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Nigerian winter over, ACNA says: The Church of England Newspaper, November 18, 2011 p 6. November 17, 2011

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Bishop Julian Dobbs

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The chill in relations between the Church of Nigeria and the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) is over following a meeting of the churches’ archbishops in London, senior ACNA leaders tell The Church of England Newspaper.

A breakdown in communications was blamed for the frost in relations between Nigeria and the conservative province-in-waiting in the US, which complained it had not been consulted about the creation of a new Nigerian outreach in America.

Last month the head of CANA, the Church of Nigeria’s missionary jurisdiction in the US, Bishop Martyn Minns announced the formation of the Diocese of the Trinity, to be headed up by CANA suffragan Bishop Amos Fagbamiye.  On 12 Oct 2011 Bishop Minns said Trinity had been formed “in order to strengthen our missionary focus and provide enhanced support for local clergy and congregations, especially for Nigerian Anglicans living in North America.”

While the new diocese received warm public words of welcome, its creation had come as a surprise when it was proposed earlier this year, as it had been initiated by the Church of Nigeria and not by CANA.

However, CANA suffragan Bishop Julian Dobbs denied there was any discord between the ACNA and Nigerian House of Bishops.  CANA had been successful, he argued because its “members reflect a broad and complex spectrum of complimentary ethnic and racial identities and maintain a healthy equilibrium between the historic spiritual streams of Anglicanism: Anglo-Catholic, Evangelical and Charismatic.”

“As a missionary outreach of the Church of Nigeria, CANA maintains our unimpeachable connection with authentic Anglicanism in the Anglican Communion; with our partners in the Anglican Church in North America we are building a future for faithful Christians,” Bishop Dobbs wrote.

“Therefore, we are appalled by the suggestion that we have created a conflict,” he added.

A spokesman for the ACNA was distressed by characterizations of the Diocese of the Trinity as race-based, telling CEN the new diocese was centered-round culture and worship styles.  On 31 Oct 2011 Archbishop Duncan stated there had been 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.”

The “provision for affinity dioceses” within the ACNA structure made possible the formation of the Trinity Diocese, he said.

A spokesman for Archbishop Duncan stated that Archbishops Okoh and Duncan met in London during the week of Oct 24-28 adding that relations were amicable and there was no tension between the churches.

Anglican Unscripted, Episode 18, November 14, 2011 November 15, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Abuse, AMiA, Anglican Church of Rwanda, Anglican.TV, CANA.
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http://blip.tv/play/g5Ijgt3_dQI.htmlhttp://a.blip.tv/api.swf#g5Ijgt3_dQI
Kevin and George bring more news from Rwanda/ Pawleys Island and shed light on Documents they have received.. They also discuss the end to the Anglican Covenant and the Parable of the Talents. Allan Haley talks about Penn State and how it is handling last weeks tragic news. Also this week there is an interview with Bishop Dobbs.

Anglican Unscripted, November 7, 2011 November 8, 2011

Posted by geoconger in AMiA, Anglican Church of Rwanda, Anglican.TV, CANA, Church of Nigeria, Connecticut, The Episcopal Church.
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Anglican Unscripted for November 7, 2011. Discussion of the Anglican Mission in America and the Province of Rwanda, violence in Nigeria, Episcopal Church statistics and legal developments in the Diocese of Connecticut.

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

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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.

Anglican Unscripted Oct 31, 2011 November 3, 2011

Posted by geoconger in AMiA, Anglican Church of Rwanda, Anglican.TV, CANA, Church of Nigeria.
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Anglican Unscripted examines the tensions between the ACNA and the Church of Nigeria over the new Diocese of the Trinity, unconfirmed reports about the AMiA’s future, the trouble at St Paul’s and the latest on Katharine Jefferts Schori and Bede Parry.

 

Erratum: In this video I stated that Christ Church Plano withdrew from the AMiA over the issue of women’s ordination.  The rector of Christ Church Plano, Canon David Roseberry, kindly wrote to me and stated that this was not the case.  I mentioned Christ Church as an example of the gracious way the AMiA has handled disaffiliation of parishes.  I believe how that episode was resolved speaks highly of the integrity and Christian charity of the AMiA leadership and Canon Roseberry.  I regret I stepped on the story by adding an extraneous statement about why the parish left—and got that bit wrong.  Please excuse the error.

George Conger

Fine and probation for rector in Colorado church fight: The Church of England Newspaper, March 11, 2011 p 6. March 12, 2011

Posted by geoconger in CANA, Church of England Newspaper, Colorado, Property Litigation.
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The Rev. Don Armstrong

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The legal fight surrounding the secession of the Diocese of Colorado’s largest congregation came to a close last week after a court fined the Rev. Donald Armstrong £60,000 and ordered him to perform 400 hours of community service.

Fourth Judicial District Judge Gregory R. Werner on Feb 25 ordered Mr. Armstrong to pay restitution to the parish for using church funds set aside for the education of seminarians but had been used to pay for the university education of his children.

The sentence and fine ends the five year ecclesial and personal war between Mr. Armstrong and Bishop O’Neill of Colorado that bitterly divided Anglicans in Colorado Springs and consumed £2 million—over half—of the diocese’s endowment, and cost the parish almost £700,000.

Colorado Bishop Robert O’Neill stated: “The Church’s goal all along has been to bring healing to all those who have been harmed by these actions. The court’s proceedings regarding the criminal charges against Armstrong and today’s sentence finally bring closure to a sad chapter in the life of this diocese.”

“The Episcopal Church in Colorado has already moved ahead with energy and commitment to do the work that we are called to do by God. I continue to pray for the healing of Don Armstrong and his family,” Bishop O’Neill told The Church of England Newspaper.

Mr. Armstrong told CEN he was pleased the fight was over.  “I am very happy with the outcome, to have been cleared of all these criminal charges that were nothing more than a ruse by the Episcopal Church to silence” traditionalists, he said.

Prosecutors had asked that Mr. Armstrong be ordered to repay a further £115,000 spent by the parish to educate his children, and that he be directed to write a letter of apology, but the judge declined the request.

On Sept 17, 2010 the Pueblo County District Attorney agreed to settle a 20 count criminal indictment accusing the former rector of Grace and St Stephen’s Episcopal Church of stealing over £250,000 from his former Episcopal Church congregation, in return for his accepting a guilty verdict on one felony and one misdemeanor count of theft.

In return for pleading “no contest” to the felony, Mr. Armstrong was sentenced to four years probation, and the other 19 charges were dropped.  He also entered an ‘Alford Plea’ to the misdemeanor charge.  Under American law an Alford Plea is when a defendant asserts his innocence but admits that sufficient evidence exists to convict him of the offense.

Mr. Armstrong pled guilty to the misdemeanor charge, but did not specifically admit to the guilt itself.  If he complies with the terms of his sentencing and completes four years probation, the felony conviction will be expunged from his record.

“God uses these things for the increase of our faith, and what was proven is that God really does all things for his purposes. In all this, I was never anxious for the future, only encouraged and excited about how God would use me in my circumstances for his purposes…there is incredible peace and continuous hope when the Spirit so shapes your heart,” Mr. Armstrong explained.

Mr. Armstrong told CEN “we did learn a lesson about trusts, that using them closely or in the spirit of the fund’s intentions is simply not good enough. Trust funds must be used exactly in line with the direction of the controlling documents. This should be a warning to all rectors that this is the rector’s responsibility, and having to replace the funds was the result of failure to assure right distribution of funds,” he said.

The Rev. Canon Felix Orji, Bishop-elect of CANA March 11, 2011

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The Rev. Canon Felix Orji. On March 5 the Church of Nigeria announced the election of Dr. Orji as a suffragan bishop of the Convocation of Anglicans in North Americ (CANA).

The Ven. Julian Dobbs, Bishop-elect of CANA March 11, 2011

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The Ven. Julian Dobbs. On March 5 the Church of Nigeria announced Archdeacon Dobbs had been elected a suffragan bishop of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA)

The Rt. Rev. Derek Jones of the ACNA March 11, 2011

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The Rt. Rev. Derek Jones, Bishop for Chaplaincies for the ACNA. Photo provided by CANA, credit Stephen Carter

No break with CANA, Church of Nigeria says: The Church of England Newspaper, March 11, 2011 p 6. March 11, 2011

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

The House of Bishops of the Church of Nigeria elected two suffragan bishops for the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) last week at the March 1-5 meeting of the church’s Synod in Owerri.

The Ven. Julian Dobbs and Canon Felix Orji were appointed suffragan bishops for the Nigerian sponsored jurisdiction, ACNA Archbishop Robert Duncan reported.

The meeting also received the Rt. Rev. Derek Jones from the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches into the Church of Nigeria’s House of Bishops.  Bishop Jones, who last year was received by the ACNA, serves as the North American jurisdiction’s bishop for military, health care and prison chaplains.

Bishop-elect Dobbs was ordained in 1991 in the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, and moved to the US in 2006 to serve as executive director of the Barnabas Fund.  He currently serves as an archdeacon and missioner in CANA.  Canon Orji, a native of Nigeria, was ordained in the Anglican Church of Canada in 1996 and moved to the US in 2004.  He currently serves as rector of St. Francis on the Hill in El Paso, Texas.

A retired American Air Force pilot, Bishop Jones was ordained in 2001 and consecrated a bishop in 2007 by the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches.  In 2010 Bishop Jones was received into the ACNA’s House of Bishops. The reception of Bishop Jones by the Church of Nigeria “regularizes his already well-established ministry” the ACNA reported.

The new bishops will hold “dual citizenship” with the ACNA and the Church of Nigeria.

Last month a report in the Vanguard newspaper of Lagos reported that CANA had been released from the Church of Nigeria.

Nigerian Archbishop Nicholas Okoh stated “we are not interested in territorial ambition; our main reason for going to America was to provide for those who were no longer finding it possible to worship in the Episcopal church,” according to the newspaper report.

“A new structure has been put up in the U.S. which is ACNA.”

“CANA now belongs to ACNA even though they still relate to us; but essentially it now belongs to Anglican province of North America,” the archbishop said.

However, Archdeacon Dobbs told The Church of England Newspaper that “nothing has changed, the relationship is exactly as it was” between CANA and the Church of Nigeria.  “The article is erroneous.”

On Feb 24, Archdeacon Dobbs wrote to the CANA clergy stating the Registrar of the Church of Nigeria and Archbishop Okoh were “surprised” by the report.

Archdeacon Dobbs reported the Church of Nigeria had confirmed there has been “no change in the status that exists between CANA and the Church of Nigeria, that Bishop Minns and CANA’s suffragan bishops continue to serve as members of the House of Bishops in the Church of Nigeria, and that the Church of Nigeria at the same time continues to promote the full recognition of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) as a province in the Anglican Communion.”

CANA unveils campaign on Islam: CEN 8.28.09 p 7. September 7, 2009

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

The Church of Nigeria’s American wing, CANA—the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, have rolled out an education campaign to assist American churches engage with Islam.

The “Church and Islam Project” led by the Rev Canon Julian Dobbs — the former US director of the Barnabas Fund — seeks to encourage the evangelization of Muslims in the US, while also “exposing the truth about so-called moderate Islam,” a handout from CANA stated.

American Anglicans launch Muslim education drive

“Countless pastors and churches are being drawn into discussions on Islam and Christ, but we cannot let polite multi-faith dialogue substitute for the truth of the Gospel message,” Canon Dobbs said.

He lambasted the approach taken by some “Episcopal bishops and other leaders who confuse parishioners about the theological irregularities of Islam and champion ‘open pulpits’ where mullahs are invited to teach from lecterns once dedicated to the proclamation of the historic Christian faith.”

“CANA is committed to providing resources to help Christians deepen their understanding of Islam and to develop the appropriate Biblical response,” Canon Dobbs said.

Muslim outreach was an important mission for the church in America, the Rt Rev Martyn Minns said.

“The Gospel message does not exclude a fifth of the world’s population who are Muslims. We are called to love our neighbour – no matter what religion they practise – because the Christian faith has a distinctive message which brings the salvation and love of God to a needy and broken world through the life-transforming Gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said.

Cana says its appeal widens: CEN 8.07.09 p 7. August 8, 2009

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The Convocation of Anglican Churches in North America (CANA) has surfaced as a winner in the wake of the 76th General Convention in the US, Bishop Martyn Minns said last week, with a rise in inquires from Americans Anglicans seeking to pull out of the Episcopal Church since the July 8-17 gathering in Anaheim, Calif.

Speaking to the press before the start of CANA’s annual convention on July 30, Bishop Minns stated the breakaway group had grown to 85 congregations with an estimated average Sunday attendance of 10,000 served by 179 clergy—including military and healthcare chaplains.

CANA’s growth has come in three segments—among Nigerian emigrants to the US, in the Washington metropolitan area, and among suburban families with young children, Bishop Minns said. Its appeal to young people, he believed, was due to the “younger generation looking for authenticity in a church where there is a genuine engagement and interest in truth.”

The breakaway group was “part of God’s redemptive plan” for Anglicanism in North America, he said, noting CANA was an “answer” to Dr. Rowan Williams’ prayers for a healthy church.

However, the old ways of organizing the church around geographically constructed dioceses was counterproductive in the current environment. “Geography and national boundaries no longer define” the church, he said, as the “old natural boundaries” were constructs that served a church built before the age of mass mobility and information technology.

In his address to the convocation, Bishop Minns called upon CANA’s leaders to adopt a three pronged approach to mission based around the concepts of ‘radical inclusion’, ‘profound transformation’, and ‘inspired service’.

The church should focus its energies on its non-members, seeking to include all people, he said. However, those brought to a knowledge of Christ, should be radically transformed—made new in Christ. These new Christians should then be turned back into the world to bring others to Christ and by their labors seek to transform the world, he said.

“Maintaining these core values is essential,” Bishop Minns said, if “we are to preserve our apostolic witness and mission” to America.

Episcopal Church wins property battle: CEN 3.25.09 March 25, 2009

Posted by geoconger in CANA, Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation.
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The Episcopal Church has scored another legal win this week in its battle with congregations seeking to quit the church and keep their property. On March 24 a Colorado Springs trial court held that the congregation of Grace Church & St Stephen’s, which in 2007 quit the Diocese of Colorado for the Nigerian-affiliated Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), may not quit the diocese and keep their property.  

In a 28 page rule, Judge Larry Schwartz held that trusteeship of the £12 million property should be vested in the portion of the congregation loyal to the diocese. Attorneys for the diocese had argued that a parish is a subsidiary unit of a diocese, and holds property in trust for the diocese. 

The parish had argued that under the “neutral principles of law” doctrine ownership should be determined by looking at the underlying title deeds. Grace Church had been incorporated as an independent not for profit corporation and had not deeded its property to the diocese. 

Judge Schwartz held that the parish’s “founding documents, various bylaws, relevant canons of the general church and consistent parish loyalty to the diocese over most of its 135 year existence demonstrate a unity of purpose on the part of the parish and of the general church that reflects the intent that all property held by the parish would be dedicated to and utilized for the advancement of the work of [the Episcopal Church].” 

“While freedom of religion recognizes the right of any faction within a church to leave that church whenever they choose, the trust that has been created through past generations of members of Grace Church and St. Stephen’s prohibits the departing parish members from taking the property with them,” the court ruled.

Episcopal Church wins property battle

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Court setback for Episcopal Church: CEN 8.30.08 August 31, 2008

Posted by geoconger in CANA, Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, Virginia.
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The Virginia courts have handed the Episcopal Church its third straight legal defeat in its battle with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), all but assuring a final legal victory for the Nigerian-overseen group led by Bishop Martyn Minns.

On Aug 19, Fairfax County Circuit Judge Randy Bellows rejected arguments put forward by lawyers for the Episcopal Church and Diocese of Virginia, which seeks to acquire control of property worth £20 million from the 11 CANA parishes. The national church had argued that contract law as codified in the US Constitution took precedence over state church property law. It also argued that an 1867 Virginia law that permitted congregations to quit their parent church with their property in the event of a schism was not applicable to the Episcopal Church.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Court setback for Episcopal Church

Bishop warns that Wales is set to appoint a gay bishop: CEN 8.30.08 August 31, 2008

Posted by geoconger in CANA, Church in Wales, Church of England Newspaper, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue.
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An American bishop of the Convocation of Anglican Churches in North America has alleged that the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, is seeking to place the Dean of St Albans, the Very Rev Jeffrey John (pictured) in the see of Bangor.

In an Aug 29 letter to members of the American Anglican Council (AAC) and CANA, the Rt Rev David Anderson said the Church in Wales would likely be the first province to break the Lambeth moratorium on gay bishops. “Wales is in an election process for Bishop of Bangor and the election has as one of its still-secret nominees none other than Jeffrey John,” Bishop Anderson said.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Bishop warns that Wales is set to appoint a gay bishop

Episcopal Church launches lawsuits in California row: CEN 5.0908 p 6. May 11, 2008

Posted by geoconger in CANA, Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, San Joaquin, Virginia.
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The Episcopal Church’s legal battles entered a new phase last week, as lawyers for the national church filed suit in California against the Bishop and Diocese of San Joaquin in a bid to take control of its assets, while the Methodist Church sought to enter the fray in Virginia on behalf of the diocese.

Lawyers for the national church filed suit in a Fresno County Superior Court on April 24, seeking to transfer the assets of the diocese under the control of Bishop John-David Schofield based in Fresno to the new diocese based in Stockton created by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori under former Northern California Bishop Jerry Lamb.

“While it is regrettable that legal action is necessary, the diocese and The Episcopal Church have no other viable option but to seek the intervention of the court to recover the property and assets of the diocese,” said Bishop Lamb, the provisional Bishop of San Joaquin–Stockton

Last December, a supermajority of clergy and lay delegates at the San Joaquin-Fresno synod voted to quit the Episcopal Church and join the Province of the Southern Cone. Dioceses may not succeed from the Episcopal Church as “such actions are contrary to the Canons and Constitution of The Episcopal Church and the diocese,” the media Stockton diocese said.

Writing to the Fresno diocese, Bishop Schofield said, “please be assured that we have been expecting this litigation, and the contents contain no surprises,” adding that “in spite of the claims by The Episcopal Church, nothing in their current constitution and canons prohibits a diocese from leaving one province and moving to another.”

Bishop Schori’s handling of the San Joaquin affair has raised concerns. One group of bishops and church leaders commissioned a legal opinion on the validity of her actions from an international lawyer, who concluded she had committed 11 violations of canon law and should be brought to trial for abuse of office.

The Presiding Bishop issued a counter statement the same day, saying that her advisors had concluded that she had properly interpreted church canons. The Episcopal Church has no independent judiciary and has no way of reconciling opposing views save through political confrontations.

In Virginia the United Methodist Church on April 24 filed a brief in support of the national church and Diocese of Virginia against the breakaway congregations now grouped under the banner of CANA.

The Methodist Church argued that Virginia’s law granting congregations to withdraw from their parent churches in the case of schisms raised questions of the “appropriateness of the government’s intrusion into the freedom of any church body to organize and govern itself according to its own faith and doctrine.”

Virginia’s Attorney-General Robert McDowell in January filed a brief opposing the national Episcopal Church’s. A spokesman for the breakaway congregations, Jim Oakes, said the law, enacted in the wake of denominational splits following the American Civil War, was a tested and “reasonably neutral way for the state to adjudicate” the dispute.

Church’s Court Blow: CEN 4.11.08 p 5. April 13, 2008

Posted by geoconger in CANA, Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, Virginia.
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An American state court has handed the Episcopal Church a major defeat in its battle for control of the property of breakaway congregations in Virginia, rejecting its argument that there was no “division” in the Episcopal Church.

In an 88 page opinion released on April 3, Fairfax County Judge Randy Bellows held that a Nineteenth century law governing the disposition of church property in the event of a church schism applied to the dispute between the Diocese of Virginia and CANA—the American jurisdiction of the Church of Nigeria.

The Episcopal Church and Diocese of Virginia last year brought suit against 11 congregations of the Anglican District of Virginia seeking control of the breakaway parish properties, including the diocese’s two largest congregations—Truro Parish and the Falls Church in suburban Washington.

Judge Bellows rejected the Episcopal Church’s contention that the CANA secessions were a local matter. He held “it blinks at reality to characterize the ongoing division within the diocese, [the Episcopal Church], and the Anglican Communion as anything but a division of the first magnitude.”

“The rapidity with which [The Episcopal Church’s] problems became that of the Anglican Communion, and the consequent impact-in some cases the extraordinary impact-on its provinces around the world,” he said.

The Episcopal Church and the Diocese have challenged the legality of the law, saying it violates Federal constitutional guarantees separating Church and State. A hearing before Judge Bellows is scheduled for May 28 on this issue. Virginia’s Attorney General has announced he will defend the legality of the statute against the Episcopal Church’s claims. The third phase of the litigation—disposition of the property—will be addressed later this year.

While the trial court’s ruling on the applicability of the relevant law does not rule out the Episcopal Church eventually prevailing in the fight, the April 3 ruling comes as a blow to the Church’s plans to use civil courts to enforce the interpretation of Church canons by the Presiding Bishop.

The Virginia law “plainly deprives the Episcopal Church and the Diocese, as well as all hierarchical churches, of their historic constitutional rights to structure their polity free from governmental interference and thus violates the First Amendment and cannot be enforced,” US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said on April 4.

The Diocese of Virginia objected to the ruling as well arguing that the “people in the CANA congregations were free to leave, but they cannot take Episcopal property with them.”

A spokesman for the parishes lauded the judge’s decision that upheld its contention that “”our churches’ own trustees hold title for the benefit of the congregations.”

CANA Bishop Martyn Minns said he was confident they would prevail. “There will be another hearing on the constitutional issues that have been raised and I am sure that there will be a variety of appeals but we are confident of the rightness of the path that we have chosen and grateful to God for his favor,” he said.

Traditionalist bishop inadvertently invited to Conference: CEN 2.29.08 p 6. February 26, 2008

Posted by geoconger in CANA, Church of England Newspaper, Lambeth 2008.
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martyn-minns.jpgCANA Bishop Martyn Minns appears to have been inadvertently invited to the Lambeth Conference.

A clerical error, or as one aide suggested-deliberate mischief – caused a flurry of excitement at Lambeth Palace this week after reports surfaced that Bishop Minns had been asked to pledge his financial support to assist overseas bishops to attend the conference.

The fundraising letter was part of a mass mailing sent to all of the bishops of the Communion asking their help in defraying the £3,500 conference costs to assist their brethren from the developing world to attend the gathering. Bishop Minns told The Church of England Newspaper he had received the letter last week, which closed with the note that the conference organisers looked forward to seeing him at Lambeth this July.

Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire told CEN he had ‘not received any kind of invitation to Lambeth, and my plans remain up in the air’.

Attempts to contact Dr Nolbert Kunonga, the former Bishop of Harare, to ascertain whether he had received the note were unsuccessful.

A spokesman for Lambeth Palace stated there had been no change in the Archbishop of Canterbury’s invitation policy, and they were at a loss to explain the letter. The Lambeth Conference organizing committee stated it had not sent the letters, and suggested it might have been a hoax to create further mischief in the run up to the summer gathering.

State ruling is blow to Church: CEN 1.18.08 p 9. January 21, 2008

Posted by geoconger in CANA, Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, Virginia.
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The state has intervened in the Diocese of Virginia property lawsuits, backing the legal arguments of the Nigerian-led breakaway group, CANA.

In a brief filed in the Fairfax County Circuit Court on Jan 10, Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell defended the constitutionality of a state law governing church property disputes, dealing a sharp blow to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori’s campaign to halt the defection of traditionalist congregations through litigation.

“As a matter of federal constitutional law, the Episcopal Church is simply wrong. The Constitution does not require that local church property disputes be resolved by deferring to national and regional church leaders,” the government brief said.

While not addressing the factual issues in dispute between the Diocese of Virginia and the Episcopal Church in its suit against the 11 breakaway congregations, the attorney general said CANA’s legal arguments were “constitutionally sound.”

Virginia law states that if the majority of a congregation’s members decide to secede from their parent church, that congregation can retain the parish property, if there is no legal encumbrance recorded on the property deed.

The Attorney General stated the “Episcopal Church believes that, when there is a property dispute involving a hierarchical denomination, the National and Virginia Constitutions require deference to regional and national church leaders.”

This was false, he argued, as civil law governs church property disputes when issues of doctrine are not before the court.

Lawyers for the Episcopal Church have disputed the applicability of the Virginia statute that allows congregations to keep their property, and have also disputed the constitutionality of the law.

More Nigerian US Bishops: CEN 9.21.07 p 9. September 23, 2007

Posted by geoconger in CANA, Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria.
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Nigeria has added four more bishops to the roster of CANA, the Convocation of Anglicans in North America.  Their election will increase the total number of African-sponsored missionary bishops to the United States to 17 by year’s end: six from Nigeria, two from Uganda, two from Kenya, and seven from Rwanda

The President of the American Anglican Council, the Rev. Canon David Anderson, the former rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Akron, Ohio, the Rev. Canon Roger Ames, and two Nigerian priests serving expatriate African congregations in the United States, the Ven. Amos Fagbamiye and the Rev. Canon Nathan Kanu were elected by the Nigerian House of Bishops on Sept 12.

The four will be consecrated later this year in the US and will assist Bishop Martyn Minns in “providing an indigenous ecclesiastical structure for faithful Anglicans in this country,” CANA said.

The Nigerian House of Bishops also re-elected five and elected two new archbishops.  Edmund Akanya of Kebbi succeeded the Josiah Idowu-Fearon as Archbishop of Kaduna and Benjamin Kwashi of Jos succeeded the Emmanuel Mani as Archbishop of Jos.

The Archbishop of Lagos, Ephraim Ademowo of Lagos; the Archbishop of Owerri, Bennett Okoro of Orlu; the Archbishop of Ondo,  Samuel Abe of Ekiti; and the Archbishop of Ibadan,  Joseph Akinfenwa of Ibadan were re-elected to five year terms.

According to a press release published on CANA’s website, the convocation now boasts 60 congregations and 80 clergy spread across 20 states.  A quarter of CANA’s members are Nigerian immigrants, with the balance consisting for the most part of former members of The Episcopal Church.

Canon Ames, who with his parish seceded from the Episcopal Church in 2005 for the Diocese of Bolivia, said that approximately 50 former Episcopal parishes under the jurisdiction of the Bolivian church were in talks with CANA to transfer jurisdictions.

On March 7, the Nigerian House of Bishops stated that in light of the Primates’ Dar es Salaam communiqué it would “defer the request for additional Episcopal elections for CANA until our meeting in September 2007.”  The rejection by the US House of Bishops of the Primates pastoral scheme for US traditionalists prompted last week’s election.

On Sept 15 Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda issued a statement endorsing the elections.  The rejection by the US bishops of the “Pastoral Scheme presented to them unanimously by the Primates of the Anglican Communion and the subsequent rejection by TEC’s Executive Council” was “evidence of this desperate need to care for, support, and encourage orthodox Anglicans and Episcopalians in America,” he said.

The election of four more bishops will not divide the conservative movement in North America he said.  The “renewal of Anglicanism in America” will come through a unity “based in the Word of God” and “demonstrated through its Bishops who work together cooperatively and collaboratively for increased mission in America.”

Row over Bishop’s anti-gay outburst: CEN 9.14.07 p 8. September 17, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, CANA, Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury’s denunciation of the Bishop of Uyo for demonizing homosexuals is unfounded and relies upon an unsubstantiated news report, the Church of Nigeria reports.

Coming two weeks before his meeting with the American bishops in New Orleans, where he hopes to be able to salvage that Church’s position within the Anglican Communion, Dr. Williams’ comments come as an ‘own goal’ in his relations with the Global South, and may have materially weakened his ability to hold the Communion together.

On Sept 7, the Anglican Consultative Council’s press office released a statement saying Dr. Williams had expressed “deep shock” at remarks made by the Bishop of Uyo, the Rt. Rev. Isaac Orama.

A Sept 2 United Press International (UPI) report based on a News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) story, quoted Bishop Orama as having said “Homosexuality and lesbianism are inhuman. Those who practice them are insane, satanic and are not fit to live because they are rebels to God’s purpose for man.”

Such comments were “unacceptable and profoundly shocking on the lips of any Christian,” Dr. Williams said, and added that that “primates, along with all other official bodies in the Anglican Communion, have consistently called for an end to homophobia, violence and hatred.”

The Primate of Nigeria, Archbishop Peter Akinola had been asked for an explanation of the remarks, the statement said.

However, a spokesman for the Church of Nigeria, Archdeacon Akintunde Popoola told The Church of England Newspaper the story was false.

The Bishop of Uyo “denied making such a statement,” the Province’s spokesman said.

While the Bishop’s address to his diocesan synod did speak to the issue of human sexuality dividing the Communion, the Church of Nigeria’s position on these issues, and the creation of CANA-the Nigerian church’s missionary district in the United States, “he did not say that [homosexuals] are to be hated, not that they are insane nor unfit to live.”

The NAN reporter has “apologized for the misrepresentation and promised a retraction” Archdeacon Popoola said.

On Sept 7 UPI removed the story from its website.

A spokesman for Lambeth Palace on Sept 8 told CEN it was unaware that UPI had removed the story. He noted that while Dr. Williams’ condemnation of such anti-homosexual sentiments stood, his censure of the Nigerian bishop had been conditional upon confirmation of the facts from Archbishop Akinola.

Bishop-elect David Anderson of CANA September 14, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), CANA.
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The Rev Canon David Anderson at the ACN Council meeting in Texas on July 31, 2007.

AAC’s Anderson Among Four New CANA Bishops: TLC 9.13.07 September 14, 2007

Posted by geoconger in CANA, Living Church.
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The Rev. Canon David Anderson, president of the American Anglican Council, is one of four new bishops that the Anglican Church of Nigeria announced it is adding to the roster of CANA, the Convocation of Anglicans in North America.

The Rev. Roger Ames, rector of St. Luke’s Anglican Church, Akron, Ohio, is another American elected by the Nigerian House of Bishops on Sept. 12. The other two bishops-elect are Nigerian priests serving expatriate African congregations in the United States, the Ven. Amos Fagbamiye and the Rev. Canon Nathan Kanu.

Plans call for the four to be consecrated in the United States either in late November or the first week of December, according to Fr. Ames, who said that he has been informed that a number of Global South primates will participate in the consecration.

The new bishops will join the Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns, missionary bishop of CANA, and the Rt. Rev. David Bena, the retired suffragan Bishop of Albany, in the oversight of Nigeria’s American congregations.

In an interview with The Living Church, Fr. Ames said all of the parish leadership and the congregation of St. Luke’s left The Episcopal Church about two years ago for the Diocese of Bolivia in the Province of the Southern Cone, but because the Diocese of Ohio has not to date included the departure in its parochial report filings with the national church, he and the congregation continue officially to be designated members in good standing of The Episcopal Church.

Fr. Ames said there are currently about 50 former Episcopal congregations affiliated with the Diocese of Bolivia. These are in the process of being transferred to CANA by mutual agreement of Bishop Minns and the Rt. Rev. Frank Lyons, Bishop of Bolivia. According to a press release published on CANA’s website, the convocation now has 60 congregations and 80 clergy in 20 states.

The election of the four will increase the number of African-sponsored missionary bishops in the United States to 17: six from Nigeria, two from Uganda, two from Kenya, and seven from Rwanda.

Published in The Living Church.

Archbishop Rebuffs Claim of Re-Written Pastoral Letter: CEN 8.31.07 p 7. August 30, 2007

Posted by geoconger in CANA, Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Multiculturalism.
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The Church of Nigeria has denounced as racist and demeaning suggestions that Archbishop Peter Akinola’s Aug 20 pastoral letter was ghost written by his American bishop, the Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns.

The charges of American manipulation of African Archbishops were “another attempt to divert attention” away from the root causes of the crisis of faith and order in the Anglican Communion, it said.

On Aug 24 the Church Times reported “computer tracking software suggests” the pastoral was “extensively edited and revised over a four-day period” by Bishop Minns. The article stated there were “about 600 insertions made by Bishop Minns, including whole new sections amounting to two-thirds of the final text. There is also a sprinkling of minor amendments made by Canon Chris Sugden of the conservative group Anglican Mainstream.”

The Rev. Colin Coward, director of Changing Attitude charged the Church Times report confirmed his suspicions that American conservatives, not African bishops were driving the Global South’s calls for discipline of the US church.

The Church Times report “demonstrates that the most extreme demands being made of the Anglican Communion by the secessionists originate not with Archbishop Akinola in Nigeria but from Bishop Minns and other extreme conservatives associated with CANA.”

“The conservatives who have been driving the Global South agenda have tried to present themselves as orthodox in contrast to what they claim is TEC’s heterodoxy. In their campaign to defeat those of us who support the full inclusion of LGBT people in the Anglican Communion, they are prepared to use methods which we believe to be abusive, dishonest and fail to embody Christian values,” Mr. Coward said.

The Church of Nigeria’s director of communications Archdeacon Akintunde Popoola responded that it was “very insulting and racist to infer that the Primate of All Nigeria is being dictated to.”

Archdeacon Popoola stated work on the pastoral letter began in Abuja on Aug 6, as staffers gathered research for the letter. A first draft was read by Archbishop Akinola on Aug 9, but no corrections were made at that time.

Archbishop Akinola then traveled to the United States, and working in the offices of Bishop Minns, completed the letter. The charge that Bishop Minns wrote the letter was nonsensical, Archdeacon Popoola said.

“I fail to see any issue if amendments are then made on Bp. Minns’ computer” by Archbishop Akinola. “Apart from the fact that they were together during the period of the amendment, the Archbishop like many effective leaders who spend little time glued to a desk often phones me and other staffs to write certain things. Such remain his idea and anyone who knows Abp. Peter Akinola knows you can not make him say what he does not mean,” he said.

Bishop Minns told The Church of England Newspaper he served in a secretarial capacity as Archbishop Akinola’s amanuensis, and did not write the pastoral as claimed by the Church Times.

On Aug 20 CEN received a copy of Archbishop Akinola’s pastoral from the Church of Nigeria written using Microsoft word. A revised copy of the pastoral was sent out later that day. In its report on the pastoral the CEN noted that Archbishop Akinola was visiting his parishes in Northern Virginia at the time of the document’s release.

Using the Microsoft word feature “Track Changes”, changes to the original draft document as claimed by the Church Times can be observed, including the name of the registered user of the software used to edit the document.

While Bishop Minns is named as the registered owner of the software, there is no evidence that he was the author of the document—merely that it was typed on a machine whose copy of Microsoft Word was registered in his name.

Comment at Thinking Anglicans or Titusonenine

Row Over Lord Carey’s Letter: CEN 6.08.07 p 7. June 8, 2007

Posted by geoconger in AMiA, Archbishop of Canterbury, CANA, Church of England Newspaper, Global South, Lambeth 2008.
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Lord Carey’s letter to The Church of England Newspaper questioning the rationale used to exclude the Anglican Mission in America [AMiA] from the 2008 Lambeth Conference has elicited strong words of support from American conservatives, as well as dark mutterings from aides to Dr. Rowan Williams.

In a letter to the editor published on June 1, Lord Carey questioned the explanation given by Conference Secretary Canon Kenneth Kearon in excluding the AMiA from Lambeth. “My opposition to the consecration of two AMiA bishops related to the setting up of Episcopal activity in the United States which I regarded as unconstitutional and unnecessary” Lord Carey wrote.

However, this was before the actions of General Convention in 2003 when the “Episcopal Church clearly signaled its abandonment of Communion norms, in spite of the warning of the Primates.”

“Everything has changed in the Anglican Communion as a result of the consecration of Gene Robinson” Lord Carey noted. He urged Dr. Williams not to regard his 2000 statements as “necessarily binding on him in the very different circumstances of 2007.”

AMiA Bishop Chuck Murphy welcomed Lord Carey’s words of support. The former Archbishop of Canterbury’s words “reflect not only his awareness that this crisis has now reached the breaking point for the Communion, but also that, perhaps, his initial harsh criticisms of our work and ‘intervention’ in response to this global crisis may now need to be modified somewhat, or even withdrawn, in the light of the unfolding developments of the last seven years,” Bishop Murphy told the CEN.

There was a “growing international consensus” that the crisis of faith and order within the Anglican Communion had the potential to destroy it. The AMiA’s “outside strategy” in responding to the crisis “has proved to be a most creative and effective model for addressing” the breakdown of faith and order, he said.

The Ugandan and Nigerian warnings that they could not attend the conference in all good conscience if the Robinson consecrating bishops were present was not an idle threat, he noted. “The Global South is firm in its stand that they will no longer accept business as usual,” Bishop Murphy said.

Comment on this story at the AACBlog.

More US Parishes Quit: CEN 6.08.07 p 3. June 7, 2007

Posted by geoconger in CANA, Church of England Newspaper, Colorado, Connecticut, Dallas, Florida, Panel of Reference, Property Litigation, The Episcopal Church.
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Parish defections and litigation are continuing to mount in the United States, with five parishes quitting the Episcopal Church last month for oversight from Nigerian and Ugandan bishops.

Members of the Diocese of Colorado’s largest parish ratified the March decision by their rector the Rev. Donald Armstrong, and the vestry to join CANA.

On May 26 the Grace & St Stephen’s Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado announced that 370 of the parishes 822 members had caste ballots in the secession referendum, with 348 voting to leave and 22 to stay. The Diocese has condemned the vote, saying it was illegal and non-binding, arguing that while individuals may leave the Episcopal Church, congregations may not.

The congregation which claimed over 1500 communicants before the conflict between the parish and diocese reached a head in March, has divided with approximately three quarters of the worshippers loyal to the parish leadership and a quarter loyal to the diocese—meeting in a chapel of nearby Colorado College under the cure of an assistant priest of the parish who did not support the secession.

Litigation over the £9 million property between the parish and diocese is on-going.

CANA announced last week that three other US congregations had quit the Episcopal Church to join the Nigerian missionary district led by Bishop Martyn Minns. One of the Connecticut 6 parishes—a group of traditionalist parishes involved in a long-running dispute with diocesan Bishop Andrew Smith, quit the diocese on May 29.

Founded in 1754, before the creation of the Diocese of Connecticut, Trinity Church in Bristol will seek to retain its property, Bishop Minns said, while moving under Nigerian oversight.

Members of Holy Trinity Church in Garland, Texas, in the Diocese of Dallas, have withdrawn from the Episcopal Church, forming Holy Trinity Anglican Church. In Florida the parishioners and vicar of St. Cyprians Episcopal Church, a predominantly African-American congregation, have quit the diocese to form Christ the King Anglican Church in St. Augustine, led by their former priest in charge, the Rev. David Allert.

The parish at the center of the Panel of Reference’s report on the Diocese of Florida has also been forced out of its church buildings following a court order from a Florida judge.

Last month a court ordered the secessionist clergy and members of the Church of the Redeemer in Jacksonville led by the Rev. Neil Lebhar to vacate their property, turning it over to the control of Florida Bishop John Howard. Approximately 90 percent of the congregation has followed Mr. Lebhar, with only 10 families remaining at Redeemer under the supervision of a vicar appointed by the Diocese.

TWO US Bishops Not Invited to Lambeth: CEN 5.25.07 p1. May 25, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, CANA, Church of England Newspaper, Lambeth 2008, New Hampshire, Zimbabwe.
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Gene Robinson is not coming to Lambeth. The New Hampshire bishop, CANA Bishop Martyn Minns and Bishop Chuck Murphy of the AMiA and his suffragans will not receive invitations to the July 16 to Aug 4 gathering in Canterbury of the bishops of the Anglican Communion, Canon Kenneth Kearon, the secretary of the 2008 Lambeth Conference said on May 22.

Invitations to the 2008 conference have been mailed to over 800 bishops by the Conference’s host, the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams. Invitations to two other diocesan bishops, including the controversial Bishop of Harare, Dr. Nolbert Kunonga, have been held pending further “consultation,” said Canon Kearon, the ACC secretary general.

Dr. Williams is “seeking further advice” on inviting Dr. Kunonga, Canon Kearon told The Church of England Newspaper but noted his case and that of “one or two others” had “nothing to do with the Windsor process.” In 2002 the EU banned Dr. Kunonga from travel to Europe in response to his complicity with the crimes of the regime of Zimbabwe strongman Robert Mugabe.

A spokesman for the ACC noted Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti of Recife would not be invited either. In 2005 Bishop Cavalcanti and 32 of his clergy were deposed by the Primate of Brazil for contumacy. They and over 90 percent of the communicants in the diocese transferred to the jurisdiction of the Province of the Southern Cone under the jurisdiction of Archbishop Gregory Venables.

In a letter accompanying the invitation, Dr. Williams stated he hoped the meeting would be “a place where we can try and get more clarity about the limits of our diversity and the means of deepening our Communion, so we can speak together with conviction and clarity to the world.”

He noted that Lambeth would not be “a formal Synod or Council of the bishops of the Communion” nor does attending the Conference commit a bishop to accept “the position of others as necessarily a legitimate expression of Anglican doctrine and discipline, or to any action that would compromise your conscience or the integrity of your local church.”

Dr. Williams said he had reserved the right “to withhold or withdraw invitations from bishops whose appointment, actions or manner of life have caused exceptionally serious division or scandal within the Communion.”

Canon Kearon stated there was “no question that Gene Robinson had been duly elected and consecrated” Bishop of New Hampshire in 2005. However, paragraph 133 of the Windsor Report recommends the Archbishop “exercise very considerable caution in inviting or admitting him to the councils of the Communion,” he said.

The “archbishop recognizes the widespread objections in many parts of the communion to [Bishop Robinson’s] consecration and to his ministry,” said Canon Kearon. However, the “Archbishop intends to explore the possibility of inviting [Bishop Robinson] to Lambeth as a guest or observer,” he added.

The Bishops of the Anglican Mission in America would not be invited to Lambeth because of the decision taken by Archbishop George Carey in 2000. Archbishop Carey “wrote to them saying he could not recognize their ministry” and that their “consecrations were irregular,” Canon Kearon explained. This decision was “confirmed at Oporto” by the Primates in 2000 and the “decision was already fixed” by Dr. Williams’ predecessor.

The case of CANA Bishop Martyn Minns exhibits “no difference” from the AMiA and he falls into the same category, Canon Kearon said.

Dr. Williams has been under intense pressure to act upon the Lambeth invitations. While the Conference has no juridical powers, it is seen as the symbolic center of Anglican identity—and the arbiter of who is and is not an Anglican. The Primate of Canada, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison urged Dr. Williams to postpone Lambeth to forestall the political confrontation expected.

A number of American and British bishops had suggested they may boycott Lambeth should Bishop Robinson not be invited. However, on May 15 the Primate of the West Indies, Archbishop Drexel Gomez told The Church of England Newspaper the Global South Primates had written to Dr. Williams saying that if Bishop Robinson were invited to Lambeth, the Global South bishops would not attend.