Matt Gunter observed recently, regarding the Amendments to the Nigerian Church Constitution: "This is a big ekklesial mistake. I would affirm a resolution repudiating it."
I too think this was a real mistake, but I am not surprised by it, having read the Nigerian Church Constitution before. There for all to see is the nub of the matter re. autonomy. They are for it. It says, " (1.1.4) In the interpretation of the aforementioned formularies (the BCP 1662, the Articles of Religion, the Word of God as understood by the Church of England) and in all questions of Faith, Doctrine and Discipline, the decisions of the Ecclesiastical tribunals of the Church of Nigeria shall be final."
The Church in Nigeria has every right to make changes in its Constitution.
Perhaps we ought simply to note our disappointment at their distancing themselves from the see of Canterbury in this way.
I think Nigeria has changed its rules of engagement, making it clear that all church to church relations are viewed by it as ecumenical and are more or less "communal" to the extent that common beliefs and concerns make it possible. For some time I have argued that we ought to think of the Anglican Communion as a peculiar sort of ecumenical activity or community... recognizing great differences, indeed sometimes reveling in them, while at the same time being open to one another's ministries and people. So I think in part that what Nigeria did in changing its constitution is OK, just sad.
At the same time, I think we ought to recognize that this is all part of the change in direction that results in a South to South Encounter that is no longer about a general meeting of folk from the "South" but rather of "like minded" folk, an emerging second community of Anglican Churches,and shows clearly that there are people who have decided that being Anglican and being in communion with the see of Canterbury are two different things. I disagree, but there it is.
The ACC needs to be clear that it has the de-facto if not legal "name" the Anglican Communion, else we might find ourselves with the same crazy legal battle as happened over the name of the Episcopal Church, Inc.
These are not happy times and this decision by Nigeria was unfortunate. But autonomy is autonomy and they can practice it as well as we can. The question is why the action to change the constitution now, and to what end? The meeting in Egypt, despite the Archbishop of Nigeria's protestations, will be of considerable interest, since among "like minded people" members of the Network have been invited (if the Archbishop of the Southern Cone is correct in his statement).
I recommend Thinking Anglicans reflections on the Nigerian Synod.