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An Introduction to the Evolution of the Anglican Communion

The history of the Anglican Communion and its relationships with other churches is complex. Two visualizations have been constructed to give an overview of key elements of this history. Each visualization consists of a world map and a timeline of events. Three basic types of transition event are recorded per country: having a missionary/chaplain, having a bishop (or missionary bishop) and belonging to a province. The history of the Episcopal Church introduces a further event type for overseas provinces as does the Diocese of Europe in the Church of England. Consideration of relationships with other churches (for example Old Catholic Churches), though some events relating to Churches of the Porvoo agreement are included.

Different colours are used to distinguish the different types of event as shown in the key at the bottom left of the map.

As the visualizations are an introduction it is important to recognize that there are uncertainties in the historical data on which this is based and also that the history is a simplified version of events. Furthermore, the world map data on which this is based reflects current country names and boundaries, which themselves have a history of evolution so do not necessarily represent names and borders at the time events occurred. For some parts of the world, the geography (especially Polynesia and Micronesia) is much more complicated than the resolution of the map allows. Bermuda, the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Malta, Melanesia, Micronesia, Polynesia and the West Indies are beyond the resolution of the map, but given their importance, they have been represented by over-sized semi-transparent rectangles. The boundaries between England, Scotland and Wales are approximations, as is the boundary between North and South India.

We do hope that people will find these animations useful and that they will be valuable resources for educational purposes.

We are grateful to a number of people who have provided feedback on drafts of these visualizations: including Adrian Butcher (Anglican Communion Office), The Revd Canon Dr Peter Doll, The Rev. Shintaro David Ichihara, and The Rt Revd Henry Scriven.

Note: for technical reasons the visualizations are best viewed in the Firefox web browser. The SVG and interactive visualization will not work in current versions of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer or Edge web browsers.

The animated map (JavaScript animation)

This version of the animated map uses the Greensock gsap library (JavaScript), and should run in Edge etc. under Windows 10 and other browsers. pac_map_gsap1.html.

The control buttons are at the bottom of the screen.

The animated map SVG and MP4 formats


Click on the pink circle to start the animation. To restart the animation, first reload the web page (for example by typing ctrl/r)

The animated map is also available as a screen recording, with additional commentary, in MP4 format on Vimeo and without the additional commentary at recording_pac_20181129.mp4.

Screen shot of final state of the map screen_shot_map12.png.

The interactive map


Phillip Tovey and David Duce (April 2018, revised June, October, November 2018)