The Anglican Church of Australia

Caleb Paull '93 (English 34 [now 27], 1991)

When the English first settled Australia in the eighteenth century, they established churches under the authority of the Bishop of London. Over the next two centuries the Anglican Church of Australia gradually moved towards independence from England. In 1814, responsibility for British subjects in Australia passed from the Bishop of London to the new Bishop of Calcutta, and in 1836 Australia was recognized as a diocese with its own bishop, William Grant Broughton. With this new recognition of the diocese of Australia came a time of great religious expansion and church building. By 1847 this expansion had become so great that Australia was split into separate dioceses of Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Newcastle, each with their own bishops. As Australia's population and church grew, new dioceses continued to be formed. Five provinces of the church were established, each containing several dioceses. Every five years there was a general assembly of the bishops of each diocese, presided over by a single bishop elected by the others.

These signs of growth and organization clearly demonstrated the Australian church's need for independence, but the Church of England would not grant independence so long as the Australian church lacked a constitution specifically defining the powers of the General Assembly. Although the individual dioceses and provinces enjoyed a great deal of autonomy from the Church of England, the Anglican Church of Australia was not recognized as independent until 1962, three years after a general constitution was finally agreed upon.

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