By David W. Virtue
AKRON - The Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), an orthodox Anglican missionary outreach in the US sponsored by the Anglican Church of Nigeria, held its first convocation at St. Luke's Anglican, a suburban mega church, drawing more than 400 multi-ethnic, multi-racial delegates deep inside a liberal Episcopal Diocese that is watching its numbers decline as orthodox Anglicanism grows.
"This was an exciting occasion for us," said CANA Bishop David Bena. "Delegates passed three resolutions by overwhelming majorities which included affirming the 'GAFCON Process,' pledging CANA to the Common Cause Partnership supporting Common Cause leading eventually to becoming an orthodox Anglican Province in North America, and thirdly welcoming a number of new churches in the Ohio/Michigan/Indiana area as the "Anglican District of the Great Lakes," the second "District" of CANA."
"The first, the Anglican District of Virginia, was officially welcomed into CANA last December. More Districts will follow as gatherings of churches mobilize together for mission and outreach," Bena told VOL.
"CANA is definitely gaining momentum. When we met last December, there were about sixty parishes in CANA. Now we have over seventy, with ten more working toward mission church status. We expect 100 CANA congregations by the end of the year. Over 150 people - parish clergy, church planters, and non-parochial - have become CANA clergy."
CANA's members comprise a broad range of races and ethnicities, representing a balance of catholic, evangelical, and charismatic streams of Anglican Christianity.
Bena told VOL that while in Akron he visited an inner city parish, Holy Spirit Anglican Church a congregation located in a rundown district of the city which he said gives testimony to CANA's commitment to the "least, the lost, and the last."
"Over 100 worshipers of every background and nationality spent two hours praising God in a wonderful blend of Anglican liturgy and charismatic freedom. People gave testimonies of being freed from cocaine and other addictions, of being supported by members of the congregation, and being filled with the "peace that passeth all understanding."
Bena said that the occasion in Akron was really the first CANA Convocation Council (the one last December in Virginia was really an inaugural gathering.) "Worship was at the center of the Council. We glorified God utilizing liturgies from the Prayer Books of several nations."
Representatives of other Common Cause Partners were also in attendance.
The Keynote speaker was, The Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, Archbishop of the Province of Bendel, Church of Nigeria. Speaking on the topic of "Making Disciples," he offered practical advice for CANA delegates. His Archdiocese has teamed with this new Anglican outreach due to its strong commitment to evangelism, church planting, and disciple making.
Senior CANA Bishop Martyn Minns emphasized CANA's "Three W's" - worship, work and witness.
"CANA worships our Lord with great enthusiasm. Out of that worship comes a desire to work for the Kingdom of God, by bringing new life in Christ to people and by caring for them in all extremes - locally and worldwide, Word and Action. In the work we witness to what the risen Christ is doing in our lives and in our congregations," he said.
Minns said CANA would continue its involvement in caring for people in Africa especially those who have AIDS, malaria and TB. CANA pastor, the Rev. Bill Haley will take a CANA group to Nigeria in October to study how CANA might more effectively minister to people suffering from these diseases, he said.