The Church of England (CofE) is the ‘Established’ church of England. This means that its head is the monarch ~ the ‘Defender of the Faith’ ~ and it plays a role in state occasions. Nevertheless, in current surveys only 14% of the population give their religion as CofE. Of those, just over 700,000 regularly attend CofE church services. However, the Christmas service is a different matter altogether, with increasing numbers of people seeing it as part of the festive fun!
The formation of the CofE by King Henry VIII (1491-1547) in 1534 was the Brexit of its day, as it was the breaking away from the Pope as head of the Europe-wide church. In fact, Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603) was excommunicated by the Pope in 1570, which put an end to her attempt to maintain the elements of Catholicism in CofE matters. Nevertheless, there are CofE churches today whose services are “in the Catholic tradition”, while, at the other end of the spectrum, other CofE churches opt for a modern style with no formal robes, no choir and a sermon tailored to topics of interest.
(Top image of interior of Derby Cathedral: Michael D Beckwith at Wikimedia Commons / Public domain)