So as many have noticed the Church of Nigeria has amended its constitution, in exactly the way expected. But I think it is very important to note that the Church of Nigeria has not quite disassociated itself from the Archbishop of Canterbury... yet.
Note the wording from the press release of earlier in the week:
The hierarchy of the Church of Nigeria has not ruled out a major constitutional amendment to give legal effect to some new positions likely to be adopted by delegates to the General Synod.So only the first shoe has dropped at this point: the Constitution has been amended in a major way. Reference to Communion with the See of Canterbury as a defining characteristic of the Church of Nigeria has been deleted, replaced by a list of requirements involving conformity with the Articles of Religion, the 1662 BCP, and so on, such conformity to be determined, it seems, solely by the Church of Nigeria.
However, unless something happened at the Synod that has not yet been reported (or that I have not yet seen, to be more precise) the other shoe still remains to be dropped. What "new position" remains to be adopted? Nigeria no longer requires itself to be in communion with Canterbury, but has yet to place itself out of communion with Canterbury. If and when they do that, we will all have to wrestle with the concept of what it means to be Anglican in a communal, rather than in an historical sense.
I have noted elsewhere that I see this as a movement from a Communion of autonomous churches sharing a common heritage, into an international Confessional Church. Some may think that to be a very good thing. I do not.
Rather, I favor the good old Anglican minimalism that keeps confessions neat and concise (like the Creeds) and bears with them lightly. I have no beef with folks who want to be part of a Confessional church in the strict sense; or a church that emphasizes a central authority as the determiner of "who's in, who's out" (as King Lear said). But I prefer the elastic charity of classical Anglicanism. I think when the dust has settled we will find the bulk of the present Anglican Communion still willing to abide by that principle. If not, it will be a sad day for the loss of a church bold enough to admit that churches make mistakes.
In the meantime, watch out for falling shoes.