The Wider Church
St Augustine’s Church is a Christian community in Swindon, specifically the Parish of Even Swindon. But, we also belong to a wider and worldwide Christian community. We are here to proclaim the love of God and the good news of Jesus Christ to the community around us.
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The Church of England
The Church of England (CofE) is the national church in England, and has a Christian presence in every community. It is part of the worldwide Anglican communion. It is made up more than 40 dioceses (including Europe), which come under the jurisdiction of the diocesan bishop. It is split into two provinces – Canterbury in the South, York in the North. Both are governed by the respective Archbishop.
The roots of the CofE go back to the time of the Roman Empire when Christianity entered the Roman province of Britain. Through the influences of St Alban, St Illtud, St Ninian, St Patrick and, later, St Augustine, St Aidan and St Cuthbert, the Church of England developed, acknowledging the authority of the Pope until the Reformation in the 16th century. The religious settlement that eventually emerged in the reign of Elizabeth I gave the Church of England the distinctive identity that it has retained to this day.
The changes that have taken place over the centuries have been many and various. What has remained constant, however, has been the Church’s commitment to the faith ‘uniquely revealed in the Holy Scriptures and set forth in the catholic creeds,’ its maintenance of the traditional three fold order of ministry, and its determination to bring the grace of God to the whole nation through word and sacrament in the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Diocese of Bristol
We are a part of the Diocese of Bristol. The Diocese stretches from Bristol in the West to Swindon in the East, with the town of Chippenham about halfway between the two. It is based in the city of Bristol and covers South Gloucestershire and parts of north Wiltshire to Swindon.
The Diocese is headed by the Bishop of Bristol and the Episcopal seat is located at Bristol Cathedral.
The current Bishop of Bristol is the Right Reverend Vivienne Faull, and she is assisted by the Right Reverend Lee Rayfield, suffragan Bishop of Swindon.
Our cathedral can be found in the heart of Bristol, and is unique in England as the aisles rise to the height of the Nave and Choir – creating a great pillared hall, the major example of ‘hall church’ in the UK.
A church has stood on the site of the present cathedral for more than a thousand years, but it came to 1148 when Robert Fitzhardinge founded the Abbey of St. Augustine. The fine Norman chapter house and gatehouse remain. The eastern end of the Cathedral gives Bristol Cathedral a unique place in the development of British and European Architecture.
In 1539 the Abbey was dissolved by Henry VIII’s commissioners and the nave, which was then being rebuilt, was destroyed. The rather battered building then became the Cathedral Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity in 1542. In 1868 plans were drawn up to rebuild the Nave to its medieval design. J. L. Pearson added the two towers at the West End and further reordered the interior.