3/07/2006

Hold the Anglican Church of Nigeria to Account

The Archbishop of Nigeria, in his pastoral letter to the Church of Feburary 25, 2006 wrote the following:

“The Anglican World Today:
These times are perilous for our Communion world-wide, resulting from the continuing obstinate revisionist agenda, master-minded by ECUSA and her allies. We must intensify our prayers for the truth of the word of God to be the guiding light for the Church. We will also do more by ensuring that we do not associate with ECUSA in any official capacity. We have already taken a decision to train our clergy and church staff within our own environment and in partnership only with those who hold similar biblical views of God and human sexuality with us. The emergence of Church of Nigeria Mission to America, known and called, ‘Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), registered Charity Trust in U.S.A., is a serious step to put into action our bible-based convictions. We solicit your prayers for God to guide our future, especially with our being called upon to offer leadership both to the Global South and CAPA. We remain committed to the orthodox faith rooted in sound doctrines about Jesus Christ and the purity of the Gospel as a sure way of gaining our true economic emancipation and presenting a holistic mission now being threatened by some churches in Europe, North America and Canada.”

The September 2005 Press Release that accompanied the announcement of the change in the Constitution that allowed for convocations of churches related to the Church of Nigeria outside Nigeria said this, “The Constitutional change also allowed the Church to create Convocations and Chaplaincies of like-minded faithful outside Nigeria. This effectively gives legal teeth to the Convocation of Anglican Nigerians in Americas (CANA) formed to give a worshiping refuge to thousands in the USA who no longer feel welcomed to worship in the Liberal churches especially with the recent theological innovations encouraging practices which the Nigerians recognize as sin.”

CANA at least at first was an acronym for “Convocation of Anglican Nigerians in Americas.” In an odd little piece titled, “The miracle of CANA continues,” the Archbishop slides this title in the direction it has now taken… there he said, “Earlier this year we announced CANA - a mission of the Church of Nigeria, a Convocation for Anglicans in North America. We see this as a creative way to provide pastoral and episcopal care for those alienated by the actions of ECUSA. As we said in our letter of April 7th, 2005, 'Our intention is not to challenge or intervene in the churches of ECUSA or the Anglican Church of Canada but to provide safe harbour for all those who can no longer find their spiritual home in those churches.' While CANA is an initiative of the Church of Nigeria it is our desire to welcome all those who share our faith and vision for the Church.”


So the transmogrification is complete: It starts as CANA, “the Convocation of Anglican Nigerians in Americas,” and ends up being CANA, “a Convocation for Anglicans in North America.” It moves from any semblance of being about a place of refuge for Nigerian Anglicans, and becomes an extension of a provincial structure of one province in another whose target population is members of the Episcopal Church. The second title, the one for which letters of incorporation are written, is unabashedly the creation of a second Anglican structure in the United States and Canada.

The Church of Nigeria and its Archbishop have broken off official relations with the Episcopal Church and so it is no wonder that they see the United States as “open missionary territory.” But this set of actions is so clearly in total disregard of long standing Anglican Communion principles that there is more than adequate grounds for demanding that the Church of Nigeria be held accountable before the rest of the Communion.

The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada need to immediately demand that the Church of Nigeria end its activities in developing the Convocation for Anglicans in North America, and that if it does not do so that it be held accountable to the rest of the Communion for such actions.

If we keep silent, the Church of Nigeria simply walks away with the license to do as it wishes while claiming to be true to Anglican principles. Enough!

14 comments:

  1. (Dave)
    Thank you Archbishop of Nigeria for caring more for the needs of people than for rules, regulations, customs and canons.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This makes me mad enough to spit.

    And we're the ones rejecting historic truths of the faith?! Bah.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Dave,

    Ever see "A Man For All Seasons?" At one point, the young man who is persuing St. Thomas's daughter declares his willingness to overturn all the law to get at the Devil. Thomas replies in part, "how will you stand in the wind that follows?" A good question for you to consider as you toss aside 1700 years of canon and precident.

    One need not worry about ++Akinola, for reasons I consider self-evident.

    FWIW
    jimB

    ReplyDelete
  4. (Dave)
    Just as we accept, in the same "diocese," a RC bishop and Orthodox bishop, an Episcopal bishop and countless others, there can be both an Episcopal and a Nigerian Anglican bishop in the same docese. Why? Because they are already members of two different churches. From my perspective, TEC has chosen to walk its own path, separate and apart from the AC or at least so much of it as is embraced in the Global South. Had TEC granted real alternate episcopal oversight and not DEPO, perhaps this could have been avoided. But in answer to your question, if our foundation is built on the rock, TEC can huff and puff all it wants, the wind it blows won't have the slightest impact.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Conversely, Anonymous(Dave), maybe you're willing to "overturn all the [Anglican] law to get at the Devil" . . . not realizing the Devil you see is in a mirror?

    Seriously, An/D: how you can you possibly call the rank duplicity of +Akinola, as anything resembling a "rock"? (Lacking even firmness of a consistent honesty---much less the holiness of the Rock of Ages!)

    If anything, "CANA" looks like a prototype for +PJA's Puritanical-only "Anglican Communion"---I pray it won't include the See of Canterbury (under the current or any future occupant). But regardless, TEC must hold true to the centuries-long charism of Anglicanism: nurturing our God-given gifts, until that (blessed) day, when the wanderers come home...

    ReplyDelete
  6. (Dave)
    Mr. Fisher - Your remarks are nothing more than character assassination. I guess because you say it is so, I should accept your lies about someone I personally know to be entirely unlike your description of him.

    ReplyDelete
  7. "Character assassination"?

    If that were true, it'd be a damn sight better than the bloody and broken bodies of all my LGBT brothers and sisters (especially in Nigeria)! >:-0

    Either what Father Harris says about +Akinola, and his Nigerian (Nigerian? Scratch that, "North American") machinations are true, or they aren't.

    If true---and I believe Father Harris has (unlike some others!) a record of scrupulous honesty heretofore---then my characterization of +PJA's "rank duplicity", I believe, partakes of that same honesty (your accusations towards me not withstanding).

    YMMV: oh well...

    [You know +PJA, do you An/D? Please wish him the Peace (and Love) of the Lord Jesus Christ, will you? He makes all things new!]

    ReplyDelete
  8. (Dave)
    I don't expect to see Archbishop Peter here in New Jersey in the near term but if I do JC (are those really your intials or your delusion?) I will convey your greeting.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Dave,
    If and when the Episcopal Church is formally removed from membership in the Anglican Communion, it might then be appropriate for Archbishop Akinola to undertake his mission here. However, at the present time the Episcopal Church is a full member of the Anglican Communion. The other option, of course, is for the Anglican Church of Nigeria to follow through on its threat to leave the Anglican Communion -- this would justify their present course. But as long as both provinces are recognized as members of the Anglican Communion, this kind of effort is inappropriate.

    ReplyDelete
  10. obadiahslope8/3/06 10:46 PM

    I think this is part of the "rendering of the bonds of affection" that we have heard so much about. Rightly or wrongly TEC did not feel constrained from going ahead with the actions of GC2003.
    As a result, rightly or wrongly the Nigerians do not feel constrained about planting churches in the US.

    ReplyDelete
  11. The Episcopal Church was not, in fact, constrained from the actions it took in 2003. It was a matter of receiving advice, weighing it, and rejecting it. But it was advice -- note the language of Lambeth 1998.1.10. Loath as I am to appeal to law, nonetheless, the intrusions of Nigeria represent a breach of canon, and of the principles upon which the Anglican Communion has always worked: parallel jurisdictions are to be avoided (the already existing ones are being looked at to phase out -- and certainly no new ones are encouraged or allowed at this point. This action by Nigeria represent a far better analogy to the behavior of the US Government (in terms of "unilateral action") than anything the Episcopal Church has done.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I can make absolutely no sense of singling out the Church of Nigeria. It seems to me that far more churches have been sponsored by Kenya and Southeast Asia via the AMIA (which is gaining in recognition and acceptance in the Global South), and there are certainly plenty of churches with the Province of Uganda, and the dioceses of Recife and Bolivia. Nigeria is a johnny-come-lately to the field, and a small-time player, especially compared with Kenya. (Last I heard, there are 87 churches in AMiA, with a dozen more soon to affiliate. That's bigger than my diocese.)

    Nor can I make any sense of out of why traditional structures matter supremely, while traditional morality matters not at all. Aren't we throwing aside 1700 years and more of precedent when we bless same-sex unions, etc.? This is the wind that follows!

    If these other churches are able to minister to the needs of people that the Episcopal Church cannot or can no longer reach, should they not do so? Is it not more important that the Gospel is proclaimed and spiritual needs are met than under whose authority it is done?

    Also, wouldn't it be more worthwhile to convince conservative Anglicans that aligning themselves with provinces of other nations is not necessary, that they will be allowed and given space to continue and thrive in the ECUSA, rather than blaming these other provinces? I don't think you can blame Nigeria for our problems, convenient though it might be.

    If the Episcopal Church effectively addresses its internal conflict, the issues with Kenya, Nigeria, et al., will take care of themselves. If it doesn't, upholding self-serving canons in order to protect status quo won't help.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Following a meeting of the Standing Committee of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) on 22-25 February 2006, presided over by the Most Revd Peter Akinola, the Committee issued a "message to the Nation". It includes a number of excellent statements against corruption and supporting democracy and economic justice. But the message also says: "The Church commends the law-makers for their prompt reaction to outlaw same-sex relationships in Nigeria and calls for the bill to be passed since the idea expressed in the bill is the moral position of Nigerians regarding human sexuality."

    Curious this, as I believe that it's not long ago that Arcbishop Akinola said that there were no homosexuals in Nigeria.

    After some doubt as to whether the Church officially supports the oppressive views expressed by some of its senior members, it has now nailed its colors to the mast. On the other hand, in this statement at least, the Church does not comment on the provisions of the proposed legislation that deny freedoms of speech and assembly to gays and lesbians. Yet again, if the Church was opposed to those provisions, it could have said so.

    On 2 March 2006, commenting on a post at Thinking Anglicans Canon Akintunde Popoola ('Tude'), spokesman for the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), disputed another person's comment alleging that Archbishop Akinola "recently threw his prestige and resources behind a new law . . . .". In his 2 March comment, Canon Akinola said that the Archbishop "had not done that." "Do you have reference to such?" he asked. "Very soon, Abp. Akinola may make out time to address the issue. Everyone knows where he stands but it is still wrong to make the assumption into a fact."

    Meanwhile, on 22-25 February 2006, the Standing Committee had made its decision, which was subsequently published in an undated announcement over Archbishop Akionola's signature and using his letterhead.

    A cagey game is being played here.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I am relieved to see that RB agrees Nigeria should NOT be singled out--it has much company in the so-called Global South equally guilty of violating the moral rules of order upholding the practice of communion among Anglicans--he mentions Kenya, et al. I agree: they are all guilty, and we should not pretend it is all a matter of Nigeria.

    Let me reassure RB's tender conscience--nobody has suggested, as you say, that traditional structures "matter supremely." breathe easy RB!

    But they do matter for something; we have been called in the WR to respect them, and this respect is a part inter alia of upbuilding our communion. You've read the WR, right RB?

    But you are not--you really could not--be calling on our co-called Global South brethren to compound what you call our moral failures by adding moral failures of their own? I mean, you don't seriously think two wrongs make a right?

    ReplyDelete

OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with comment moderation but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.
Rule: PLEASE DO NOT SIGN OFF AS ANONYMOUS: BEGIN OR END THE MESSAGE WITH A NAME - ANY NAME. ANONYMOUS commentary will be cut.