Thinking Anglicans

African challenges for the new archbishop

The Voice of America published this article about the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Tough Path Ahead for New Anglican Leader.

…The archbishop also comes from the church’s evangelical wing, which analysts say should stand him well in Africa. Pityana said that building a bridge between the two sides, however, will not be easy.

“Clearly any archbishop has got to be a master diplomat, has got to be somebody who can really balance out a variety of interests and pushes and pulls in the Anglican community. In this time, I would imagine there is a schism in all but name,” said Pityana.

Pityana said what is needed is an archbishop who can open dialogue, and he thinks Welby may have what it takes.

The incoming archbishop has worked as a crisis negotiator in Africa, working with separatists in the Niger Delta and negotiating with Islamists in northern Nigeria. His experience in Africa is important, Pityana said, especially in Nigeria, host to the world’s largest Anglican community.

“Bishop Justin has worked in Nigeria and one assumes that he has got fraternal relations with the leadership or the emerging leadership of the church in Nigeria. And so he would be able, at the very least, to be persuasive enough to open real genuine dialogue, which clearly under Archbishop Rowan Williams just did not happen,” said Pityana…

But speaking on the BBC, Nigerian Anglican leader Nicholas Okoh made it clear how he views the road ahead.

“The homosexual agenda that is being promoted here and there in the church, and by different governments here and there, if that is the agenda he is coming to promote, of course we will not be part of it,” said Okoh.

Leeds University African-religious studies expert Kevin Ward also is an Anglican priest. He said he thinks Welby has the qualities needed to make better headway toward dialogue within the Communion.

“I think that Justin Welby is going to work hard. He has this strong background of reconciliation, of working with divided people, bringing people together. And I think he will use those skills very well, not least in working with African church leaders,” said Ward.

Agence France-Presse reports: Nigerian lawmakers move ahead on anti-gay bill.
Also published by the Kenyan Daily Nation .

ABUJA — Nigerian lawmakers moved a step closer Tuesday to approving a bill that would harshly crack down on gay rights, including banning same-sex marriage and public displays of affection between homosexual couples.

The bill which has already been approved by the Senate passed a second reading in the House of Representatives with an unanimous vote and will now see a clause-by-clause review in the chamber at an undetermined date.

“It is alien to our society and culture and it must not be imported,” House majority leader Mulikat Adeola-Akande said during debate, referring to same-sex marriage. “Religion abhors it and our culture has no place for it,” she added.

House minority leader Femi Gbajabiamila said the bill represents “convergence of both law and morality.” He said that same-sex marriage “is both illegal and immoral.”

Nigeria’s senate in November 2011 approved the bill that would make same-sex marriages punishable by up to 14 years for the couple and 10 for anyone abetting such unions.

It also set out a 10-year sentence for “any person who … directly or indirectly makes public show of same-sex amorous relationships”.

Gay organisations would also be made illegal, leading some to raise concerns over whether funding channeled through non-governmental organisations in Nigeria for AIDS treatment would be put in jeopardy…


  • A Nigerian says:

    Christianity isn’t about diplomacy, it is about brethren walking together in love. When the discussion is reduced to “how diplomatic the Archbishop needs to be”, then know it isn’t Christianity we are talking about here.

    How can two walk together except they agree? That is the fundamental question. I don’t want to argue about the rightness or wrongness of homosexuality, but the Anglican Communion no longer remains a body where people agree, it is time to do away with it.

  • Laurence Roberts says:

    There is no argument about the rightness of gay relationships, caring, art,culture and spirituality.

    The government of Nigeria is just plain wrong and evil in its cruel intent.

    But we can contact the government and let them know the world is watching.

  • Tom Downs says:

    Dear Nigerian,
    You quote Amos; “How can two walk together except they agree?” The implied answer is that they can’t. But upon what must they agree? The implied answer: the direction they want to walk. In other words, they don’t have to agree on everything,just on the direction they wish to walk. To require complete agreement on everything before you will walk with someone is foolish and in no way justified by this quote. Christians are all on the same road, heading in the same direction, refusing to recognize that is to deny the Holy Spirit.

  • Chris H. says:

    Tom, are all “Christians” on the same road? There are so many types, from those who believe the stories in the Bible about literal resurrection and miracles,heaven, hell, etc. to “Secular Christians”,like “Secular Jews”-be good, help the poor, help the environment, but the stories are fairy tales. There are even “Christian Atheists” in the US, although I can’t explain it. And there’s everything in between. Are they all on the same road? What would a modern “Pilgrim’s Progress” look like?

    What direction would you say all Christians are walking? What is the lowest common denominator that is truly Christian, both in the Anglican Communion and world wide?

  • A Nigerian says:

    Dear Tom Downs,

    Let’s keep things simple. Africans think that sexuality is fundamental to their understanding of Christianity, some in the West clearly don’t agree.

    Africans can live with female vicars but they can’t live with homosexuality and there is a very strong theological reason for their position. They won’t accept whatever you tell them about homosexuality, instead they will point out the error of your ways.

    So what do we do, let’s do a way with this. There’s no point giving anyone ulcer because he’s been called upon to make parallel lines to meet.

    Let’s go our separate ways – today.

  • Erika Baker says:

    Dear Nigerian
    “Let’s go our separate ways – today.”

    That’s fine by me. I don’t believe that institutional unity is meaningful in any way.

    But please don’t think that this would mean that we would stop challenging you.
    You may believe that homosexuality is a sin but we will continue to ask you what Christ teaches us about sinners.
    How are we to treat them?

    As long as people like my brother Davis MacIyalla have to flee Nigeria and find a home in Britain because his life is in danger in his own country simply because he is gay, I will challenge you to consider whether persecution and imprisonment is really how Jesus teaches us to treat those we disagree with.

    To me, that is the far more important Christian question.

  • Perry Butler says:

    What exactly do you believe about homosexuality Nigerian? That homosexual practice is wrong and people with this orientation should be celibate? Fair enough..many Christians in the west believe that. But do you believe homosexuals choose to be gay? They feel this way because they are perverted? victims of witchcraft? seduced into it by others? that they could simply renounce their “condition”? and that it is right to put them in prison? make their lives difficult? disown them from families? If so then we clearly live in a parallel universe.

  • A Nigerian says:

    Dear Erica/Perry,

    I’ll veer off on a tangent to start with – notice that you guys are incensed about the “treatment of gays” in Nigeria, but relatively silent about the persecution of Christians in Northern Nigeria or the persecution of Copts in Egypt.

    Says something about your motivation.

    Now to the meat of the matter. The law against gays in Nigeria is abhorrent, uncalled for and stupid. Having said that, Nigeria has a myriad of problems like policy brutality, extra-judicial killings, corruption etc which should be dealt with concurrently with the treatment of gays.

    Once again, a prominent branch of the Church in the West has chosen to ignore these equally weighty issues and focus on gay rights, why?

    Do you think you can adopt this stance and be taken seriously by well meaning Anglicans/Christians in Nigeria?

    Davis Mac Iyalla has no place in the Anglican Church in Nigeria as long as he is openly homosexual and refuses to repent. Those are the rules, neither him nor myself made them and he knows. Should he be persecuted for being gay under the law? No, but tackling police brutality, Islamist persecution, extra judicial killings, corruption etc are far more important to me than a few vocal gays.

    Mrs. Orjih is a widow, her husband was beheaded by Boko Haram militants for refusing to reject Christ. There are several cases like that – documented in the Amnesty International report. That is what I strive to eliminate.

    Of course, Western Liberals will chose to emphasise a few vocal gays. How many gays have being killed for being gay in Nigeria? How can we take you people seriously?

  • Erika Baker says:

    Dear Nigerian,
    I didn’t say anything about the persecution of Nigerian Christians because it did not seem part of this thread and I was replying to your comments on homosexuality and on Christians having to walk together.

    There have been numerous statements of support for Nigerian Christians by the various members of the Anglican Communion and rightly so. Any persecution is appalling and what is happening cannot be condoned. And there are many parish links between Anglican parishes in the West and in Nigeria and there is a lot of practical work going on, thankfully. I do not accept your statement that prominent churches in the West ignore the plight of persecuted Nigerians.

    What do to about it is a complex question and I personally do not feel in a position to make a personal contribution.
    I was, on the other hand, able to help Davis Mac-Iyalla to get to safety.

    I agree with you that tackling police brutality and corruption is hugely important.
    What do you think we in Anglican Communion can do about it?

    But please be clear – any brutality is unacceptable and that includes Christian brutality against their own members.
    Davis might not have had a place in your church any longer but he should have been able to live in his country without fearing for his life.
    How many gays have been killed for being gay in Nigeria? As we have seen that gay people cannot risk to be open about who they are many are unknown in order to stay safe.
    I personally know of several who have been severely beaten up and threatened and who had to flee their country. This cannot be right.

    We cannot say that Christian persecution by Muslims is wrong but Christians persecuting gays is acceptable.
    As Christians, we should speak out against all forms of violence wherever they occur. None is acceptable. The whole culture of violence has to be changed.
    How do we do that?
    How can we in the West help you?

  • A Nigerian notes the lack of interest Westerners have (in his opinion) for:

    ¨Nigeria has a myriad of problems like policy brutality, extra-judicial killings, corruption etc which should be dealt with concurrently with the treatment of gays.¨

    I suspect he ought preach to the Nigerian chorus in Nigeria about these same hideous circumstances that both the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion and the Archbishop Okoh attempt to ignore as he/they exports more anti-lgbt difference/exclusion to the U.S. and Canada (while priding themselves/himself on their established morality):

    Archbishop Nicholas Okoh/NIGERIA : Homosexuality is ¨intended to destroy the established standard of morality¨

    Nigeria Inaugurates Missionary Diocese Of The Trinity In United States of America.

    ¨The Primate said that the creation and inauguration of the Missionary Diocese of Trinity (Indianapolis, Indiana) is a child of necessity to salvage the expired gospel that is being propagated in the TEC and Anglican Church of Canada.¨

    ¨SUNDAY, August 19, 2012, was a memorable day in the history of the Anglican Communion Worldwide.

    It was when the Primate of Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh; the Primate of the Anglican Church in North America, Most Rev. Robert Duncan, accompanied by three Nigerian Archbishops (Most Rev. Olu Akinyemi, Most Rev. Ikechi Nwosu and Most Rev. Ignatius Kattey), and nine other Bishops, inaugurated a new diocese in North America.¨

  • Tom Downs says:

    Dear Nigerian,
    You think of yourself as separate, you declare you are separate, maybe you even need to be separate because of local circumstances, but there is only one God. I’m walking toward God as are you. You think parallel lines; I think God is big enough to receive us both. You don’t have to be a Western Christian, but you could be gracious enough to let me be a Western Christian.

  • A Nigerian says:

    Leonardo Ricardo,

    Don’t know what you’re on about. Do you have documented evidence that “Nicholas Okoh is ignoring problems in Nigeria”.

  • A Nigerian says:

    Erika Baker,

    I chose my words carefully, I said “relatively silent” not “silent”.

    Nothing gets certain Western congregations as worked up as treatment of gays, but when it comes to actual persecution of practicing Christians there is a deluge of tepid responses.

    No Western government has ever considered “withholding aid” (egged on by Liberal congregations) because Regime A or B “persecutes Christians”. It is always about gays.

    Look, Nigeria has this useless law for the same reason the US has a useless law blockading Cuba – assertion of national pride.

    Having said that, Boko Haram keeps me worried – but you guys aren’t that bothered about it (hint: search this website and compare the passion demonstrated against “anti-gay laws” with that against Boko Haram).

  • Susannah says:

    A Nigerian: “There’s no point giving anyone ulcer because he’s been called upon to make parallel lines to meet. Let’s go our separate ways – today.”

    I visualise two seemingly parallel fences stretching into the distance, always seeming to be apart.

    But follow them far enough and you find that, somewhere over the horizon, they meet.

    All Christian paths lead towards Jesus Christ, and in the end we are One in Christ. That is our calling as Christians.

    Meanwhile, if we can’t agree on everything, we can still pray and exercise love towards each other.

    You raise the deeply troubling religious conflict in parts of Nigeria. I am sure that you are right to draw attention to that terrible situation.

    On the other hand, it seems to be Nigerian prelates who have accentuated the issue of man-man sex, and added that issue to Nigeria’s agenda of pressing needs.

    I believe, in Christ, we have far more in common than we have things that separate us.

    With love, we can affirm a unity in our diversity.

    A unity in Christ.

    Peace be with you, and may you know the grace and presence of God in your life.

  • A Nigerian says:


    Thank you for your kind words.

  • Michael Brink says:

    It is a great pity that ‘A Nigerian’ and others see the doing away with it (the Anglican Communion) as an option. As a fellow African in the Province of Southern Africa, I know all too well the struggle and pain of the Anglican clergy and faithful here in attempting to find an appropriate pastoral response to -in particular homosexual couples in committed relationships and also to clergy who happen to have deep seated homosexual orientations. What makes matters complicated in this neck of the words is the ultra-liberal South African constitution which permits gay marriage, rights etc on the one hand and then in the same Anglican province we have countries who oppose gayness as foreign and alien. What are our church leaders to do? Do we simply turn away the gay couple who have been in an exclusive relationship from church, do we welcome them in but ignore their sexuality or do we just hope they will go away and burn in jail on earth or hell in the here after? To further complicate matters, I am afraid that Anglicans in England simply dont have the moral weight or gravitas to preach to the (in this case) Nigerians and so ‘A Nigerian’ can make arrogant and glib statements about ‘doing away with it’ whilst being self-assured of his integrity. Rather, I hope and pray for those who struggle to find the way which can result in a church which can accomodate our gay brothers and sisters as children of Christ too or South Africa also will continue to take in waves of Nigerian refugees and immigrants with being gay as only one of the grounds for leaving there …

  • A Nigerian says:

    Michael Brink,

    I’m very sorry if I came across as “glib” or “arrogant”.

    We came to Christianity with a certain understanding of sexuality. That understanding is supported by solid theology.

    Somewhere along the line, somebody tells us (without explaining how or why) that homosexuality is now acceptable.

    You can’t separate the message from the messenger. The same sort of people who told us that the “resurrection was a conjuring trick with bones” are at the forefront of promoting homosexuality. They just aren’t believable to us and I’m glad you alluded to that.

    Nobody has really spent time explaining to Africans why “homosexuality is now tolerable in Christianity” – and I suspect why, there simply isn’t a theologically sound case for that position.

  • Nobody has really spent time explaining to Africans why “homosexuality is now tolerable in Christianity” A Nigerian

    Unfortunately the reverse is not true.

    Archbishops Akinola, ¨Gays produce hooligans¨, and Okho, ¨Homosexuality is intended to destroy the established standard of morality¨ have both slammed the door closed on the topic of the inclusion of Gay persons at Church. Also, listening/explaining or sharing on the Lambeth 1.10 ¨listening¨ suggestion isn’t a option, to date, at the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) …boycotting the last Lambeth Conference, and most other all-Anglican meet-ups is what Nigerian non-listening truth represents. Dodging reality by degradating others at the Anglican Communion (TEC and Anglican Church of Canada and the Church of England) doesn’t make your ¨explain to us arguments valid, A. Nigerian. Simply listen to the voice of Arcbhishop Desmond Tutu if you´re searching for a ¨relgious somebody¨ who has spent time explaining to Africans and the Anglican World why “homosexuality is now tolerable in Christianity.¨ Leonard Clark/Central America

  • Anne says:

    ” The same sort of people who told us that the “resurrection was a conjuring trick with bones” are at the forefront of promoting homosexuality. ”

    Nobody told you that the resurrection was a conjuring trick with bones, Nigerian. A former Bishop of Durham, David Jenkins, said that the resurrection was “FAR MORE than a conjuring trick with bones”, which is quite a different matter. It is not the case that a faith that is prepared to countenance new things (like admitting the Gentiles to the fellowship or challenging the practice of slavery)or understand things in new ways (we no longer accept a Biblical view of the cosmos, for example – there are not “waters above the heavens”…) is a weaker or deficient faith. We cannot freeze theological understanding at some point, and that includes trying to freeze it at the point when it was written, even if we could be sure we understood that. We need to take responsiblity for our own opinions, not behave as if we are obliged to think something simply because those before us have thought it. Of course there is merit in listening to what people before us have said and thought, but that needs to be set alongside what we see around us. I see plenty of good, faithful, honourable and loving people living good, faithful and honourable lives, who just happen to be gay and therefore, instead of wanting to express a good, faithful, honourable commitment to someone of the opposite sex, they want to express a good, faithful, honourable commitment to someone of the same sex. I cannot have a problem with people loving other people, and if God does then I wonder why we think he is worthy of worship?

  • A Nigerian says:

    Leonardo Ricardo,

    Great, you couldn’t put your views across at Lambeth. So Lambeth is the only forum available for cross cultural discussion in the Anglican Communion?

    You people are not serious about communication. You fill the pages of Western Media with your POV, as if that will suffice. Do Africans read “The Guardian”?

  • A Nigerian says:


    “We cannot freeze theological understanding at some point, and that includes trying to freeze it at the point when it was written, even if we could be sure we understood that.”

    What makes you assume that we have “frozen” theological understanding in Africa? We have female vicars and our approach to worship is much different from what my grandfather was used to.

    The point is that this particular innovation regarding homosexuality is yet to be accepted by us. The argument in support of it is extremely weak.

  • Being present counts. Bishop Robinson was present at the Lambeth Conference site at Canterbury. Bishop Robinson was humble, accepted his ¨lot¨ and was willing to listen and particiate when called upon to do so. Bishop Robinson showed up to face his critics and honorably answered questions man to man and man to women. Where were the Nigerian bishops?

    Grandstanding against LGBT people from afar and slandering LGBT Anglicans/others by Nigerian Archbishops is plain cowardly and unflattering…¨lower than pigs,¨ ¨destroying the standard of morality¨, ¨Gays produce hooligans¨, etc. statements directed against LGBT Anglicans/others seem more like nasty/scared children calling names on a darkened corner than men of God promoting willingness to love God and one another in broad daylight. Yet, the cowardly behavior continues at home in Nigeria and abroad.

  • A Nigerian says:

    This is the reason why we don’t listen to what any of you say about gay rights/marriage/homosexuality in the Church.

    You see, we have more important things to occupy our time. COCIN lost 12 pastors to Boko Haram and ++Okoh is more interested in preventing that sort of occurence. Since none of the pastors were gay, none of you know or care to know.

    Here’s the report:

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