A controversial African primate has defied the Archbishop of Canterbury and established a breakaway branch of the church opposed to gay priests.

Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria accused the Anglican leadership of being “insulting and condescending” to the rest of the church.

He performed a ceremony to establish American bishop Martyn Minns as head of a new church branch under his control in Nigeria.

It is intended to gather American Anglicans who oppose current gay policies.

The ordination of an openly gay man as a bishop in 2003 split the 7,400 congregation American church, called Episcopalians.

“The decisions, actions, defiance and continuing intransigence of the Episcopal Church are at the heart of our crisis,” he told Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury in a letter.

“They are determined to pursue their own unbiblical agenda and exacerbate our current divisions.”

“In the middle of all of this the Lord’s name has been dishonoured.

“If we fail to act many will be lost to the church and thousands of souls will be imperiled.

“This we cannot and will not allow to happen. It is imperative that we continue to protect those at most risk while we seek a way forward that will offer hope for the future of our beleaguered Communion.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury, leader of the worldwide Anglican church, and the Presiding Episcopalian Bishop, both asked him to stay away.

His defiance marks a breach with the authority of the global leadership, and could lead to further splits.

45 US parishes have broken away and placed themselves under the jurisdiction of African bishops.