Nigeria reminds us about bishops and jurisdiction.

The Church of Nigeria announced the election of two new bishops at its most recent Synod.  At the close of the media notification letter was the following note: "In Anglican ecclesiastical terminology a See is the area of jurisdiction of a diocesan bishop." 

So it would appear that the Church of Nigeria considers diocesan bishops to exercise authority in an "area of jurisdiction" - that is, in a described territory. 

At least on this the Church of Nigeria and The Episcopal Church are in agreement.  There are occasions when members of the realignment crowd try to justify their actions in the US by claiming that they are visiting churches of their own unrelated to any diocesan jurisdictions in TEC.  (See Archbishop Orombi's letter to the Presiding Bishop.)  But Nigeria, at least, considers bishops to exercise authority in an AREA.  That being the case, exercising an episcopal ministry in an AREA not one's own is in fact acting outside one's jurisdiction, and doing so is an incursion into another bishop's jurisdiction. Archbishop Orombi doesn't seem to understand.  

Then again, the Church of Nigeria really doesn't believe what it says, or perhaps doesn't understand either. 

Here is how it describes the Convocation of Anglicans in North America: "CANA is the Convocation of Anglicans in North America. Initially started to provide worship centres for Nigerians in North America, it is now a Missionary diocese of the Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion catering for many who feel alienated as their former church walks away from the faith once delivered."

As a Missionary Diocese, CANA has an area of jurisdiction, seemingly all of North America. Given what the CofN says about Sees, etc,  Canadian, Mexican or US bishops of jurisdiction might find it a bit odd that Bishop Minns exercises ministry in their jurisdictions.  

On May 17th at Falls Church, Virginia, CANA ordained eight persons. The 'area of jursidiction' that constitutes the See of the Diocese of Virginia includes Falls Church.  I presume the Bishop of the Diocese of Virginia was not consulted regarding these ordinations.

Oh, now I remember. The Church of Nigeria does not consider the Bishop of Virginia any more to be a bishop of the Church of God, but rather of a church that "walks away from the faith once delivered."

So jurisdiction, See, and episcopal authority, and Anglican sensibility concerning the terminology is just garbage talk. It only works for Bishops and Sees that one considers orthodox enough.

The Communication Director of the Church of Nigeria, Archdeacon Popoola, is one of the bishops to be ordained.  Congratulations to him. May he never have Anglican bishops exercising ministry in his area of jurisdiction without his approval.


  1. Hi Mark,

    Yes, to all that you have said --and I find jurisdiction not just to be based in a matter of church law or Tradition. We are an Incarnational people --a people who know and experience God thru real "stuff," (in the Greek-'ousia') and all real "stuff" has boundaries. Hence, our jurisdictions are so much more than law--they are Incarnational. Our boundaries are based in churches as bodies-living entities having real boundaries. I hope you catch my drift here....

    blessings, margaret

  2. I don't see where there's room for an Episcopalian to complain here. If an ordination is held in Virginia, will Peter Lee notify or ask permission of the Roman Catholic bishop? Will he notify or ask permission of the Orthodox bishops? How about any Continuing Anglican bishops?

    No, no and no.

  3. Oh dear Phil--
    because we are in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury, and so are the tresspassing Bishops. We are not in communion with those you name. There is a difference....


  4. deacon jim23/5/08 8:01 AM

    is phil daft or what????????

  5. Margaret, I don’t see why that makes a difference.

    The Church of Nigeria thinks ECUSA teaches a different faith. It doesn’t consider itself to be in communion with ECUSA, if not de jure, then certainly de facto. You argue that by some “transitive property,” since both bodies are in communion with Canterbury, it therefore doesn’t matter what Nigeria thinks, and it should therefore respect ECUSA’s heterodoxy.

    If that’s so, I’ll go you one better. I assume, as a good Episcopalian, you think Anglican orders are valid. If so, I further assume you think the Eucharist is validly confected at an Episcopalian Eucharist. The same is clearly true for Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy. So, from your standpoint (if not theirs), with each body partaking of the same Body of Christ, you certainly are in communion with one another – yet you still fail to respect the Roman Catholic and/or Orthodox boundaries in this country.

    Jim – thank you for your Christian comment.

  6. "...and it should therefore respect ECUSA’s heterodoxy."

    You see Phil, this is why many of us have a hard time respecting your arguments. You throw out assertions like the above as if they were established facts instead of just your opinion.

    It's disingenuous in the extreme, as well as disrespectful of faithful, mainstream Episcopalians. You often sign your postings "YBIC." Well, a real "brother in Christ" wouldn't do stuff like that.

  7. David - that's a different Phil (and a heckuva nice guy, in spite of the beating he's been taking at Fr. Jake's of late).

    My argument didn't have to do with ECUSA's heterodoxy, but with the degree of communion between it and the Church of Nigeria. I was expressing Nigeria's view in the first paragraph.

  8. Hi Phil,

    If Nigeria cares what Canterbury thinks, then Nigeria should respect ECUSA. Plain and simple. It's called courtesy. It's called communion.

    If Nigeria doesn't care what Canterbuy thinks, then they are welcome to have at America--but it is not right to steal someone else's property in doing so. Plain and simple.

    And in truth, it is a shame that there is not just one bishop, one altar, one church. A real shame. And it has to do with power, control and pride. Doesn't seem like much changes, does it?

    And as far as what ECUSA is "doing" that has "caused" Nigeria and others to be so revolted and not eat with us --in a while the churches that are condemning homosexuality (and the ordination of women too) will have to play catch up, --just like they have had to do (or are still trying to do) with science and round earth theories etc etc etc.

    So, Phil, --I see full inclusion as a Gospel imperative. I know others do not. Does that mean we should not eat together? Does that mean we should not be respectful of each other? Does that mean someone from Nigeria should take my church from me?

    I think not.

    blessings, margaret

  9. Margaret,

    I'm in complete agreement with you that it's a shame the Church is divided. Unfortunately, I have to part company on nearly everything else - starting with your assertion that these divisions have to do with "power, control and pride." No doubt those are large factors (as they are in every human endeavor), but I hope you'll understand if I read that as an accusation pointed only at your opponents, when, in truth, every side in this dispute - by all means including ECUSA - allows these things to color their respective decisions. What's more, you're not allowing for the role of real, principled disagreement. You seem to see only venal motives behind those who think ECUSA has gone off the tracks. I disagree.

    On other matters:

    - Respect goes both ways. Canterbury and its respective instruments also made clear what they think of ECUSA's actions. If ECUSA isn't going to respect the Communion, don't be surprised if respect isn't shown in return.
    - I might just as well say ECUSA is "stealing" parish property, but I recognize the issue is in dispute. Perhaps you could do the same.
    - Unless you attend one of the parishes in which the majority of the members have chosen to no longer associate with ECUSA, nobody has taken your church from you. Even if you do attend one of those churches, inasmuch as you have the same building, same staff, same teaching, same liturgy and same mission - coupled with your stated willingness to "eat together" - I might question how much your church has really been taken.


OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with comment moderation but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.