This past March, following the election of four bishops suffragan for the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) Diocese of the Trinity, Archbishop Foley Beach of ACNA and Archbishop Nicholas Okoh of Nigeria signed an agreement which essentially allowed each of the CANA dioceses in the United States to choose whether to affiliate with CANA or with ACNA. From the ACNA press release:
The agreement provides that CANA become solely a mission of the Church of Nigeria but allows each of the three dioceses (Cana East, Cana West, Trinity) to make its own decision regarding its provincial relationships.
Each diocese will amend its constitution and canons as necessary, and may request to be a ministry partner of the alternative province. Both provinces are thankful that this resolution has been reached and look forward to continued collaboration in Gospel ministry, sharing full communion as provinces in the Anglican Communion.
This agreement enables a diocese which desires to emphasize reaching expatriate Nigerians to have a direct connection with the Anglican Church of Nigeria, and it allows a diocese with a broader ministry focus to remain directly connected with the Anglican Church in North America.
The CANA dioceses have been announcing their decisions this week. Two of them, The Diocese of the Trinity and CANA West, will be retaining their membership in the Church of Nigeria, while a third, CANA East, will affiliate with ACNA.
From the CANA East press release:
As a result of the decisions made at Synod, our diocese will remain a diocese of the Anglican Church in North America and has requested a ministry partner relationship with the Church of Nigeria. In addition, the name of our diocese has changed to: The Anglican Diocese of the Living Word. I believe these are good and timely developments in our life together as a missionary diocese in North America. These structural developments will result in very little change for you and your congregation. Our doctrine remains unchanged and we will continue to faithfully proclaim the gospel in the towns and cities in which the Lord has called us. We have been a diocese of the Anglican Church in North America since 2013 and we will continue to be so. The Church of Nigeria is part of the DNA of our diocese and we look forward to a special ongoing relationship with our brothers and sisters in the Church of Nigeria.
In his pastoral address to the above-mentioned synod, Dobbs said that:
I have consulted with both the Church of Nigeria, the Anglican Church in North America and leaders of Gafcon. I have listened to the voices of clergy and lay leaders and I have laid this matter before our Standing Committee for their wisdom, counsel and decision. I believe that the best way forward for our diocese is to continue, with as little change as possible, as a diocese of the Anglican Church in North America (which we already are) and to request (under the new arrangement) that we become a ministry partner with the Church of Nigeria. The Church of Nigeria is in our DNA; therefore, to request a continuing relationship with that province honors the place of the Church of Nigeria as a grandfather of our diocese.
Some have believed that the recognition of the Archbishop of Canterbury is necessary for us to be authentically Anglican and therefore a relationship with the Church of Nigeria provides us with authenticity.
… From the inception of this diocese, I have articulated my belief that we have been established by God to be a biblical missionary diocese in the Anglican tradition reaching North America and beyond with the transforming love of God. I continue to believe this, therefore as your bishop, I firmly believe we will best fulfill this mission continuing as we already are, a diocese of the Anglican Church in North America and requesting a direct relationship with the Church of Nigeria (our grandfather) as a ministry partner.
The full text of Dobbs’ address is online here.
The Diocese of the Trinity’s bishop, The Rt. Rev Amos Fagbamiye, writes that:
[The Anglican Diocese of the Trinity] ADOTT is a full-fledged ecclesiastical unit that operates as a missionary, evangelical and church planting mission/movement. We are a non-geographical cluster of churches and congregations in North America.
Following the formal signing of agreement between the Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) and the Primate of Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) with respect to the status and future of CANA, let it be known to all people that ADOTT continues to reaffirm and retain convincingly her full provincial membership in the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) and ministry partnership in the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). We remain eternally grateful to the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) that conceived this vision and birth it years ago in North America. The mission continues to flourish in the various locations of our churches even as there are designated areas for planting of new churches by God’s grace.
Similarly, CANA West’s bishop, The Rt. Rev. Felix Orji, writes that:
Our Anglican Diocese of the West will remain faithfully committed and connected to CANA and to the Anglican Church of Nigeria because they are founded on:
-A solid commitment to biblical orthodoxy and evangelism;
-The Reformed Anglican tradition;
-A global view of the world today and its growing racial diversity; and
-The Church’s connection to the historic Anglican Communion.
…As a diocese of the Church of Nigeria we will remain in ministry and mission partnership with ACNA through our communal relationship as members together of GAFCON.
In an ACNA press release today ACNA’s Archbishop Foley Beach comments on these choices:
In the spiritual realm and in the Church, it is important to have clear lines of authority. The agreement that I signed with Archbishop Okoh has allowed each of the CANA dioceses to bring clarity since they were technically connected with two provinces, two archbishops, and two houses of bishops. For those choosing to remain under the Church of Nigeria, we bless them in the name of Jesus and pray that their ministry here in North America will lead many people to come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. As Jesus said: ‘the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.’