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WASHINGTON: Chane Faces Heat From Akinola. Accedes To Boundary Crossing


News Analysis

By David W. Virtue

WASHINGTON, DC (10/1/2004)--The revisionist Bishop of Washington, John B. Chane is allowing the Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Peter Akinola to perform sacramentally in an orthodox parish on Monday in his diocese.

Archbishop Akinola, primate of the Church of Nigeria, will give an address at All Saints’ Church on Chevy Chase Circle, Chevy Chase, Maryland. The event begins with refreshments and concludes with Compline at 9 p.m., says a press release from the bishop's office.

But the Nigeria Primate will also be opening a new Nigerian Anglican parish that will not be part of the Diocese of Washington or the Episcopal Church, said the Rev. Al Zadiq, the priest at All Saints'.

There are tens of thousands of evangelical Nigerian Anglicans in the US who will have nothing to do with the Episcopal Church USA because of its theological and moral innovations, and increasingly African bishops are crossing the waves to open and bless new Anglican parishes independent of the ECUSA.

"The House of Bishops of Nigeria has called Nigerian Anglicans out of ECUSA and are forming a new convocation. There are some 500,000 ex-patriot Nigerians in the U.S. There are missionary possibilities for all African expatriates, there are exciting opportunities among Anglos as well. In partnership with the Network, the Church of Nigeria is determined to create new dynamic gospel-driven churches where Anglicans could go and find a recognizable liturgy and faith," said Bob Duncan Bishop of Pittsburgh, recently.

In his release to the Clergy and Wardens of the Diocese of Washington, Chane admitted that the recent meeting of the House of Bishops in Spokane, was both "frank and painful" and that it was important to "listen to one another," buzzwords that usually mean, sooner or later, when the "listening" stops, it's my way or the highway.

Acknowledging the divisions within the church, Chane said he wanted to demonstrate his diocese's willingness "to deal gracefully and charitably with one another," and to that end he has invited Bishop Gene Robinson, "the man whose consecration has delighted and infuriated Anglicans around the world," to preach at the Holy Eucharist at The Church of the Epiphany, in downtown Washington, D.C the following Sunday.

Chane wrote: "As you may know, Archbishop Akinola has been one of the most outspoken critics of the actions taken by our Church on issues of human sexuality at our most recent General Convention. He disagrees vehemently with this diocese's practice of blessing same sex unions, and has been an energetic advocate of disciplining our Church for what he perceives as our sins. He is unlikely to speak comfort to us. Nonetheless, I believe that he and we must learn to listen to one another if we are to repair the fabric of our Communion and move forward in common mission."

Chane said the visits of these two very different bishops illustrate the thinking that has shaped his policy on visits to his diocese by bishops from other jurisdictions, both within the Episcopal Church and in the broader Anglican Communion.

"I accede to almost all requests to allow other bishops to preach, celebrate the Eucharist and worship in our parishes, and take no account of whether the bishop agrees with me on whatever issue might be roiling ecclesial waters at that particular moment. However, I reserve all episcopal acts-such as performing confirmations and ordinations-to myself, except for rare instances in which a close personal or familial relationship suggests that an exception might be made."

Chane said the issue of jurisdictional boundaries was debated intensely at the recent House of Bishops meeting and he said the House reaffirmed its commitment to the provision for Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight adopted in March of 2004.

To date this policy has not knowingly worked for any orthodox clergy in revisionist dioceses because it reserves the right of the sitting bishop to still make pastoral visitations. It is not alternative pastoral oversight, it is simply delegated. Orthodox clergy are not buying it.

Said Chane: "In the past year, there have been several instances in which bishops crossed diocesan boundaries without the permission of the Ordinary in violation of the Constitution of the Episcopal Church. Members of the House of Bishops have not brought charges against these bishops, as provided by the canons, determining that we are in a time that calls for some measure of forbearance as we await the October 18 release of the report of the Lambeth Commission, appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury to help resolve conflict in the Communion."

What Chane is saying is that D-Day is October 18 when, presumably, Bishop Jon Bruno will go after Bishop Ben Benitez and some sort of action will be taken against the "Akron Five" bishops who performed sacramentally in the Diocese of Ohio earlier this year.

But Virtuosity has learned that further boundary crossings from the "Akron Five" bishops can and will be expected, they are simply biding their time.

Come October 18, we will see the dark night of the soul descend on the orthodox of the Episcopal Church, and the last great battle begin.


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