CANA and inventive storytelling

I was surprised to read the following on the Convocation of Anglicans in North America website, on the page titled, "What is CANA":

"ECUSA proved over and over again that it was unwilling to respect the faith of Anglican Nigerians by its divisive actions. One of these actions was that ECUSA unilaterally sacked the former Nigerian chaplain appointed to care for Anglican Nigerians in this country, the Rev. Canon Gordon Okunsanya. So, we can really say that ECUSA itself made the creation of CANA necessary. Necessity is truly the mother of invention."

Necessity is actually the mother of inventive storytelling. I had thought that Thinking Anglican's rather complete review of the matter might have caused CANA to change this bit of the story of their beginnings, particularly since CANA went to some trouble to revamp their web presence, but I guess not. Nothing has been done.

The idea that ECUSA made the creation of CANA necessary, on any basis having to do with the appointment of Canon Okunsanya, is rot.

CANA might want to clean up its act a bit.

Interestingly, in March 2003 an ENS article had this to say about Akinola's relations with The Episcopal Church, and about the chaplaincy that was started then:

"Akinola 'has been very clear that he wants to see this as a partnership with the Episcopal Church, rather than an overseas branch of the Church of Nigeria,' Mauney said, adding that Akinola has little sympathy for the tactics of the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA.) In an July 2001 interview conducted by Canon Emmanuel Adekola of Church of Nigeria News, the archbishop explained that his initial reaction to the AMiA idea was positive, but that as time went on he did not see 'any tangible effort being made' by AMiA leaders towards reconciliation with the Episcopal Church. 'I will not support any schismatic or separatist agenda for any church, be it America, Singapore or Uganda or anywhere for that matter,' Akinola said.

A subsequent trip to four US dioceses convinced him that 'if what I saw [in those dioceses] was what obtained in other parts, then I don't know what people are talking about, in terms of crisis in the American church.' To the insinuation that his change of heart was motivated by 'favors' from American Episcopalians, Akinola pointed out that he was 'one of the few leaders who spoke out vehemently against General [Sani] Abacha at the risk of my own life...There is no price tag on my head. I am not leading a beggar Church.'

During his 2001 trip, Akinola also met with the Rev. Augustine Ogbunugwu and his dissident congregation in Houston for three days. The group grew out of a Sunday afternoon worship for African immigrants established by the Diocese of Texas at Houston's Church of the Epiphany in 1999. 'But because of their hidden agenda, no sooner had I left Houston than they pulled out of ECUSA to join AMiA,' he said. 'To be an Anglican in part means you are in communion with the See of Canterbury. AMiA is not in communion with the See of Canterbury as a church. So, by breaking away from ECUSA, Augustine Ogbunugwu has broken communion with the Church of Nigeria.'

… He says, 'If we're going to work with Nigerians in this country, it has to be through the Episcopal Church.''

Well, then was then and now is now.

Then Archbishop Akinola said the work with Nigerians in the US was going to be through the Episcopal Church. Now it is through CANA.

Then he said AMiA was not in communion with Canterbury. Now CANA and AMiA are "Common Cause Partners," making the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Commuion) cohorts with churches not in communion with Canterbury in the effort to replace The Episcopal Church with another "Anglican" presence in the US.

Then affiliations were with the churches of the Anglican Communion, now CANA lists only two affiliations: The Church of Nigeria and The Archbishop of Canterbury. (By the way, there is another place where CANA's website might clean up its act… CANA is not affiliated with Canterbury, at least not as far as we can tell.)

But why worry? Then was then and now is now.

Now CANA asks and then answers, in the Frequently Asked Questions section of its web site, "Is such an international connection unusual? (The connection is between CANA and Nigeria and their work in the US)

Not really. For more than 160 years (1607–1776), the first Anglicans in this country existed as a missionary outpost under the Bishop of London, England. After the American Revolution, the Church of Scotland consecrated Samuel Seabury in 1789 as the first bishop of the fledgling Episcopal Church. Most of the Anglican provinces in existence today started as the result of a similar missionary initiative. More recent provinces have had similar international sponsorship."

Once again CANA needs to clean up its act: Minor points are overlooked… the Anglicans were not "a missionary outpost," perhaps the clergy sent here by the missionary societies were missionaries. And, let's see…oh yes, the Episcopal Church of Scotland did consecrate Samuel Seabury, but he was sent off to England and then went to Scotland having been elected by at least somebody in the US to some particular venue (Connecticut) where there was NO bishop in place. He was not a missionary from Scotland.

And, not to make too fine a point of it, the statement "Most of the Anglican provinces in existence today started as the result of a similar missionary initiative. More recent provinces have had similar international sponsorship" is profoundly dumb. As far as I know not a single Anglican province in existence today started as a result of a "missionary initiative" that included ordaining an Anglican bishop to serve in a place where there was already an Anglican presence and Anglican jurisdictions. As far as I know not a single province has had "similar international sponsorship," (whatever that means.)

All of which is to say, CANA has not retracted its accusation concerning Canon Okunsanya, the Archbishop of Nigeria (CANA's Archbishop) has done an about face about AMiA, work in the US, and it seems the necessity of Canterbury, and CANA is passing out false information about just how "normal" its particular situation is.

But then again, why should we be surprised?


  1. One of the things that disturbs me most profoundly in this whole mess is the time frame involved. In 2003 Archbishop Akinola is dead set against AMiA or anything that smacks of a "schismatic or separatist agenda," to quote him. Little more than three years later he is leading one!

    I see a profound lack of patience on both the liberal and conservative sides of the church. Heck, it often took decades to resolve disputes in the early church! That time period also often allowed the sort of reasoned, complex debate that was needed to unfold. Now, in the space of less than 5 years it is expected that the sexuality question will have been dealt with and we will move on. Not only isn't it going to happen, it likely shouldn't happen that fast.

    There is an old saying that "haste makes waste" and I fear that in the rush to solve whatever crisis du jour exists in the church, there is much that is being wasted.

  2. While I am the other side of the fence from Tom on many of these issues, he makes a lot of sense here. A complex question being debated by a worldwide institution should take time.
    Mark's recounting of Akinola's earlier comments about AMiA begs a good question. What was it about his interaction with TEC changed his mind. Did he simply come to an opinion that TEC had made up its mind on the sexuality issues so firmly that dialogue was useless?
    It's significant that the AMiA comments were in 2001.
    Like many on the left, Akniola may have felt that in consecrating +NH, TEC made a move that it is unlikely to step back from.

  3. One of the joys of your site is that when one has finished reading a post, there's little left to do beyond nodding in agreement. And always informative. Thanks again.

  4. It's all a little Orwellian, really. The particularly skewed version of history that simply pretends previous positions or iterations did not exist.

    "Oceana has always been allied with Eastasia and always been at war with Eurasia." Even though we all remember that a week ago she was at war with Eastasia and allied with Eurasia.

    Or perhaps a more appropriate literary allusion would be: "Pay no attention to that mane behind the curtain."

  5. There does seem to be some real discrepancies in ++Akinola's words.


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.