The CANA related congregations in Virginia are arguing for the retention of properties that they physically hold by virtue of a majority of the members of congregations leaving The Episcopal Church to join the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion.) Part of their argument before the court in Virginia is provided over at BabyBlue Café and consists of the following (thanks to BabyBlue for doing the hard work reading the brief). See all of what she referenced HERE.
Here is CANA's contention:
"As a result of these recent changes, the Anglican Communion is now divided into two "branches"—those that relate to all provinces that relate to the See of Canterbury, and those that relate only to those who are understood as adhering to the historic faith, doctrine, and discipline of the Anglican Communion. See Sept. 14, 2007, Tr. 41 (directing the parties to address the branch issue at the Anglican Communion level). The Church of Nigeria, with which the CANA Congregations have affiliated, is the principal leader of this new branch. Tr. 363-64, 372-74 (Minns); Tr. 639-40 (Yisa). Indeed, TEC Presiding Bishop Schori herself referred to CANA as a distinct "part" or "branch of the Anglican Communion" repeatedly in her deposition. Schori Dep, Designations 54-56, 79, 83. The evidence at trial thus independently satisfied the "branch" requirement of § 57-9 at the Anglican Communion level."
So, CANA believes there are two Anglican Communion entities, two "branches" – (Anglican Communion 1) "those that relate to all provinces that relate to the See of Canterbury" and (Anglican Communion 2) "those that relate only to those who are understood as adhering to the historic faith, doctrine and discipline of the Anglican Communion." The alternative "leader" to the Archbishop of Canterbury (or See of Canterbury) is the Church of Nigeria, and, one presumes, its Primate.
That of course is nonsense. The Anglican Communion is not now nor never has been an entity with branch offices, nor has it been an entity that can split into two branches. It for sure is not the Vine of which we are the branches. But the Courts in Virginia may not get it.
This whole thing is a pack of cards. If, for some reason the court in Virginia were to decide that yes indeed the Anglican Communion did consist of two branches and that therefore the argument for the division of property under Virginia law held, the matter of determining that there were indeed two Anglican Communion entities would have to wait for the actual formation of such entities on an international level. The division does not exist yet. Further, it will be interesting to see if such a decision could hold up in higher court, for it would be a decision about the character of a world wide split into two communions that has not yet transpired.
This is why the notion of an alternative gathering of bishops, from the Global South, away from Lambeth, perhaps held in Northern Africa, etc., this coming summer is not simply a matter of bishops in a snit but rather quite important. Such a gathering becomes the testing ground for precisely such a second Communion, one with a different Patriarch (not Rome, not Canterbury, but perhaps Alexandria).
This is why the swing of the Diocese of San Joaquin to the Southern Cone is a stop gap… it is not a stop gap until there can be a new and improved Province in America related to the current Communion (AC1), but until there can be a new Patriarchal based Communion to which such a Province could relate. The end of all this is NOT a new Province that would relate to the Anglican Communion instead of The Episcopal Church, but a Province recognized by a community of Provinces constituting Anglican Communion 2 (AC2).
The Realignment crowd has now worked itself into a place where the way forward is no longer with Canterbury and those in Communion with the Church of England, but a different world-wide Communion with a real Patriarch and a no nonsense adherence "to the historic faith, doctrine, and discipline of the Anglican Communion." The mere fact that there is no such thing as "the historic faith, doctrine, and discipline of the Anglican Communion" will be beside the point.
The holiness crowd will find their way into something like AC2. They may, if the Common Cause Partnership business works out, pull some more disparate churches never in relation to AC1 anyway. There may indeed be a second Anglican Communion. AC2 will be a world wide church.
God help them. We already have several of those and there is no reason to think that one more will make much difference. Those that already exist are quite enough. Rome and Constantinople provide adequate reason to think that structurally world wide does not mean universal or catholic.
Meanwhile AC1, whoever is part of that, will continue to be a fellowship of churches – not branches of a single church. We may or may not always work together. Our representatives may or may not sit in the same room together. We will be remarkably human. The Episcopal Church will in all likelihood continue to be part of AC1. If not we will take our place in a world wide ecumenical context. I have stated before that I believe the Anglican Communion (AC1) to be a particular form of ecumenical fellowship. That will continue to be part of who we are in the future.
But we will say our prayers, work for the spread of the reign of God, complete with justice and peace as the signs of that reign, and give with all that love has to offer for the life of the world.
Our assumption should be that those in AC2 are about that as well, in spite of their supposing that they are a world wide church.
Meanwhile, CANA and the Church of Nigeria, its parent, have made their plea: There are two Anglican Communions.
If anyone is interested, they are clearly about breaking up that old gang of ours. That bit of breaking up is called schism. It's not all that awful, but it's not pretty.