CANA Continues

Lost in the AMiA kerfuffle has been the CANA story. If you think back to the first AnglicanTV episode with tidings from Pawley’s Island, you’ll remember that there was also a story about CANA creating a new diocese in America geared towards Nigerians. This was met by mutual statements of support from ACNA and Bishop Dobbs (a man that I respect a great deal).
In my view, the problem is not so much the creation of a new diocese, but rather the continued existence of CANA. CANA issued a pastoral statement yesterday, saying in part:

The bishops rejoiced in the recent creation of the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic where many clergy and congregations continue in their relationship with CANA. While acknowledging that the concept of ‘dual citizenship’ continues to raise some questions we heard a number of testimonies from those who have embraced this gracious provision and celebrate this opportunity for a direct connection to the Anglican Communion through the Church of Nigeria. We believe that this can only strengthen the ongoing work of ACNA in its determination to demonstrate the transforming love of Jesus Christ throughout North America.

Yes, this concept does raise some questions, such as, what is the end game? I can understand why groups with theological qualms might hesitate to jump into ACNA with both feet. The REC seems to be sticking only one foot in the water, for example. But as far as I can tell, there is no discernable theological difference between ACNA and CANA. Further, there is not a difference in praxis. Both ordain women, both do not seem to be particularly affectionate for the Prayer Book in their worship and so forth. So why the separation? And what event or series of events will signal to CANA bishops that their structure can come to an end? The pressure should be on Bishop Minns and the other CANA bishops to answer these questions clearly.
I must say as an observer of the Anglican scene in North America that the lack of transparency from all parties does not engender trust. Statements from bishops seem to assume knowledge that does not exist. ACNA has not revealed its “Theological Lens” document, CANA has not revealed why it keeps a separate identity, and the issue of women’s ordination is as clear as mud. For there to be unity, these discussions should be had in the open, not revealed to the masses when the bishops feel that it’s safe. Perhaps an unfortunate legacy of the Episcopal Church is this tendency to do things quietly behind closed doors and only reveal a matter when it has been decided. CANA should lead the change here by openly stating why they continue to exist, and what would allow them to cease existing.

9 thoughts on “CANA Continues”

  1. I don’t pretend to know anything about the Anglican Church, but creating a special diocese for a nationality just seems wrong to me.
    “But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” (Galatians 3:25-29)

    We have believers from 50 different nationalities in our church in Dubai and I think it’s a fantastic preview of heaven!
    “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”” (Revelation 7:9-10 ESV)

    1. Yes, that is a very valid point. My understanding is that the Nigerians find Americans services dry and very different from what they are used to. I can understand that. Think about our heritage of Norwegian Lutheran churches, and other ethnicities worshiping where they could be around their own language. With that said, the barriers between Jew and Gentile would have been far harder to overcome, and I agree with you that there should be no such thing in the Church, that is why “Messianic” Christians are such an attack on the Gospel. So yes, I think the creation of this diocese is wrong on many levels. Why not simply have some Nigerian pastors in several local parishes and make them open to all? We’ve got a lot to overcome in the Church.

      1. One of the problems is that a bilingual parish quickly, within a generation, becomes two congregations sharing a building and pastoral staff. I’m not familiar with immigrant Lutheran churches, but this is what happens in almost every Chinese church in America that bothers to start seeing its now-adult children as partners in mission: unless a bilingual interpreted service be retained, there are two worship services separated by language, a problem compounded by limited bilingualism. This demographic fragmentation is perhaps equally dangerous because it splits up families into a congregation for the aging and a congregation for the young and hip.

  2. I think something similar happened to my Grandmother’s generation, not in terms of being hip, but simply speaking English. Maybe the answer is just to establish an English service and in time, that service would be the only one (assuming normal rates of assimilation).

    1. The thing for Asians, though, is that immigration continues. So far there’ve been three waves of Chinese immigration, each with its own lingua franca, but Chinese immigrants also tend to know, at least passively, more than one Sinitic language. Demographics may change, but the intergenerational challenges just move around.

      Maybe there are also models among the English Huguenots. The Dutch in America, of course, just ended up with two denominations for two waves of immigration.

  3. I know you are in London, so I don’t expect a reply! That is quite a problem you pose about the Chinese. And an unfortunate thing about the Dutch, for example, is that many of them remain in something of an ethnic ghetto in the various Reformed denominations. The same could be said of other ethnic groups as well. Perhaps the non-denominational movement is in some way a reaction to this ethnic grouping?

  4. Just want to point out the gospel doesn’t eliminate ethnicity any more than it eliminates gender. Rather, the gospel makes gender and ethnicity perfect or patterned according to God’s intent. I have no problem with ethnic churches or districts. Galatians 3 is discussing our spiritual unity which is based on ‘one faith, one baptism, and one bread’. A lot flows out of such, and my question is if all these Anglican fragments, ethnic or otherwise, are uniform in their application of catechism, the right use of the gospel sacraments, a liturgy that has a common theology, and share the same ecclesiastical discipline. These are church marks and essential. Whether a parish is multicultural or not is supremely indifferent. There is no biblical command for people to worship in multi-ethnic setttings. In relation to marks, two critical questions, imo. Why is CANA separate from ACNA, and what’s their alibi for WO and BCP relativism?

    1. While I see no problem in grouping congregations by ethnicity within the church, I do think local church unity urges sustained contact between, say, the Hebraic and the Hellenistic congregations, and attention to the common good. ‘Doing the same thing’, while important, will not socially constitute the unity of one bread.

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