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South Carolina Episcopalians
February 5, 2019
Clashing Egos Continue to Divide Anti-Church Movement as Nigeria Engineers Snub of ACNA
Beyond a shared fear of gays, lesbians, and women in positions of spiritual authority, ACNA's African founders rarely seem happy with their American and Canadian proxies
The struggle between out-sized egos that lead ultraconservative provinces of the Anglican Communion and their western offspring has erupted again. This time it’s the Anglican Church of Nigeria apparently clashing with the leadership of its American protégé, the so-called Anglican Church of North America (ACNA).
Last month Nigerian Primate Nicholas Okoh and his College of Bishops announced the appointment of four new missionary bishops in the United States and Canada to operate independently of the Nigerians’ already-established missionary presence.
The move was an apparent snub to Foley Beach, the leader of ACNA and its Anglican primatial look-a-like. Foley’s organization claims a loosely aligned confederation of nearly 100,000 former members of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada, two of the official provinces of the Anglican Communion in this hemisphere.
ACNA was founded and funded by the leaders of four aggressively anti-gay Anglican provinces in Africa to undermine and displace the Episcopal Church and Church of Canada, which they believed to be ungodly. The Instruments of Anglican Unity, that govern the Communion, have repeatedly rejected Foley and ACNA as part of modern-day Anglicanism.
In making the announcement of the new bishops, the Nigerians went to some length to make clear that ACNA leaders had not been consulted on the move nor would the bishops' activities operate under ACNA's jurisdiction.
Okoh, and his predecessor, Peter Akinola, have been among the bitterest critics of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion for their belief that God intended His Church for all people. Akinola once referred to gays as “lower than beasts” and, along with Okoh, has been supportive of legislation in African countries allowing the incarceration and even execution of gays and lesbians, and others who simply appear to be such.
However, it was not immediately clear exactly what it was that provoked the Nigerian archbishop and his College of Bishops this week. In the past, these kinds of conflicts have reflected the African sponsors’ displeasure with the amount money they receive from their colonial congregations in the West. Read Episcopal Cafe's report on this
The Knucklehead Affair
Ten years ago, the Anglican Province of Rwanda acted to create a similar missionary relationship with All Saint’s Episcopal Church in Pawleys Island after the courts in South Carolina ruled that it was free to leave the Episcopal Church with its property. That alliance, known as Rwanda’s Anglican Mission in America (AMiA), ended in embarrassment and ill-will, after its formidable American leader, the late Chuck Murphy, was accused of referring to some Rwandan bishops as “knuckleheads.” There is no evidence Murphy said this.
The knucklehead business notwithstanding, there were also unproven allegations by the Rwandans that Murphy was hiding money that AMiA owed them.
Even earlier the Anglican Province in Uganda formed an alliance with several congregations in the American Episcopal Church to fight homosexuality in the United States. Much of that effort was funded with money and gifts routinely bestowed on the Anglican provincial leadership by Uganda's dictator, Yowari Museveni, whose rise to power was fueled in part on fear-mongering about gay men and women.
Apparently some of these funds found their way to Savannah to help with a lawsuit against the Episcopal Church by dissident members of Christ Church. They claimed in court that they owned the historic church and its property. The case went to the state’ Supreme Court which found 6-1 in favor of the Episcopal Church.
ACNA foothold in South Carolina
In the early summer of 2017, Mark Lawrence led renegade congregations loyal to him into this boiling caldron, through a short-lived alliance with ACNA. That went away later in August when the state Supreme Court ruled that he had no authority to do that since 29 of the 36 parishes to which he laid claimed belonged to the Episcopal Church.
ACNA is still a mess in South Carolina. There are at least four overlapping diocesan structures in South Carolina that claim to be the ACNA in eastern South Carolina. Each has its own bishop, and operates without any clear lines of authority or geographic boundaries.
Lawrence is still under the illusion that his “Diocese of South Carolina” belongs to ACNA and is shelling out hundreds of thousands of dollars to the group, apparently from coffers the courts say belong to the Episcopal Church. Lawrence's directing such large sums of money to an organization to which only a handful of his parishes can legally join has fueled speculation that he may be feathering a nest for himself and his high command once the courts in South Carolina enforce court decisions in the Church's favor.February 5, 2019
ns in the Church's favor.