 onwards, people began calling for reform. They wanted the Bible available in a language they could understand and senior clergy made more accountable for their actions.
The effect of reform movements led to a major re-think of doctrines and customs. These pressures altered the social and political standing of the Church. The 'Reformation' of the English Church was...