[Episcopal News Service]
The Anglican Communion is composed of churches, or provinces, in communion with the See of Canterbury throughout the world. Member churches -- of which there are currently 38 provinces as well as extra-provincial churches -- exercise jurisdictional independence but share a common heritage concerning Anglican identity and commitment to scripture, tradition, and reason as sources of authority. Churches in the Anglican Communion continue to reflect the balance of Protestant and Catholic principles that characterized the "via media" of the Elizabethan settlement. Unity and cooperation in the Anglican Communion are encouraged by the assembly of Anglican bishops every 10 years at Lambeth Conferences. The work and vision of the Lambeth Conferences are continued between meetings by the Anglican Consultative Council, which includes representatives from Anglican churches throughout the world.