Thinking Anglicans

ACC-16 in Lusaka: Nigeria will not attend

Updated Wednesday morning

See earlier announcements by Uganda and by Kenya.

A letter from the Primate of Nigeria has now been published: Church of Nigeria Statement on the Lusaka ACC Meeting 15 March 2016

This statement is now also available at the GAFCON site, and the text is copied below the fold (bold emphasis in the original).

Ruth Gledhill reports for Christian Today in Nigeria pleads for ‘special status’ for conservative Anglican Christians over homosexuality.

THE CHURCH OF NIGERIA (ANGLICAN COMMUNION) WILL NOT PARTICIPATE IN THE UPCOMING ACC MEETING

Source: Church of Nigeria

STATEMENT BY THE MOST REV’D NICHOLAS D. OKOH, MA, Fss, Mss, LLD
Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria. Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) and Deputy Chair of the GAFCON Primates Council

THE CHURCH OF NIGERIA: OUR PERSPECTIVE

The Church of Nigeria was one of the Provinces that protested against the consecration of Gene Robinson (an active homosexual clergyman in New Hampshire), by The Episcopal Church USA, and the promulgation of a liturgy for blessing of same sex union; boycotted the Lambeth Conference 2008, and organized the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON 2008), in Jerusalem. A remarkable legacy of that conference is the Jerusalem Statement and Declaration.

Since then, the theological position of the Church of Nigeria on the human sexuality palaver raging in the Anglican Communion is by no means ambiguous. In pursuance of its position, it has had to amend its constitution to emphasize the basis of our relationship with any other Province or church namely:

The Church of Nigeria 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 1662 and in the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion.

In other words, the amendment places emphasis on the “Historic Faith, Doctrine, Sacrament and The word of God rather than, and instead of, historical institutions. It was intended to save the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) from derailment in the context of challenges engendered by theological ambivalence such as the present human sexuality controversy illustrates.

In further pursuance of that same amendment, the Church of Nigeria resolved to break communion with The Episcopal Church (TEC) and the Anglican Church of Canada (not on account of redefinition), but on the practice, promotion and advocacy of homosexuality and its allied practices.

As part of the stance of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), it resolved not to attend any future conference or meeting where the above named two Provinces will sit and participate in discussion.However, the January 2016 Primates meeting in Canterbury was considered an exception. Thus, the GAFCON and Global South resolved to attend.

In spite of the hollow restrictions placed on The Episcopal Church, the Presiding Bishop of TEC and the Chairman of the Anglican Consultative Council have avowed that the Primates had no authority to take that decision. During the Canterbury meeting itself, the way and manner in which those who hold the orthodox view of human sexuality and marriage were spoken of by the authorities, and denounced as “homophobic”, left no one in doubt that we were in the wrong place. In fact, the authorities believe that patience was being exercised to enable the communion to bring up the scripture-believers gradually to embrace the homosexual doctrine. Thus, the Anglican Communion’s journey is very uncertain for the orthodox. They are walking into a well-rehearsed scheme to gradually apply persuasion, subtle blackmail, coercion on any group still standing with the Scriptural Provision as we know it, to join the straight jacket of the revisionists and be politically correct. Somehow, they are succeeding!

At this point we find great wisdom in the attitude of the British Government in relation to the European Union, It has not joined the Euro Zone; it did not join the Schengen conglomerate. Now the British Prime Minister is asking for a “Special Status” in the European Union for the United Kingdom.

The Anglican Communion should begin to think in that direction for those Provinces that may never, for obvious reasons, embrace the sexual culture being promoted by some Provinces of the Church over and against the Bible as we received it. We need a “Special Status”.

In summary, as long as we are now candidates for whom every opportunity in the Anglican Communion should be explored to gradually teach us to embrace the new sex culture, it will be unwise to deliberately walk into a well-prepared camp of recruitment, blackmail, indoctrination and toxic relationship.

Therefore, we regret our inability to attend the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Lusaka, Zambia.

We continue to pray for God’s Church to return to the Holy Bible, for its faith and practice.

The Most Rev’d Nicholas D. Okoh
Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria

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Jeremy
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Jeremy

Wow. I have never read such a homophobic screed. From a primate, too.

Sounds as though he’s afraid someone might try to pick him up. (“Recruitment?” “Toxic relationship?”)

Panic + ignorance = discrimination

Iain Baxter
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Iain Baxter

“At this point we find great wisdom in the attitude of the British Government in relation to the European Union. It has not joined the Euro Zone; it did not join the Schengen conglomerate. Now the British Prime Minister is asking for a “Special Status” in the European Union for the United Kingdom.” Amazing, you would almost think this letter had been written by an English person and not by the Primate of Nigeria, such is the grasp of the current political situation in the UK! But what does the letter mean by special status? Is it conceding that the… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

There we go, then. That shows the hoped for promise of ++Kenya and ++Nigeria to maintain Unity with the other Provinces of the anglican Communion at the recent Canterbury Primates’ Meeting was in vain! Despite their reluctance to accompany ++Uganda in his walk-out from that meeting, we are now actually acquainted with their real intentions. The second (high-lighted) paragraph from the linked Nigerian communique on this issue only goes to show that the GAFCON lot have fallen back on the BCP and the 39 Articles (now regarded as the ’39 Artifacts’ by most Provinces in the Communion) as being equivalent… Read more »

S Cooper
Guest
S Cooper

So, Welby is going to say that they’ve walked away and the rest of the communion can stay together happily? Of course not…. All we are seeing is the end of the ACC. Canterbury will not want to lose the largest provinces with the most young people- we know as growth and youth are his key priorities

Peter S
Guest
Peter S

“Straight jacket” says it all.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

But S Cooper, the point is that the ACC does not need to do what any primate, even Canterbury, tells it to do. The ACC is its own entity, I believe a registered English charity. It certainly has its own governance. Canterbury can’t shut it down even if he wanted to–which one doubts. The ACC meeting is serving the useful purpose of showing us which provinces, or which primates, regard anti-LGBT discrimination as an article of faith. It will be interesting to see whether any other province joins these three in their “holier than thou” corner. Make no mistake about… Read more »

Anthony Archer
Guest
Anthony Archer

What a palaver!

Andrew Godsall
Guest
Andrew Godsall

Do we have any idea who actually wrote this statement?

JCF
Guest
JCF

“homosexuality and its allied practices”

Oh, Okoh’s fevered imagination!

Kyrie eleison…

JCF
Guest
JCF

“During the Canterbury meeting itself, the way and manner in which those who hold the orthodox view of human sexuality and marriage were spoken of by the authorities, and denounced as ‘homophobic’, left no one in doubt that we were in the wrong place.”

“Wrong place”? Better start building that space ship!

“Nearer and nearer draws the time the time that shall surely be, when the earth shall be filled with the glory of God as the waters cover the sea.”

Kelvin Holdsworth
Guest

This is one of the most significant things that anyone has said in the Anglican Communion in years.

It should not be simply dismissed as homophobic. This marks a sea change in the way the Nigerian Primate is viewing the shape of the communion and what it is likely to look like in the future.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Kelvin, why do you see a “sea change”? The statement certainly reflects frustration with the Communion’s tolerance. But I doubt that any “instrument of unity” would accede to any demand for a “special status” that is based on the rankest homophobia. I mean, really. A “well-prepared camp of recruitment, blackmail, indoctrination and toxic relationship”? What accusation could be more baseless, and less Christian? Nigeria, Kenya, and Uganda are going to have to try to build their “special status” by themselves. They are perfectly capable of doing this; nothing stops them. Nor does such a project require leaving the Communion. That… Read more »

Kelvin Holdsworth
Guest

What the Nigerian Primate is saying is that the basic priciple that they’ve been fighting for all these years (no gay bishops, no gay marriage, nothing positive for gay people at all) has been completely lost.

It is hugely significant recognition of a new reality.

Rosemary Hannah
Guest
Rosemary Hannah

Blimey ++Okoh is certain the AC is moving to the full inclusion of gay people! This is very interesting.

Kate
Guest
Kate

Jeremy, if you are right and ACC is constituted as a charity under English law and is a effectively a club or association, doesn’t that mean the Equality Act 2010 applies and excluding or disciplining TEC for association with homosexual people would be unlawful?

Surely the church would not have overlooked something like that?

Laurence Cunnington
Guest
Laurence Cunnington

“During the Canterbury meeting itself, the way and manner in which those who hold the orthodox view of human sexuality and marriage were spoken of by the authorities, and denounced as “homophobic”…”

An intriguing sentence. Who did Okoh regard as “the authorities” at the Canterbury meeting? Surely not representatives of TEC or the other Primates of equal status to himself. Does this mean that Welby actually bit the bullet and described Nigeria’s position as “homophobic” at the meeting?

Tim
Guest

“as the Lord has commanded in His holy word “

Excellent. Has he tried reading it now?

Kate
Guest
Kate

The most telling part is that Nigeria is relying on history rather than solely on Scripture. That suggests to me that they fear arguments that Scripture supports same-sex marriage. The bishop stresses orthodoxy, not Scripture. Indeed, the appeal for special status seems intended to allow ++Nigeria to speak against homosexuality in the social and criminal spheres, rather than just the spiritual sphere, which I think even ++Welby sees as stepping beyond Scripture.

It is a re-run of the circumcision argument from millennia ago. Historically believers have been circumcised/straight so being a believer means being circumcised/straight.

Tobias Haller
Guest

It is a bit dualistic (if not gnostic) to claim freedom from “historical institutions” in contrast to the O.H.C.&A church, BCP and its ordinal, and the Articles — as if these were not just as historical.

As I noted at the time Nigeria amended its constitution, the Ordinal of 1662 requires ordinands to be “learned in the Latin tongue.” But that is probably just a historical, and therefore irrelevant, requirement.

This does represent a new phase in the life of the Anglican Communion.

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

I’d be curious. In what substantial way do people here think that what +Nigeria and +Kenya have written differs from the substantial position of the ABC or the Secretary General of the AC, or all those who voted for consequences for TEC?

Or: in what way is the position on marriage stated here–leaving aside atmospherics or manner of articulation–genuinely different from that of the ABC and the vast majority of Primates who gathered at Canterbury?

I believe it is important not to pull at any thread that appears loose, as if it is an isolated snag.

Lenten blessings en route to Palm Sunday.

Leon Clarke
Guest
Leon Clarke

One might want to speculate about who ‘The Authorities’ are. There are certainly a lot of interesting clues about what was said at the primate’s meeting. Also, I’m not clear what the special status they’re asking for really entails. They are currently entitled to flounce off from ACC meetings, or any other communion meetings they like. Would re-affirming this right be enough? Maybe we should pass rules to clarify that it is very difficult to censure provinces or throw them out of the communion. Or do we need to make it even harder, perhaps by passing some sort of anti-covenant?… Read more »

Jim Pratt
Guest
Jim Pratt

Iain Baxter and Andrew Godsall, Except for the passage which Iain cites (which does suggest an English amanuensis), my reaction reading the letter was that the thought, language and syntax were African, not American or English. This is not the usual homophobia from GAFCON, dressed up in polite language and theological flourish; this is much more blatant and direct, the true colours coming out. As with Kelvin, I think this does represent a sea change. Had TEC and ACoC suggested “special status” for those Provinces which accept LGBT clergy and same-sex relationships, the GAFCON crowd would have had none of… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

Laurence, the word “homophobia” is included in the January communique so homophobia must have been discussed in such terms and I assume ++Okoh felt some of that was directed at Nigeria.

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Kelvin, I agree: if only this had come when Rowan Williams’ rump was planted in Canterbury, despite his routine anguish, he’d probably have allowed the Communion to split into different tracks (what the Covenant envisaged anyhow).

Instead we have Welby, a devout evangelical who, going by past statements, sincerely believes that homosexuality’s a “salvation issue.” He’s said clearly and repeatedly that English teaching won’t change, and he’ll do anything he can to keep lesbian and gay Anglicans asexual and unequal.

If his African excuse collapses, however, it’ll be a tough sell to find another. That was his trump card.

Fr William
Guest
Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“Jeremy, if you are right and ACC is constituted as a charity under English law and is a effectively a club or association, doesn’t that mean the Equality Act 2010 applies and excluding or disciplining TEC for association with homosexual people would be unlawful?” Kate, I’m sure that the ACC has sought advice on the legal implications (if any) of the Primates’ “addendum.” Especially on whether the ACC has any duty or even ability to act on the “addendum.” Did the advice included the issues you address? I don’t know. It would be interesting to know whether the Equality Act… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Sorry to double post . . . . But a passage in Kate’s other post (“intended to allow ++Nigeria to speak against homosexuality in the social and criminal spheres”) is thought-provoking. I wonder whether someone might have actually told ACC members that for the ACC to discriminate on the basis of sexuality would expose the ACC and its officials or members to liability under English law? Perhaps a fear of legal liability explains, at least in part, why the most pro-discriminatory primates are staying away? It also might explain the new plea for “special status” within the Communion. It might… Read more »

Jim Naughton
Guest
Jim Naughton

I’m with Kelvin. I don’t care for the archbishop’s rhetoric, but I would love to see him flesh out this proposal.

Jeremy Pemberton
Guest
Jeremy Pemberton

“In summary, as long as we are now candidates for whom every opportunity in the Anglican Communion should be explored to gradually teach us to embrace the new sex culture, it will be unwise to deliberately walk into a well-prepared camp of recruitment, blackmail, indoctrination and toxic relationship.” Wow!Let’s look at this. “The new sex culture” – what is this? It is clearly very dangerous: “A well-prepared camp of recruitment, blackmail, indoctrination and toxic relationship”. The Archbishop is so homophobic that it is difficult to know what he is referring to here. At one level it sounds like he is… Read more »

Nicholas Henderson
Guest
Nicholas Henderson

This reads like a slightly modified press release from the schismatic Anglican Church in North America.

peterpi - Peter Gross
Guest
peterpi - Peter Gross

Weird word choices and phrases, “palaver” and that TEC (USA) is practicing homosexuality. I always thought of “palaver” as a colloquialism. Something you might hear in a country/western-themed bar (pub), not from the spokesperson for a primate. But, I find the comparison with England (Great Britain?) and the European Union interesting. Even if England/Great Britain voters elect to leave the EU, England/Great Britain will not be trying to dissolve the EU, will not engage in warfare against the EU, will still have some form of trade relationship with the EU. We’re not talking Great Britain and Napoleonic France here. So,… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“Nigeria, Kenya, and Uganda are going to have to try to build their “special status” by themselves. They are perfectly capable of doing this; nothing stops them. Nor does such a project require leaving the Communion. That threat is empty–indeed, it would invite church planting in those nations by the more liberal Communion provinces.” – Jeremy – It seems to me, Jeremy, that these three provinces of the Communion already have their own ‘Special Status’ – based on Gafcon’s ‘Jerusalem Statement’. They really don’t need any other sectarian ethos to make them ‘Special’ (Pure and Holy). They have already set… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

“Perhaps there could be a new Anglican Province called ‘Sola-Scriptura Anglican’.”

Nope. Though I would accept “Sola Modern-Homophobic-Interpretation-of Scriptura ‘Anglican'”.

Mary Clara
Guest
Mary Clara

Jeremy Pemberton, thank you for that helpful translation. It is speculative, I know, but it is important to try to imagine what the other person is thinking (and feeling) across this huge cultural, linguistic and theological gap.

Susannah Clark
Guest

Unity in diversity is the only resolution that will make co-existence possible, whether in the Church of England or the whole Anglican Communion. Saying: “We are one in Jesus Christ”. Then communities following their own sincere conscience on the sexuality issues. I have some sympathy for the Anglican leaders of Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya – as well as those here in the UK who believe that man-man sex contradicts the teaching of the Bible. I believe that, as a conscience issue, that position can be sincerely held. And that the exercise of conscience in these cases deserves to be respected… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“From his position of conscience, the guy has a point. – Posted by: Susannah Clark on Thursday – Susannah, while agreeing to much of what you say here, I do have to wonder at the culture of suspicion being used by ++Nigeria, when even the ABC – who is clearly more in tune with the Bible-based theology of Okoh than with the more liberal interpretion of the scriptures by those of us who believe that LGBTI sexual-orientation is not a matter for dismissal by theological conservatives in the Anglican Communion – is subjected to the sort of ‘battle tactics’ that… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

One dilemma, Susannah, in allowing the Primate freedom of conscience is that the consequence is then the denial of freedom of conscience to many ordinary LGBT people within Nigeria. How can that circle be squared?

Turbulent Priest
Guest
Turbulent Priest

One of the arguments in favour of facilitated conversations etc is that they encourage all participants to understand the point of view of others. The withdrawal of these bishops is because they have genuinely understood the non-homophobic but still anti-gay-marriage view of many evangelicals in England etc. (Not my view but close to the “official” c of e line now.) Indeed they arguably understand it better than I do. And they dislike it very strongly. So arguably their withdrawal is a success of those conversation processes. It is a good step in the demonstration of what has been obvious for… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

Father Ron, I’m not sure orthodox views should be characterised as “Bible-based”. Rather they are based on the traditional interpretation of the Bible,which is not altogether the same thing. Nor would I say that a liberal view is necessarily a “liberal-interpretation of the scriptures”. On the contrary, I for one see a liberal position as very soundly “Bible-based”.

Tim Chesterton
Guest

‘The Church of England was never a Calvinist church, or a solely protestant church.’

Never? I’d love to hear Diarmaid MacCulloch’s take on that statement (his biography of Thomas Cranmer is very enlightening on this sort of thing). I think you could make a good argument that at the time of the Reformation Calvinism was the basic theological position of the Church of England. Later on, of course, it went into retreat, but I think to say that the C of E was ‘never’ a Calvinist church is an exaggeration.

badman
Guest
badman

cseitz, you ask how what the Archbishop of Nigeria has written differs from the position of the Archbishop of Canterbury. I would say that the difference is clear from what the Archbishop of Canterbury said in his Address at the beginning of the Primates’ Meeting. He said: “All of us here need a body that is mutually supportive, that loves one another, that stoops to lift the fallen and kneels to bind the wounds of the injured. Without each other we are deeply weakened, because we have a mission that is only sustainable when we conform to the image of… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

If somebody sincerely believes that God says gay sex is wrong, then if I want respect for my conscientious beliefs, so too must I respect another Christian’s right to conscientious belief, even if I disagree with the belief itself. The whole problem with the Covenant was the attempt to impose uniformity on people’s sincere consciences. ***THAT WORKS BOTH WAYS*** As Christians, our unity doesn’t come from all having the same opinions. It comes from having the same God – Jesus Christ – and opening our hearts in faith. What we need, as Christians, is *grace*. Grace to love one another.… Read more »

S Cooper
Guest
S Cooper

Jeremy Pemberton’s post is helpful – it fits with what I have been saying. The GS are rejecting the ‘shared conversations’ etc and have never been interested in compromise. Now, how will Canterbury respond? Even Rowan Williams ignored his own beliefs to keep the communion together. I can’t see Welby letting the biggest provinces leave on his watch. It seems to me just wishful thinking around here, despite years of Canterbury not doing what most TA people want, to expect anything apart from the status quo – or less tolerance for contradictory views in the communion. English archbishops also like… Read more »

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Kate, I agree in principle; but in reality, you’d have better odds of finding a glacier in the Kalahari than getting any of these provinces to tolerate LGBT people. It’s an unwinnable fight, at least in the 21st century, very possibly into the 22nd, or indeed, ever. Offering them asylum’s the only realistic option. I agree with Susannah that the exercise of conscience in these cases deserves to be respected and protected (so long as it isn’t used to mask personal homophobia). I say that while condemning the scriptural commands. I respect the person, but not their opinions. Tolerance is… Read more »

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

As usual this conversation, and indeed the Nigerian bishops’ strictures are concerned only with what Susanna describes as ‘man – man’ sex. Thus is the truth yet again universally acknowledged that at the bottom of all this is misogyny and patriarchy, fear of the subversion of male roles and male power and fear that men might be seen to be as weak as women are perceived to be. Nothing about women, of course, whose sexual lives don’t count and who are there only for purposes of procreation and male pleasure.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“I can’t see Welby letting the biggest provinces leave on his watch.”

Nigeria seems to have one foot out the door already. “Special status or we’re out of here” is the drift I’m getting from this statement.

What’s curious is that the Archbishop Okoh seems to think that the Communion is what he wanted it to be when he thought the GS could dictate to TEC. But the Communion wasn’t that–it cannot require anything of TEC. Likewise it cannot require anything of Nigeria.

Has Archbishop Okoh painted himself into an ecclesiological corner?

Father Ron Smith
Guest

” Had TEC and ACoC suggested “special status” for those Provinces which accept LGBT clergy and same-sex relationships, the GAFCON crowd would have had none of it. Their position was always expulsion (and replacement by ACNA), as Orombi maintained in his early departure in January. The request for special status for conservatives is an admission that there is no hope for the enforcement of their particular brand of “orthodoxy” on the entirety of the Communion.” This is the situation in a nutshell. While GAFCON would never have consented to the prospect of pro-gay provinces being given their own ‘special slot’… Read more »

Davis Mac-Iyalla
Guest
Davis Mac-Iyalla

Nigeria LGBT Anglicans want to remain in their churches. They don’t want to seek asylum or flee their country. As we are analysing and deliberating what the leaders of the Nigeria Anglican Church are doing. Please let us pray for the powerless, voiceless and vulnerable Nigerian Anglicans.

Kate
Guest
Kate

I read the letter as wanting TEC excluded AND a special status, not an “or” as others seem to read it.

S Cooper
Guest
S Cooper

Yes, Kate – his starting point is that the primates excluded TEC and everyone expects TEC to do nothing to get back in by ‘repenting’ – therefore, his starting point is the Primates decision. All we are now seeing is the inconvenient ACC destroyed …. And it will be as welby won’t fight the GS (just as Williams wouldn’t do more than delay)…. All possible as numbers are on the GS side and all liberals will do in protest is make clever and irrelevant points here and moan about the situation while tolerating the exclusion of people like gene Robinson… Read more »