Thinking Anglicans

CANA/Nigeria claims to have divided the Communion

BabyBlue published a long article concerning the Virginia property trial,The Division of The Episcopal Church: First Post-Trial Briefs Filed Today.

Mark Harris distilled from that article the following: CANA argues for two Anglican entities, affirms schism. The key paragraph seems to be this one:

As a result of these recent changes, the Anglican Communion is now divided into two “branches”—those that relate to all provinces that relate to the See of Canterbury, and those that relate only to those who are understood as adhering to the historic faith, doctrine, and discipline of the Anglican Communion. See Sept. 14, 2007, Tr. 41 (directing the parties to address the branch issue at the Anglican Communion level). The Church of Nigeria, with which the CANA Congregations have affiliated, is the principal leader of this new branch. Tr. 363-64, 372-74 (Minns); Tr. 639-40 (Yisa). Indeed, TEC Presiding Bishop Schori herself referred to CANA as a distinct “part” or “branch of the Anglican Communion” repeatedly in her deposition. Schori Dep, Designations 54-56, 79, 83. The evidence at trial thus independently satisfied the “branch” requirement of § 57-9 at the Anglican Communion level.”


bb helpfully comments that

The post-trial briefs from both parties are now up and can be downloaded from here:

Scroll down that page for the full set of legal documents. For the post-trial briefs in PDF format:


  • Pluralist says:

    I don’t quite understand the extent of Mark Harris’s point that two communions do not exist yet, and they would have to be set up. Presumably, the argument is around two branches at present, but all it takes for two communions is for one to run through the Primate of All Nigeria – which takes a simple declaration – and one that runs through the Primate of Canterbury. The Church of Nigeria did, of course, change its legal texts and it calls itself The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion). Those recently consecrated gave their obedience to the Primate of Nigeria.

    It is not clear, however, that Rwanda, Kenya etc. would go via Nigeria, so there may be other definitions around – branches or further communions. Perhaps this would be the function of an alternative gathering. It may be that there is a logic of a patriarch above Nigeria and all of them, to satisfy others.

    Now what follows is interesting, because the attempt to centralise the Canterbury Communion and so narrowly is presumably to get others from Nigeria and similar on board: however, if it failed then Mark Harris is surely right. This Communion would be loose and co-operative. There would be no point in deciding whether TEC is in or out via Instruments of Communion, nor any point in a Covenant. It would be crazy to have a separate Communion fronted by Nigeria or a patriarch, and then have this Communion sidelining one of its members that has the same theological breadth as other members and maintains pretty much the same rulebook.

  • Ian Montgomery says:

    What is interesting about Mark Harris’ piece is that he contrasts what is de jure and what is de facto. On the one hand de jure there is only one AC, but de facto there is AC1 and AC2 – it then becomes a matter of time to see if AC2 becomes de jure and then what is the response of Canterbury to that group.

    On the one hand his Advent letter disparages the “offshore” aspect of the de facto division. BUT on the other hand, he seems to recognise the de facto (or is it de jure now?) separation of those (i.e. San Joaquin, which self styles its separation from TEC as a temporary solution) dioceses as still very much in communion with the See of Canterbury and thus somehow AC1.

    Mark Harris remarks at the end on schism:
    “That bit of breaking up is called schism. It’s not all that awful, but it’s not pretty.”
    This is of course a reference to the de facto situation which an alternate Lambeth/AC2 would make de jure. Since I understand heresy to be fundamentally schismatic I also think back to Canterbury’s earlier remarks in his letter about the marks of the Church and wonder if all who are de jure members of the AC are not in face de facto schismatic and thus de facto outside AC1 anyway?

    In the end it is not prettiness that I care about but the awfulness of the division.

  • choirboyfromhell says:

    What a lovely Christmas gift. So very sad, that something born out of hate would come on this day.

  • drdanfee says:

    Hmm, difficult to see is the schism in progress. (St. Yoda)

    The con evo realignment folks seem to want to have nothing much to do with the rest of us, for any number of sensationalized (and perhaps overblown?) reasons. Yet, even if they sort of get to go off alone, all on their own – we all will still be here, together on the planet. So I guess I still don’t quite get it, and that’s why the realignment makes small sense to me.

    It is not as if the realignment can completely exempt any of us – from maybe having a medical consult with an Out or Partnered or Parenting queer professional who knows some special knowledge that might save their child’s life? Or get a lift from a queer fellow who drives a tow truck, or a plumber, or a carpenter, or an engineer? That a finely gifted and trained woman won’t get elected to represent them in a legislature somewhere, or end up running the company for which they work, or plan the curriculum which helps teach their child how to be resilient in modern life?

    Sooner or later, somebody who touched somebody who touched somebody who touched somebody who once heard that somebody else touched Bishop Gene Robinson – will touch Canterbury – and then what a dark stain will be spread to the top of that shining spire?

    Alas. Lord have mercy.

  • BabyBlue says:

    You can now read the entire post-trial filing from both parties. The post-trial briefs from both parties are now up and can be downloaded from here:


  • drdanfee says:

    Well, Merry Christmas to all, and Happy New Year 2008. As the Klingons say in bracing good cheer, It’s a good day to belong to the Anglican Communion – what a great blessing it really is, to have no Anglican Covenant beyond what we already have. No AC beyond the Quadritaleral, no leverage to use force instead of witness and persuasion and discernment and inquiry as the generations come and go. Being a pilgrim is a lovely gift, especially in this time of the church year.

    Who needs a worldwide Anglican Police Power anyways?

  • Is this Virginia law really intended for the makers of a division to profit from it?

    or is it only meant to apply post ipso facto; when a division has been established?

  • ettu says:

    BB, am I really that interested in legal briefs? I suppose if I were the one being sued I would be but am grateful that I can instead lament the underlying act of separation and concentrate my energy and prayers on the horrible division itself. I am continually amazed what it says about our fallen nature.

  • EmilyH says:

    I posted the following as a response to two posters on Stand Firm, “Carl” and Baby Blue and their take on the brief put together by the ADVA attorneys, but it might work well on this thread too:

    On the statement above addressing not TEC but the Anglican Communion…. No Carl, it is not a statement of fact or simply expressing a reality, it is a legal argument open to challenge. That said, I agree with you, if one accepts the existence of the two “branches” as defined by the CANA attorneys, they are mutually exclusive. A national church can belong to one or the other but not both.

    Although the critical question for the court in this case, I believe, will be the words, “division” “branch” “religious society” as their meaning is what must be weighed under Virginia 59-7, I suggest that there are two additional concerns:

    First, Baby Blue, assuming that, because of the argument made above, CANA makes its case based on the Virginia statute, the constitutionality of the statute itself must be faced and, at that level, making the argument of right doctrine or change in doctrine justifying the CANA actions won’t help CANA in face of the legal precedents. (Jones v. Wolf Presbyterian v. Hull.) The other concern, Va law not accepting expressed let alone implied trusts in favor of churches might be open to debate?

    But second, and possibly more important, is the fact that CANA attorneys are stating that there are two branches, one led through Canterbury, the other Nigeria and their branch Nigeria. Membership in the Anglican Communion, the second branch, is defined by Nigeria’s, presumably its primate’s decision as to orthodoxy. If the branches are just sort of theoretical, and not real, then the attorneys arguing that a real “division” has taken place based on them (59-7) are at best trying to mislead the court. If, by contrast, CANA congregation members joined CANA believing that their leadership was through Canterbury, and their relationship to this see secure, then they were misled. Canterbury is not a member of the second branch of the Communion. Nigeria shall have a relationship and be in communion with it entirely based on Nigeria’s determination of its orthodoxy,…. which, for the moment, seems to be acceptable. Should Abuja no longer agree that it is orthodox, and, as very strongly pointed out by CANA attorneys referencing the changes in the Nigerian constitution removing any reference to Canterbury, what Canterbury thinks, wants, etc. is entirely irrelevant to the Church of Nigeria,

    For those in CANA who may have believed that it was not possible to be in the Anglican communion without a relationship to its historic see, their mother church, Nigeria clearly sees things differently and may act on its new vision at any time it wants to.

    The GS Kilgali communique, the CAPA Road to Lambeth document and +Malango’s interview have made clear for some time that the alleged “branch” led by Nigeria can and most likely will seek to formalize structuraly the creation of the branch.
    [20] Posted by EmilyH on 12-25-2007 at 07:27 AM

  • Thanks BabyBlue, you’re doing some good stuff.

    Thanks also Pluralist, I hadn’t realized that those recently consecrated gave their obedience to the Primate of Nigeria.

    The formation of the Nigerian Global Communion has formally begun, the questions are now who will become part of their communion and how will that communion relate to Lambeth and Lambeth back to them.

    Knowing the staff of Lambeth, I am sure they will be courteous and polite, irregardless of the actualities of the formal relationship. Another question is who is going to be sending money to whom and with what conditions.

    The prayers part is easy, those of the liberal communion will be praying for the wellbeing of all parties, just as we do for all the other peoples of all the other nations, irregardless of their social status or sinfulness. Their communion will probably continue to pray for the world’s salvation, and for Jesus to come and expunge all parts of this creation that do not give them tithes or flattery.

    I’m just so glad that I am not going to end up in their heaven, since they are still prattling on about Eve’s mistakes so many millenia ago, I have no desire to spend eternity with them telling me how much awful stuff is still her fault. Anyway, they’d kick me out even if God was to put me there, or start a lobby group to prattle on about why God shouldn’t have included me in the first place.

  • Leonardo Ricardo says:

    Just like brutalizing Starfish…as CANA and Baby Blue keep ripping off arms and legs at The Body of Christ they seem to be unaware that the “limbs” will grow back.

  • Cynthia Gilliatt says:

    “Is this Virginia law really intended for the makers of a division to profit from it?

    or is it only meant to apply post ipso facto; when a division has been established?”

    My understanding is that the law was enacted after the American Civil War in order to deal with churches and denominations that had broken with each other during the war. For example, what we now call the American Baptist Church and the Southern Baptist Churce are products of that division. The law was enacted to help settle property disputes arising from such formal splits in non-hierarchical [is that the right word?] churches. It also covers property disputes when an indiidual congregation disaffiliates from a non-hierarchical church. I think I am correct in saying that all of the cases up until now that were decided on the basis of that law involved non-hierarchical churches.

    I would glad for any lawyers or canon lawyers familiar with the Virginia law to correct or expand on what I’ve written.

    As others have noted, TEC never considered that the dioceses in the confederate states had left it. They called their names at General Convention and marked them ‘absent.’ After the war they came to Gen Con and were marked ‘present,’

  • Paul Davison says:

    “Assuming that, because of the argument made above, CANA makes its case based on the Virginia statute, the constitutionality of the statute itself must be faced…”

    Actually, the court must first find that the statute applies to the current situation before considering whether the statute is unconstitutional. (If it doesn’t apply, then there’s no need to think about unconstitutionality.)

  • Actually, my question was a little more material than that… But I guess no one knows for sure (because they haven’t really asked ;=)

  • Robert Ian Williams says:

    The TEC lawyers should use the precedent of the refusal of the Anglican Communion to invite the Church of England in South Africa and the Reformed Episcopal Church to Lambeth.

    CESA orders are recognised but not their presence at Lambeth. Thus it is possible to have the Anglican episcopal succession , Like Minns and not be Anglican.

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