The Church of Nigeria, the world's largest Anglican body, said June 9 that it no longer recognizes the New Westminster diocese in Canada's British Columbia as part of the Anglican Communion because Bishop James Ingham created a ceremony for blessing same-sex couples. The first blessing took place in Vancouver May 29.
'We don't pray for a disintegration of the church, but from all indications, other African provinces will eventually follow suit and sever relations with New Westminster,' Church of Nigeria spokesman Emmanuel Adekola told Reuters.
Nigerian primate the Most Reverend Peter Jasper Akinola said Ingham's gay ceremony 'is a flagrant disregard for the Anglican Communion and what the vast majority of it stands for.'
The blessings also have been lamented by the liberal leader of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, although he is said to have supported the concept prior to being selected as the church's leader and facing sustained pressure to appear less pro-gay.
In the U.S., meanwhile, Anglicans ( known as Episcopalians here ) in the state of New Hampshire elected the U.S. church's first openly gay bishop, the Rev. Canon Gene Robinson, on June 7. That move also has caused controversy, on both sides of the Atlantic.
And in the U.K., an Anglican priest who has acknowledged having a 20-year gay relationship was appointed Suffragan Bishop of Reading, England, May 20.
That move also angered church conservatives who have demanded that the Archbishop of Canterbury block Canon Jeffrey John's consecration unless he repents of his sin.