The Diocese of CANA West, the Diocese of CANA East, and the Diocese of the Trinity, all of which previously had dual citizenship in the Anglican Church in North America and the Church of Nigeria through CANA (the Convocation of Anglicans in North America), clarified their status this week.
According to the Houston agreement, jointly signed by Archbishop Okoh of the Church of Nigeria and Archbishop Beach of the Anglican Church in North America, each diocese will reside canonically in either the Anglican Church in North America or the Church of Nigeria, as it chooses, and can apply for ministry partner status in the other province.
At its synod this past week, the Diocese of CANA East took action to remain solely a diocese of the Anglican Church in North America and to change its name to The Anglican Diocese of the Living Word. The Diocese has also applied for ministry partner status with the Church of Nigeria. In his address to his diocesan synod, Bishop Dobbs explained the significance of the new name:
The living word of God is the supreme authority in Anglicanism. Article VI of the Thirty Nine Articles of Religion, ‘Of the sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation,’ puts it this way: ‘Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.’ In Anglicanism, the living Word of God alone contains all things necessary for salvation.
This was the view of Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, who was martyred for his faith in 1556. He said, ‘Let us night and day muse, meditate and contemplate the Scriptures. Let us ruminate, and (as it were) chew the cud, that we may have the sweet juice, spiritual effect, honey, kernel, taste, comfort, and consolation of them.’
The Anglican Diocese of the Living Word beautifully captures the essence of the fundamental beliefs of our diocese.
The Diocese of CANA West and the Diocese of the Trinity have chosen to be solely dioceses of the Church of Nigeria. Article II.3 of the Constitution of the Anglican Church in North America states that “Member dioceses (or groups of dioceses organized into distinct jurisdictions) are free to withdraw from the Province by action of their own governing bodies at any time.”
On Tuesday, May 22, 2019, the Executive Committee of the Anglican Church in North America received notice from the Diocese of CANA West and from the Diocese of the Trinity to withdraw from the Anglican Church in North America.
The Houston protocol states that:
Each CANA diocese shall make all necessary constitutional and canonical amendments to effectuate such membership in one Province. Similarly, if any CANA diocese wishes to apply to the CoN or the ACNA to be a Ministry Partner, it should make such application.
Commenting on the joint protocol, Bishop Fagbamiye of the Diocese of the Trinity said, “The new Protocol is sincerely long awaited, and it is an answer to our prayers, particularly the Nigeria American immigrants and other immigrants in the Anglican Diocese of the Trinity which from inception is in CANA.” The Diocese of CANA West and the Diocese of the Trinity may now apply for ministry partner status in the Anglican Church in North America by following Title I Canon 7 Section 1 which reads:
Ministry Partners, Affiliated Ministries and Religious Orders work together with the Anglican Church in North America to extend the Kingdom of God. Those desiring admittance in one of these categories shall apply in writing to the Council to become associated with the Church. Applicants must subscribe without reservation to the Fundamental Declarations of the Church stated in Article I of the Constitution. The Council may admit an applicant upon terms deemed appropriate. Ministry Partners, Affiliated Ministries and Religious Orders may have representatives attend functions or gatherings of the Church upon invitation of the Archbishop. Ministry Partners, Affiliated Ministries and Religious Orders may withdraw or have their status ended with or without cause.
Archbishop Beach commented on the decisions taken by the dioceses:
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.’