WHEREAS on St. Matthias’ Day, the 24th day of February, 1979, sixteen Dioceses of Anglican Communion within Nigeria were constituted into a separate Province of Nigeria with Archbishop Timothy Olufosoye as the first Primate; WHEREAS the said Province of Nigeria constituted herself into the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) and enacted a Constitution to regulate her affairs and promote her well-being; WHEREAS the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) operated the 1979 Constitution until 20th day of September, 1997, when it was amended under Archbishop Abiodun Adetiloye; WHEREAS the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) operated the Constitution and Canons of 1997 until the General Synod meeting held between 3rd and 8th of September, 2002, with the Most Reverend Peter Jasper Akinola presiding; WHEREAS it was considered desirable to further amend the Constitution and Canons of 1997; The General Synod of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) hereby enacts the following Constitution:
THE GENERAL PROVISIONS
This Constitution shall be known as the Constitution of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), 2002.
2.1 The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), hereinafter called “the Church of Nigeria”, shall remain one united and indissoluble Church under God.
AIMS, OBJECTIVES AND PRINCIPLES
2.2 The aims, objectives and principles of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) are:
a. To evangelize, and promote the knowledge of God and the adherence to the teaching and examples of Jesus Christ;
b. To promote Christian education, values and morals;
c. To assist in the care and welfare of the people, particularly the poor, the aged and the needy;
d. To provide for the spiritual welfare of her members;
e. To acquire land for the attainment of her objectives;
f. To raise funds through launches, contributions and any other lawful means;
g. To undertake all other things which are reasonably incidental to the foregoing objectives.
2.3 Subject to any Canon or Regulation made in that behalf, the membership of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) shall be open to all persons who accept the aims and o b j e c t i v e s ,
2.4 The Secretariat of the Church shall be in Episcopal House, 23 Douala Street, Wuse Zone 5, Abuja or in such other place in Nigeria as the General Synod of the Church may decide.
SEE OF CANTERBURY
3.1 The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) hereinafter called “The Church of Nigeria” or “This Church” shall be in full communion with all Anglican Churches Dioceses and Provinces that hold and maintain the Historic Faith, Doctrine, Sacrament and Discipline of the one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church as the Lord has commanded in His holy word and as the same are received as taught in the Book of Common Prayer and the ordinal of 1662and in the Thirty-Nine Article of Religion.
3.2 In the interpretation of the aforementioned formularies and in all questions of Faith, Doctrine and Discipline, the decisions of the Ecclesiastical tribunals of the Church of
Nigeria shall be final.
4. The Church of Nigeria shall have three Orders of the Ministry, namely:
ORDERS OF MINISTRY
a. Bishops who shall have a special responsibility and authority for the preservation of the truth of the doctrine of the Church for the purity of its life, and the worthiness of its worship;
b. The Priests who in co-operation with and under the guidance of the Bishops have a special responsibility for preaching the word of God and administering the Holy Sacraments and generally for the cure of souls; and
c. The Deacons, who have a special responsibility for the care of the poor and distressed, for the instruction of the young and the ignorant and for giving assistance to the Priests in Divine Service.
THE GENERAL SYNOD POWERS
6 The General Synod as hereby constituted shall be the Legislative body of the Church of Nigeria and every enactment, resolution or directives thereof shall be binding upon the Church of Nigeria and on every Province, Diocese, Officer, and member thereof.
The General Synod shall consist of:
a. The House of Bishops;
b. The House of Clergy; and
c. The House of Laity constituted in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.
HOUSE OF BISHOPS
8. The House of Bishops shall consist of:
a. The Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of the Church of Nigeria.
b. The Dean of the Church of Nigeria;
c. The Provincial Archbishops;
d. The Diocesan Bishops;
e. Suffragan and Assistant Bishops;
f. Retired Bishops who are not engaged in remunerative work outside the ordained Ministry: provided that they shall have no right to vote.
HOUSE OF CLERGY
9.1 The House of Clergy shall consist of Priests and Deacons who hold the Licence of the Bishop of the Diocese they represent, elected in such manner and in accordance with such rules as the Diocesan Synod may make in that behalf.
9.2 Unless the General Synod or the Standing Committee otherwise decides, every Diocese shall be represented by t w o Clerical representatives.
HOUSE OF LAITY
10.1 The House of Laity shall consist of such communicant members of the Church of the age of 18 years and above elected or appointed Lay Representatives of the Diocese they represent in such manner and in accordance with such rules as the Diocesan Synod may make in that behalf.
10.2 Unless the General Synod or the Standing Committee otherwise decides, every Diocese shall be represented by three Lay representatives which shall include the Chancellor and at least one woman.
FILLING OF VACANCIES
11. Each Diocese shall make rules to provide for the filling of vacancies in Clerical and Lay representation of the Diocese which may occur through death, resignation, loss of qualification or any other cause between the time of the election or appointment and the subsequent meeting of the General Synod.
MEETINGS OF THE GENERAL SYNOD SESSIONS
12 Ordinary Sessions of the General Synod shall take place every THREE years; provided that the General Synod shall meet whenever the Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate decides that the circumstances of the Church require it and provided also that the General Synod shall be summoned by the Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate whenever requested to do so by at least one-third of the membership of a House.
PRESIDENT OF THE GENERAL SYNOD
13.1 The Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) shall be President of the General Synod and shall preside at all sessions thereof.
13.2 During a vacancy in the office of Primate or the absence of the Primate from any meeting of the General Synod or any Committee, Council, Board or Commission constituted under the Constitution or any Canon, unless otherwise provided, the Dean of the Church of Nigeria or in his absence the Provincial Archbishop senior by presentation as Archbishop, and if none be present, the Bishop senior by consecration, shall preside.
NOTICE OF GENERAL SYNOD
14.1 The Primate shall give to all the Bishops of the Church of Nigeria at least six calendar months notice of every ordinary session of the General Synod, and the Bishop of each Diocese shall cause such notice to be published throughout his Diocese and sent to all members of the General Synod in his Diocese through their registered address within four weeks of receiving such notice provided that when a special session of the General Synod is convened, two months notice shall be sufficient.
14.2 The agenda for the General Synod shall be prepared by the Primate in consultation with the Standing Committee of the Church of Nigeria.
15 At least one-third of the members of each of the three Houses of Bishops, Clergy and Laity representing at least three-quarters of the number of Dioceses in the Church of Nigeria must be present for the transaction of business in the General Synod, and it shall be competent for any member of the Synod, at any time to call for the counting of the members present.
The three Houses shall sit together and unless a greater vote on any question is required by the Constitution or by the Canons or any regulation made hereunder in cases not specifically d e a l t with by this Constitution or unless a vote by Houses is required under this Constitution, the affirmative vote of the majority of all the members present and voting at a duly constituted session of the General Synod shall suffice to carry any question.
VOTING BY HOUSES
17. Where any member present at a session of the General Synod so demands, voting shall be by Houses and shall be conducted in the following order: first, the House of Laity, then the House of Clergy and then the House of Bishops.
MAJORITY WHERE VOTING IS BY HOUSES
18. Where voting is by Houses the assent of the majority of members present of each of the three Houses shall be necessary.
PROLOCUTOR AND CHAIRMAN OF HOUSE OF LAITY
19. During every session of the General Synod the House of Clergy shall elect one of its members as Prolocutor, to preside over the House of Clergy and over a joint assembly of the Clergy and Laity and the House of Laity shall elect one of its members as Chairman, to preside over the House of Laity, should the Houses of the General Synod deliberate separately.
TENURE OF MEMBERS
20. The members and officers of the General Synod from the Houses of Clergy and of Laity shall remain in office until their successors have been appointed or elected.
FAILURE IN REPRESENTATION NOT TO INVALIDATE PROCEEDING
21. No proceedings or enactment or resolution of the General Synod or of any House, Committee, Commission or Body thereof shall be invalidated by any vacancy in the membership of the body concerned or by any defect in the qualification, election or appointment of any member thereof; neither shall failure or neglect on the part of any such representatives to attend invalidate the enactments or resolutions of the General Synod which enactments and resolutions shall have the same force in that Diocese as if such representatives had been present.
FUNCTIONS, JURISDICTION AND POWERS OF THE GENERAL SYNOD FUNCTIONS OF THE GENERAL SYNOD
22. It shall be the duty of the General Synod –
a. to consider matters concerning the Church of Nigeria and make provision for the administration of its affairs and for the promotion of the spiritual welfare and well being of its members by Canons, Regulations, Resolutions, Directives or other instruments as may be appropriate; and
b. to consider and express their opinion on any matters of religious or public interest.
23 For the avoidance of doubt, the General Synod as hereby constituted shall be the legislative body of the Church of Nigeria and every enactment, resolution or directive of the said Synod shall have effect and be binding upon the Church, every Ecclesiastical Province or Diocese therein and upon all officers and members thereof and, subject as hereinafter provided the General Synod shall have authority and jurisdiction in all matters affecting in any way, the general interest and well-being of the whole Church and in particular:
i. the constitution and organisation of the General Synod including the regulation of the time and place of its meetings, the order and conduct of its proceedings, and the appointment, functions and duties of its officers, committees and other organs;
ii. the national character, constitution, integrity and autonomy of the Church of Nigeria;
iii. the relations of the Church to other religious bodies in Nigeria and elsewhere;
iv. the relations of the Church to other Churches of the Anglican Communion;
v. the election, retirement or resignation of the Primate of the Church of Nigeria, the Provincial Archbishops and Diocesan Bishops including the consecration of Diocesan Bishops;
vi. discipline of Clergy and of Laity of the Church of Nigeria;
vii. the constitution and powers of and procedure in courts of original and appellate jurisdiction for the trial of offences and the enforcement of judgements;
viii. the revision, adaptation and publication of a Book of Common Prayer and a Hymnal for the Church;
ix. the establishment of minimum standards of theological education and minimum qualifications and training of candidates for the Ministry of the Church;
x. the regulation of inter-diocesan transfer of clergy;
xi. the relinquishment or abandonment of the Ministry of the Church;
xii. the administration of all funds and trusts established in respect of the Church;
xiii. the administration of a group insurance plan for the benefit of the Clergy and lay employees of the Church;
xiv. the sub-division of the Church into more Internal Provinces and the Constitution of any number of Dioceses into a new Internal Province provided that no new Internal Province shall consist of less than seven Dioceses and that such separate Provinces shall be geographically contiguous and related to one another by such common organs as the General Synod may determine provided that to start with there shall be ten Internal Provinces as specified in the schedule hereto which shall include any Diocese or Dioceses created hereafter out of the Dioceses listed within the Provinces therein.
xv. exclusive authority and jurisdiction in respect of all matters of common concern to the whole Church as well as matters affecting relations between the Church and the Dioceses and between the Dioceses including (without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing) the subdivision of Dioceses and of Provinces, the rearrangement of existing Dioceses and Provinces and the creation of new Dioceses and all such other matters that affect the communion of the Dioceses with one another as the General Synod shall think fit;
xvi. after such consultation as may be deemed necessary by the General Synod, the determination of the location of headquarters of Dioceses, Ecclesiastical Provinces and of the Church of Nigeria including power to relocate such headquarters; and
xvii. either by itself or its Standing Committee to give directives either directly or through the Archbishop and Primate to any person appointed to, or holding any office under this Constitution or the Constitution of an Ecclesiastical Province or of a Diocese therein on any matter appearing to it to relate to any powers conferred on it by this Constitution, or to the well-being of the Church, and it shall be the duty of any such officer or person to carry out such directive.
FAITH AND ORDER DOCTRINAL
FORMULAE 24 A provision touching doctrinal formulae of the service or ceremonies of the Church of Nigeria or the administration of the sacraments or sacred rites thereof shall, before it is finally approved by the General Synod, be referred to the House of Bishops, and shall be submitted for such final approval in terms proposed by the House of Bishops and not otherwise.
APPROVAL OF DIOCESAN SYNODS
25 An Article or Canon or Regulation for permanent changes in the services of Baptism or Holy Communion or in the Ordinal, or a scheme for a constitutional union or a permanent and substantial change of relationship between the Church of Nigeria and another Christian Body, being a body a substantial number of whose members reside in Nigeria, shall not be finally approved by the General Synod unless at a stage determined by the Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate, the Article or Canon or Regulation or Scheme, or the substance of the proposals embodied therein, shall have received the approval of the Diocesan Synods of at least two-thirds of the Dioceses of the Church of Nigeria.
POWER OF HOUSE OF BISHOPS
26 The House of Bishops or Episcopal Synod shall have power to make such adaptations and abridgements of, and addition to, the services of the Church as may be required from time to time and the General Synod may prescribe the manner, extent and circumstances in which a Bishop may authorize the use of any alterations in a service approved by the House of Bishops:
“Provided that such issues as are raised in sections 24, 25 and 26 of this Constitution are first referred to the Theological and Doctrinal Department or Committee of the Church of Nigeria, whose recommendations shall be submitted for consideration to the Episcopal Synod”.
THE ARCHBISHOP, METROPOLITAN & PRIMATE
PRESIDENT OF THE GENERAL SYNOD
27.1 The President of the General Synod shall be the Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of the Church of Nigeria who shall be elected and shall hold office under, and have privileges, powers, authority and duties as are defined by the Constitution, Canons and Regulations made by or under the authority of the General Synod and shall exercise all the rights and perform all the duties of the office of a Metropolitan.
27.2 The Primate shall summon and preside over meetings of the General Synod, Episcopal Synod, and the Standing Committee, and is the Principal Minister of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion).
The Primate shall be an ex-officio member of all Committees, Boards, Commissions and Councils appointed under any provision of this Constitution or of any Canon enacted by the General Synod or under any resolution of the General Synod or of its Standing Committee.
29.1 During a vacancy in the Office of Primate or during the illness or other incapacity of the Primate, the Dean of the Church of Nigeria shall have authority to perform all the duties of the Primacy and shall be styled Acting Primate.
29.2 In the absence of the Primate from any meeting of General Synod or any Committee, Council, Board or Commission, constituted under the Constitution or any Canon of the synod, unless otherwise provided, the Dean or the Provincial Archbishop senior by presentation as Archbishop, or if none should be present, the Bishop senior by consecration, shall preside.
VACANCY IN PRIMACY
30 The office of the Primate shall become vacant when –
30.1 he dies;
30.2 he has held office for ten years from the date of his presentation or when he attains the age of seventy years, whichever first occurs;
30.3 having given notice of his intention to resign or retire, the Dean has in consultation with the Episcopal Synod accepted the resignation; or
30.4 upon representation made to the Dean by at least two Diocesan Bishops his appointment is terminated or he is required to retire by a resolution supported by a majority of two-thirds of the General Synod: Provided that he shall be given the fullest opportunity to defend himself against any charges that may have been brought against him.
31 In addition to his functions as Diocesan Bishop, the Primate shall have the following functions –
OTHER FUNCTIONS OF THEARCHBISHOP, METROPOLITAN AND PRIMATE
31a. to have a general authority and supervision over the whole of the Church of Nigeria in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution and the Canons of the Church.
31b. to confirm the appointment of any person duly elected a Bishop in the Church of Nigeria and to arrange for his consecration if he be not already consecrated;
31c. to preside when he is so required by Regulations pertaining thereto at the hearing of appeals in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution concerning the trial of Bishops, the Clergy, and the Laity and also on other occasions when the House of Bishops sits as a court.
31d. to visit officially the Dioceses of the Church of Nigeria whether at the invitation of the Bishop of the Diocese or on his own initiative;
31e. to represent the Church of Nigeria in its relationship with the rest of the Anglican Communion and other Churches in communion with it and on its behalf to correspond with other Metropolitans;
31f. to perform such other functions prescribed by this Constitution or as may from time to time be entrusted to him by the General Synod or the Standing Committee.
POWER TO APPOINT COMMITTEES AND COMMISSIONS COMMITTEES AND COMMISSIONS
32.1 The General Synod may appoint or provide by their Standing Orders for the appointment of a Standing Committee and such other Committees, Commissions, Departments and bodies, which may include persons who are not members of the Synod and such Officers as they think fit.
32.2 Each House may appoint or provide by their Standing Orders for the appointment of such Committees of their members as they think fit.
32.3 The Primate may invite an expert on any relevant subject to address the General Synod or the Standing Committee on that subject: Provided that such person shall not have the right to vote.
POWER TO MAKE STANDING ORDERS
33.1 The General Synod may make, amend and revoke Standing Orders, providing for any of the matters for which such provision is required or authorized by this Constitution to be made, and consistently with this Constitution, for the meetings, business and procedure of the General Synod.
33.2 Provision may be made by the Standing Orders that the exercise of any power of the General Synod to suspend the Standing Orders or any of them shall require the assent of such a majority of the members of the whole Synod present and voting as may be specified in the Standing Order.
33.3 Standing Orders of the General Synod may provide for separate sittings of any of the three Houses or joint sittings of any two Houses and as to who is to take the Chair at any such separate or joint sitting.
33.4 Each House may make, amend and revoke Standing Orders to regulate its own proceedings.
ECCLESIASTICAL PROVINCES PROVINCIAL COUNCIL
34.1 There shall be for each Ecclesiastical Province created within the Church of Nigeria a Provincial Council which shall consist of:
34.1a. The Provincial Archbishop who shall preside as Chairman;
34.1b. All Bishops of the Church of Nigeria having Sees within the Ecclesiastical Province;
34.1c. Suffragan or Assistant Bishops within the Ecclesiastical Province; and
34.1d. One clergyman from each Diocese elected at the Diocesan Synod.
34.1e. One lay member from each Diocese elected at the Diocesan Synod.
34.1f Any such persons not exceeding two to be co-opted on ad hoc basis for their expertise; but they shall have no right to vote.
34.2 The Provincial Council shall meet on regular basis as determined by each Province or as provided by the Canons.
TERRITORY OF ECCLESIASTICAL PROVINCE
35 The exact territorial limits of each Ecclesiastical Province and of each Diocese therein as well as the location of the Headquarters of the same shall be determined by the General Synod or its Standing Committee.
CONSTITUTION OF A PROVINCE
36 The Constitution of a Province shall be contained in a Canon enacted by the General Synod, provided that a Canon approved by the House of Bishops shall be operative until approved or amended by the General Synod.
PRESIDENT OF COUNCIL
37.1 The Provincial Archbishop shall preside over meetings of the Provincial Council or in his absence, the Bishop senior by consecration shall preside.
37.2 Any dispute within a diocese which cannot be satisfactorily resolved by the Diocesan Bishop shall first be referred by an aggrieved party to the appropriate Provincial Archbishop.
POWERS OF PROVINCIAL COUNCILS
38 Provincial Councils shall have authority and jurisdiction to meet as often as occasions may demand either on the invitation of the Provincial Archbishop or at the request of two Bishops to discuss all matters of general interest and the well-being of the Church within their territorial jurisdiction and to implement their decisions on the following matters:
38.1 The training of priests;