On a recent summer afternoon in a brownstone apartment, a Nigerian Christian man shared his experience with his church’s small group as an Anglican church-hunting in New England.
“I’m an Anglican at heart,” he said. “But I’m now attending a Baptist church.”
After visiting an Episcopal church downtown, he quickly realized that the doctrine they taught veered significantly from his home church in Nigeria. He’s not alone. Another Nigerian man in the same church shared that he left the Episcopal church he was attending because of teachings about sexuality and practices of the liturgy of the Holy Eucharist, among other differences.
Due to several schisms in the past several decades, the Anglican denomination is complex and difficult to understand, even for many within it. The Anglican Communion is a global association of churches with 85 million members in 165 countries connected to the Church of England. Their membership includes The Episcopal Church in the U.S, which has recognized same-sex marriages since 2015.
While Pride month festivities are increasingly common in U.S. cities to celebrate LGBTQ rights, conservative Anglicans are also a growing movement. About a decade ago, some churches split off over the mainline Anglicans ordaining bishops in same-sex relationships. They formed their own association, the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA). These churches considered themselves a part of the Anglican Communion, but did not agree with the direction that many of the Western member churches were headed. Now, they are led in part by a Nigerian — Rev. Ben Kwashi, Archbishop of Jos, Nigeria — and Rev. Foley Beach, Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America. Most Anglicans don’t know about the multiple break-offs, according to Rev. David Goodhew and Jeremy Bonner.
Some liberal Canadian Anglican churches had already started the ball rolling in 2002 by voting to allow bishops to bless same-sex unions. African and South American bishops reacted to this by starting their own conference — Global Anglican Future Conference, or GAFCON. Now, while GAFCON still is primarily African, Asian and Australian members, it represents more than two-thirds of Anglicans worldwide.
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