Friday, August 18, 2006

Nigeria Launches “Missionary Effort” in the U.S.

The Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Archbishop Peter Akinola, has announced that he will consecrate the Rev. Canon Martyn Minns (currently rector of Truro Church in Virginia) as the first missionary bishop of CANA. Originally, CANA stood for the Convocation of Anglican Nigerian Churches in America and was designated simply as a "safe harbour for those who can no longer find their spiritual home in those [American] churches." Nor was its "intention to challenge or intervene in the churches of ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada."

Alas, we find now, contrary to his initial claims, that Archbishop Akinola proposes a full scale missionary effort in America, clearly designed to undermine the Episcopal Church. This should put an end, once and for all, to any notion of a benign intent on the part of Archbishop Akinola or his American cohorts. Archbishop Akinola's campaign has now been blessed by the American Anglican Council (AAC). As part of their rationale, the AAC alluded in their press statement to those "churches in the United States that are under persecution by their own province, for adherence to orthodoxy of the faith." This preposterous claim with its uncharitable overtones must be firmly rejected. No one is being persecuted in this church or by this church. To the contrary, the patience shown by many dioceses in the face of patently inaccurate assertions and deliberately disruptive actions by those who call themselves "orthodox" is and has been extraordinary. The provocations by this band of dissidents is a disgrace.

In addition we note that the new Nigerian bishop-elect, Canon Minns, has completely misrepresented the conditions under which a previous priest (the Rev. Canon Gordon Okunsanya) left his position as Chaplain to Nigerians in America. Read all about it in “What Happened to the Nigerian Chaplaincy.” Such disregard for the truth in the service of ideology speaks ill of this new CANA venture.

At Thinking Anglicans, Simon Sarmiento is providing excellent, almost-daily news about these developments. Also see Mark Harris’ excellent analysis here.

In a free country, anybody is entitled to start their own church. In that regard we support the right of Archbishop Akinola and Canon Minns to do so and the right of the American Anglican Council to support such efforts. To join these efforts, however, with any and every attack on the Episcopal Church – while remaining in it – is hypocritical and dishonest.


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