Tuesday, 15 March 2016

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

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 15 March 2016 at 11:37pm GMT | TrackBack
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Comments

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

Posted by: Jeremy on Wednesday, 16 March 2016 at 1:54am GMT

"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 Anglican Communion can have a liberal "ever closer union" with gay marriage, etc, etc, while those opposed should somehow have a second class status, in but not quite in?

I could live with that!

Posted by: Iain Baxter on Wednesday, 16 March 2016 at 3:24am GMT

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 for them to the Catholic Creeds, which are actually our basic Articles of Faith (in contra-distinction to GAFCON's Jerusalem Declaration.

If GAFCON's absence from ACC Lusaka means that they are bo longer wanting to relate to the rest of us in the Anglican Communion, I suggest that this is their problem, not ours. Schism is not a pretty word, nor is it an action calkculated to seek the Unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace - which is at the heart of our Eucharistic koinonia. As Jesus might say to us: "Fear Not!"

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 16 March 2016 at 5:22am GMT

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

Posted by: S Cooper on Wednesday, 16 March 2016 at 8:06am GMT

"Straight jacket" says it all.

Posted by: Peter S on Wednesday, 16 March 2016 at 8:42am GMT

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 it: There is a purity competition going on here. The provinces that decide that they will not play that game will find this decision quite liberating.

Meanwhile the Lusaka meeting is becoming more tolerant by the day. Methinks this ACC will not kowtow to Primates2016 or to the primates' discriminatory "addendum."

Posted by: Jeremy on Wednesday, 16 March 2016 at 9:31am GMT

What a palaver!

Posted by: Anthony Archer on Wednesday, 16 March 2016 at 10:08am GMT

Do we have any idea who actually wrote this statement?

Posted by: Andrew Godsall on Wednesday, 16 March 2016 at 10:30am GMT

"homosexuality and its allied practices"

Oh, Okoh's fevered imagination!

Kyrie eleison...

Posted by: JCF on Wednesday, 16 March 2016 at 10:38am GMT

"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."

Posted by: JCF on Wednesday, 16 March 2016 at 10:47am GMT

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.

Posted by: Kelvin Holdsworth on Wednesday, 16 March 2016 at 12:58pm GMT

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 threat is empty--indeed, it would invite church planting in those nations by the more liberal Communion provinces.

Posted by: Jeremy on Wednesday, 16 March 2016 at 1:42pm GMT

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.

Posted by: Kelvin Holdsworth on Wednesday, 16 March 2016 at 1:55pm GMT

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

Posted by: Rosemary Hannah on Wednesday, 16 March 2016 at 1:56pm GMT

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?

Posted by: Kate on Wednesday, 16 March 2016 at 1:58pm GMT

"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?

Posted by: Laurence Cunnington on Wednesday, 16 March 2016 at 2:16pm GMT

"as the Lord has commanded in His holy word "

Excellent. Has he tried reading it now?

Posted by: Tim on Wednesday, 16 March 2016 at 2:26pm GMT

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.

Posted by: Kate on Wednesday, 16 March 2016 at 2:29pm GMT

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.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Wednesday, 16 March 2016 at 2:55pm GMT

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.

Posted by: cseitz on Wednesday, 16 March 2016 at 3:29pm GMT

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? That way, when the nasty liberals turn on Nigeria, the Nigerians will know they are safe.

Posted by: Leon Clarke on Wednesday, 16 March 2016 at 3:43pm GMT

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 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.

Posted by: Jim Pratt on Wednesday, 16 March 2016 at 3:57pm GMT

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.

Posted by: Kate on Wednesday, 16 March 2016 at 4:15pm GMT

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.

Posted by: James Byron on Wednesday, 16 March 2016 at 4:26pm GMT

The Archbishop of Uganda seems to have a foothold in Derby: http://www.derby.anglican.org/en/news/latest-news/news-archive/archbishop-of-uganda-visits-derby.html

Posted by: Fr William on Wednesday, 16 March 2016 at 4:44pm GMT

"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 2010 applies to the ACC.

Posted by: Jeremy on Wednesday, 16 March 2016 at 5:26pm GMT

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 also explain some of the more feverish phrases in this statement ("well-prepared camp," "the authorities [*legal* authority?]," and "walking into a well-rehearsed scheme to gradually apply persuasion, subtle blackmail, coercion").

Posted by: Jeremy on Wednesday, 16 March 2016 at 5:36pm GMT

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

Posted by: Jim Naughton on Wednesday, 16 March 2016 at 5:57pm GMT

"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 sounding off again against all gay people. There is a tendency to conflate homosexuality and paedophilia in the thinking of some of the most anti-gay church leaders in Africa as we know. But there has never been a shred of credible evidence produced to support this. So it may be that.

But I actually think that this venomous last paragraph is really aiming at those, like our own Archbishop, who recognise that such a thing as homophobia exists, who recognise also the "stunning quality" of some gay relationships, and who may be "the authorities" Oko is appalled and incensed by. The new sex culture in this reading, is any church that seems to welcome LGBT people in any way. It is a culture that does not make sex binary, exclusively heterosexual and chooses not to punish and humiliate its LGBT members.

The "well-prepared camp of recruitment" could be a reference to the way that the meeting in January was structured, which as we heard obliged the participants to meet and listen to those with whom they have no truck normally.

"Blackmail"? Perhaps a reference to aid arrangements and support offered from unsound Western churches to some African provinces. The kind of gifts that the Sudanese now will not touch.

"Indoctrination" - an encouragement to see another's point of view and to give it any credibility is very threatening to someone who is both convinced of their own position and butressed by their profound inner conviction that they are defending an exclusive purchase on God's truth. Arguments, and encouragements to see any other position are very disturbing and worrying.

So that all adds up to "toxic relationship". Dangerous for the "true believers" in Africa. So you can't risk going and spending any time with them. So no more ACC, no more Anglican Communion. So much for "walking together".

I may be wrong, but it seems to me that there is some real possibility that it is not gay people tout court who he is referring to, but instead launches the bile he usually reserves for us at the ABC and the other church leaders who simply wouldn't be nasty enough, and who, perhaps, for the first time, challenged the African Archbishops over their ill-informed and deadly homophobia.

Posted by: Jeremy Pemberton on Wednesday, 16 March 2016 at 6:13pm GMT

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

Posted by: Nicholas Henderson on Wednesday, 16 March 2016 at 6:31pm GMT

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, if Nigeria and the other African provinces want to have a relationship with the rest of the Anglican Communion in the same manner that a potentially post-EU England/Great Britain will have with the European Union, that might not be such a bad thing.
But I feel that what the African provinces want is to tell the membership of the Anglican Communion how they should really be run.

Posted by: peterpi - Peter Gross on Wednesday, 16 March 2016 at 7:35pm GMT

"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 themselves apart from 'hoi poloi'.

A lot depends now on whether the ACC feels strong enough to carry on the ethos of Unity in Diversity (traditional Anglicanism) without them. We would not be excluding U., K. & N., they could do this quite well for themselves - if that's what they really want. However, they can't have their cake and eat it. They have to make their own minds up.

Ot all reminds me of a sect in N.Z. called 'Bible Baptists'. Perhaps there could be a new Anglican Province called 'Sola-Scriptura Anglican'.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 16 March 2016 at 10:36pm GMT

"Perhaps there could be a new Anglican Province called 'Sola-Scriptura Anglican'."

Nope. Though I would accept "Sola Modern-Homophobic-Interpretation-of Scriptura 'Anglican'".

Posted by: JCF on Thursday, 17 March 2016 at 1:09am GMT

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.

Posted by: Mary Clara on Thursday, 17 March 2016 at 5:09am GMT

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 and protected.

Where two consciences contradict, as Christians, we need to recall the unity and oneness we have (eternally) in Jesus Christ. And so there is unity, even if there is also diversity of conscience, community, and culture.

The Church of England was never a Calvinist church, or a solely protestant church. Degrees of diversity of conscience were accommodated. Space for grace was built in (even in some of the wording of the Prayer Book).

And to me, that space for grace contributed to the distinctive nature of Anglicanism.

Those of liberal disposition here need to consider a similar graciousness towards fellow Christians in the African Churches, and those here in England who oppose gay sexuality. The challenge of grace works both ways.

The challenge is not "which party is right"? That leads only to schism: it is a circle that can't be squared.

The challenge is: "Can people find the grace to love and care for each other, even in diversity of conscience?"

From his position of conscience, the guy has a point.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Thursday, 17 March 2016 at 7:12am GMT

"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 Okoh has used here.

the invocation of 'grace' is all very well, but it does take at least 2 to tango.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 17 March 2016 at 10:04am GMT

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?

Posted by: Kate on Thursday, 17 March 2016 at 1:40pm GMT

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 some time---in anything like its current form the Anglican Communion is irretrievably broken. The only question is whether the breakup will be orderly (cf Czechoslovakia) or chaotic or worse (cf Yugoslavia). More analogies from recent European history!

Posted by: Turbulent Priest on Thursday, 17 March 2016 at 2:26pm GMT

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".

Posted by: Kate on Thursday, 17 March 2016 at 3:44pm GMT

'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.

Posted by: Tim Chesterton on Thursday, 17 March 2016 at 4:05pm GMT

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 Christ, which is first to love one another. The idea is often put forward that truth and unity are in conflict, or in tension. That is not true. Disunity presents to the world an untrue image of Jesus Christ. Lack of truth corrodes and destroys unity. They are bound together, but the binding is love. In a world of war, of rapid communications, of instant hearing and misunderstanding where the response is only hatred and separation, the Holy Spirit whose creative and sustaining gifting of the church is done in diversity, demands that diversity of history, culture, gift, vision be expressed in a unity of love. That is what a Spirit filled church looks like."

That appears quite radically different from the approach which says that unity is conditional on unanimity, and that, where there is honest disagreement, the parties should separate rather than continue to hold together in love.

Posted by: badman on Thursday, 17 March 2016 at 4:30pm GMT

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.

My home church is and always has been evangelical, espousing views I simply don't agree with. And yet I've found grace there. Community. Real love shown to my children (all of whom, by God's grace, have grown up with faith).

So I don't think Christian communion is about 'being right' but about finding openings to grace. So that God can help us love.

I strongly believe that we are called to co-existence with other Christians in all their (and our) diversity. That takes grace and patience and love, and respect for them as human beings (even if we think they don't show that respect to others) instead of demonising them.

It is entirely possible to have a Church and Communion, which lives with Unity in Diversity, and allows 'space for grace' even to those with differing views. I believe - here in England - we should do exactly that. And seek God's grace to do it. Not be schismatic. The whole history of the Church is littered with sect and schism, because people put the emphasis on 'being right'.

Nicholas Okoh gets one thing right: we need special status - in the sense that we need the right to exercise our conscientious belief and not be disfellowshipped.

Now he may not allow LGBT/liberal Christians that right to conscience. But if he's starting to think of 'protected' rights to conscientious belief, that could be a beginning. Liberal Christians - right here in the Church of England - need that too.

If we run away to play in a different sandpit, then we may be diminished. Because the process of opening up to grace may consist not of baling out, but of staying the course even though it's hard, and learning to love our (theological) enemies.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Thursday, 17 March 2016 at 4:57pm GMT

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 a bit of Roman approval .... Another, more subtle influence, that'll keep Welby in line with most of the Primates

Posted by: S Cooper on Thursday, 17 March 2016 at 5:02pm GMT

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 nothing if it doesn't extend to views we're repelled by.

Flipside is, tolerance isn't surrender. It should absolutely not be used to justify systemic inequality in churches outside Sydney Diocese and the Global South.

Posted by: James Byron on Thursday, 17 March 2016 at 6:34pm GMT

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.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Thursday, 17 March 2016 at 9:33pm GMT

"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?

Posted by: Jeremy on Thursday, 17 March 2016 at 11:04pm GMT

" 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' WITHIN the Communion; this, seemingly, is what he would like for his own anti-gay provinces.

Doesn't seem logical, somehow.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 17 March 2016 at 11:27pm GMT

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.

Posted by: Davis Mac-Iyalla on Friday, 18 March 2016 at 1:04am GMT

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

Posted by: Kate on Friday, 18 March 2016 at 1:15am GMT

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 from Lambeth 08... while talking of Martin Luther King etc.....

Posted by: S Cooper on Friday, 18 March 2016 at 8:36am GMT

Abp Okoh may want TEC excluded, but he seems to understand that Primates2016 rejected this idea. Which is why he is boycotting ACC16.

Posted by: Jeremy on Friday, 18 March 2016 at 11:30am GMT

"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 from Lambeth 08... while talking of Martin Luther King etc....."

That was in a comment addressed to me so I will reply - quickly because I am dashing. I hardly think what happened 8 years ago is relevant. In advance of the Primates Gathering, liberals did a lot in the UK writing to ABC. Maybe as a result, the communique was clearly not what Nigeria and some other Primates wanted. All without being the ones to break the communion. So I disagree with you.

Posted by: Kate on Friday, 18 March 2016 at 12:17pm GMT

It is worth re-reading the GAFCON Jerusalem Declaration. Three points relevant to this discussion stand out for me:

1. GAFCON seeks a communion which better represents the demographics of Anglican which I suggest can only be read as a greater role for African Primates and a reduced role for Canterbury. So that suggests a clear political goal.

2. They seek discipline against churches with heterosexual views so their faces are set against the diversity Susannah Clark suggests.

3. Although they try to portray themselves as Bible-based, they say, "The Bible is to be translated, read, preached, taught and obeyed in its plain and canonical sense, respectful of the church’s HISTORIC and CONSENSUAL READING." (Emphasis added.) It means that any arguments advanced that the Bible does support same-sex unions will be rejected: they support traditional Anglicanism per se.

Everything for me points to a movement with political goals (a change in leadership of Anglicanism) and which seeks to grandfather in historical homophobia and rejecting and new analysis of Scripture and which will not be accommodating of any twin trAck solutions.

Posted by: Kate on Friday, 18 March 2016 at 7:37pm GMT

Richard Ashby makes a very important point.

Do Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda ordain women?

Posted by: peter kettle on Friday, 18 March 2016 at 8:11pm GMT

'Do Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda ordain women?'

Peter, this is from Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ordination_of_women_in_the_Anglican_Communion):

'In 1980, the Anglican Church of Kenya agreed in principle that women could be ordained, and that each diocese was to be autonomous in taking up the issue. In 1983, Henry Okullu, bishop of the Diocese of Maseno South in the Anglican Church of Kenya, ordained Lucia Okuthe as priest. In the same year, William Rukirande, Bishop of Kigezi in the Church of Uganda, ordained three women as priest, Monica Sebidega, Deborah Micungwa Rukara and Margaret Kizanye Byekwaso. Formal legislation for the ordination of women as priests was ultimately approved in both provinces in 1990.'

Note that the C of E GS approved the ordination of women in 1992.

Posted by: Tim Chesterton on Friday, 18 March 2016 at 11:34pm GMT

Sorry

2. They seek discipline against churches with heterosexual views so their faces are set against the diversity

In my earlier comment should be

2. They seek discipline against churches with heteroDOXIC views so their faces are set against the diversity

Posted by: Kate on Saturday, 19 March 2016 at 3:06am GMT

Uganda and Kenya both ordained their first women priests in 1983

Posted by: JohnSandeman on Saturday, 19 March 2016 at 4:20am GMT

Badman, my observation was simply that the vast preponderance of Primates agree that marriage is what one now calls 'traditional' and are opposed to any alteration as being against what they called core doctrine. That includes the ABC and Kenya and Nigeria.

It sounds like the point of disagreement is how one thinks about the LGBTI arguments at their length and breadth, and the civil laws in respective nations.

Lenten blessings.

Posted by: cseitz on Saturday, 19 March 2016 at 6:44am GMT

Yes, Kate - they wrote letters. And the present Canterbury simply acts as if the covenant is in place and excludes tec .... Maybe more letters will be written but it doesn't change the reality of numbers in the communion. I don't want liberals to waste more years hoping for change the demographics of the communion will never deliver.

Posted by: S Cooper on Sunday, 20 March 2016 at 1:48am GMT

http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/ens/2016/03/17/communion-women-can-help-change-sisters-fate-says-anglican-leader/

From remarks made addressing the AC and TEC delegations to the UN Commission on the Status of Women

Idowu-Fearon acknowledged during his speech that in many contexts, including some parts of Africa, “religion can be a stumbling block to change.” Earlier that day, he said, he learned “to my horror” that the parliament in his home country of Nigeria had defeated gender equality legislation for the third time. Opponents claimed that the proposed law violated Nigerian cultural norms as well as both the Bible and the Quran.

He also recalled attending a meeting of the Nigerian provincial standing committee in 2003 after the Episcopal Church had agreed to ordain openly gay Episcopal priest Gene Robinson as the bishop of New Hampshire. During that meeting, the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals, adopted in 2000, were being discussed. A senior bishop declared that the development goals are “ways of the West wanting to poison our minds and remove us from focusing on the gospel.” Idowu-Fearon said the bishop refused to back down when he challenged him.

also an exchange between the SG and Cynthia (of this parish).

Posted by: Kennedy on Sunday, 20 March 2016 at 3:38pm GMT

http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/ens/2016/03/22/anglican-episcopal-women-reaffirm-unequivocal-commitment-to-stay-in-communion-with-each-other/

...Given the global tensions so evident in our church today, we do not accept that there is any one issue of difference or contention which can, or indeed would, ever cause us to break the unity as represented by our common baptism. Neither would we ever consider severing the deep and abiding bonds of affection which characterize our relationships as Anglican women.

Posted by: Kennedy Fraser on Wednesday, 23 March 2016 at 4:50pm GMT

Kennedy - that'll be ignored; written off as a TEC funded talking shop. No point hoping for change after so much evidence that things won't change

Posted by: S Cooper on Thursday, 24 March 2016 at 9:44am GMT

"Kennedy - that'll be ignored; written off as a TEC funded talking shop."

You are very wrong S. Cooper in the actual facts. The Anglican Communion delegation and the Episcopal Church delegations are separate and this is the Anglican Communion women's delegation's statement. There's only one TEC liaison on it. The starting point of this statement is from the Anglican women in 2007, after the +Gene Robinson brouhaha. The recent statement reaffirms their 2007 statement.

Though we did some things together, a lot of the time we were on separate tracks (the Commission on the Status of Women ends today).

Personally, I (on the Episcopal Church delegation) mingled quite a bit with the Anglican women before and after that statement. If you read one of the articles, you will see that I "came out" and made a statement to Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon in support of a statement made to him by Mrs. Chama, from Central Africa, on the Anglican delegation. (For the record, I had not planned to speak, but it had to be done). Many of the Anglican women, including some from Africa, made a point of supporting me and what I said. So it is very clear that this statement by the Anglican women is sincere.

I spoke with some of them last night, at our last dinner. They are behind it.

So what is clear is that the division is not Global South vs. Global North. The division is sisters (and our brothers who support us) versus the brothers who are caught up in division.

We sisters are walking together. The Episcopal delegation is going to issue a statement that acknowledges and affirms the statement by our Anglican sisters.

Kennedy, your daughter, Rachel, is a delight! Thank you for facilitating our meeting.

Posted by: Cynthia on Thursday, 24 March 2016 at 3:45pm GMT
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