Various blog sites and Anglican news venues have posted the transfer of ten congregations that have been connected to the Diocese of Bolivia to CANA (The Convocation of Anglicans in North America.) What has mostly been posted is the press release from CANA. But here is what the CANA website says on its front page.
"In a historic act, Bishop Frank Lyons of Bolivia has transferred ten congregations in the midwest United States to the care and jurisdiction of CANA. These congregations had been under the oversight of Bishop Lyons and the Diocese of Bolivia, part of the Anglican province of the Southern Cone in South America. Now, these congregations will be part of the indigenous US ecclesial structure in CANA. This transfer of congregations is a harbinger of the consolidation of Anglicanism for which many orthodox Anglicans in the US have been longing."
The phrase "the indigenous US ecclesial structure in CANA" needs to be noted. CANA has in the past been presented as part of the Church of Nigeria, and indeed the letter from Bishop Lyons to Bishop Minns is copied to the Primate of the Southern Cone (Bishop Venables), the Primate of Nigeria, (Archbishop Akinola) and the Moderator of the Common Cause / Network group, Bishop Duncan. But the website referes to CANA as a "indigenous US ecclesial structure."
The ecclesial autonomy of CANA is a possibility given that CANA now has suffecent bishops to guarentee its own episcopal future independent of the parent church of Nigeria. At some point, when there are sufficent members to organize as dioceses CANA may be in a position to announce that it now has dioceses suficent to constitute a provincial system of its own and will form a separate church. There is already a diocese in the making in Virginia in the form of a missionary district. Now with the ten parishes in the Midwest and a variety of other parishes in other areas we can look for consolidation of these areas into additional missionary districts and from there into dioceses. There are now six bishops in CANA: Minns, Bena, Anderson, Ames, Kanu and Fagbamiye. Enough to do the job.
As CANA consolidation takes place, the Network now Common Cause Partnership will begin to consolidate the various ongoing non-Canterbury related Anglican bodies and bring them into the mix along with parishes that might not otherwise want to first find a home outside the US. That consolidation is well under way. Large parts of several dioceses might joint in that effort.
CANA sees the inclusion of parishes under foreign episcopal leadership in an indigenous as a harbinger. When we ask what is to come, the answer may be rapid movement into an emerging structure with CANA as the new core into which Network, other international "partners" (Kenya, Uganda, perhaps AMia/Rwanda, and Southern Cone) will feed their American charges.
CANA has claimed to have sixty parishes and 100 clergy. This weeks acquisitions will raise that to perhaps 70 parishes and 110 clergy. If they consolidate some more the effort will become more and more indegenous and at some point Archbishop Akinola will declare CANA a new province in the making.
I would not be surprised if that happens just in time for the Jerusalem meeting, wherever that takes place. Recognition of this new ecclesial structure rather than the Episcopal Church would then be part of the litmus test for inclusion in Anglican Communion II, with its center and leadership determined by its own leadership group.
George Conger gave an end of the year summary last week. Parts of it were a bit iffy, but on the whole it was an interesting read. At the close he remarked, "While local concerns dominated the concerns of the 38 member churches, the overarching issue of the Communion—what it stood for, what it meant, what it believed, remained unresolved. While the oft foretold crack up of 2007 did not take place through Dr. Williams’ efforts to keep everyone talking, 2008 may prove to be the final year of the Anglican Communion as it is currently constituted."
The Anglican Communion as currently constituted, AC I, is a wheel with Canterbury at its hub and the Provinces connected to it, the whole thing rolling along by the connections among the Provinces that are consolidated in that way. A new wheel is being build it appears, AC II. Who will be the at the center and who will belong? And will some belong to both?
The one thing we know is that CANA is on the move and the end will either be another Anglican splinter group in the US or an emerging alternate international organization, similar to the Traditional Anglican Communion, only with recognition from several of the Primates of AC I.
What a mess.