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Nigerian Anglican
archbishop spearheads conservative U.S. group

Nigerian Anglican
archbishop spearheads conservative U.S. group


Due to rifts over homosexuality and the ordination of women between the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion, Nigerian archbishop Peter Akinola has come to the U.S. to install an ousted clergyman as bishop of Akinola's Convocation of Anglicans in North America.

A powerful Anglican leader from Nigeria is strengthening the network of U.S. parishes he formed as a conservative alternative to the liberal-leaning Episcopal Church.

Archbishop Peter Akinola of the Anglican Church of Nigeria plans to lead a ceremony Saturday at a nondenominational chapel in Woodbridge, Va., where he'll install Martyn Minns, a former Episcopal clergyman, as bishop and U.S. leader of Akinola's Convocation of Anglicans in North America.

The installation is occurring as the world Anglican Communion, represented in the United States by the Episcopal Church, is on the brink of breaking apart. Anglican rifts over whether homosexuality is biblically acceptable broke wide open in 2003 when the Episcopalians consecrated the first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

Anglican leaders have given the U.S. denomination until September 30 to step back from its support of gays or risk losing its full membership in the 77 million-member Anglican fellowship.

Episcopal presiding bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has ''strongly urged'' Akinola not to enter the United States to install Minns. In a letter to him this week, she said his visit would violate the Anglican tradition that national church leaders, called primates, only minister to churches within their own provinces.

Akinola responded Wednesday that ''the usual protocol and permissions are no longer applicable'' because of what he called the ''unbiblical agenda'' of the U.S. church.

He said he created CANA ''to provide a safe place for those who wish to remain faithful Anglicans but can no longer do so within the Episcopal Church as it is currently being led.''

Minns said there was an urgent need now to create a place for theological conservatives, who are a minority in the 2.3 million-member Episcopal Church.

''For us, we felt that waiting for one more meeting and one more deadline--too many folks were getting lost in the middle, so for us, it was time to move on,'' Minns said in a teleconference with reporters Thursday.

The convocation started in December when two of the most prominent and conservative parishes in the Episcopal diocese of Virginia--Truro Church in Fairfax, which Minns led, and the Falls Church in Falls Church--broke from the U.S. denomination and joined the network.

Several smaller Virginia parishes followed suit. The diocese and the breakaway parishioners are now fighting in court over who owns the properties, which are worth tens of millions of dollars.

Minns said that about 30 parishes and 50 clergy have joined the breakaway group, which includes churches for Nigerians living in the United States. He said most of the churches are in northern Virginia, with other parishes in Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, and New York.

Episcopal bishop Peter Lee of Virginia, in a letter to his diocese, said Akinola's visit ''will serve only to inflame the differences we have been struggling with.''

''There are impatient forces seeking to provoke conflict,'' Lee wrote, ''when humility, respect, and patience are in order.'' (AP)

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