Thinking Anglicans

Church of Nigeria criticises ACNA

Updated again Tuesday 2 March

On 19 January, the Anglican Church in North America published Sexuality and Identity: A Pastoral Statement from the College of Bishops.

On 22 February there was a response from some individuals within ACNA in the form of a public letter addressed to “Dear Gay Anglicans”. Although this has been withdrawn by the originator as discussed here , you can read a copy of it here. This prompted a response on 23 February: Archbishop Beach writes to the Diocese of the South about the “Dear Gay Anglicans” open letter.

On 26 February, the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) published a letter signed by Archbishop Henry Ndukuba, the Primate, which heavily criticises ACNA for the original pastoral statement. The original PDF format of this letter can be seen here: Church-of-Nigerias-Position-on-the-Recent-Developments-in-ACNA-February-2021, and there is a copy of the letter at Anglican Ink, over here.

That in turn generated a response from ACNA on 27 February: Clarity in the Midst of Confusion: A Provincial Statement on the Events of the Week.

Updates

No British mainstream media reporting of this yet, but some other websites have pieces:

Episcopal Cafè Nigeria’s archbishop to ACNA: no such thing as “Gay Christian”

Living Church Sexuality Conflict Roils ACNA

Fulcrum Andrew Goddard Gay Christians, ACNA and GAFCON

Episcopal Cafè Without mention of Church of Nigeria criticism, ACNA responds

Living Church Nigerian Primate Lashes Out at ACNA

Church Times GAFCON leaders at odds over pastoral care of gay Christians

The Standard (Kenya)  Cracks within Anglican Communion widens over same-sex relationships

Daily Post (Nigeria) Homosexuality: Anglican Church in Nigeria wants American bishops sanctioned

Surviving Church Words sometimes break. Divisions and Disputes in the ACNA world

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Father Ron Smith
4 months ago

Paradoxically, the Archbishop of Nigeria’s statement regarding the inadmissability of ACNA’s toleration of Gay people in the Church – with its chiding of America’s ACNA Archbishop Foley (who is also the current Chair of GAFCON) – could be the splinter of a wedge that separates the GAFCON Global South from its Northern Branch (ACNA). This shouldn’t be too suprising when one understands that any act of schism only promotes further acts of schism. The issue here is further emphasised by America’s very recent passing of the legislation that protects LGBT+ people from acts of discrimination in the U.S. (This could… Read more »

Cynthia Katsarelis
Cynthia Katsarelis
Reply to  Father Ron Smith
4 months ago

As is, the ACNA statement is offensive because it still frames us as having a disease “those with same-sex attraction;” it is off-the-charts offensive. But in attempting to be pastoral, it does seem to rule out responding to us with human rights violations. For the Nigerian archbishop, nothing short of abusing the human rights of LGBTQ+ is acceptable. This was always the tension, and Welby is in the midst of that tension as well, as was Rowan before him; generally siding with those who strongly support human rights abuses against LGBTQ+ people. The US legislation, welcome though it is, might… Read more »

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Father Ron Smith
4 months ago

If I may offer a correction to one of your points, Fr. Smith: The US House of Representatives, the lower house of the US Congress, has passed a bill to include GLBT people in the US civil rights laws. But, the bill now goes to the US Senate, where there is a literal 50-50 split between the Democratic Party (more liberal) and the Republican Party (more conservative), with Vice President Harris (Democratic Party), acting as Senate president and deciding vote in case of a tie (breaking a tie is the only time the Vice President votes). But several Democrats are… Read more »

Cynthia Katsarelis
Cynthia Katsarelis
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
4 months ago

I think the Dems are going to end the filibuster if they can’t get very popular legislation passed (like the Equality Act, John Lewis Voting Rights Act, and an increased minimum wage). It’s my prediction. The “conservative Dems” will likely compromise when the leadership waves the right carrot in their faces…

Nonetheless, Equality Act or no, there will be no impact on ACNA.

dr.primrose
dr.primrose
4 months ago

So, as Nigeria argues, even permitting persons who are “Christians who experience same-sex attraction” within the church door constitutes a “capitulation to recognize and promote same-sex relations among its members.” All of this directly concerns ACNA, not the Church of England. But it seems to me, the Church of England is going to eventually have to face whether it wants to adopt the Church of Nigeria position in order to prevent the Anglican Communion from fracturing or whether it wants to become a fundamentalist sect that is even more irrelevant to the vast majority of English people than it is… Read more »

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  dr.primrose
4 months ago

I suspect there’s an element of power politics in this, the Nigerian Bishops flexing their muscles and see if they can force ACNA to comply, knowing that ACNA is in a much weaker position than the official Anglican provinces.

Jim Pratt
Jim Pratt
Reply to  Jo B
4 months ago

Indeed. GAFCON was a colonialist creation of conservative elements in the UK and North America to advance their own agenda. Nigeria and others in the Global South have realized this and are increasingly willing to cast them off. And it is also a flexing of muscles to see if Welby will bend.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  Jim Pratt
4 months ago

it is unsettling for social conservatives, in North America for example, to find themselves now very much the junior partner in relation to the Global South Would you say that by contrast social progressives, in North America for example, find themselves still very much the senior partner in relation to the Global South, then? Do they, should they, find that comforting or unsettling? a colonialist creation of conservative elements in the UK and North America to advance their own agenda I’m not very familiar with the background to this. Who or what are these conservative elements, and what is their… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  Richard Pinch
4 months ago

… or someone who wanted to be helpful might take a moment to give a potted summary, which would have been of interest not only to me but to others reading this. I will confess to an inclination to the notion that people who make claims about things may reasonably be asked to explain what they mean, or run the risk of being thought to be unable, as opposed to unwilling, to support their claims with explanation or evidence. I’m not sufficiently versed in the theological or philosophical literature to understand the technical term “shtick” (*), but make no apology… Read more »

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  Richard Pinch
4 months ago

I have very little knowledge of Yiddish. I’ve picked up a few words, like kibitzer, which come in handy sometimes.

Last edited 4 months ago by Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  Richard Pinch
4 months ago

Thanks, the Surviving Church article is interesting, and names names: of people I hadn’t previously heard of. There is certainly a power struggle aspect to this debate, and that is of course means that close and careful reasoning is the more important. It led me on to wonder about an element of the Jerusalem Declaration not part of the discussion here: the statement Many of its proponents claim that all religions offer equal access to God and that Jesus is only a way, not the way, the truth and the life.  This isn’t something I recognise within the church that… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  Richard Pinch
4 months ago

Thanks again. There seemed rather a disconnect between the two topics and I was wondering if there had been some hidden connection, possibly deriving from the “colonialist creation of conservative elements in the UK and North America to advance their own agenda,” or alternatively some other specific event or movement to which it had been a reaction.

Last edited 4 months ago by Richard Pinch
Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Richard Pinch
4 months ago

I’ve arrived at a view not dissimilar to Rahner’s (if I’ve understood it correctly and I probably haven’t), mostly by ruminating on 1 John 4:7-end, and inspired (for all its problematic elements) by C S Lewis’s description of Emeth in the Last Battle.

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
Reply to  dr.primrose
4 months ago

I don’t quite get your point here: But it seems to me, the Church of England is going to eventually have to face whether it wants to adopt the Church of Nigeria position in order to prevent the Anglican Communion from fracturing or whether it wants to become a fundamentalist sect that is even more irrelevant to the vast majority of English people That isn’t a dichotomy, that’s a consequence. The Church of England could adopt the position of the Church of Nigeria. But if it did so, it would become a fundamentalist sect. You would not have to work… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Interested Observer
Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  Interested Observer
4 months ago

Curiously, there’s no discussion about which of the positions might be right, or in accordance with Scripture, or other things which some people might think relevant. Are the worldly consequences of the Church’s position the only factors to be considered?

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Richard Pinch
4 months ago

If you want to make a case for either the ACNA or CofN positions I’m sure you’ll find plenty of debate. The point is that ++Justin’s utter failure to support and protect LGBT folk either has its roots in his own homophobia or in a flawed attempt to keep Anglicanism together by appealing to the homophobia of others. If the former then he can never be homophobic enough for the Nigerian Bishops, and even if he could it would likely get him arrested.

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
Reply to  Richard Pinch
4 months ago

If the Church of England were to state, in terms, from an official representative, that homosexuality is “a virus that should be urgently and radically expunged and excised” then it would be justly regarded as hate speech, and it would be reasonable to seek (for example) the Charity Commission to remove charitable status from all Anglican organisations and for all politicians to no platform the entire hierarchy. You can plead “accordance with Scripture” all you like, but inciting violent murder of people is illegal, no matter what sources you adduce to justify it. No-one cares what Scripture says when you’re… Read more »

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  Interested Observer
4 months ago

remove charitable status and no platform the hierarchy? Perhaps, Mr Observer. Or perhaps the government should recognise that something is rotten in the Church of England and take back control. It has happened with the railways and with parts of the Health Service. It can and should happen with the Church.

Malcolm Dixon
Malcolm Dixon
Reply to  T Pott
4 months ago

The Church of England certainly has a lot to answer for, and probably requires outside intervention in some areas, but the idea that our current bunch of single-issue opportunists, masquerading as a government, could make it better is risible.

Canon Dr Michael Blyth
Canon Dr Michael Blyth
Reply to  Richard Pinch
4 months ago

If mission is only to the elect then obviously the weeding out of undesirables from church attendance and the exercise of spiritual discernment to dispel and expunge ‘synagogues of Satan’ from vulnerable congregations will be a biblical priority for some: and such appears to be the approach of the Archbishop of Nigeria. Although this remains a legitimate, if narrow, interpretation of Christianity, he and others still have a right to hold it and to believe it to be correct. However, if mission is about extending Christ’s gracious invitation to all men and women, then that does not require shooing away… Read more »

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Canon Dr Michael Blyth
4 months ago

“Although this remains a legitimate, if narrow, interpretation of Christianity, he and others still have a right to hold it and to believe it to be correct. ”   Actually it isn’t a legitimate view, if by that you mean in accordance with the Gospels. We are ALL sinners, and other than blasphemy of the spirit, there is no Gospel support for a gradation of sin. “Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.”… Read more »

Canon Dr Michael Blyth
Canon Dr Michael Blyth
Reply to  Kate
4 months ago

My drift I think was that the Nigerian point of view was legitimate to the understanding of the Nigerian church, since I assume their Archbishop speaks for them. It could equally be the position (as it has been in the past) of some Christians elsewhere who hold a strict view of election and predestination (along Calvinist lines).I think my general argument made it fairly clear that I do not regard this approach as consonant with the gospels. However I find your observations on ‘blasphemy against the spirit’ interesting from the point of view of refusing to acknowledge the image of… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Canon Dr Michael Blyth
peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Canon Dr Michael Blyth
4 months ago

I know this is a minor point in your comment, but what is a “synagogue of Satan”? We can believe that the Christian Scriptures (New Testament) are God’s holy word or that they were transmitted by God to people, but the fact remains that people ended up being the writers of those scriptures, and people are not just human digital recorders. People edit what they hear or have revealed to them, regardless of whether the original information came from a neighbor or God. And by the time the Christian Scriptures were written down, a split had occurred between early rabbinical… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by peterpi - Peter Gross
Interested Observer
Interested Observer
Reply to  Canon Dr Michael Blyth
4 months ago

homosexuals, prostitutes, thieves, liars, divorcees, murderers, slanderers, fornicators”

Seriously? You think homosexuality is analogous to theft, murder and fornication? And you think of yourself as _not_ like the Nigerian bishop?

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Interested Observer
4 months ago

As other people are intervening in ‘personal’ conversations all over the place on TA at present, might I also do so here by gently suggesting that you have misread the Canon: did you pick up the words “shooing away”?

And now (shooting myself in the foot after saying that), what on earth has happened to courtesy and good manners in TA exchanges of late?

Cynthia Katsarelis
Cynthia Katsarelis
Reply to  Richard Pinch
4 months ago

I think most of us have moved on from “weaponizing Scripture” against LGBTQ+ people or anyone else. The best part of the ACNA statement is this: Indeed, we recognize that same-sex sexual relationships have been an oft-targeted sin while other sinful manifestations of our common fallen nature, such as pornography, adultery, divorce, greed, and disregard for the poor have sometimes been tragically discounted or even ignored. Civil rights leaders have long said that those concerned with who is in bed with whom use it as a distraction from seeing who is being screwed in the marketplace and halls of power.… Read more »

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Richard Pinch
4 months ago

Gafcon and ACNA were borne out of a hatred of LBGTQ people. Why should there be a discussion about who is right? Isn’t it obvious? And what are ” worldly consequences”? Are they different from unworldly ones?

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  FrDavid H
4 months ago

Why should there be a discussion about who is right? Isn’t it obvious?

Well, that was really rather my point. There are at least three positions, each of them obviously right to people who hold them.

And what are ” worldly consequences”?

Well, people were talking about schisms, decline of the church, arrests and prosecutions of clergy, and other worldly effects on the church and its personnel, as if those were the only issues to be considered.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Richard Pinch
4 months ago

The Nazis thought it was ‘right’ that Jews and homosexuals should be gassed. Perhaps they should have had a discussion to determine if this was ‘right’.

Last edited 4 months ago by FrDavid H
Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  FrDavid H
4 months ago

Godwin’s Law as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches unity I’m tempted to assume that this was intended to put an end to rational discussion. But to take your point at face value: of course they did. So what? You, presumably, think you’re right. In this case, at least three different groups each think they’re right. The question is, how to discern what amount of truth or rightness there is in what they think. Just as an exercise, perhaps you’d like to explain what your obvious point of view actually is,… Read more »

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Richard Pinch
4 months ago

Hatred is wrong. End of discussion.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  FrDavid H
4 months ago

It’s a shame that you no longer wish to discuss this matter. I think your views, expressed perhaps in more detail and with a little more evidence, would have been helpful.

Last edited 4 months ago by Richard Pinch
Kate
Kate
Reply to  Richard Pinch
4 months ago

I don’t see it as a refusal to discuss. One liberal view (mine too) is that, based on the Gospels, a position based on hatred rather than love is axiomatically wrong and no further verses in Scripture are relevant at that point. I know it’s a view evangelicals find hard to understand but it is a valid reading of the teachings of Jesus. The fact that it can be put as succinctly as Fr David did should be seen as an advantage not as a curtness.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  Kate
4 months ago

I don’t see it as a refusal to discuss.  I didn’t say “refuse to discuss”, I said “no longer wish to discuss”, and that’s a (I would say the) valid interpretation of the sentence “End of discussion.” Of course hatred is wrong. But asserting that all points of view other than one’s own can only be based on hatred, or that, irrespective of their basis, expressing those points of view is hatred — and thereby axiomatically wrong — is a position I find only too easy to understand: I just disagree with it. For the avoidance of doubt let me… Read more »

Everard Bone
Everard Bone
Reply to  Richard Pinch
4 months ago

What are the three positions as you see them?

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  Everard Bone
4 months ago

The three positions are something like A. Same-sex attraction and sexual activity are equal in moral status to opposite-sex attraction and sexual activity: society and the church should treat them equally in all respects. B. Same-sex sexual activity is in general sinful and same-sex sexual attraction is a temptation to a sin: whatever society does, the church should treat same-sex attracted people as it treats people tempted to any other sin (which of course includes all of humanity) but otherwise no differently. I’m going to subdivide this into B1. As B, but with the proviso that the church should ask… Read more »

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Richard Pinch
4 months ago

I bet you wish you hadn’t asked, Mr Bone.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  FrDavid H
4 months ago

He asked me, I answered him. It seems you don’t like my answer: it would be helpful to explain why.

Oh, and by the way, it doesn’t really help to just point at positions you don’t like and say “hatred”. Surgeons don’t just point at bodies and say “cancer”: they observe, analyse and categorise cancers so that they know how best to contend with them. If you want to contend with points of view you don’t like, why deprive yourself of knowledge that would help you do so?

Everard Bone
Everard Bone
Reply to  Richard Pinch
4 months ago

Thank you for your summary. I would divide A in two though: those that endorse gay marriage in church, such as the Episcopal church of Scotland, and those that endorse the blessing of same-sex unions such as Roger Scruton, John Millbank, probably Rowan Williams. A third position, probably the most popular in the CofE if we read between the lines of Living and love and Faith and consider polling evidence, is to agree to disagree and leave to the conscience of the parson whether to bless or not such unions in a manner alike to marriage after divorce or whether… Read more »

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Everard Bone
4 months ago

Not to nitpick, but the Scottish Episcopal Church has expressed no official view on the desirability of same-sex couples marrying, only allowed it. Priests are still able to opt out of solemnising those marriages if they so desire. This is more-or-less your third position. This, incidentally, is why compromise with conservatives is near impossible: their entire goal is to force others to comply with their prejudices and go off in a huff if they’re prevented from doing so (as in this case with a priest on Harris after the SEC synod reached this decision).

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  Jo B
4 months ago

I think this may be one of those irregular verbs: “I have principles, you have a point of view, they have prejudices”. But more importantly, is this an issue on which either side is looking for compromise: I’m not seeing the desire for compromise in pronouncements that use the word “hatred” to describe other parties.

It is perhaps an Anglican tradition to seek for more-or-less amicable coexistence at the expense of — well, I’ll say logical consistency, others might say principle. Time will tell whether such compromises and co-existences will remain either amicable or tenable.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  Everard Bone
4 months ago

why are you so reticent in sharing it? Three reasons really. Firstly, I don’t think my position is terribly important: I have no position in the church, and no responsibility other than those of any other church member. So, secondly, the best way I can make a contribution is by helping to elucidate argument and provide what I hope is reasonable summary of the positions held and arguments advanced. And thirdly, if I did endorse a position, then it would undercut any attempts I might make, however well-intentioned, to perform that elucidation. However, as you will have seen, I have… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Richard Pinch
FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Richard Pinch
4 months ago

You are, in effect, claiming a stance of moral superiority by refusing to express an opinion on the hatred expressed by Nigerian bishops. Claiming simply to be an elucidator to help the rest of us, you are tacitly accepting African homophobia is a valid moral opinion worthy of rational discussion. Why do you assume we need your help, Dr Pinch, to see hatred for what it is? We can elucidate that for ourselves..

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  FrDavid H
4 months ago

You are, in effect, claiming a stance of moral superiority  No. you are tacitly accepting African homophobia is a valid moral opinion worthy of rational discussion Not at all. As I made clear in my analogy with the surgeon’s attitude to cancer, one can discuss and analyse something without endorsing it. Know your enemy. Why do you assume we need your help I don’t. Like everyone else here, I’m offering my views on a complex topic. If you don’t like the views I express, or the way I express them, or don’t find them helpful, so be it. Others may.… Read more »

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Richard Pinch
4 months ago

Part of the problem is treating the lives and wellbeing of LGBT folk as an “issue of concern” to be debated in an abstract fashion. It resembles far too closely the learned debates of the late 19th and early 20th century on “the Jewish question”.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  Jo B
4 months ago

A fair challenge, and one which points out a trap into which this discussion might easily fall. But I’m going to defend, as I so often do, honest rational debate, grounded in evidence, carried out in a sprit of honesty and open-mindedness, and with a common commitment to the purpose of resolving issues of concern. The purpose is not less important than the debate. I trust we can agree on that?

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Richard Pinch
4 months ago

I would argue that the presenting issue here is not the sinfulness of the relationships between people, gay or otherwise, but the sinfulness of the relationships between churches. Should ACNA want to stay in relationship with the church in Nigeria or not? And is ACNA’s desire to stay in a relationship with the Nigerian church tempting it into very unchristian behaviours? This is where the focus of the debate should be.

dr.primrose
dr.primrose
Reply to  Richard Pinch
4 months ago

Perhaps it should be noted that, in a 2018 article in the Los Angeles Times, Godwin himself has been critical of the use of his “law” to shut down conversation. First by those who use the Hitler analogy inaptly. And second by those who cite the “law” as part of the claim that the person using the Hitler analogy is being stupid or lazy. Since it was released into the wilds of the internet in 1991, Godwin’s Law (which I nowadays abbreviate to “GL”) has been frequently reduced to a blurrier notion: that whenever someone compares anything current to Nazis… Read more »

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  dr.primrose
4 months ago

Quite so. Who do you believe is trying to shut down conversation here, by use of Godwin’s Law or otherwise?

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Richard Pinch
4 months ago

May I quote yourself: “I’m tempted to assume that this was intended to put an end to rational discussion”.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  FrDavid H
4 months ago

Then let me repeat my explicit assurance that I would welcome your continuing to contribute your reasoning and evidence to the rational discussion.

Last edited 4 months ago by Richard Pinch
FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Richard Pinch
4 months ago

Why are you trying to make a rational debate out of hatred, ignorance, homophobia and a disgusting disrespect of LGBT people?

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  FrDavid H
4 months ago

I would not presume to make a rational debate out of thin air. Nonetheless, there is a rational debate to be held here, for people who are willing to use their God-given gift of reason to examine things that are unpalatable.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Richard Pinch
4 months ago

I’m sorry, but there can be no “rational debate” over the God-given rights of other human beings. In Nigeria, you can be imprisoned simply for being gay (even if you only say you are and do nothing more) and that is a position the Anglican Church in Nigeria supports. You can be imprisoned just for supporting the rights of gay citizens.

Surely you don’t think there is any “debate” as to whether such laws are just and right?

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  Pat ONeill
4 months ago

there can be no “rational debate” over the God-given rights of other human beings

Of course there can: it’s a major part of politics. In fact, there are at least three specific sorts of debate. One is what those rights are, another is how to harmonise the competing rights of different people, and the third is how to organise institutional structures to best secure the resulting balance of rights.

But from another perspective, we all have a God-given right to sin: that’s our free-will, which He gave us to use or abuse as we see fit.

Last edited 4 months ago by Richard Pinch
Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Richard Pinch
4 months ago

It was my understanding that, in constitutional democracies, those rights and the debates around them had long since been settled. There are niggling little side issues, but basically–as the US Declaration of Independence puts it–“life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” are no longer in question. Surely, threatening imprisonment for simply being who God has made you violates those rights.

Richard Ashby
Richard Ashby
Reply to  Interested Observer
4 months ago

Like much of the Church, model railway societies haven’t been able to meet for a year now. But nevertheless the hobby is flourishing with more entrants and returnees and increasing commercial success for many manufacturers and suppliers who have reacted positively to challenges and changed circumstances. Unlike the Church, the hobby’s increasing profile began before the pandemic with some good television coverage (The Great Model Railway Challenge) and the ‘coming out’ as railway modellers of some high profile people in popular culture. There’s no evidence that Zoom worshipers will continue attending after the end of the pandemic and congregations and… Read more »

Michael
Michael
Reply to  Richard Ashby
4 months ago

In response to Richard Ashby: There’s no evidence that Zoom worshipers will continue attending after the end of the pandemic and congregations and giving will continue their inexorable decline while the church grapples, or fails to grapple, with its demographic, cultural and financial challenges. I’ve been banging that drum for just short of 52 weeks. In fact this weekend marks the first anniversary of my mother’s death which coincided with move to Facebook and/or Zoom communion, still in place. I have never watched local vicar on Facebook excluding all but himself from communion. I know of two churches where they… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Richard Ashby
4 months ago

It’s quite intolerable that model railway societies are doing better than the CofE. It just won’t do. So I have another cunning plan (the first, you may recall, was Pleasure Police and a table detailing episcopally acceptable means of genital stimulation). Rather than trying to ape the nasty worldly secularism that brings pleasure and delight to railway nerds (I’m one myself, but track engineering not steam), we must impose the Church’s praxis on them so as to bring them down to our level. So here goes. All meetings should begin with corporate flagellation about what awful people we are. They… Read more »

David Keen
David Keen
Reply to  Richard Ashby
4 months ago

I’m not sure if the survey is available publicly, but the CofE commissioned a survey a few weeks ago of 3500 people on what they intended to do post-lockdown. It found that 86% of regular worshippers pre-lockdown were regular in engaging with online worship, as were a number of those who’d never been to a church service (possibly 1/2m+ people nationally). About 80% of those attending regularly online, and 30% of irregular attenders, intend to worship regularly in person once its safe to do so. It’s a mixed picture of course, there are many thousands suddenly ‘de-churched’ by the pandemic… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  David Keen
4 months ago

Can I recommend this article by Karl Vaters? The title is ‘“Will The Congregation Come Back?” Should Not Be Our Biggest Concern (6 Better Questions).’ Vaters is an American evangelical pastor (born in Canada) who specialises in helping small churches with their ministry and mission. Over the last few years I’ve found his books and articles to be very helpful and practical.

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
4 months ago

US Evangelical Christians and Republicans made common cause with White Supremacists, in order to win political power. They are now desperately trying to convince people that Christianity, and conservatism, does not mean racist violence. They are struggling: they don’t dare to alienate their base, but their base is not sufficient to win power and is dying off at an increasing rate, while possible converts are put off by the racist violence. American and British Anglicans made common cause with homophobes, in order to win political power. They are now desperately trying to convince people that Christianity does not mean being… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Interested Observer
Cynthia Katsarelis
Cynthia Katsarelis
Reply to  Interested Observer
4 months ago

Basically. But really, US Evangelical Christians and Republicans actually *ARE* White Supremacists and have been for a long time. It is why inequality has grown over the last 40 years. The primary drivers of the long-term strategy were and are white supremacists who organized with other white supremacists.

Without the white supremacist agenda, robustly supported by US Christian Nationalists, the US, like the UK, would still have structural inequality. Thanks to that agenda, however, what we have now is raw brutality.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Cynthia Katsarelis
4 months ago

Sorry to be nitpicky, Cynthia, but quite a lot of US evangelical Christians are actually not white.

Judith Maltby
Judith Maltby
4 months ago

It will be very interesting indeed to hear how the leaders of Living Out and the Church of England Evangelical Council respond to the Archbishop of Nigeria’s letter – perhaps they can make a new video. I heard some things I strongly disagreed (and no doubt vice-a-versa) with while on LLF but never anything as truly dehumanizing as the way Archbishop Ndukuba speaks of LGBT people. Which makes me wonder – is there a GAFCON response to LLF? Presumably the whole project, judging from the Archbishop’s letter, was an utter non-starter right from the beginning.

T Pott
T Pott
4 months ago

The Nigerian statement “A Gay is a Gay, they cannot rightly be described otherwise” is remarkable given the difficulties not so long ago over the use of the word gay at all. Stranger still was the description of the ACNA policy as allowing diocesan bishops to discern “how to handle homosexuals”. “Handle” is perhaps an unfortunate choice of word.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  T Pott
4 months ago

Unfortunate, but probably deliberate.

Father Ron Smith
4 months ago

Perhaps now is as good a time as any for the Leadership of the Church of England (The House of Bishops) to meet on ZOOM to forge a theological response to the inflammatory words of the Archbishop of the GAFCON Province of Nigeria. Of course, they can always beg off this important matter by saying that this was Nigeria’s rebuke to ACNA (not a Province of the ACC) but that would be neglecting the FACT that the Archbishop of Nigeria still purports to be a member of the ACC – even though he does not attend its Meetings. Until the… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Father Ron Smith
Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  Father Ron Smith
4 months ago

I hope the English House of Bishops won’t spend a nanosecond engaging with this unseemly debate between different factions of this overall declining constituency. It is of no concern. Certainly all of them will see Ndukuba’s letter for what it is: wickedly homophobic, ignorant and missionally disastrous. The influence of those who hold these views is limited. Despite the impatience of many, the CofE has chosen a careful path of further discussion and discernment under the LLF process. As an autonomous province of the AC, the CofE will discern “its own way forward within this highly-charged landscape … keenly mindful… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Anthony Archer
Kate
Kate
Reply to  Anthony Archer
4 months ago

“I hope the English House of Bishops won’t spend a nanosecond engaging with this unseemly debate between different factions of this overall declining constituency. It is of no concern. ”   It is of concern because our bishops are happy to trot along to the Lambeth Conference and chat and mingle with these foreign bishops (if they come) at an event from which same sex spouses have been excluded. I know the House of Bishops would rather people didn’t point out their complicity, but they are complicit and asking them, as a body, to condemn the position of BOTH the… Read more »

Michael
Michael
Reply to  Kate
4 months ago

Kate I agree about the complicity of the House of Bishops. Is it just in modern times that they collectively have a knack of speaking out when silence is the better option and vice versa remain silent when they should be speaking out, in this instance a robust response. Is it to do with calibre or losing touch with grassroots because of their elevation? I nominate Stanley Monkhouse, Jeffrey John and Giles Fraser to fill the next three diocesan vacancies – ignore the age barrier, that is another kind of discrimination, and make sure their spines are not removed at… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Michael
4 months ago

Michael, you astonish me. I am very glad to be so astonished, and I thank you for your confidence. You are clearly a darling, a man of great discernment. When in 2001 as Vice Dean I applied to be Dean of the Medical School, the chairman of the appointments board said to his fellow members “the trouble with appointing Stanley is that he will do exactly what he says he will do”. So a man with a demineralized vertebral column remained in post. Were I to have been appointed a diocesan, it would not have been long before Pyongyang-at-Lambeth issued… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Stanley Monkhouse
FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
4 months ago

I demand you become Archbishop of Canterbury.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Michael
4 months ago

Stanley Monkhouse as theologian with experience as a parish priest, professor of anatomy and author with genuine doctorates – and Fellow of the Royal College of Organists to boot – would surely make him the most highly-qualified, in fact uniquely qualified, bishop on the bench. But with his sense of fun and de-bunking pomposity, how he might fit in with his episcopal brethren is another matter!

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
4 months ago

As I read all this, it seems to me the entire argument of the Archbishop of Nigeria can be summed up by turning on its head the well-known aphorism of “hate the sin, love the sinner.” It seems the Nigerian church has decided that some sinners are not worthy of even the attempt to save.

Richard Ashby
Richard Ashby
4 months ago

The Nigerian archbishop’s words, in all their chilling hate, reveal and lay bare the Christian fascism which is at the heart of those who elevate homophobia into a core belief. To use the word ‘virus’ in condemning lgbti people is to mimic the working out of the Nazi doctrine of race. It was exactly by stigmatising Jewish people as less than human, parasites, viruses, and pathologising them as a threat to racial hygiene and purity, that the Nazis worked their way to their incarceration in concentration camps and the final genocidal solution. This was the logical and practical solution to… Read more »

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Richard Ashby
4 months ago

I was discussing this with a priest friend with many years experience of West Africa. He said it is simply impossible to discuss homosexuality rationally there especially with church leaders .Their response is simply an emotional one backed up by a biblical literalism. They genuinely believe that homosexuality simply isnt african, that it is indeed a “virus” introduced by the west with the aim of destroying african family life and culture. There are those ( not many) educated in the west who see things rather differently but they dare not speak out openly for fear of the reaction from congregations… Read more »

Helen King
Helen King
Reply to  Perry Butler
4 months ago

I did some reading on these claims about Africa, and would thoroughly recommend Epprecht, Heterosexual Africa?

I summarised some of his arguments here, https://sharedconversations.wordpress.com/2018/12/09/out-in-africa/

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Helen King
4 months ago

You are right Helen. Same sex erotic behaviour was common and widely accepted, sometimes institutionalised into tribal culture. Sometimes same sex erotic behaviour was linked to a spiritual vocation such as priesthood or shamanism. It was the arrival of Christianity into Africa, on the back of European colonial expansion, which wiped it all out.

Father Ron Smith
Reply to  Simon Dawson
4 months ago

One has long suspected that the current African aversion to anything other than hetero sexuality was due to the conservative moral attitudes of the first Evanglical Missionary Societies. In this regard, it is interesting that South Africa, missionised by the more Anglo-Catholic missionaries, seems to have been more open to the modern understanding of sexual orientation as a more diverse concept that the mere binary model. (One notes, too, the fact of the ‘horror’ of the first British Evangelical missionaries at the prospect of nubile women dancing without wearing any breast covering). In some ways, humankind’s ‘first innocence’ could be… Read more »

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  Father Ron Smith
4 months ago

In some ways, humankind’s ‘first innocence’ could be considered to have been corrupted by the early Christian missionaries.

And in other ways, this could be considered nonsense. Africa, as a continent, was home to a rich variety of cultures and traditions, not always well understood or appreciated by European explorers and missionaries. The myth of the noble savage corrupted by contact with civilisation is just that — a myth, both patronising and pernicious.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Simon Dawson
4 months ago

Just to expand on this, after a night’s reflection. Whilst it is easy to criticize the Nigerian attitude to homosexuality, what part have we Westerners played in the story? A couple of Centuries ago we Christians arrived in parts of Africa and imposed a set of legal and religious strictures, based firmly on our own Christian beliefs, which condemned the way that the indigenous cultures were seen to value and incorporate same-sex practise. And then a couple of centuries later we change our minds and we say that we must be nice to the gays, and the Africans (who had… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Simon Dawson
William
William
Reply to  Simon Dawson
4 months ago

Don’t you think this argument is rather patronising towards African Christians?

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  William
4 months ago

William, if anything I would argue just the opposite of patronising. I am trying to point out (within the constraints of a short, on-line posting) that this story has a complex back history and that our own Western actions bear some responsibility for the apparent Nigerian church homophobia. And the legal code in many ex colonies (including the laws criminalising homosexuality) are often a legacy from those colonial times. The African Churches (including the African LGBTQ Christians) now have a very difficult job of unwinding it all and they should have our sympathy, and simple condemnation of the archbishop of… Read more »

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
Reply to  Simon Dawson
4 months ago

“And the legal code in many ex colonies (including the laws criminalising homosexuality) are often a legacy from those colonial times.” Up to a point. Homosexuality was illegal in the UK within the lifetimes of many of the people posting on this thread, including me. This was not a case of law being imposed on the colonies while the old country lived free of its baleful influence. The law was changed in the UK in the late 1960s, long after independence of most of the countries in question, and it was entirely within their gift to change the law in… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Interested Observer
Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  Simon Dawson
4 months ago

The legal code of Nigeria is, I understand, derived from multiple sources: the colonial-era Criminal Code and the English common law tradition; customary law; and sharia law. Nigeria has been indepdendent since 1960; its penal code has been revised in 1958, 1960, 1963, 1990 and its constitution was revised in 1999. In the 60 years of its independence there has been ample time and opportunity to revise those laws if there had been political or popular will for a change. I think it’s rather late in the day to assign all responsibility to the century-old colonial laws.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Richard Pinch
4 months ago

Dear Richard and Interested Observer. Thanks for your comments. You are both right to say that Nigeria has been an independent state since 1960 and has had the opportunity and the authority to amend its own laws since then, if it chose to. Having read back through my comments I don’t think I was arguing the opposite. I was trying to emphasise the point, in response to Helen King’s original posting, that there has been a long history of valuing same-sex erotic activity in many African cultures, and it was the the arrival of Christianity and Christian influenced legal systems… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Simon Dawson
4 months ago

Thanks Rod, fascinating. To quote from your first reference page V “Canada’s residential school system for Aboriginal children was an education system in name only for much of its existence. These residential schools were created for the purpose of separating Aboriginal children from their families, in order to minimize and weaken family ties and cultural linkages, and to indoctrinate children into a new culture—the culture of the legally dominant Euro-Christian Canadian society” and page 55 “In December 1878, J. S. Dennis, the deputy minister of the Department of the Interior, prepared a memorandum for Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Simon Dawson
Richard Ashby
Richard Ashby
Reply to  Simon Dawson
4 months ago

While all this might well be true, there is no excuse for the use of such extreme language and its violent implementation.The belief of some African Christians that homosexuality is an import from elsewhere is, of course, historical nonsense. Homosexuality, sexual activity between people of the same sex, or what ever you want to call it, is a universal human practice whether approved of or not in the culture of the time or place and occurs everywhere and in all times. That colonialism brought with it the strict Western European control of sexual activity codified and then perpetuated into independence… Read more »

Helen King
Helen King
Reply to  Helen King
4 months ago

Thanks, Simon and Rod. And thanks for the link, Rod – that’s a very comprehensive study.

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
4 months ago

I must say it is refreshing to read a Thinking Anglican. Thank you Richard Pinch. And, Bon Courage. It is nice to be able to follow a good argument without all the ad hominem.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  C R SEITZ
4 months ago

I see you are back! It’s good to see your comment on one of the most incoherent arguments on TA.

Jonathan Jamal
Jonathan Jamal
4 months ago

As a past Anglican, as I always understood it Richard Hooker’s dictum of “Scripture, Tradition and Reason” set the basis for authority with Anglicanism. It seems that the Sola Scriptura approach of Nigeria, in relation to the Gay Issue is quite Un-Anglican, but is more Calvinistic. Like the Muslim Quran, the Bible in the wrong hands is a dangerous Book, a very very dangerous Book! In a lot of areas of Inter-Faith dialogue today, there is a great emphasis on Scriptural reasoning, where Faiths are invited to look quite critically at their Sacred Texts. I have been to two sessions… Read more »

Northerner
Northerner
4 months ago

Working at a well-known Clerical Outfitter / Church Furnisher only a short stroll from Westminster Abbey in the late 1980s, I was intrigued by the company’s terms and conditions of business. For all customers placing orders, it was an X% deposit with balance upon completion/delivery of the order. These terms were published. Unofficially, the management instructed the staff that ON NO ACCOUNT WAS CREDIT TO BE EXTENDED TO ANY NIGERIAN CUSTOMER. It was purely cash on order. Around Lambeth 1988 I witnessed many a Nigerian bishop coming into the showroom, accompanied by his wives, and purchasing enormous quantities of Copes,… Read more »

Laurence Cunnington
Laurence Cunnington
Reply to  Northerner
4 months ago

In the 1980s, when I worked for Midland Bank, branches were instructed not to open accounts for Nigerian people due to the levels of fraud by customers from that country. Additional checks also had to be performed on the accounts of existing Nigerian customers when they withdrew cash due to a highly complex fraud involving a loophole in the cheque clearing system that was exploited all but exclusively by Nigerian customers. It was held at the time not to breach discrimination legislation as the prohibition was not based on ‘race’ or colour and no such prohibitions or checks were applied… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Laurence Cunnington
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