CANA aka ACNA via Nigeria is electing bishops, but how?

The Anglican Church in North America, which touts itself as the true Anglican presence in North America, is having a rather extreme case of mission by the multiplication of bishops (MMB). With something like 80,000 to 100,000 persons in the ACNA federation of bodies, there are now some 32 active bishops ( 2009 ACNA statistics listed 49 Bishops and "Vicar Generals" of which 9 were part of the Anglican Mission in North America).  Since then there have been several ordinations to the episcopate, some from persons listed as vicar generals. I don't have a current list (can't find one). My guess is there are about 35 active bishops in ACNA now.  See my list HERE (which included the AMiA bishops as well.

CANA (The Convocation of Anglicans in North America) is a subset of ACNA and at the same time a part of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion). This past week they announced that two new bishops had been elected for CANA by the Bishops of the Church of Nigeria and one transferred from ACNA. This now brings CANA's total to eight bishops, these are:

the Rt. Rev'd Martyn Minns, founding Missionary Bishop
the Rt. Rev'd Roger Ames, Suffragan Bishop
the Rt. Rev'd David Anderson, Sr., Suffragan Bishop
the Rt. Rev'd David Bena, Suffragan Bishop
the Rt. Rev'd Amos Fagbamiye, Suffragan Bishop
Bishop elect, Julian Dobbs, Suffragan Bishop
BIshop elect Felix Orji, Suffragan Bishop
and received bishop, the Rt. Rev’d Derek Jones as a suffragan bishop. (Bishop Jones is already a suffragan bishop in the ACNA College of Bishops.) 

So CANA will have one bishop diocesan and seven suffragan bishops. Of that number six were ordained by Nigeria, one by The Episcopal Church (Bena), and one by the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches (Jones). CANA has something like 100 congregations, 70 are parishes the rest are new plants, so with 8 bishops that is about one bishop for every 12 parishes.

Earlier last week Baby Blue reported that there was an upcoming convention to form a new diocese from the Anglican District of Virginia, a part of CANA, and that there would be an election at that convention. Two candidates were presented: the Rt. Rev'd John Guernsey, currently bishop of a "non-geographical" diocese of the Holy Spirit in ACNA and Julian Dobbs, now bishop elect from Nigeria.  I suppose that this means that the election will be between one of these two bishops which may or may not then entail a reduction in bishop-force in the CANA diocese in which Bishop Minns is diocesan.

The Anglican District of Virginia is now part of CANA. Its proposed canons make no mention of any continued relationship to the Church in Nigeria, so when this is over there will be a new ACNA, not CANA diocese, and conceivably there will be one less bishop in the CANA stable. Meanwhile, there will be two new bishops in the ACNA world, bringing the total in ACNA to  something like 37 bishops.  

The current list of churches in ACNA, including CANA is 673. So that is something like one bishop for each 18 churches. 

Clearly then ACNA is calling bishops in to being for missionary purposes, otherwise the ministry is amazingly top heavy.  It may indeed be a good strategy in the long run, given that ACNA also stresses the need to plant new churches and grow existing ones. 

Still, the pattern in CANA, with seven suffragans,  is a bit over the top.  It either indicates a different sort of understanding of the use of suffragans than we normally see, or a burning desire to expand rapidly, both of which are admirable reasons, or a simple multiplicity of the purple or a numbers game, which would be a shame.


  1. Well, Mark, it is an ecclesial curiosity, I suppose. As an academic question, I might find it interesting. After all, our Canadian and our English siblings have different titles and means of distributing responsibilities.

    I think it will take us a while to know to see what ACNA is doing. Some of the Independent Catholic churches have even higher ratios of bishops - in some, virtually one per congregation - until it begins to look like the early Church, with one bishop for every significant town. However, in the early Church, prior to becoming the Imperial Church (and, again, apparently in some if the Independent Catholic churches) there is more autonomy between congregations, if not to the point of explicit congregationalism.

    And of course there are those instances in history (largely Roman or authcephalic Orthodox history) of titular bishops, with no extant jurisdiction and duties unrelated to congregational life. So, while we still have tensions about the (hostile) competition among those in North America who claim to be Anglican, the apparent expansion of the episcopacy among the distaff seems a matter more for musing (bemusement perhaps, and amusement perhaps).

    (Hmm. My verification is "versedsm." Now, in my world Versed is a useful and powerful medicine for pain and anxiety - which in some small measure - "sm" - might be useful in our Anglican difficulties. MSS+)

  2. I think this is a matter of rounding out and continuing a business plan/sham--as long as these folks have been blowing their own horn, they have been struggling with reality/truth and REAL LIVE reason for being (other than demonizing/marginalizing others at Church)--in my opinion it´s all a ¨bankers game/illusion¨ to ¨appear¨ successful, growing wildy on market share and popping out the seams--as in any really well-planned marketing strategy, and this one is, creating/filling the NEED then offering the ¨product¨ at a competitive price while subtly degrading (no so subtle in the case of CANA/ACNA) the competition--is the name of the game along with *appearing* bright, shiny and freshly packaged--of course, quite often, the ¨customer¨ discovers the product isn´t all it´s cracked up to be and sometimes made with inferior goods (thievery/bigotry comes to mind as primary sources for the product)--but heck, some righteous faddests will believe the offering is far ¨better quality¨ even when the truth falls far short in the quality control department of their minds and hands.

  3. or a simple multiplicity of the purple or a numbers game, which would be a shame.

    ...and also a sham. ;-/

  4. My understanding of modern conservatism is that those who follow this philosophy crave authority from what they perceive to be father figures. Having lots of them makes things more secure for those in this mindset. Of course the inverse is that when everyone is a bishop then the office of bishop is diminished. But it makes good press.

  5. The people at "Alphabet Central" have just reported a severe shortage of the capitalized letter "A" and have declared a moratorium on its use.

    Google has complied with the moratorium and has given up using the capitol letter "A" in all word verifications.

    Today's WV: misft

  6. Perhaps you have heard of this song -- "I see by your outfit that we are both bishops if you get an outfit you can be a bishop too."

    Sung to the tune of Streets of Laredo

  7. "And bishops in their shovel-hats,
    Were plentiful as tabby cats -
    In point of fact, too many!"

    W S Gilbert - The Gondoliers" - 3:13 in this video.

  8. It may be helpful to know that the way the Anglican Church of Nigeria has become the largest Anglican province in the Communion is by consecrating missionary bishops, sending them into a new area and telling them to plant churches. The institutionalists can't quite grasp that it isn't about "management" (of existing parishes) as it is about "evangelism" (by planting new churches.) Crazy concept, I know. The Nigerians take their cues from St. Paul and so it seems do the ACNA, the AMIA and CANA. In Leonardo's derogatory slander it is about "market share" one eternal life at a time. The bible calls that storing up treasure in heaven.

  9. What YOU seem to be unable to grasp, Rob, is that the GS churches are growing because of the dysfunction of their Third World governments. Islam is growing just as fast as Nigerian fundamentalist “Christianity.” It’s not about “planting churches” its about a social survival network in countries where governments do not provide the basics.

    Kurt Hill
    Brooklyn, NY

  10. Plus we only have their word for the extent of their growth. Southern Cone, situated in what is now a hotbed of protestant evangelism, isn't doing that brilliantly, now is it?

  11. Very interesting theory Kurt. Certainly cultural context can make a population more or less open to evangelistic efforts. But that doesn't change the fact that the Nigerian Anglicans have a passion for Evangelism by sharing the good news of Jesus Christ and that the ACNA is embracing that same passion and trying to learn from the Nigerians and their success. You might try listening to any of the talks by Bp. Ben Kwashi at the New Wineskins Missionary conference. He is most certainly storing up treasure in heaven.

    And the Muslims are clearly doing their own version of evangelism as are the Mormons and Jehovahs Witnesses. And that has what bearing on the point made?

    Lapinbizarre, we most certainly have far more than their word for it. Speak to any professor of missiology and he will tell you of the rapid spread of Christianity in Africa and Asia. In fact, just google "Christianity in Africa" and you will know that we have more than "their word for it." Sheesh.


OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, 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.