During his visit to London last week the Archbishop of the Church of Nigeria, Nicholas Okoh, met with the Archbishop of Canterbury. He also made a statement saying that CANA, the Convocation of Anglicans in North America is no longer under the jurisdiction of the Church of Nigeria. If true the Church of Nigeria would no longer be under the threat of sanctions defined by the ABC for boundary crossing into another province of the communion.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports:
Speaking during his recent visit to London , Okoh said: “CANA is now part of the Anglican Province of North America (ACNA)."Okoh's statement illustrates the ability to redefine the relationship between CANA and the Church of Nigeria to meet the circumstances. The Province of the Southern Cone has been sanctioned by the Anglican Communion Office for crossing provincial boundaries into the United States. The question has lingered, why did the Church of Nigeria escape the same sanctions on the same grounds?
“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.
“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,” he said.
The question remains whether CANA and the Church of Nigeria will be allowed have it both ways as suit the circumstances. See CANA's self definition on its website:
Definition of CANA:The possibility exists of course that CANA has not received word of the change in its relationship, or it has but the website has not been updated. These things take time.
CANA is the “Convocation of Anglicans in North America” which is a missionary district sponsored by the largest and most vibrant province of the Anglican Communion, the Church of Nigeria which at c.19 million members accounts for about 25% of the membership of the entire Anglican Communion. CANA’s members, who reflect a wide scope of ethnic and racial identities, embody a healthy balance of the catholic, evangelical, and charismatic streams of Anglican Christianity.
The leader of CANA, Martyn Minns, did attend the January retreat of the Nigerian House of Bishops, as he has since being consecrated as a bishop in Nigeria. No news of the change of CANA's status emerged from that meeting.
CANA claims membership in ACNA and the Church of Nigeria:
Frequently Asked Questions about Dual Citizenship in CANA & ACNA, updated 2010-12-16The core of CANA's legal strategy in Virginia was to claim that it was part of the Church of Nigeria and therefore a "division" had occurred that triggered Virginia church division statute that would make CANA the owner of the church property in dispute. Ultimately there was deep irony in that strategy: the Virginia Supreme Court, ruling in favor of the Diocese of Virginia, said a division had not occurred because CANA was a part of the Anglican Church of Nigeria. See our extensive analysis of that ruling here.
When Bishop Martyn Minns (who was born in England) flies into Heathrow Airport near London, he flashes his UK passport and the guard greets him with “Welcome home, Mr. Minns!” On his return flight into Newark Airport outside of New York City, he pulls out his US passport and the security officer says, “Welcome home, Mr. Minns!”
CANA congregations and clergy have the privilege of holding dual citizenship in both CANA and the ACNA. While the provinces in the Anglican Communion and GAFCON live in the current period of evolving ecclesiastical structures, these guidelines will help us understand and manage some practical issues related to holding two virtual passports.
Q1. What does “dual citizenship” mean?
The largest province of the Anglican Communion and GAFCON, the Church of Nigeria, sponsors the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) as an indigenous, ecclesiastical structure of districts, congregations, and clergy in North America. As such, CANA also is a founding member of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) which is an indigenous province-structure. Thus, congregations and clergy in CANA have a dual citizenship and two virtual passports that allow them to be bona fide members of the Church of Nigeria (and thus the Anglican Communion) and the ACNA.
Q2. But isn’t this “boundary crossing”?
No. Both the Church of Nigeria and the ACNA recognize that the crisis provoked by The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada has necessitated the “lifeboat” of CANA and the founding of the ACNA.
The Anglican District of Virginia (ADV), which includes Truro, The Falls Church, et al. in the property dispute with the Diocese of Virginia. ADV defines itself (at present) this way:
The Anglican District of Virginia (www.anglicandistrictofvirginia.org) is an association of Anglican congregations in Virginia. Its members are in full communion with constituent members of the Anglican Communion through its affiliation with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), a missionary branch of the Church of Nigeria and other Anglican Archbishops. ADV members are a part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, a community of 77 million peopleHowever, ADV is currently in the process of pursuing diocesan status directly under ACNA. (Follow this link to ADV's homepage and click on Diocesan Status.)
Were the ADV to have been a diocese under ACNA rather than under the Church of Nigeria through CANA how would the Supreme Court of Virginia have ruled?
Eyebrows are raised.