April 7, 2005 The Archbishop of , Peter Akinola published “A Word to Nigerian Anglicans in Nigeria North America.” (http://www.anglican-nig.org/prlttr_northamerica.htm)
In this letter the Archbishop announces the formation of “the Convocation of Anglican Nigerian Churches in
.” He states that “Our intention is not to challenge or intervene in the churches of ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada but rather to provide safe harbour for those who can no longer find their spiritual home in those churches.” America
Of course this is a challenge and an intervention and to think otherwise is foolish. It is an action that grows from a condemnation of the actions of ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada.
The Archbishop claims he is primarily interested in Nigerian Anglicans and their spiritual safety. But, one wonders, might he not also admit non Nigerian participants, and non Nigerian parishes?
What are we to make of the press release by certain members of the Church of the Ascension in
: “ Montgomery, Alabama (the new church being formed) will be under the jurisdiction of an international Anglican archbishop, at the direction of an American bishop and will be a part of the worldwide Anglican Communion.”? Christchurch
The press release also spoke of a
, “a thus-far uncounted, but large number of parishioners walked away from the Episcopal Church to form a new parish in the Anglican Communion's soon-to-be launched North American Province .” North American Province
So three days after Archbishop Akinola announced the formation of the Convocation a group forming a breakaway church in
speaks of taking refuge under the jurisdiction of an international Anglican Archbishop, under the direction of an American bishop, and part of the worldwide Anglican Communion forming a new North American Province. Alabama
Whether or not the specifics are all in place, the scheme is clear: The race is on for the formation of a usurping “Anglican” church in
North America. The coup d’eglise is underway.
This intervention by the Archbishop, providing direct oversight in US congregations, has come not only because of the actions of General Convention. According to the Archbishop’s letter, matters of diocesan oversight, funding, and dismissal of a Chaplain for Nigerian Congregations (itself an somewhat strange pasted together position) have all become part of the mix.
The Archbishop’s letter is not a pretty thing. Whatever the pledges of the Primate’s meeting, the admonitions of the Windsor Report, and whatever the protestations of the Archbishop, this paper confirms active intervention and interference in the life of a member church of the Communion on an organizational level and more, it signals a power play in the scheme that has been foretold. And behold the madness is here.
Ecclesiastical power is a mysterious thing. It makes for strange pew mates. The Archbishop will, he says, be working in cooperation with The Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes (aka The Anglican Communion Network) to provide Episcopal visitors prior to the appointment of a suffragan bishop for the Convocation.
But power, power, who has the power? In this shell game it appears that
is opening a branch office in Nigeria North America. But who will actually be in charge, Network bishops? And the Archbishop intends to appoint these persons as Episcopal visitors. Can bishops in the American House be appointed to Episcopal office by a bishop outside that house? And will disaffected parishes other than those which are Nigerian congregations, be admitted under oversight of this sort? And when the Convocation is up and running with its own suffragan bishop (if there ever is one) will that bishop be Nigerian or American?
And the Elephant in the room is ever larger: will this Convocation be the instrument for the Network gaining a real link to an already existing Province of the Anglican Communion and therefore bolstering its argument that it is indeed the parallel province some have sought?
The whole scheme for this Convocation calls up the worse sort of Anglican enterprise. The parallel Anglican jurisdiction here being inaugurated arises out of enmity and condemnation, and in no way from a commitment to a common future (unlike the other parallel jurisdictions in which there is such a common commitment, including the one just announced in the
.) Fiji Islands
This parallel Anglican agent is proposed to save people from a second Anglican agent, viewed as an agent that has “jeopardized your lives and ministries.”
This is a mess, and will only get worse. The addition to the muck up of it all is that this new Convocation plans to work in cooperation with the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes. And where will that go? Who will be in control here?
The end of all this is bitter and putrid. I see no good in it. Otherwise brave and caring people will walk away in disgust.
If it were not for the fact that these people are mucking around with the Church I love I wouldn’t give them the time of day. I’d say let them play it out, stew in their own juices, we’ve got better things to do.
But these people are digging around looking for some way to claim they found the grail, the proof that they are the real Anglicans. Of course in digging around they are digging their own grave. The Archbishop and the Moderator (peace be upon them both) do not good Anglicans make separately, and together we can only hope they will be the end of each other.
Better we should stop it now. We should call on the Archbishop of Canterbury and the instruments of unity of the Anglican Communion to condemn this action and to call the
to withdraw. And if they will not or cannot do so, all bets are off regarding our need to be accountable to Church of Nigeria and the instruments of unity as well. Canterbury