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Growing pains for ACNA: The Church of England Newspaper, Nov 4, 2011 November 3, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of North America, CANA, Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria.
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First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

A chill has descended over relations between the Church of Nigeria and the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) in the wake of the creation of a diocese for Nigerians in America by the Church of Nigeria.

While official statements from Archbishop Robert Duncan of the ACNA and Bishop Martyn Minns of CANA – the Church of Nigeria’s American outreach — have been upbeat, sources at the top of the ACNA tell The Church of England Newspaper the situation surrounding the formation of the Diocese of the Trinity has been a “mess”.

Archbishop Duncan is understood to be meeting in the near future with the Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, to seek clarification as to why the Nigerian Church believed it necessary to create a race-based diocese in America.

Questions also remain unanswered as to why Nigeria continues to hold on to its American operations after Kenya, West Africa, Uganda and the Southern Cone turned their churches and clergy over to the ACNA.

On 12 October 2011, Bishop Minns released a letter to the CANA clergy announcing the formation of the Diocese of the Trinity. At the September meeting of the General Synod, the Nigerian Church “decided to permit the establishment of dioceses within CANA, under the leadership of the CANA Missionary Bishop, in order to strengthen our missionary focus and provide enhanced support for local clergy and congregations, especially for Nigerian Anglicans living in North America.”

Bishop Minns stated that suffragan Bishop Amos Fagbamiye had been named the diocesan bishop of Trinity Diocese. These actions were “subject to the enactment of necessary canonical provisions within the Church of Nigeria’s constitution and canons and also the relevant by-laws and protocols of CANA,” he added.

The CANA leader noted that while “church structures are important and can be useful … what is most important is that we continue with the work of witness and discipleship and reaching North America with the transforming love of Jesus Christ. Mission must always drive and shape our structures, not the other way around.”

On 15 April 2011 Bishop Fagbamiye met with 40 clergy and lay leaders to discuss the formation of a missionary diocese. The purpose of the diocese was to “build a Christ-centred, multicultural, multiracial, Bible-based church that believes in the apostolic teaching, and is sensitive to human needs.”

The organisational meeting recommended the new diocese “be under the supervision and derive authority from Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion but will be affiliated with CANA and ACNA.”

On 31 October 2011 Archbishop Duncan gave a statement to CEN stating there was a “desire among many Nigerian nationals, some of whom have been part of CANA and some who have been waiting for a development like the Missionary Diocese of the Trinity, to come together as a Nigerian diocese in North America. Created by the recent General Synod at Lagos, the plan is that the Missionary Diocese is to be part of CANA and to also apply for recognition as a diocese in the Anglican Church in North America.

“As the Constitution and Canons of the Anglican Church in North America make provision for affinity dioceses, the creation of the Missionary Diocese of the Trinity can readily be accommodated within the Anglican Church structure,” the Archbishop said.

However, affinity dioceses within ACNA have so far been constructed along doctrinal lines – with non-geographic dioceses for Anglo-Catholics. Until the formation of the Trinity Diocese the only race-based church unit was the Niobrara Sioux mission to American Indians.

A spokesman for CANA said it was a mistake to presume that Trinity Diocese was composed solely of Nigerians. “One of [Bishop] Fagbamiye’s own archdeacons is white: the Ven John Beasley. I think he also has some non-Nigerian clergy on staff at his church in Indianapolis,” said Harry Zeiders of CANA.

One ACNA leader who declined to be named as he was not authorised to speak on its behalf said the creation of the Trinity Diocese had come as an unwelcome surprise. It was a retrograde step, in his opinion, for the Church of Nigeria to be creating new structures in North America on its own initiative after it had already committed itself to support the ministry of ACNA, he said.

It evidenced a lack of “trust” in ACNA, he said.


1. mcadey - November 4, 2011

I hope that everything will be based on, “One God,one faith,one church”.This idea of trinity is also a false doctrine.It is where biblical compromise begins.Why?the bible says, God is one.It is one of the basic tenent of jewdaism.It is called, sheman Israeli.Traslated as, “here o Israeli,the God your God is one”.Or, how can the issue of trinity relate to this statement found in the bible that says,”be still,know that I am God,”I DO NOT CHANGE”.?Church of Nigeria needs to get its bearing straight,and by so doing,straighten up the mess that have been going on for centuries.I hope that will will step up to the plate and be a forerunner of good and common sense type of christianity faith.Race,class,ot ethinicity,have no place,in the kingdom of God.He is the sole creator,nothing can be compared to him.

Who - November 4, 2011

When people come together who are “pissed off” at something, then they piss on each other. Control, narcissism and being self-righteous is ugly.

Mark A. - November 8, 2011

Who, stop pissing on us and pissing the rest of us off or we will piss on you.

2. Fr. Scott Homer - November 4, 2011

Funny how the controversial part always finds voice and vitality from an “unauthorized” and anonymous source…and how there is always somebody willing to start blaming and defaming before verifiable facts can be found.

3. duanemiller - November 4, 2011

This reminds me of the beginning of the Continuing Churches back in the 70’s and 80’s. I think it is getting harder and harder for the Nigerians to claim this is not about holding on to money and power.

4. Con - November 5, 2011

What is the source of the statement that the Southern Cone has turned their chruches and clergy over to the ACNA?

“Questions also remain unanswered as to why Nigeria continues to hold on to its American operations after Kenya, West Africa, Uganda and the Southern Cone turned their churches and clergy over to the ACNA.”

5. William Meridian - November 7, 2011

It seems a misnomer to call it a “race-based” diocese. It is, rather, a “nationality-based” diocese. That being said, this coupled with the recent entry, then exit, and now turmoil in AMiA does make one consider whether these entities, which are undeniably based on disaffection with the Episcopal Church rather than any unifying internal principle, have a long-term future. In addition, are the recent wave of litigation defeats (especially in Pittsburgh) leading to increased anxiety? Are the CANA leadership realizing that ACNA is now badly crippled, given the loss of significant resources?

6. Wednesday’s Round-up: Human Dignity, the Diocese of Nigeria, and Issue-Driven Churches « The Writers' Block - November 9, 2011

[…] movements will always have serious growing pains, The Church of England newspaper reports that the Anglican Church of Nigeria has elected to create an Anglican diocese in America exclusively for Nige…, straining relations between Nigeria and the Anglican Church in North America […]

7. Charles - November 9, 2011

I agree whole heartedly. Calling the Trinity diocese ‘race-based’ is inflammatory. Our articles recognize the right of every national– or as the East would have it, ‘ethnic’– church the right to order their own externals according to place, language, and time. America does not have an established church, so I think that makes us open to mission from across the globe, or at least this has been proven to be the case. Another viewpoint not addressed here is the Nigerians may simply view Americans too liberal and wish to have some sort of added protection. As far as I understand it, the NIgerian Anglican church does not support WO, and with women deacons they confine them to non-liturgical tasks. I also believe they use something very close to the 1662 bcp while we use the 1979. Perhaps Americans are too liberal for them, and Nigerians want some extra cover? I think the Trinity diocese is great, and my prayers are with Archbishop Nicholas Okoh.

Rachel - November 16, 2011

whether race, national,or ethnic base,I think what God wants is His kingdom on earth be expanded and if this is what Diocese of the Trinity stands for I think it should be welcomed.Even though Jesus Christ finished the work of Salvation on the cross He left that of evangelism for us to continue.The scripture says the harvest is plenty but the laborers are few.In America and in some other parts of the world there are still a lot of the unchurched, if God decides to use Nigerians as part of His laborers in America so be it and nobody can querry God.As One Church,One God, One Faith and One Baptism,I think we need to join our hands and faith together to fight our arch enemy-the satan. Who knows, God may use Missionary Diocese of Trinity in America as He used CMS in Africa

8. jackson - January 10, 2012

Why wouldn’t Church of Nigeria create a diocese for a nigerian bishop that will ordain Nigeria clergies living in America, when Mins is still playing the colonial master cards. How many Nigerian clergies has he ordained, even though that there are many Nigerians living here with MDIV degrees, but would not even get a response to enquires from a Nigerian

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