Bishop David Bena, retired Suffragen Bishop of Albany, has abandoned the Episcopal Church and has become a bishop in the Church of Nigeria.
The House of Bishops of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) has released a statement in which the following appears: "We also heard a report from the Bishop of CANA, the Rt. Rev’d Martyn Minns, on the growth of the ministry in the USA and pledged our enthusiastic support for this vital mission initiative of our Church. We welcomed the news that the Rt. Rev’d David Bena, recently retired Suffragen Bishop of Albany, has now transferred to the Church of Nigeria to assist with the work of CANA.
In light of the report from the recent meeting of Primates in Dar es Salaam we agreed to defer the request for additional Episcopal elections for CANA until our meeting in September 2007."
Please note that the HoB statement from Nigeria claims he has "transferred to the Church of Nigeria." That is considerably more polite than the truth of the matter. It appears that Bishop Bena in his retirement has joined a body of bishops of a church not in communion with this church. In doing so he has abandoned this church for another. This is in no way a "transfer."
I will grant that this does not make much practical difference, except that he will have no place in the American House of Bishops, which means one less negative vote and negative presence here. He will exercise this new ministry in the Convocation of Anglican Churches in America, an organization of the Church of Nigeria which in no way provides alternative pastoral oversight, but rather an alternative to the Episcopal Church. He will do so on a living consisting, I suspect, of his pension drawn from the Episcopal Church. Bishop Minns draws a pension as well. So the emerging CANA episcopate consists of retired clergy of the Episcopal Church using their pension income to subsidize in part their efforts to undermine this church.
Well, all is fair in love and war. It is clear they are not in love with the Church that provided them the structures in which reasonable retirement income was possible. Perhaps in war this bit of creative financing is considered honorable. I fail to see much honor in it.
If CANA expects to have more bishops (and the HoB Message from Nigeria assumes the possibility) they may not need to consecrate more. They may end up with enough retired bishops in their CANA effort to begin ordaining more of their own here in North America, thus forming a second church out of CANA, in communion with Nigeria and not with the Episcopal Church. And all of this without having to spend a dime of missionary monies from Nigeria at all, but rather having the whole effort underwritten by the pensions given bishops here in the US.
Bishop Bena needs to be dropped immediately from the rolls of The Episcopal Church.