Thinking Anglicans

Nigeria redefines Anglican Communion

Update Saturday
Ruth Gledhill in The Times has Nigerian Church breaks with Canterbury over gay rights

The following press release comes from the Nigerian General Synod:
CHURCH OF NIGERIA REDEFINES ANGLICAN COMMUNION

With a careful rewording of her constitution, the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) redefined her relationship with all other Anglican Churches.

All former references to ‘communion with the see of Canterbury’ were deleted and replaced with another provision of communion with all Anglican Churches, Dioceses and Provinces that hold and maintain the ‘Historic Faith, Doctrine, Sacrament and Discipline of the one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church’.

Emphasis was also placed on the 1662 version of the Book of Common Prayer and the historic Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion.

The Constitutional change also allowed the Church to create Convocations and Chaplaincies of like-minded faithful outside Nigeria. This effectively gives legal teeth to the Convocation of Anglican Nigerians in Americas (CANA) formed to give a worshiping refuge to thousands in the USA who no longer feel welcomed to worship in the Liberal churches especially with the recent theological innovations encouraging practices which the Nigerians recognize as sin.

The exact wording changes are in the press release, which also details the supervisory arrangements established for the Convocation of Anglican Nigerians in Americas.

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MerseymikeTobias HallerbadmanrobertRobert L (not robert) Recent comment authors
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PatrickB
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PatrickB

Well, I guess that it’s officially begun… 🙁

steven
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steven

This is incredible, ground-breaking news. It will not be good news to all, but it is important news to all. I would expect a variety of other provinces to follow this example in due course. It is also a very interesting move in terms of the communion chess board. Whither COE at such an impasse? Can it affirm a standard for communion that is, in a sense, higher than Canterbury? On the other hand, since the standard is (at least ostensibly) what it stands for–how could it not?

Steven

John Robison
Guest

So it is now official: The Nigerians are gonna lead the schism.
And somebody remind me when Donatism and Fundamentalism became a part of the “Historic Faith?”

derek
Guest

He who controls the present controls the past. He who controls the past controls the future. The historic faith of the Christian Church–even the Western Christian Church–is confusing, complicated, and populated by varying currents in contingent agreement with one another. Promising to abide by the Historic Faith means abiding by whoever invokes it currently says that the historic faith is. Obvious example–you can’t hold the 39 Articles *and* the Historic Faith. There is no way that a good faith reading of Article 22 and its condemnations of relics and Saints can possibly be said to be in accord with the… Read more »

John Henry
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John Henry

Well put, Derek. Even the XXXIX Articles of Relgion are subject to interpretation. In 1845 John Henry Newman, in Tract XC, showed that they can be re-interpreted in a way that they are not contrary to the teachings of the Council of Trent.

Unlike Lutheranism and Presbyterianism, Anglicans have never seen themselves as a “confessional” Church. The XXXIX Articles have never had the same standing as the Augsburg Confession and the Westminister Confession, respectively.

benito!!!
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This is a really, really bad blow. It is the last thing we need, really. Yet, perhaps it is not as bad as it looks? A good bit of charity, choosing to be free from suspicion and “passionate patience” will go a long way here. God knows we need it. I am encouraged that ++Williams will be invited to the meeting in Alexandria. I think that the biggest problem that there currently is between the South and the West is what it means to the South to be the “one, holy, catholic and apostolic church”. Hopefully, this meeting will make… Read more »

matt
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matt

Is it legal/ethical to tinker with the constitution of a church/charity/organisation like that? Are there processes that should be gone through before that is done? Did they? Does it matter anymore?

I mean, they can have a constitution that just says ‘bleurgh’, for all I care; I just wondered if those at the top can just cross bits out and add what they like without some lengthy semi-democratic process.

matt
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matt

Ought this to apply? from http://www.anglican-nig.org/constitutions.htm CHAPTER XV AMENDMENT 71. No formal notice for the amendment, alteration or repeal of, or addition to the Constitution shall be received unless it proceeds out of a resolution of the Episcopal Synod, the General Synod, a Diocesan Synod or the Standing Committee of the General Synod. 72. It shall not be lawful to alter, add to, amend or repeal any of the provisions of this Constitution except it shall have been resolved and approved at a meeting of the Standing committee of the General Synod that the alteration, addition, amendment or repeal be… Read more »

Brian
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The Nigerian changes are not all that extraordinary. Even a moderate church such as the Anglican Church of Australia has seen a need to tidy up the formalities relating to its relationships with the rest of the Anglican Communion. The various diocesan synods are now considering an alteration of the Constitution of the Australian church that was passed General Synod last year with this in mind. The following is proposed to be deleted: “6. This Church will remain and be in communion with the Church of England in England and with churches in communion therewith so long as communion is… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
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Context and the content of the revision is all here. There are many member churches of the Anglican Communion whose constitution doesn’t mention Canterbury or the CofE. There is no Communion wide Canon Law. But at THIS time and with THESE particular revisions Nigeria is making as clear a statement as possible. What was clear to all before was that Nigeria was delinquent in regard to its previous constitution and had been since it broke communion with churches in communion with Canterbury. I do not believe our attempt to bring this matter to the courts in Nigeria had any impact… Read more »

J. C. Fisher
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Vaya con Dios, Nigeria. (and welcome back, in God’s Good Time…)

Tim
Guest

Perhaps someone can help here: does the Anglican Communion prescribe anything that must be in a church’s constitution in order for it to be a member of the Communion?

If not, it’s not so much a break-away as half-stepping out the door, I suppose. Still, not exactly sociable of them.

dmitri
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dmitri

Doesn’t the Nigerian insistance on the 1662 prayer book and the 39 articles separate them from many of the self-defined ‘orthodox’ in the U.S? The 39 articles are hostile to Anglo-Catholicism as I have known it and most of the Evangelical churches in ECUSA have adopted the new prayerbook with enthusiasm.

robert
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And – further to dimitri’s comment – does their committment to the discipline of the 1662 ordinal mean that they are (maybe accidentally) separating themselves from provinces which ordain women?

Tunde
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Tunde

No Sir, We are just trying to make the situation clear to our members. We remain very Anglican but will also want all to recognise those basic doctrines which join us together. In Nigeria, women seeking ordination are allowed under the permanent Lay Diaconate Ministry.

Robert L (not robert)
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Robert L (not robert)

The changes in canon above are a lot of sound and fury signifying little (if not nothing). It doesn’t change the official roster of the member churches of the Anglican Communion (on its website) one bit, nor obviously could it, not being an action of the communion at large. It seems to me this is just an attempt to downplay the authority of the ABC within Nigeria at a time when the Primate of the church in Nigeria is calling for ‘discipline’ or ‘suspension’ of the Church of England. I expect that at some point we will see a declaration… Read more »

robert
Guest

But if you’re going to tie yourself so absolutely to 1662 and the Articles – a particular point in the history of the Anglican church – and those are predicated on an all-male priesthood it would seem that you have made a problem for yourself?

badman
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badman

The Church of Nigeria has stated at its latest General Synod that it has put off “for now” the ordination of women to the priesthood.

It seems to be as laypeople that it sees “the women folk [making] a fundamental mark” as can be seen from its press release at http://www.anglican-nig.org/General%20Synod/gensyd_onitshasept13A.htm

Perhaps this is an example of what Archbishop Akinola likes to describe as “divine condescension”: see http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Peter_Akinola

Tobias Haller
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Tobias Haller

It is also interesting to note the recent ACC designation of the ABofC as the “focus of unity” and designating the other three as “Instruments of Communion.” (Resolution 2 of ACC-13) I’ve not seen this resolution put into very wide effect, nore received much comment, btw; this in light of Nigeria’s decision to set the focus of unity or communion upon the Articles of Religion and the 1662 BCP, etc.

Merseymike
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Merseymike

Good riddance, Nigeria, and please take Reform and the Church Society and their sympathisers with you.

Interesting that the US conservatives are so very peeved, isn’t it – they don;t want to be small pawns in Akinola’s Reformed Fundamentalist Church!