The Church of Nigeria's as a spiffy new website. While all the pages are not yet populated, for those of use interested in reading the tea-leaves in Anglican-land there are some bits and pieces of information to be gleaned.
The site includes a FAQ (frequently asked questions) section. Here are questions 4,5, and 6, with my highlighing of particular passages.
Q4. What are the results of the Primates’ Meeting in February 2007?
In February 2007, the Primates (i.e., head Anglican archbishops) met in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to chart a way forward for the Anglican Communion. The ongoing intransigence of The Episcopal Church (TEC) forced the Primates to devote the majority of their meeting to following through on The Windsor Report. The stakes were enormous and it was an intense spiritual battle.
The Primates recognized that CANA and the Anglican Mission in America have a valid and important place in the Communion, and rejected any attempt to draw a moral equivalence between our so called "interventions” and the “innovations” embraced by TEC.
The Primates concluded that TEC had not responded adequately to The Windsor Report and graciously gave TEC one last chance to uphold the biblical teachings of the Anglican Communion, with a date certain set for September 30, 2007. Despite the fact that TEC’s Presiding Bishop was witness to the unanimously agreed upon terms of the Primates’ communiqué from February 2007, she and the TEC House of Bishops seem determined to ignore the Communion. For example, TEC has maintained a no -going back stance on the issue of permitting clergy to openly live in sin and also has continued to pursue its litigation against the clergy and volunteer vestries at more than ten CANA congregations, even though the Primates urged the suspension of all litigation.
Q5. What is CANA?
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. For more details visit cana website.
Q6. Why does the Church of Nigeria hate Gays?
The Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion does not hate any human being. Rather the Church has been outspoken in attempts by some to undermine the importance of God's word written as received by the fathers of the Church and accepted by the Creeds and Anglican Book of Common Prayer 1662. The Church maintains that God's plan as evidenced in Genesis 2:18 - 25 and affirmed by Christ is for marriage between male and female. Efforts to bless same-sex unions are unscriptural and those in such dilemma are called to repentance as they pray for God's love to lead them aright. As a caring church, we do not turn any away, but we exhort all Christians to present their bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God as outlined in the Holy Scriptures. Churches and church leaders who teach or live otherwise are walking away from the truth of the Scriptures and they endanger the lives of their followers.
So...starting from the top: The Nigerian witness to what happened at Dar Es Salaam is that
"The stakes were enormous and it was an intense spiritual battle." This assessment of the meeting puts Nigeria's understanding right out there: the Archbishop and his off-site advisers saw the meeting as a place of spiritual battle, not a place for conversation and engagement. More importantly they saw themselves as battling for the forces of good (of course). The enormous stakes then were, I suppose, the evangelical ones of saving otherwise damned to hell Episcopalians from that fate.
"The Primates recognized that CANA and the Anglican Mission in America have a valid and important place in the Communion." This bit of hyperbole gets rousted out again and again. In the light of the dis-invitation to Lambeth for both CANA and AMiA it is hard to maintain this. Further the Communique mentions CANA and AMiA only once, and as a problem best left for another time.
"...graciously gave TEC one last chance to uphold the biblical teachings of the Anglican Communion, with a date certain set for September 30, 2007." Who writes this drivel? The sacred "September 30, 2007" date has been partially trumped by the invitations to Lambeth, but perhaps not. One might suppose that if we don't repent and "uphold the biblical teachings of the Anglican Communion" the ABC could still dis-invite the whole lot of US Bishops or at least all those who affirmed Bishop Robinson,etc. But not likely.
There is nothing gracious about this "one last chance." It is a threat on the C of Nigeria pages, and perhaps a threat somehow elsewhere. But where? Dis-invitation is in the air.
The wreckage is everywhere: Uganda seems to have dis-invited itself, conditional on the ABC dis-inviting bad people from TEC. Nigeria is in a huff about Bishop Minns not being invited. There are some TEC Bishops who are unwilling to see Bishop Robinson held hostage to the evangelical agenda. And, we hear nothing from The Anglican Communion Network. Nothing.
"It (CANA) is now a Missionary diocese of the Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion..." For those of us who were wondering exactly what that installation service was all about, this is the proof of the pudding. I said then that the service was as much about making a diocese or proto-diocese as it was about seating Bishop Minns in that red velvet chair. If you look at the Church of Nigeria website there is a page listing the dioceses in the Mission province of the CofN. CANA is one of those. As the FAQ question states CANA is a missionary diocese of the Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion.
So it is now clear, ne'est pas? The Convocation of Anglicans in North America is a missionary diocese of the Church of Nigeria. Therefore the Church of Nigeria without any consultation with The Episcopal Church has established a diocese in the US. This is not simply boundary crossing, this is an attempt to establish squatters rights.
"Churches and church leaders who teach or live otherwise are walking away from the truth of the Scriptures and they endanger the lives of their followers." Well, there it is - the Cof N doesn't hate Gays, it says. It hates all of us who would endanger their lives by affirming that gay persons can pattern their lives in a Christ-like ways and be in relationship with another person of the same sex. The issue is not saving Gay and Lesbian people from their sexual sin but all of us for reckless endangerment. This is why it is more important to Nigeria and Uganda that all the American bishops who gave consent to Bishop Robinson's election (who constitute the majority) must either repent or dis-invited. The threat is that if those bishops come, theirs will stay away.
By the way, the use of parentheses as in Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) seems to have been dropped by the CofN. I suppose that this now means that the CofNAC is its complete name, and that the Church of Nigeria might think of itself as a particular sort of Anglican Communion all by itself. No, no, surely not!
Remember the threat and the promise that The Global South gang has made - that if things don't go well they will work for a new ecclesiastical sturcture in the US, not attend Lambeth and perhaps find other ways to meet as an orthodox Anglican crowd without Canterbury if necessary.
Semtember 30, 2007 may not be about throwing us out, but about the threat of some conglomeration of people beating a rush for the door. Come September it will be interesting to see if very many do rush the door. Hanging together rather than separately is a difficult gamble. The Anglican Communion Network is getting nibbled away as various of the bishops step back a bit. The supposedly powerful gang of 20 demanding Primates is now down to 8 or 9. We shall see.
Meanwhile, for regular paid up members of The Episcopal Church, the Presiding Bishop is right. Stay the course and stay calm.