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Church of Nigeria Rejects Request to fold Missionary Diocese into the ACNA

Church of Nigeria Rejects Request to fold Missionary Diocese into the ACNA

By David W. Virtue, DD
September 18, 2023

It what can only be described as a Mexican standoff, the Anglican Church of Nigeria through its Archbishop Henry Ndukuba has rejected all efforts to bring its missionary dioceses into the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) fold, despite requests by ACNA Archbishop Foley Beach to do so.

In an exchange of letters, Archbishop Beach wrote to primate Ndukuba saying that he had attempted in person and through letters to address the "Church of Nigeria's continued presence in the North America and his plans to expand his ministry in North America without concern about the ministry of your daughter province, the Anglican Church in North America."

"We were repeatedly assured by the Primate that he would happily release us fully into ACNA if that would serve our mission more effectively. The several Protocols signed by the Church of Nigeria and the Anglican Church in North America also bear this out."

"And yet, the Church of Nigeria continues to refuse to release her ministry here to the Gafcon Province here which she helped to form. I am now hearing of plans of the Church of Nigeria to create more dioceses (Missionary dioceses or otherwise) and elect more Suffragan Bishops in North America. This plan violates Christian charity, undermines the mission of ACNA in her geographical territory, creates confusion and disunity in GAFCON, and possibly violates the 2008 Jerusalem Declaration especially Article 11 which states:

"We are committed to the unity of all those who know and love Christ and to building authentic ecumenical relationships. We recognize the orders and jurisdiction of those Anglicans who uphold orthodox faith and practice, and we encourage them to join us in this mission."

The Nigerian archbishop has steadfastly refused to reciprocate evangelical rapprochement with the orthodox North American province.

In October, 2022 the Board of the Anglican Diocese of the West (ADOTW) withdrew from the Church of Nigeria arguing that it was never the vision of former Archbishop Peter Akinola to perpetuate an independent mission outside an orthodox expression of Anglicanism in North America.

The action of the board demonstrated their commitment to the Anglican principle of respect for the jurisdiction boundaries of an Anglican province with whom one is in communion and their loyalty to Bishop Felix Orji for his commitment to unity in GAFCON who, before seeking a place in the ACNA, served as the coordinating bishop for the Church of Nigeria North America Mission (CONNAM.)

CANA/CONNAM, when first conceived, consisted of the Anglican Diocese of the East under Bishop Julian Dobbs, Anglican Diocese of the West under Bishop Orji, the Jurisdiction of the Armed Forces and Chaplaincy under Bishop Derek Jones, and the wholly Nigerian ethnic churches of the Anglican Diocese of the Trinity whose founding bishop, the Rt. Rev. Amos Fagbamiye, retired in 2021. All were part of the former Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA).

Archbishop Ndukuba has made it clear that transition is not on his mind.

"The Church of Nigeria shall continue to establish and maintain missionary areas, convocations, chaplaincies of like-minded faithful outside Nigeria and appoint persons within or outside Nigeria to administer them subject to the Episcopal oversight of the primate."

Archbishop Beach concluded, "Of course, if we find that things continue to be stuck between our Provinces, then we will need to turn to the GAFCON Primates to help us sort things out. Can we not find a positive way forward -- a win-win for both of our Provinces?"

Rather than seeking the unity of the Anglican Church in North America, which has benefited greatly from the inclusion of African diaspora communities into the ACNA, Archbishop Henry seeks to segregate the church in a way that can only be described as counter to the GAFCON mission and the commands of Christ that the church would be United in Christian fellowship.

It would appear that Archbishop Ndukuba and the Church of Nigeria seem intent on focusing only on their needs as they see them, and don’t appear to be taking into account how other Gospel partners are impacted.


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