Thinking Anglicans

Nigeria: open letter to Canterbury

The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) has published the following OPEN LETTER TO ABP. ROWAN WILLIAMS:

An open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury from the House of Bishops of the Church of Nigeria meeting in Osogbo, Osun State

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the one and only Lord Jesus Christ.

We write to you out of profound love for our beloved Anglican Communion and recognition that this current crisis in our common life together is an unrelenting source of anguish for you and for all concerned.

We have reviewed the paper “A Most Agonizing Road to Lambeth 2008” that was made available to us by our primate, the Most Rev’d Peter J. Akinola. We found it to be a compelling summary of many of the key events and meetings of the past ten years. It highlights the intractability of our current crisis.

We are persuaded that a change of direction from our current path is urgently needed and write to assure you of our willingness and commitment to work towards that end. We have noted your desire that the proposed Lambeth Conference be a place for fellowship and prayer and an exploration of our shared mission and ministry – all of these are of course commendable aims.

We all know, however, that the pressures of the present situation would adversely affect the outcome of the conference unless there is a profound change of heart; for how can we as bishops in the Church of God gather for a Lambeth Conference when there is such a high level of distrust, dislike and disdain for one another? How can we meet as leaders of the Communion when our relationships are so sorely strained and our life together so broken that we cannot even share together in the Lord’s Supper? It would be a mockery and bring dishonour to the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus the Christ.

We are also concerned about the abuse directed towards those who hold to traditional views on matters of Human Sexuality. The spate of hostility in the UK is alarming.

We are all witnesses to:

  • The presence of placard carrying and leaflets distributing campaigners at the last Lambeth Conference distracting Bishops who travelled thousands of miles for fellowship. These protesters effectively shifted the focus of the conference to human sexuality – as if that was all that mattered.
  • The physical assaults against clergymen with opposing view, such as your predecessor attacked in his own Cathedral pulpit, and a Kenyan bishop assaulted by two people dressed as clergymen.
  • The occasion when your own General Synod was disrupted by protestors angry over the handling of the Canon Jeffery John issue.
  • Recent attempts to mandate unbiblical views in the UK through force of law and the protests and attacks by activists determined to disrupt and intimidate any group that seeks to uphold biblical teaching.

In truth anyone who does not embrace revisionist views is a potential target. We know it is possible to provide some security to minimize such occurrences but is the additional cost justifiable? Would the resultant atmosphere of fear and uncertainty be conducive to the goals of such a large gathering of bishops?

These are all matters of concern but in our opinion there is a way forward.

The proposed Anglican Communion Covenant is the one way for us to uphold our common heritage of faith while at the same time holding each other accountable to those teachings that have defined our life together and also guide us into the future. It has already received enthusiastic support from the majority of the Communion. Therefore we propose the following action plan:

As a matter of utmost urgency, call a special session of the Primates Meeting to:

a) Receive the responses made by The Episcopal Church to the Dromantine and Dar es Salaam Communiqués and determine their adequacy.

b) Arrive at a consensus for the application of the Windsor Process especially in Provinces whose self-understanding is at odds with the predominant mind of the Communion.

c) Set in motion an agreed process to finalize the Anglican Covenant Proposal and set a timetable for its ratification by individual provinces. This cannot be done at the Lambeth Conference because it is simply too large and, we all know, the Anglican Covenant requires individual provincial endorsement and signature.

Postpone current plans for the Lambeth Conference (as has been done before). This will:

a) Allow the current tensions to subside and leave room for the hard work of reconciliation that is a prerequisite for the fellowship we all desire.

b) Confirm that those invited to the Lambeth Conference have already endorsed the Anglican Covenant and so are able to come together as witnesses to our common faith.

We make these proposals in good faith believing that they provide an opportunity for us to reunite the Communion consistent with our common heritage and give us a way forward to engage the world with the holistic Gospel of Salvation in Jesus Christ.

Sincerely,

Bishops of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion)
September 13th, 2007

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Cheryl Clough
Cheryl Clough
14 years ago

So the Nigerians are requesting “As a matter of utmost urgency, call a special session of the Primates Meeting..” and “Postpone current plans for the Lambeth Conference…” This strategy was played earlier this year when the meeting to confirm who would be one of Nigeria’s Christian leaders was brought forward to dates where the main Catholic contender was at an international conference in Rome. Moving the dates or calling special meetings demonstrates a lack of faith in God or patience; it reeks of political machinations driven by fear, ambition and/or selfishness. They could try relying on the gifts of Spirit,… Read more »

John-Julian, OJN
John-Julian, OJN
14 years ago

Well, now we’ll see if the “He’ll do whatever we tell him to do” comment will bear actual fruit or not…..If I had to bet on it, I’d bet the ABC will not agree with the requests.

And, then, of course, that will open the gates for the Global South “Lambeth”…which is almost bound to happen anyway.

John Wall
John Wall
14 years ago

One has to wonder, did Minns write this one too?

dave paisley
dave paisley
14 years ago

“Recent attempts to mandate unbiblical views in the UK through force of law”

= “Damn those pesky liberal lawmakers in the UK. Equal rights and protection for all. What do they think it is – a democracy?”

Merseymike
Merseymike
14 years ago

Ah, so the UK is now far too dangerous for bigots as they might be challenged. By then, hopefully the conservative evangelicals will be meeting in Abuja or Sydney, FiF will have finally recognised the appeal of crossing the Tiber, and the CofE might even be worth joining again…. What is clear is that there can never be unity and that the Anglican Communion is finished. lets bury it with some grace and sort out a sensible split. And, Rowan, as much as your silly obsession with keepoing us all united has led you to make some daft and frankly,… Read more »

Lapinbizarre
Lapinbizarre
14 years ago

A blatant attempt to force through the putsch. Can’t see it doing much beyond precipitating the departure of the anti-democratic faction of the “Global South” from the Anglican Communion.

Pluralist
14 years ago

According to this letter the central problem is, what, attacks by protesters and unbiblical law in the UK, the “spate of hostility”, so therefore the Archbishop should postpone the Lambeth Conference and rush ahead with the Covenant? What sort of logic of argument is this? Notice how this obsession about homosexuality continued by the Church of Nigeria is blamed elsewhere, via these references to protesters. This letter is disingenuous: furthermore it contains a form of moral blackmail. The “request” to postpone the Lambeth Conference is nothing less than a direct confrontation from this one Church and its primate Peter Akinola… Read more »

John Henry
John Henry
14 years ago

++Peter Jasper Akinola may be counting numbers–a majority of primatial supporters at the Primates’ Meeting NOW. If the 2008 Lambeth Conference is postponed, he and his cohorts will have time to ordain hundreds of pretender bishops for the U.S., Canada and for any other province supporting TEC and the Anglican Church in Canada, which may sway the numbers in Big Pete’s favor if, and when, the Lambeth Conference eventually does meet.

A win-win strategy, no doubt.

Jay
Jay
14 years ago

Presumably, Martin Mynns has done a better job of scrubbing the editorial history in Microsoft Word this time. And the IRD band played on…

Pluralist
14 years ago

Fuller views of mine and a cartoon of a certain Nigerian are here:

http://pluralistspeaks.blogspot.com/2007/09/hes-surely-not-for-turning-now.html

JCF
JCF
14 years ago

In short: “Greeting from BizarroWorld!” (where down is Up, and up is Down—and anti-gays, not gays, are under threat of violence)

Lord have mercy!

drdanfee
drdanfee
14 years ago

Wow. I guess this draws the realignment lines in the Anglican sands, if you are a realignment believer. Wow. The people whose essential traditional gospel witness turns so centrally on their received church life privileges to trash talk and mistreat their own current favorite target groups are now loudly claiming that they are themselves the most demeaned and mistreated target group. As Alice says in that novel, curioser and curioser. And very, very, very, very interesting. So let me see. I guess we are supposed to conclude that Nigerian straight Anglicans cannot marry the person who is the big love… Read more »

Anthony W
Anthony W
14 years ago

Among the many insights to be drawn from this document, one that strikes me is that support for staying away from Lambeth is wavering in the Church of Nigeria. Note also the lack of mention of The Path to Lambeth.

CH (CPT) Steven G Rindahl
CH (CPT) Steven G Rindahl
14 years ago

A very level headed proposal from a group often vilified by the American church as schismatics or worse.

Robert Ian Williams
Robert Ian Williams
14 years ago

traditional sexuality?

Anglicanism condemned contraception before 1930.

Condemend and still does in some provinces re-marriage after divorce.

What a meaningless statement?

Colin Coward
14 years ago

Protesters did not shift the focus of Lambeth 1998 to sexuality – the focus on homosexuality was initiated by the Statement on Human Sexuality issued by the Anglican Churches of the South meeting in Kuala Lumpur in February 1997. The meeting was led by the Most Reverend Joseph A. Adetiloye, Archbishop of Nigeria. The “Kuala Lumpur Statement”, as it came to be known, was then endorsed by the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church in America. A Nigerian initiated the focus on sexuality at Lambeth 1998 and with their conservative friends from America, it was Nigeria that forced it… Read more »

Colin Coward
14 years ago

My last post came from Colin, Director of Changing Attitude, trying to be rational, calm and accurate. I actually feel incredibly angry this morning and very disturbed after reading this open letter to ++Rowan. How dare Primates and bishops rewrite history? How dare they lie about the last Lambeth Conference? How dare they make false accusations? How dare they blame LGBT people? How dare they accuse us of being abusive when they are abusing us all the time? Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered Anglicans reading this letter will rightly feel angry, abused and wounded by the false accusations made in… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
Cheryl Clough
14 years ago

It might be a level headed proposal, but that does not make it a moral proposal. Someone can make a level headed decision to become an assassin because they are good with weapons, able to hide their intent, do not give of cues (e.g. the smell of fear), like the money and don’t care about the lifestyle. Someone can be really good at being an assassin. That doesn’t mean I have to like them nor endorse what they propose to do. We all know why they are doing this and what they want, we don’t have to agree nor cooperate.… Read more »

Lapinbizarre
Lapinbizarre
14 years ago

Unless Williams caves in Colin – and I cannot think that he will or see how he can – they will not be at Lambeth. They would loose too much face, and they’re clearly way past accepting any settlement that is not wholly on their terms. Between this new manifesto and the ongoing spate of rogue ordinations, they’re far too far out on the limb.

Interesting, incidentally, that two of the newly-announced CANA bishops are – finally – African. I suspect that CANA’s greatest area of potential growth might be in the African-American community. Will be curious to see.

Cheryl Clough
Cheryl Clough
14 years ago

Colin I can empathise with your anger, especially in when in the Telegraph article comments: “The Archbishop goes on to suggest that society has become “obsessional” about paedophiles. That is a risky thing to say, but it is also true: ill-judged suspicions are making society overprotective of children.” I find it completely bewildering that what two mutually consenting adults do in the privacy of their own bedrooms is sufficient to justify breaking a communion apart, or at least shearing off large chunks. Yet apparently what an adult does to a child, who lacks the ability to comprehend what is happening… Read more »

Lisa Fox
14 years ago

There is so much to comment upon in this Nigerian letter that I can’t even imagine how or where to start. So I will simply concur with Colin Coward’s comment upstream that “The most abusive event to happen at Lambeth ‘98 was the attempt by Bishop Emmanuel Chukwuma of Nigeria to exorcise Richard Kirker’s ‘demons of homosexuality.'” Louie Crew has an audio recording of that event at http://rci.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/exorciz2.wav. Some folks stood or sat peacefully with placards. One bishop spiritually assaulted one of them. Who’s doing violence to whom? Dr. Crew also provides a treasure trove of documents relating to the… Read more »

Josh Indiana
14 years ago

Lisa, the audio recording link doesn’t work.

Malcolm+
14 years ago

Is it 2007, or 1984?

The revisionism of this piece is so extreme it allows me to use a technical theological term to describe it. It is a series of lies upon lies.

I just wish the “conservatives” would stop lying.

Stephen Bates
Stephen Bates
14 years ago

I think the Nigerian bishops are quite right. They wouldn’t want to be distracted by being confronted by placard-waving gay people, who might want them to listen to their experiences, now would they? How could they possibly exorcise them in peace? What a bore that would be. And anyone present for that genocidal occasion at general synod a couple of years ago when Peter Tatchell invaded the stage and harangued the archbishops, who sat rooted to their seats with indifference until he left the stage, would not wish a repeat of that unseemly behaviour on anyone. It was QUITE terrifying:… Read more »

Pluralist
14 years ago

How dare Primates and bishops rewrite history? How dare they lie about the last Lambeth Conference? How dare they make false accusations? How dare they blame LGBT people? How dare they accuse us of being abusive when they are abusing us all the time? It is an Orwellian statement. You know, you could be right, that they have marched those troops so that they really have to do what they have threatened and have the “revolution” according to Chris Sugden – and yet march the troops down again and turn up at Lambeth. It would be such a huge loss… Read more »

Lisa Fox
14 years ago

Thanks for the alert, Josh. The period at the end of that sentence got included in the hyperlink. Go here — http://rci.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/exorciz2.wav — for the audio recording of the attempted exorcism. It’s pretty creepy to hear Kirker repeatedly asking, “Please take your hands off me,” as this bishop tries to do magic hocus-pocus on him.

ettu
ettu
14 years ago

Are bullies often cowards at heart? Nevertheless they are most assuredly dangerous –especially when they run in packs such as these do. Perhaps this is a dramatic face saving way to justify their new alternative to Lambeth?

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
14 years ago

“In truth anyone who does not embrace revisionist views is a potential target.”

Well, this pretty much fills my hypocrisy reservoir for the week. Again, these people have more nerve than a toothache! One is a “target” if one is forced to look at the open exercise of freedom of speech, but one is being chastened and encouraged to accept Jesus if one is cast in jail for being gay. Right.

Cheryl Clough
Cheryl Clough
14 years ago

So the audio records “Kirker repeatedly asking, “Please take your hands off me,””

Sounds like duress to me, so who was imposing force upon whom and who requires bodyguards? Who has had to wear bullet proof vests to their consecrations? I know Gene R did but I have not heard of any others, nor any this year. I’m sure we would have been told if it had been required…

Leonardo Ricardo
14 years ago

Oh, Nigerian Bishops, I feel the pain! Oy vey, it can be a killer!

Jim Pratt
Jim Pratt
14 years ago

I have to chuckle about the comments on protesters.

At a recent diocesan committee meeting conversation turned to “the issue”. Two of the committee members present were lay delegates to General Synod. Both described with disgust the daily gauntlet of protesters from Essentials that they had to run, and how they got paper cuts from the flyers and propaganda they were thrusting at delegates.

As for the effect, the one who was on the fence before synod is now firmly on the progressive side.

Pluralist
14 years ago

Perhaps a more liberal bishop should have come along and said, if you don’t stop laying your hands on him I shall lay my hands on you. There could even have been a chain of hands-laying.

Cheryl Clough
Cheryl Clough
14 years ago

Pluralist

But wouldn’t that have been assault and invading their private sacred space?

After all, we all “know” that GLBTs don’t have any boundaries and are like donkeys and cats in heat… Or are equivalent to females where, despite all Solomon’s searching, not a decent one could be found…

Heterosexual males can do whatever they want to whomever they want whenever they want. GLBTs or women are merely whores or “in heat” if they initiate or accept overtures.

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
14 years ago

“the daily gauntlet of protesters from Essentials that they had to run”

Oh, but Jim, they weren’t protesters, they were courageously standing for the Gospel against the pagans who would conform it to the world! Only aforesaid pagans can be protesters and annoying. And only they can do dishonest things. The efforst of Essentials to organize in this diocese aren’t dishonest either, despite all the behind the scenes machinations. Such unChristian behaviour is necessary now in defence of the Gospel, doncha know. It’s all a bit much.

Pluralist
14 years ago

I was just imagining a chain of bishops all exorcising their various demons. It’s a cartoon like thing. It is indeed a form of assault – it wouldn’t detain the police for too long but it is arrogance. Though if a bishop sprayed holy water on someone not consenting that would certainly be an offence of assault.

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