Evangelical churches: Given its position at the outer limits of the early Christian world, the English church was always going to have a missionary character. This tradition of evangelising has been, to a varying extent, a strong one in England for 1400 years. Evangelicalism, as distinct from evangelism, probably has its modern roots in movements like the Lollards of the 14th and 15th centuries, where an establishment church was challenged by a group committed to a radical interpretation of the Bible.
Increasingly, such groups emphasised the importance of scripture over the sacraments, and protested the authority of the Bible over the authority of the Church. The influence of these 'protestants' increased, culminating in the fundamentalist reign of Edward VI (1548-53), when a large proportion of the liturgical furnishings required for sacramental worship in English churches were obliterated in a holocaust of destruction. Many of those that survived were destroyed during another theologically extreme phase of puritanism in the 1640s.
However, the Church of England has never been radically protestant, due to the historical tendency of protestors to leave, and form separated congregations; as with, for instance, the Baptists in the 16th century, the Puritans in the 17th century, and the Methodists in the 18th century. These vibrant movements, paradoxically, often left the CofE moribund by contrast, and the first sign of an evangelical revival in the CofE itself probably dates from the last years of the 18th century, the days of the Clapham Sect and reformers like William Wilberforce. During the course of the 19th and early 20th centuries, the CofE took a strongly Catholic direction, but this evangelicalism always survived, thriving in the new atmosphere of theological debate, especially in popular middle-class circles.
Since the Second World War, evangelicalism has become the dominant voice in the CofE, always tempered by the tendency of extreme evangelicals to leave the church. The previous Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, was, broadly speaking, an evangelical, as are a majority of the Anglican Synod. Most Anglican churches in Suffolk today emphasise the authority of scripture over that of the Church, and have found allies in many non-conformist church congregations.