March 18, 2020


An Urgent Directive to the Clergy and Congregations of the Anglican Diocese of the West:

Mandatory Suspension of Church Gatherings

-- From: The Rt Rev’d Dr Felix Orji, OSB ECCK


“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 4:6-7


Dear Friends,


Effective immediately, I am directing all parishes within our Diocese to suspend all church-related public gatherings for the next two weeks.  This includes all church services and social gatherings related to your church and congregations. If for some reason you feel you must continue to gather for worship, the Rector must inform me in writing and include the consent of the Vestry of the parish. Be aware that your decisions and actions may have legal implications for the church if mishandled. 


Please note this directive is for the next two weeks or more, depending on your local authorities, city ordinance, or state. This is a critical period in curtailing the spread of the Coronavirus as stated recently by the Centers for Disease Control. I will alert you of future changes to this directive.


This action will demand a significant sacrifice for all of us. However, we must act now in the best interest of the common good so that our ministry and mission are not hindered in the future.  


I recommend the following actions to keep our congregations connected and engaged with the Church:  use your Internet and Social Media directors to set up a Live Stream every Sunday to allow parishioners to virtually attend services.  This can be done via your Church’s Facebook page or Instagram account.  You might also consider using another phone or digital camcorder to video your services and uploading those videos to your Church’s YouTube page for viewing at any time.

God will guide us in how to take advantage of digital applications to ensure that our congregations receive His word, pastoral care, and fellowship. 


The financial viability of parishes and our diocese is a legitimate concern for many clergy and vestries, so I strongly urge you to continue to give to your churches during this time.  


As we look unto Jesus, who is the author and finisher of our Faith, I ask each of you to do whatever it takes within the bounds of faith and reason to support and encourage one another, especially the elderly and the vulnerable within and outside the church. He remains sovereign over us and our present circumstances. He is with us and will see us through. 


Let us continue steadfastly in prayer, trusting the Lord for his gracious and powerful intervention in protecting us, healing the sick, and glorifying his name in this time of crises. 


Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. -Joshua 1:9 


Yours in Christ,


The Right Reverend Dr Felix Orji, OSB. 

Diocesan Bishop | Anglican Diocese of the West

Missionary Bishop | USA & Canada

Church of Nigeria(Anglican Communion). 






a. Clergy and Congregational relationship

The ministry of clergy is frustratingly difficult, but the Lord who has called you will strengthen you and refresh you. I pray for you constantly, and am confident that you will finish well if you pay heed to God’s Word, spend time with God in prayer, and take time to rest.

I am designating the month of October as Pastor Appreciation Month, during which I encourage all congregations to show appreciation and to pray for their clergy. It is not easy to lead a church. Consider these startling facts:

• 97% of pastors have been betrayed, falsely accused, or hurt by their trusted friends in church;

• 70% of pastors battle depression;

• 80% of pastors are discouraged;

• 78% of pastors have no close friends;

• 94% of pastors’ families feel the pressure of the ministry;

• 90% of pastors report working 55 to 75 hours per week;

• 1,500 pastors quit each month;

• Only 10% of pastors retire as pastors; and

• Approximately 7,000 churches close each year.

Leading a church is rewarding, but it can also be very stressful and discouraging. So, I expect our congregations to listen to their clergy, pray for them, care for their families, and show appreciation and support for them! Our diocesan congregations and clergy need each other!
I also expect our clergy to pray for their congregations, leading with gentleness, honesty, humility, and gospel-focus. It is also important that you strongly encourage your respective parishes to fulfill their obligations to the Bishop and Diocese by following the Bishop’s directives and all Diocesan Policies, as well as giving financially – 10% of monthly parish income – to the Diocese for our ministry and mission.

All clergy in the Diocese will complete the Sexual Abuse Prevention Training (MinistrySafe) every three years and the Oxford Document Management Company background check every five years as mandated by the ACNA College of Bishops. In 2018, all clergy in the Diocese will be required to complete the Oxford Document Management Company background check.

No bishop or archbishop should be invited to your parishes without prior consultation with, and permission of, the Diocesan Bishop. Inviting a visiting bishop or archbishop and asking my permission after the fact is unacceptable, and will almost certainly result in substantial embarrassment for you.

It is also crucial for clergy to respond to all communication requests from the Diocese in a prompt and timely fashion.

b. Ordination

To be ordained in the Diocese of CANA West, the candidate must be a converted Christian, exemplify good moral behavior, be able to teach the Bible (priesthood), have a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in Theology/Divinity (or its equivalent), OR be willing to attend seminary and complete his education (after ordination) if ordained under the exception missionary clause by the Bishop.

No divorced (or divorced and remarried) candidate will be ordained to ministry in CANA without the approval of both the Diocesan Bishop and the Primate. No person who has been divorced twice will be considered for ordained ministry, period. If a candidate is ordained based on a written application for ordination that contains false, material information pertaining to the candidate’s eligibility, or from which material information pertaining to the candidate’s eligibility has been withheld, such ordination will be nullified by deposition. No one has a right to be ordained in the Diocese of CANA West. The Diocesan Bishop is under no obligation to ordain any candidate, and neither is he under any obligation to explain why a candidate’s written application for ordination has been denied.


Bishops in the Church of Nigeria are not permitted to bestow Knighthood on anyone who physically resides in our CANA dioceses in the United States or Canada. Only CANA’s diocesan bishops can make Knights of people canonically resident in their respective CANA dioceses. Clergy are required to inform their parishes of this policy, as well as report any violations (or intended violations) of this policy to their diocesan bishops. It is my decision as Bishop of the Missionary Diocese of CANA West that ALL Knights physically resident in this Diocese are now FULL members of our Diocesan Knights Council. There will be no Associate Knights in our Diocese – from this point forward all Knights will either be “fully in,” or “fully out.”


Be it resolved by unanimous vote of a quorum of the Standing Committee of the Missionary Diocese of CANA West meeting on November 13, 2016, that …

In the event a member of the clergy canonically resident in the Missionary Diocese of CANA West:

a. Enters a plea of “guilty” or “no contest” in a court with criminal jurisdiction to a sexual crime (such as sexual assault, indecency with a child, inappropriate sexual contact, or any such similar offense), or to an assaultive crime (with no sexual element), regardless of whether that person is thereafter placed on deferred adjudication probation (or its equivalent); or

b. Is found “guilty” of any sexual or assaultive crime in a court with criminal jurisdiction, regardless of the sentence imposed; or

c. Is found civilly liable in a court with civil jurisdiction for any unlawful sexual or unlawful assaultive conduct;

… the Standing Committee of the Missionary Diocese of CANA West will recommend to the diocesan bishop that said member of the clergy, at a minimum, be suspended for life from all priestly or diaconal activity.

Be it resolved by unanimous vote of a quorum of the Standing Committee of the Missionary Diocese of CANA West meeting on November 13, 2016, that …
Member parishes of the Missionary Diocese of CANA West that consistently fail to honor their diocesan tithing obligations demonstrate that they are no longer able, or are unwilling, to qualify as diocesan congregations in accordance with Title II, Canon 1, Section 1A., subsections i., iv., and v. of our diocesan canons. In the event that a
member parish of the Missionary Diocese of CANA West misses two or more of its monthly diocesan tithing obligations over any period of six consecutive months, the Standing Committee of the Missionary Diocese of CANA West will recommend to the diocesan bishop that said parish be relegated to mission status, and that the following series of corrective measures be implemented:

• The rector of that parish, if not replaced outright by the diocesan bishop, will lose any preferment he may hold and will become the vicar of the mission;
• If the rector of that parish is replaced by the diocesan bishop, the bishop will become the rector, and the regional archdeacon will function as assistant to the bishop (in that mission church);
• The vestry of that parish will become a bishop’s committee, reporting directly to the diocesan bishop;
• The senior warden of that parish will submit his or her resignation to the diocesan bishop, and unless replaced by the bishop, will be re-appointed as bishop’s warden;
• The congregation will retain mission status until such time as it has demonstrated the ability to sustain itself financially (that is, to meet all of its financial obligations – including its diocesan tithe);
• Parishes which have been relegated to mission status in accordance with this policy must immediately call a bishop’s committee meeting at which the diocesan bishop, the regional archdeacon, or the bishop’s executive archdeacon will preside (with the vicar of the mission attending as a voting member);
• This purpose of the initial meeting of the bishop’s committee will be to formulate a plan for prayer, discernment, evangelism, and fund-raising designed to restore the mission to parish status as soon as practicable;
• The bishop’s committee will submit a written summary of this plan to the diocesan Standing Committee, which will advise the diocesan bishop regarding the mission and its ministry;
• All subsequent bishop’s committee meetings will be chaired by the diocesan bishop or regional archdeacon unless another chairperson is approved in advance by the diocesan bishop;
• Delegates from the mission attending diocesan meetings will be seated as a matter of Christian fellowship, but will lack voice and vote until the mission regains parish status; and
• Any parish so relegated to mission status for failure to maintain canonical financial standards, after experiencing two financially-successful quarters, may petition the diocesan Standing Committee for its status to be upgraded at the next following annual diocesan Synod, where its restoration to parish status can be approved and celebrated by the Synod.