JAFC canonical canonical status under review

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Concerns over the eccleisastical allegiance of the Jurisdiction of the Armed Forces and Chaplaincy were resolved this week with an agreement that places the JAFC firmly within the Anglican Church in North America. Speaking to Anglican Unscripted’s Kevin Kallsen on 30 July 2021, the Rt. Rev. Derek Jones affirmed the JAFC’s was part of the ACNA, but noted the legal paperwork had yet to be completed to move jurisdiction from the Church of Nigeria to the ACNA.

On 28 July 2021, the Rt. Rev. Bill Atwood, the chairman of the ACNA Chaplaincy Task Force that oversees the JACF on behalf of the ACNA primate, the Most Rev. Foley Beach, released a statement agreed by all parties, summarizing the jurisdiction’s ecclesial history and lauding its work with the military, federal and state agencies.

Created originally under the jurisdiction of CANA, which was then under the oversight of the Church of Nigeria. It was then passed on to the ACNA. In 2014 the Archbishop of Nigeria, the Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh told Anglican Unscripted the JAFC was now part of the ACNA. However, Bishop Jones said today the canonical reorganization that would affect the move has yet to be completed.

Bishop Jones is a member of the ACNA College of Bishops, and his two suffragans have been selected and consecrated by the ACNA and the JAFC is authorized under ACNA Canon 11.

In his letter, Bishop Atwood noted there had been some recent questions about where ultimate authority lay. 

“Sorting through the history of the relations between the Anglican Church in North America and the Church of Nigeria, we have discovered that a Canonical action remained unaddressed from several years back. Both the Anglican Church in North America and the Church of Nigeria have agreed on a way forward. There is no longer a question of the place of the Jurisdiction in the Anglican Church in North America. The Jurisdiction is fully integrated with the Anglican Church in North America,” he noted.

The confusion over the JAFC’s status arose last year when Bishop Jones told some of his clergy that they were technically under the Church of Nigeria. Follow up questions did not clarify the issue at the time, causing some concern.

The issue was further complicated by the statement on the Church of Nigeria North American Mission (CONNAM) website. CONNAM, led by the Rt. Rev. Felix Orji stated that it “is currently made up of the Anglican Diocese of the West (ADW) led by Bishop Felix Orji, the Anglican Diocese of the Trinity (ADOTT) led by Bishop Amos Fagbamiye, and Anglican Chaplains led by Bishop Derek Jones.”

The JACF does serve as the accreditation agency for CONNAM as well as other non-ACNA Anglican groups, but CONNAM’s claim to Bishop Jones’ allegiance was confusing as were related Facebook posts.

In a statement given to Newspot Nigeria published on 22 June 2021 concerning the dedication of CONNAM’s Holy Trinity in Houston, Bishop Orji stated: “The Church of Nigeria North American Mission (CONNAM) is currently made up of the Anglican Diocese of the West (ADOTW) led by Bishop Felix Orji, the Jurisdiction of the Armed Forces and Chaplaincy led by Bishop Derek Jones, and the Anglican Diocese of the Trinity (ADOTT) currently led by Bishop Felix Orji as Supervisory Bishop.”

Bishop Jones told Anglican Unscripted that his Archbishop was Henry Ndukaba, but he reported to Foley Beach, and his jurisdiction operated under the canons and constitution of the ACNA. Work was underway to correct the anomaly under ACNA Canon 11, he explained, which he hoped would soon lead to the JAFC being incardated as a full diocese within the ACNA.