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Church welcomes Nigerian amnesty offer: CEN 12.04.09 p 6. December 11, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Politics.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Church leaders in Nigeria have applauded President Umaru Yar’Adua’s offer of amnesty to militants in the Niger Delta who have laid down their arms, but have also urged the government not to stint on its promise to integrate the former militants into society.

On Nov 16 the Archbishop of the Niger Delta province of the Church of Nigeria, Bishop Ugochukwu Ezuoke of Aba told a public gathering the President was right not to seek a military solution to the insurgency in the Delta.

Church leaders welcome amnesty offer

“We thank all those whom God has used as instruments in returning the Niger Delta to the path of peace,” he told the Vanguard newspaper. “If not for the amnesty, children of the region would have grown up to seek revenge.”

In August, the government announced an amnesty programme that promised jobs training and a temporary monthly stipend of 65,000 naira (£260) for rebels in the Rivers and Delta states who turned themselves in to the government by Oct 4. Between 15,000 and 20,000 former gunmen signed up for the programme, bringing a halt to violence in the region.

However, on Nov 16 hundreds of former militants took to the streets in Port Harcourt to protest the government’s failure to make the first amnesty payment. Rioters looted shops and paralyzed the city until security forces intervened and escorted the militants back to their internment camps.

Tribal and economic jealousies have plagued Nigeria in recent decades, with residents of the Niger Delta claiming the bulk of the region’s oil wealth has been spent outside of the south. President Yar’Adua has offered to allocate 10 per cent of Nigeria’s oil joint ventures to Niger Delta communities, and approved 200 billion naira (£800 million) in federal funding to build roads, hospitals and schools in the region.

Bishops in the Niger Delta have backed the government’s plans to seek a peaceful solution to the dispute with Nigeria’s main militant group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), arguing that no amount of military force could resolve the conflict that has brought economic and social progress in the region to a standstill.


Bishop caught in prostitution sting in USA: CEN 10.09.09 p 8. October 23, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Crime, Southern Ohio.
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A former Nigerian bishop serving in the Episcopal Church has been arrested for soliciting the services of a prostitute.

On Oct 1 the Rt. Rev. Benjamin Omosebi was arrested by police in Ohio for offering $15 to have sexual relations with a prostitute. He was released from jail shortly after posting bond and will appear before a magistrate on the misdemeanor charge on Oct 16.

A spokesman for the Diocese of Southern Ohio, Richelle Thompson, told The Church of England Newspaper that Bishop Omosebi held a license to officiate as a supply priest in the diocese. The license had been suspended pending the judicial proceedings, Ms. Thompson said. However, for several years Bishop Omosebi had conducted Episcopal visitations on behalf of the Bishop of Southern Ohio across the diocese.

A spokesman for Convocation of Anglican Churches in North America (CANA) told CEN Bishop Omosebi left the Church of Nigeria in 1998 when he immigrated to the United States and was not currently affiliated with CANA or the Church of Nigeria. From 1990 to 1998 Bishop Omosebi served as Bishop of Kano in Nigeria’s Plateau State.

Spokesmen for the Church of Nigeria in Abuja declined to comment on the allegations.

London service for Taliban victims: CEN 9.11.09 p 8. September 20, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria.
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The Church of Nigeria’s London chaplaincy in conjunction with the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria has organized services of remembrance for the victims of the Boko Haram, the Nigerian Taliban.

On Sept 11 services will be held at St. Marylebone parish in London and the Abuja Ecumenical Centre in Nigeria to commemorate those who died in last month’s anti-Christian violence in Northern Nigeria.

Twenty churches, including Immanuel Anglican Church, Gamboru-Ngala in the Diocese of Maiduguri were destroyed in the uprising by members of the militant Muslim sect and almost 1000 people died in five days of fighting that ended on Aug 6 after the sect’s leader Ustaz Muhammed Yusuf was killed while attempting to escape from the police.

Among the dead were 12 Christians who were martyred for their faith. Seized by Boko Haram and commanded to renounce their faith and convert to Islam or die. Nine laymen and three Evangelical ministers: Pastor Sabo Yakubu, the Rev. Sylvester Akpan and the Rev. George Orji refused. They were then beheaded.

Canon Ben Enwuchola, the organizers of the London service said “in 1987, I ferried victims of religious violence from the university in Kano to hospital. It is shocking that over twenty years later, Nigeria’s cyclical religious violence has neither been recognised nor adequately addressed.”

“We hope by this event to raise greater awareness of the suffering of the Christian community of northern and central Nigeria, and are asking Christians in the UK to join us in prayers for the victims of the recent violence, and for lasting peace and reconciliation between the religious communities of northern and central Nigeria,” he said.

Stuart Windsor, National Director of CSW said his organization was “privileged to stand in solidarity with the victims of violence in Nigeria and recognizes that their suffering has been compounded by the lack of national and international attention.”

New Archbishop for Nigeria: CEN 9.16.09 September 16, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper

The Church of Nigeria has chosen a new primate to succeed Archbishop Peter Akinola. On Sept 15 the House of Bishops meeting at St Stephen’s Cathedral in Umuahia, elected the Rt. Rev. Nicholas Okah, Bishop of Asaba and Archbishop of Bendel to a ten year term as primate of the largest church in the Anglican Communion.

The Dean of the Church of Nigeria, Archbishop Maxwell Anikwenwa reported the new primate received over two thirds of the votes of the 149 diocesan bishops present in a secret ballot, and the registrar of the Church of Nigeria, Mr. Abraham Yisa certifying the results of the election.

New Archbishop for Nigeria

Archbishop Okoh will be translated as Bishop of Abuja, Archbishop of the Province of Abuja, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria in March upon the retirement of Archbishop Akinola.

A former Lieutenant Colonel in the Nigerian Army, Archbishop Okoh was ordained priest in 1979, appointed Bishop of Asaba in 2001 and elected Archbishop of the Province of Bendel in 2005.

“I am grateful to God and to the Church of Nigeria, particularly our laymen, clergy and House of Bishops” for their confidence in me, the primate-elect told the House of Bishops after the vote was announced.

Archbishop Peter Jensen of Sydney, the general secretary of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA) told The Church of England Newspaper he was pleased with the choice.

Archbishop Okoh “was present at the foundation of GAFCON and has played a leading part in the movement,” Dr. Jensen said. “Archbishop Okoh has made a significant contribution as the Chairman of the Theological Resource group. He is an able and committed Christian leader and we warmly welcome his appointment.”

“Archbishop Okoh is a Godly leader and CANA is delighted that he will be leading the Church of Nigeria,” Bishop Martyn Minns of CANA said.

The new primate was a “strong supporter” of the Nigerian Church’s American arm and of the Anglican Church in North America, he said. “Archbishop Okoh is committed to spreading the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He is a personal friend, and I’m pleased that he is stepping into this leadership role during this crucial time in the life of the worldwide Anglican Communion,” Bishop Minns said.

CANA unveils campaign on Islam: CEN 8.28.09 p 7. September 7, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of North America, CANA, Church of England Newspaper, Islam.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Church of Nigeria’s American wing, CANA—the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, have rolled out an education campaign to assist American churches engage with Islam.

The “Church and Islam Project” led by the Rev Canon Julian Dobbs — the former US director of the Barnabas Fund — seeks to encourage the evangelization of Muslims in the US, while also “exposing the truth about so-called moderate Islam,” a handout from CANA stated.

American Anglicans launch Muslim education drive

“Countless pastors and churches are being drawn into discussions on Islam and Christ, but we cannot let polite multi-faith dialogue substitute for the truth of the Gospel message,” Canon Dobbs said.

He lambasted the approach taken by some “Episcopal bishops and other leaders who confuse parishioners about the theological irregularities of Islam and champion ‘open pulpits’ where mullahs are invited to teach from lecterns once dedicated to the proclamation of the historic Christian faith.”

“CANA is committed to providing resources to help Christians deepen their understanding of Islam and to develop the appropriate Biblical response,” Canon Dobbs said.

Muslim outreach was an important mission for the church in America, the Rt Rev Martyn Minns said.

“The Gospel message does not exclude a fifth of the world’s population who are Muslims. We are called to love our neighbour – no matter what religion they practise – because the Christian faith has a distinctive message which brings the salvation and love of God to a needy and broken world through the life-transforming Gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said.

Church urges university lecturers to end strike: CEN 8.28.09 p 6. September 3, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Church leaders in Nigeria have urged the country’s University lecturers to end their two-month strike and return to the classroom, but have also urged the government to negotiate in good faith with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and address the ‘sorry state’ of Nigerian higher education.

In June the ASUU declared a nationwide industrial action, demanding the government implement a 2008 agreement reached by the Ministry of Education and the ASUU to raise teacher salaries and increase education spending to 25 per cent of government spending.

Church leaders call on lecturers to end strike

Four of the past 10 university academic years have been suspended due to industrial actions in the Federal and State university systems. During the 2007 general election the universities were closed by an ASUU strike, which ended after the union agreed to give incoming President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua administration a chance to honour its election pledges to address university over-crowding, crumbling infrastructures and declining academic standards.

Negotiations between the ASUU and the Department of Education reached a tentative agreement last year, but the Federal government has so far failed to honour its provisions.

The Bishop of Okigwe, Dr Edward Osuegbu, told the Anglican Youth Fellowship Conference last week that some students, idled by the strike, had turned to crime.

“The protracted ASUU strike has sadly led some of the students to resort to crime, prostitution and kidnapping,” he said according to the Vanguard. However, the strike was also an opportunity for students to shed their “social vices” and recommit themselves as “only those who look unto Jesus Christ would survive in times of trouble,” Dr Osuegbu said.

Bishop Friday John Imaekhai of Esan told the Sunday Observer that strikes were an inevitable consequence of government education policies that were imposed without consultation with the unions, urging the ASUU to return to the classroom and for the government to negotiate in good faith.

Nigeria’s endemic corruption played its part in the education mess, the Rt Rev Jonson Atere, Bishop of Awori told the Sunday Tribune. While Nigeria was a resource rich country, little of the nation’s wealth seemed to flow to its people, he said. The bishop urged the ASUU to return to the classroom, but for the government also to invest in the nation’s future by funding the universities system.

Christians slaughtered as ‘Nigerian Taliban’ seeks Islamic state: CEN 8.21.09 p 5. August 20, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Persecution.
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The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has accused the government of Northern Nigeria’s Borno State of complicity in the murders of 12 Christians by members of the ‘Nigerian Taliban’ the Boko Haram last week.

Twenty churches, including Immanuel Anglican Church, Gamboru-Ngala in the Diocese of Maiduguri were destroyed in the uprising by members of the militant Muslim sect.

The security services put down the uprising after five days of fighting on August 6 after the sect’s leader Ustaz Muhammed Yusuf was killed while attempting to escape from the police. Approximately 700 people died.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper’s Religious Intelligence section.

Christians slaughtered as ‘Nigerian Taliban’ seeks Islamic state

Cana says its appeal widens: CEN 8.07.09 p 7. August 8, 2009

Posted by geoconger in CANA, Church of England Newspaper.
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The Convocation of Anglican Churches in North America (CANA) has surfaced as a winner in the wake of the 76th General Convention in the US, Bishop Martyn Minns said last week, with a rise in inquires from Americans Anglicans seeking to pull out of the Episcopal Church since the July 8-17 gathering in Anaheim, Calif.

Speaking to the press before the start of CANA’s annual convention on July 30, Bishop Minns stated the breakaway group had grown to 85 congregations with an estimated average Sunday attendance of 10,000 served by 179 clergy—including military and healthcare chaplains.

CANA’s growth has come in three segments—among Nigerian emigrants to the US, in the Washington metropolitan area, and among suburban families with young children, Bishop Minns said. Its appeal to young people, he believed, was due to the “younger generation looking for authenticity in a church where there is a genuine engagement and interest in truth.”

The breakaway group was “part of God’s redemptive plan” for Anglicanism in North America, he said, noting CANA was an “answer” to Dr. Rowan Williams’ prayers for a healthy church.

However, the old ways of organizing the church around geographically constructed dioceses was counterproductive in the current environment. “Geography and national boundaries no longer define” the church, he said, as the “old natural boundaries” were constructs that served a church built before the age of mass mobility and information technology.

In his address to the convocation, Bishop Minns called upon CANA’s leaders to adopt a three pronged approach to mission based around the concepts of ‘radical inclusion’, ‘profound transformation’, and ‘inspired service’.

The church should focus its energies on its non-members, seeking to include all people, he said. However, those brought to a knowledge of Christ, should be radically transformed—made new in Christ. These new Christians should then be turned back into the world to bring others to Christ and by their labors seek to transform the world, he said.

“Maintaining these core values is essential,” Bishop Minns said, if “we are to preserve our apostolic witness and mission” to America.

Military action in Niger Delta attacked: CEN 5.22.09 p 6. May 24, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria.
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Archbishop Peter Akinola has denounced the Nigerian military’s search and destroy campaign targeting militants in the oil-rich Niger Delta. Unless the military campaign that has included air strikes on villages suspected of harboring militants was halted, Nigeria’s democracy was headed for doom, Archbishop Akinola said according to a May 19 report in the Lagos Vanguard.

The Vanguard reported on May 18 that three villages were attacked by helicopter gunships on Friday and seven other villages attacked on Sunday, leaving 65 dead and over 100 wounded. Ijaw tribal leaders claimed more than 30,000 villagers in the region were taking shelter in the mangrove swamps to escape the fighting between government soldiers and militants.

The Ijaw national leader, Chief Edwin Clark released an open letter to Nigerian President Umara Yar’Adua pleading for him to “to stop your government’s decision to declare a full blown war against the Ijaws of the Niger Delta by using jets and helicopters in bombing towns and villages killing innocent children, women and old people who are not part of the militants.”

Chief Clark said the government had accomplished its objective of destroying the militants’ base camps, and appealed to the president to “cease fire and bring normalcy to the area.”

In a statement given to the Nigerian press, the Movement for Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), the main guerilla group said the government claims of victory were hollow. “Considering that ours is a war of detachment and our camps are not meant to serve as permanent barracks, fighters from Camp 5 simply relocated to another camp with all their weapons and ammunition intact. This is normal in guerrilla warfare”.

The guerillas added that “if the army’s mission was to also rescue the hostages, then that again was a botched and ridiculous attempt because the hostages were not at any immediate risk to their lives except for their temporary freedom.” MEND stated that two western hostages had been killed in the air attacks, and that a third British hostage, Mathew Maguire “had been relocated to Delta state and will be a guest of one the camps there.”

In a report released last week, the International Crisis Group stated that civil unrest was rife across the Niger Delta. In the first nine months of 2008 over 1000 people had been killed and 300 kidnapped by criminal gangs and guerillas. The government also reported that attacks on oil pipe lines, theft and sabotage during the first nine months of 2008 had cost £15 billion in lost revenue.

While the Niger Delta produces most of Nigeria’s oil wealth, successive governments have not returned the oil income to the region. Nigeria produces one-fifth of the US’s energy needs, yet some parts of the region like the Bayelsa state are not linked to the national electricity grid.

In December a government committee recommended the appointment of a mediator to facilitate negotiations between militants and the government, the granting of amnesty to militant leaders not involved in crime, the disarmament and rehabilitation of guerillas, and channeling 25 percent of the country’s oil revenues back in to the region—up from the current 13 percent.

However, in February President Yar’Adua announced a new committee would be formed to study the old committee’s recommendations.

Archbishop Akinola told the Vanguard the government must act quickly to stem the violence in the Niger Delta and address the people’s economic, social and ecological needs. Corruption and favoritism in state and industry that favored outsiders over local residents must stop, he said.

Nigeria added to list of offenders of religious freedom: CEN 5.07.09 p 7. May 11, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Persecution.
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The Nigerian government’s blind eye toward the persecution of Christians has led to its being added to the list of the world’s worst offenders of religious freedom by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).

In its annual report to the US State Department, the USCIRF recommended that Nigeria join the list of 13 nations whose governments have engaged or tolerated systematic and egregious violations of the universal right of freedom of religion or belief.

Nigeria now joins: Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam on the US government’s “country of particular concern” or CPC list. USCIRF commissioner Leonard Leo told a Washington press briefing that the commission had asked Congress to add Nigeria to the rogues gallery after a fact-finding mission held earlier this year “concluded the government was tolerating” sectarian violence. There had been an “unbroken chain of sectarian and communal violence the government has not addressed,” he said.

The 2009 USCIRF Report is the most extensive in the Commission’s 10-year history, documenting serious abuses of freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief around the world. The report provides policy prescriptions for each nation on the CPC list.

The USCIRF report “details a vital, yet sometimes underappreciated aspect of human rights facing lawmakers here and abroad,” the chairman of the USCIRF, Felice Gaer (pictured) said.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Nigeria added to list of offenders of religious freedom

Nigerian Primate urges Anglicans to unite against militants: CEN 4.09.09 p 5. April 8, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Islam.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Primate of Nigeria, Archbishop Peter Akinola has entered the dispute surrounding critical comments made on an Evangelical website of the work and ministry of the Barnabas Fund, urging Evangelicals in Britain to put aside their divisions over how best to confront the challenge of militant Islam, and stand together in the face of its advance.

Citing incidents of Muslim persecution of converts from Islam to Christianity in Britain and the death threats received by the Bishop of Rochester, Archbishop Akinola wrote last week that “no longer are the painful experiences of Christians who are suffering at the hands of Islam confined to Africa, Asia and the Middle East, they are increasing and alarmingly occurring in the West.”

Many in the West were blind to the real character of militant Islam, he said. While most took for granted the right of an individual to change his religion, under Sharia law “adult male apostates suffer the death penalty and there are many cases where zealous Islamic leaders take the law into their own hands and carry out execution of apostates.”

Uncertain as to how best precede, Western political and church leaders had effectively capitulated to Islam “in an effort to establish man-made peace and cohesion in society,” he said, citing Dr. Rowan Williams’ defence of his comments on Sharia law in a press conference at the close of the February primates meeting.

Nigerian Christians understood the challenge of Sharia law, where 12 of the country’s 36 states had incorporated its provisions in the civil law code. “In the last 22 years the country has witnessed over 20 religious crises resulting in worshippers being prevented from attending church services, Christian properties and churches have been burnt and destroyed and not a few Christians have been maimed and killed,” he said.

Faced with this challenge, Archbishop Akinola castigated evangelicals in Britain for attacking each other “across the Internet on blogs and websites.” While not mentioning by name the controversy surrounding negative comments about Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo of the Barnabas Fund, Archbishop Akinola urged a halt to the “totally unnecessary battle of words” that had left some individuals “wounded and hurt, [while] others have felt misunderstood and maligned.”

“Such behaviour only strengthens the hand of the opponent,” he said noting that “those faithful to the historic Christian faith are already fighting many battles on many fronts.”

“I appeal to you, brethren, in the name of our only Lord and Saviour Jesus the Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought,” he said. “Rather than investing your God-given money, time and energy into unprofitable arguments, paying for publicity for point scoring, leaders of the Christian Church must commit every possible and available resource to faithful proclamation of the gospel message, which has once for all been entrusted to the saints.”

Episcopal Church wins property battle: CEN 3.25.09 March 25, 2009

Posted by geoconger in CANA, Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation.
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The Episcopal Church has scored another legal win this week in its battle with congregations seeking to quit the church and keep their property. On March 24 a Colorado Springs trial court held that the congregation of Grace Church & St Stephen’s, which in 2007 quit the Diocese of Colorado for the Nigerian-affiliated Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), may not quit the diocese and keep their property.  

In a 28 page rule, Judge Larry Schwartz held that trusteeship of the £12 million property should be vested in the portion of the congregation loyal to the diocese. Attorneys for the diocese had argued that a parish is a subsidiary unit of a diocese, and holds property in trust for the diocese. 

The parish had argued that under the “neutral principles of law” doctrine ownership should be determined by looking at the underlying title deeds. Grace Church had been incorporated as an independent not for profit corporation and had not deeded its property to the diocese. 

Judge Schwartz held that the parish’s “founding documents, various bylaws, relevant canons of the general church and consistent parish loyalty to the diocese over most of its 135 year existence demonstrate a unity of purpose on the part of the parish and of the general church that reflects the intent that all property held by the parish would be dedicated to and utilized for the advancement of the work of [the Episcopal Church].” 

“While freedom of religion recognizes the right of any faction within a church to leave that church whenever they choose, the trust that has been created through past generations of members of Grace Church and St. Stephen’s prohibits the departing parish members from taking the property with them,” the court ruled.

Episcopal Church wins property battle

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Nigeria hails ‘signs and wonders’ ministry: CEN 2.27.09 p 6 February 28, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Hymnody/Liturgy.
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The Most Rev Ephraim Ademowo, Archbishop of Lagos

The Most Rev Ephraim Ademowo, Archbishop of Lagos

“Signs and wonders” should become the mark of the Anglican Church in Africa, the Archbishop of Lagos, Dr. Ephraim Ademowo said last month at service marking the collation of two archdeacons.

He urged a “return to apostolic tradition practiced in the early church characterized by miracles, signs and wonders;” saying it should become “the new direction of the Anglican Church today.”

The Anglican Communion’s largest church with an estimated 18,000,000 active members, the Church of Nigeria has been challenged by the equally fast growing Pentecostal churches of West Africa. In recent decades it has taken on board many of the elements of the charismatic renewal movement as well embarking on a programme of African enculturation, drawing upon African resources for liturgical renewal.

One of the pillars of the Gafcon movement for the reform and renewal of the Anglican Communion, the Church of Nigeria’s cultivation of charismatic gifts, critics charge, will lead to splits with Gafcon’s Anglo-Catholic and conservative Evangelical wings.

Drawing upon the Reformers, signs and wonders, or modern day miracles, have been viewed with suspicion within traditional Anglican circles. In his Institutes, John Calvin wrote, “Those miraculous powers and manifest workings which were dispensed by the laying on of hands, have ceased; and they have rightly lasted only for a time.”

Martin Luther viewed claims to signs and wonders with skepticism, writing in his Sermons of the Gospel of St John that modern claims of the miraculous were “tom foolery” of the devil devised for “chasing people hither and yon.”

Dr. Mark Thompson, Dean of Moore College in Sydney told The Church of England Newspaper that he believed that the “signs and wonders” mentioned in the New Testament were “part of the apostolic era.” The “great sign of the Spirit’s work today is faith, given and nourished as the word of God is heard.”

Too great a reliance upon “signs and wonders,” Dr. Thompson feared, could lead to “a lack of confidence that the word of God has transforming power.”

While there appears a wide distance on the question of miracles between the evangelicals of Sydney and Lagos, both sides tell CEN the discussion begins with Scripture.

In his sermon, Dr. Ademowo sought to differentiate an Anglican approach to modern miracles from the Pentecostal churches by commanding the new archdeacons to put their whole trust first in the Bible. By solely relying on the word of God and not the temptation of private revelations, the new archdeacons would be protected from error.

“Be disciplined and cling to the Father, Son and Holy Ghost and your charisma as a pastor, prophet and teacher will be enhanced for effective ministration,” Dr. Ademowo told the new archdeacons.

Scenes from Alexandria: Nigeria February 18, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), Church of Nigeria, Primates Meeting 2009.
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The Primate of Nigeria, Archbishop Peter Akinola outside St Mark's Cathedral in Alexandria, Feb 1, 2009

The Primate of Nigeria, Archbishop Peter Akinola outside St Mark's Cathedral in Alexandria, Feb 1, 2009

Nigeria puts faith in Sunday Schools for revival: CEN 1.23.09 January 25, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Education.
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From the Church of England Newspaper’s Religious Intelligence section.

The House of Bishops of the Church of Nigeria has issued a call for an invigoration of the Sunday school movement to combat atheism and secularism.

Meeting at the Ibru Centre in Agbarha-Otor in the southern Delta State from Jan 5-10 the church’s 140 bishops and 13 newly elected bishops, focused their attentions on church revival.

The bishops noted the “the alarming growth of secularism, new age movements and militant atheism in Western Society,” and lamented its pernicious effect on young people. The antidote was Sunday school.

“The Sunday school movement has lost its place in many Western Churches with the result that the youth are defenceless against the false gospels propagated by the media. We believe that there is an urgent need to equip Sunday school teachers and youth workers with creative, well designed programmes if we are to avoid a similar fate with our own young people who will be ‘sheep without a shepherd’ if we fail to respond,” the bishops said.

Sunday school must also be coupled with “Bible-centred discipleship.” The bishops called upon all “clergy and congregations” to renew their commitment to the study of Scripture and also called upon all congregations “to establish a healing ministry as a central element of their common life and ministry to the community.”

In other business, the bishops reaffirmed their support of their primate, Archbishop Peter Akinola (pictured), and the Gafcon movement within the Anglican Communion. Archbishop Akinola shared with the bishops the results of his December meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams. The bishops responded that while they supported his efforts to “build bridges”, there could be “no compromise on the need for genuine repentance” by the Episcopal Church.

Nigeria puts its faith in Sunday schools for revival

Nigeria to test wedding couples: CEN 1.16.09 p 8. January 15, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria.
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There will be no race to the altar in the Church of Nigeria’s Diocese of Ogbaru. Couples seeking to marry in the church must first undergo pregnancy, genotype and HIV testing before a license would be granted, the Rt. Rev. Samuel Ezeofor told the Nigerian Tribune last week.

These tests were necessary, Bishop Ezeofor said, to ensure that Christian marriage was decent and honorable.

The results of HIV and genetic testing would not bar couples from marrying, he said, but would allow them to be properly counseled as to how to conduct their lives with these disabilities.

The bishop also voiced his displeasure with immodest wedding dresses, saying there had been occasions where the bride and her matron of honor had dressed in an unseemly fashion. While stylish, bare midriffs and other décolletage fashions were not appropriate for a church wedding.

In future, all wedding dresses would have to be vetted by the local vicar’s wife before the ceremony, the bishop said, to ensure that standards were being upheld.

Nigerian Primate hits out at feminism: CEN 1.09.09 p 5. January 14, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Youth/Children.
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The two-parent family is the central building block of society, the Archbishop of Nigeria has argued in his Christmas address to the church. Feminism and absentee fathers were contributing to the social breakdown in Nigeria, he warned, for bad parenting produced bad children which led to a bad future for all.

Absent fathers and neglectful mothers had spawned children who were “bundles of evil and vices due to improper upbringing,” Archbishop Peter Akinola said.

The result of these absent or neglectful role models could be observed “even on Sunday mornings” when children who are “supposed to be in the Church to worship God” can be found marking “their attendance at pitches where they gather for the game of football or go to pubs to drink, smoke and sniff hard drugs.”

The breakdown of family life was a “frightening development,” he said, made worse by those who “take pride in being single parents. If by death a partner is snatched away, this is understandable. We pray for people of such experience that they will be comforted.”

However there were “some men in our society who are utterly irresponsible with carefree attitude and who will not pay attention to their children,” Archbishop Akinola said. “Likewise are the so called societal ladies, the feminists” who have “little or nothing to offer our younger generation in morals or values.”

Drawing upon the Nativity story, Archbishop Akinola said that in Palestine, as in Africa today, “culturally and religiously” it was “a sin for unmarried females to be put in the family way.”

Yet God sent the angel Gabriel to “reveal His plan and purpose of redemption to Joseph and required him to take care of Mary.” Joseph “handled the situation so well that Mary was saved from embarrassment, shame and untimely death. The husband and wife lived together happily raising the Holy Child as a family. Every child needs constant loving parental care (mother and father playing their roles jointly),” the archbishop said.

Modern Nigeria needed to follow this example, for it is in the best interest of “our Nation and Church” that “we call all parents, fathers and mothers to make it a point of duty to jointly nurture the children in the fear and love of the Lord,” Archbishop Akinola said, for “if our Lord, Jesus the Christ, God incarnate enjoyed full parental care, we mortals can do no less.”

Primates anger over inaction: CEN 12.05.08 p December 8, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Persecution.
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The Primate of the Church of Nigeria has condemned his government’s inaction in the wake of the anti-Christian pogrom in the Central Plateau state last week that has left hundreds dead.
The government had been “playing the ostrich,” Archbishop Peter Akinola said, and had avoided facing up to the sectarian divisions plaguing the country.

“We know these people who are bent on destroying the nation and for goodness sake they should be brought to justice,” Archbishop Akinola said, in a report printed on the website of the Church of Nigeria. Past promises of government action to “bring to book the perpetrators of this evil” had gone unfulfilled.

“So if government has had the courage to bring justice to those who engage in the evil, it would have served as a deterrent to others. I call on this government to stop playing the ostrich and stop being hypocritical,” Archbishop Akinola said.

On Nov 28 the Archbishop Ben Kwashi of Jos sent an email via his cell phone warning of an outbreak of anti-Christian violence. “Please flash all intercessors to pray for us in Jos, we are being attacked by Muslims. Churches have been burnt, no exact figures of casualties yet. We need prayer to stay the hand the hand of bloodshed, destruction, violence and death. Pray for instant return to peace and order. The crisis began around 2am after local elections in Jos, why Christians must pay for this I do not know,” he wrote.

Initial reports indicate the violence began following a disputed local election in which supporters of the opposition All Nigeria Peoples Party accused the governing People’s Democratic Party of fraud. Fighting erupted prompting the Plateau State governor to issue a “shoot-on-sight” order to police and declare a 24-hour curfew in the worst-affected areas.

Wire service bulletins from the central Nigerian city reported hundreds of Christians and Muslims dead, with accounts of over 200 bodies taken to one mosque alone. However, subsequent reports from Archbishop Kwashi reported a different complexion to the violence.

“The Governor of Plateau State has stated very clearly that no Muslim was killed in a mosque in Jos,” he said, adding that “amongst the several hundred people arrested are many foreign Muslim mercenaries who were well armed.”

These mercenaries had allegedly “killed both Christians and Muslims because, being aliens, they do not know who is who.”

While the government appeared to have restored order to the city, on Dec 2 Archbishop Kwashi’s office reported “the situation is therefore easing in one sense but there is still the very real possibility of further violence. Please pray that God will wash away anger, rage, retaliation and lust for bloodshed.”

Court setback for Episcopal Church: CEN 8.30.08 August 31, 2008

Posted by geoconger in CANA, Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, Virginia.
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The Virginia courts have handed the Episcopal Church its third straight legal defeat in its battle with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), all but assuring a final legal victory for the Nigerian-overseen group led by Bishop Martyn Minns.

On Aug 19, Fairfax County Circuit Judge Randy Bellows rejected arguments put forward by lawyers for the Episcopal Church and Diocese of Virginia, which seeks to acquire control of property worth £20 million from the 11 CANA parishes. The national church had argued that contract law as codified in the US Constitution took precedence over state church property law. It also argued that an 1867 Virginia law that permitted congregations to quit their parent church with their property in the event of a schism was not applicable to the Episcopal Church.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Court setback for Episcopal Church

Bishop warns that Wales is set to appoint a gay bishop: CEN 8.30.08 August 31, 2008

Posted by geoconger in CANA, Church in Wales, Church of England Newspaper, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue.
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An American bishop of the Convocation of Anglican Churches in North America has alleged that the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, is seeking to place the Dean of St Albans, the Very Rev Jeffrey John (pictured) in the see of Bangor.

In an Aug 29 letter to members of the American Anglican Council (AAC) and CANA, the Rt Rev David Anderson said the Church in Wales would likely be the first province to break the Lambeth moratorium on gay bishops. “Wales is in an election process for Bishop of Bangor and the election has as one of its still-secret nominees none other than Jeffrey John,” Bishop Anderson said.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Bishop warns that Wales is set to appoint a gay bishop

The Rev Colin Coward and Davis Mac Iyalla July 27, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), Church of England, Church of Nigeria, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Lambeth 2008.
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Davis Mac Iyalla (Ieft) and the Rev. Colin Coward (right) at the 2008 Lambeth Conference.  Mr. Coward is president of Changing Attitude UK, one of the most effective lobbying groups in the Anglican Communion promoting the full inclusion of gays and lesbians into the life of the Church.  Mr Mac Ayalla leads the Nigerian branch of the organization.  On July 25 he was granted asylum by the British government.

Akinola must serve full term: CEN 7.18.08 p 6. July 24, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria.
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The Nigerian House of Bishops has declined to accept Archbishop Peter Akinola’ request to retire in January when he turns 65, asking that he complete his full ten year term through the end of 2010.

Elected Primate of the largest province of the Anglican Communion in 2000 following the retirement of Archbishop Abiodun Adetiloye, Archbishop Akinola has emerged as a figure of consequence and controversy within the Anglican Communion.

Pilloried by the left in the US and UK, Archbishop Akinola has been demonized for his stance on the morality of homosexual conduct and his call for the reform of the Anglican Communion. Speaking in heavily accented African-English, Archbishop Akinola is a times misunderstood by the Western media.

During the Gafcon conference one London newspaper reported Archbishop Akinola as having said Dr. Rowan Williams was an apostate, when he actually said Dr. Williams was “not” an apostate.

In a statement released on July 14 by the Church of Nigerian News, the Provincial Dean, Archbishop Maxwell Anikwenwa said the bishops had vetoed the retirement request as a consequence of the the decisions taken at the Gafcon meeting to establish a primates council to oversee the renewal of the Anglican Communion.

In a press conference in Abuja following the bishops’ meeting, Archbishop Akinola said he would focus the remainder of his term of office on discipleship and youth development. “And of course GAFCON will be on the front burner; we have to win it,” he said.

While he may serve only a single ten year term as primate, Archbishop Akinola may continue in office as Bishop of Abuja until he turns 70 years of age in 2014, when he must retire under Nigerian canon law.

Akinola: Lambeth Conference attendance ‘is immaterial’: CEN 7.23.08 July 23, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Kenya, Anglican Church of Rwanda, Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Lambeth 2008.
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Canterbury: One Rwandan bishop and five Kenyan bishops have broken ranks, defying their House of Bishops to attend the 2008 Lambeth Conference. However, no Nigerian or Uganda bishop has defied his church’s decision not to attend the every-10-year conference due to the presence of the American bishops.

“We’re sorry they are not here,” Archbishop Rowan Williams said, of the approximately 250 bishops from the four African provinces, Sydney and other evangelical dioceses who are absent.

Initial claims that a Nigerian bishop had bucked his Church have proven false.

However, Archbishop Peter Akinola told ReligiousIntelligence.com the whole issue of who was or was not at Lambeth was immaterial. “At this point it is a non-issue for us. After Lambeth, any Nigerian who may have chosen to flout our provincial and collective decision will have to answer to the general synod. It as simple as that.”

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Lambeth Conference attendance 'is immaterial'

African women resolute against liberal moves: CEN 6.29.08 June 29, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, GAFCON.
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The women of the Anglican Communion in Africa are steadfast in their opposition to the innovations of doctrine and discipline promulgated by the Episcopal Church, Nigerian pilgrims to the Global Anglican Future Conference (Gafcon) in Jerusalem said this week.

“We are in full support” of the stance taken by the Bishops of the Church of Nigeria, Mrs Oluranti Ademowo (pictured), wife of the Archbishop of Lagos said. “We are in more than full support,” she added, “we are so happy [Archbishop Peter Akinola] has taken a stand.”

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

African women 'resolute against liberal moves'

Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria June 25, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), Church of Nigeria, Washington Times.
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The Archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola at the Gafcon conference in Jerusalem.  First published in the Washington Times.

The Primate of Nigeria June 4, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), Church of Nigeria.
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Archbishop Peter Akinola in Pittsburgh, Nov 10, 2005

Akinola attacks inclusiveness: CEN 5.30.08 p 8. June 1, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Multiculturalism.
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Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Archbishop of Nigeria has denounced “multiculturalism” and “inclusiveness” as tenets of a false gospel that have sapped the missionary imperative of the Church.

In his commencement address to the Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry outside of Pittsburgh on May 17, Archbishop Akinola warned the new graduates from the Episcopal Church’s sole remaining Evangelical theological college that the world outside their seminary’s walls would not be welcoming.

“Here, you live in a community of faith. But out there, secularisation of society has led to the consignment of the Christian faith and practice to the background. What is left of the Church is infested by such new phenomena as ‘inclusiveness’ here in the USA, and in the UK we hear of multiculturalism,” the Nigerian primate said.

These worldviews were a form of “political correctness” that sought to “accommodate all shades of opinion and practice in the church.”

However, the “consequences” of multiculturalism were “grave. We end up with what looks like Church but in reality is not.”

“The authority of Scripture is put to doubt and denied. The uniqueness and Lordship of Jesus the Christ is jettisoned and our Lord is categorised as no more than one of the great men of his time. The fatherhood of God is questioned and a new vocabulary of father/mother introduced to please those of feminist persuasion. We learn that some even deny the bodily resurrection of Christ. When you take away these cardinal teachings and beliefs of the church, what is left is certainly not the church of Jesus Christ called out of the world but stationed in the world to bring the erring world to God,” he said.

The situation for Anglicanism in the West was grim. The church was full of “heretics and apostates” and was “declining so fast” that its “cathedrals are becoming mere tourist attractions. Of the Episcopal Church’s “two hundred bishops, I doubt if you can count on forty bible believing orthodox leaders,” he said.

The situation in Europe was as the continent had “gone apostate,” leaving a “huge religious vacuum which is now being aggressively filled by Islam.”

Archbishop Akinola called upon the new clergy to rise up and “overthrow all the ungodliness and apostasy we see in our Church and society” and challenge the “extreme revisionist liberalism of the Episcopal Church.”

He denied the disputes dividing the Anglican Communion were manifestations of power politics, but were salvation issues. For “to deny the authority of the Bible in matters of faith and conduct is to remove the ground from the feet of theology,” he said, and would lead to damnation.

Islamist militants go on rampage in Northern Nigeria: CEN 5.30.08 p 6. May 29, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Islam, Persecution.
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Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Islamist militants affiliated with the Shariah police in the northeastern Nigerian state of Bauchi have burned six Churches and ransacked the palace of the Emir of Ningi after police rescued two teenage girls who had been kidnapped and forcibly converted to Islam.

The anti-Christian pogrom comes amidst increasing sectarian tensions in Northern Nigeria. Over the past year 13 Christian teenage girls in the town of Ningi have been kidnapped and forcibly converted to Islam. Once they become Muslims, even if by force, the government has been reluctant to act as the state Shariah Council has so far refused to permit their return to their families.

In late April, two Christian girls in foster care, Mary Chikwodi Okoye, (15), and Uche Edward, (14) disappeared from their homes in the town of Ningi. Their foster parents mounted a search and discovered the girls had been kidnapped by Islamist militants and were housed in the palace of the Emir, Mohammad Yunusa Danyaya. The girls had allegedly converted to Islam and were to be married to Muslim men.

Local police accompanied by the girls’ foster parents confronted the Emir, asking that the girls be returned to their families. Accounts differ as to how the girls were released, as one Nigerian newspaper reported the Emir turned the girls over to their families upon learning of the circumstances of their conversions, while other news sources report the police removed the girls from the palace over the objections of the Emir.

Police took custody of the girls, however, transporting them to safety in Southern Nigeria.

Members of the Hisbah, the Shariah police in Bauchi state—one of several Northern Nigerian states that have adopted Shariah law, rioted upon learning of the girls’ release. The mob denounced the Emir, saying he had sold out to the Christians and burned his palace. They then turned their furry upon the local Christian community, burning All Souls Anglican Church and five other churches in the town as well as the homes and businesses of local Christians.

Robinson Ajolokwu Ozuegbunna, the foster father of the Uche Edward and a member of the All Souls Anglican Church, told the Compass Direct news service that he had “lost everything” in the attack, but was grateful for Uche’s release.

In 2004 the Ningi Shariah court made international news when it condemned a woman to death for having had sexual relations with a man not her husband. The Shariah Court sentenced Daso Amadu to be stoned. However, the state Shariah Court later overturned the ruling and ordered her release.

Episcopal Church launches lawsuits in California row: CEN 5.0908 p 6. May 11, 2008

Posted by geoconger in CANA, Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, San Joaquin, Virginia.
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The Episcopal Church’s legal battles entered a new phase last week, as lawyers for the national church filed suit in California against the Bishop and Diocese of San Joaquin in a bid to take control of its assets, while the Methodist Church sought to enter the fray in Virginia on behalf of the diocese.

Lawyers for the national church filed suit in a Fresno County Superior Court on April 24, seeking to transfer the assets of the diocese under the control of Bishop John-David Schofield based in Fresno to the new diocese based in Stockton created by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori under former Northern California Bishop Jerry Lamb.

“While it is regrettable that legal action is necessary, the diocese and The Episcopal Church have no other viable option but to seek the intervention of the court to recover the property and assets of the diocese,” said Bishop Lamb, the provisional Bishop of San Joaquin–Stockton

Last December, a supermajority of clergy and lay delegates at the San Joaquin-Fresno synod voted to quit the Episcopal Church and join the Province of the Southern Cone. Dioceses may not succeed from the Episcopal Church as “such actions are contrary to the Canons and Constitution of The Episcopal Church and the diocese,” the media Stockton diocese said.

Writing to the Fresno diocese, Bishop Schofield said, “please be assured that we have been expecting this litigation, and the contents contain no surprises,” adding that “in spite of the claims by The Episcopal Church, nothing in their current constitution and canons prohibits a diocese from leaving one province and moving to another.”

Bishop Schori’s handling of the San Joaquin affair has raised concerns. One group of bishops and church leaders commissioned a legal opinion on the validity of her actions from an international lawyer, who concluded she had committed 11 violations of canon law and should be brought to trial for abuse of office.

The Presiding Bishop issued a counter statement the same day, saying that her advisors had concluded that she had properly interpreted church canons. The Episcopal Church has no independent judiciary and has no way of reconciling opposing views save through political confrontations.

In Virginia the United Methodist Church on April 24 filed a brief in support of the national church and Diocese of Virginia against the breakaway congregations now grouped under the banner of CANA.

The Methodist Church argued that Virginia’s law granting congregations to withdraw from their parent churches in the case of schisms raised questions of the “appropriateness of the government’s intrusion into the freedom of any church body to organize and govern itself according to its own faith and doctrine.”

Virginia’s Attorney-General Robert McDowell in January filed a brief opposing the national Episcopal Church’s. A spokesman for the breakaway congregations, Jim Oakes, said the law, enacted in the wake of denominational splits following the American Civil War, was a tested and “reasonably neutral way for the state to adjudicate” the dispute.

Archbishop’s corruption warning to Nigeria: CEN 4.21.08 April 21, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Corruption, Politics.
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Nigeria must change its corrupt and unaccountable political system if it is to break free from poverty, violence and disorder, the Archbishop of Nigeria said in a sermon to government leaders last week.

Speaking at a service of thanksgiving marking the birthday of the governor of Ogun State on April 5, Archbishop Peter Akinola said “until Nigerians resolve that they want a free country, and where elections are not seen as a do-or-die affair, we won’t make any progress as a nation.”

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper’s Religious Intelligence section

Archbishop’s corruption warning to Nigeria

Death threats condemned: CEN 4.18.08 p 5. April 18, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Persecution.
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Davis Mac Ayalla of Changing Attitude Nigeria

The Archbishop of Canterbury has condemned threats of violence made against leaders of Changing Attitude UK and Nigeria.

In late March unknown assailants attacked the head of Changing Attitude Nigeria and sent death threats via a text message from Nigeria to the head of Changing Attitude UK. The death threats followed the beating of the Bishop of Kano by a mob, which left the Rt. Rev. Zaka Nyam near death.

On April 9, Dr. Rowan Williams said the “The threats recently made against the leaders of Changing Attitudes are disgraceful.”

He noted the Anglican Communion, through resolutions passed by the Lambeth Conference and in statements made by the Primates’ Meetings, had “unequivocally condemned violence and the threat of violence against gay and lesbian people. I hope that this latest round of unchristian bullying will likewise be universally condemned.”

On April 8 Changing Attitude released a statement saying that on March 24 “gay leaders of Changing Attitude Nigeria were seriously assaulted. They, and the Director of Changing Attitude England, were also threatened with death because ‘they are polluting Nigeria with abomination and immorality’.”
Changing Attitude also released a letter signed by twenty Anglican bishops and church leaders inferring that attacks on the gay leaders was driven by conservative opposition to the normalization of homosexuality within the life of the Church.

The Rev. Colin Coward said some “highly judgemental and often abusive comments and pronouncements about LGBT Anglicans” had “lead some members of Anglican Communion churches to believe that threats and violence against those who are LGBT (or those who support a more open stance towards LGBT people) are not only justified but are authentic expressions of Christianity.”

However, critics of the Changing Attitude statement note that the group had produced no evidence to substantiate its claim that conservative Anglicans were behind the threats.

The culprits behind the beating of the Bishop of Kano have been identified and are the subjects of a police investigation. On March 3 a gang of young men affiliated with the Evangelical Church of West Africa in Kano attacked Bishop Nyam as he was leaving the church, dragging him from his car and beating him into unconsciousness.

The Bishop was pulled to safety by members of the congregation, who had been meeting with the Bishop to discuss plans to rebuild the church, which had been damaged during last years’ Muslim-Christian riots.

The motive for the attack, Church of Nigeria officials tell The Church of England Newspaper arose from a false story circulated by Muslim government officials that state assistance to rebuild the church had been embezzled by Bishop Nyam, the chairman of the local chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). Bishop Nyam survived the assault but was hospitalized and is expected to recover. When queried by CEN, Lambeth Palace stated they were unaware of the attack.

Church’s Court Blow: CEN 4.11.08 p 5. April 13, 2008

Posted by geoconger in CANA, Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, Virginia.
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An American state court has handed the Episcopal Church a major defeat in its battle for control of the property of breakaway congregations in Virginia, rejecting its argument that there was no “division” in the Episcopal Church.

In an 88 page opinion released on April 3, Fairfax County Judge Randy Bellows held that a Nineteenth century law governing the disposition of church property in the event of a church schism applied to the dispute between the Diocese of Virginia and CANA—the American jurisdiction of the Church of Nigeria.

The Episcopal Church and Diocese of Virginia last year brought suit against 11 congregations of the Anglican District of Virginia seeking control of the breakaway parish properties, including the diocese’s two largest congregations—Truro Parish and the Falls Church in suburban Washington.

Judge Bellows rejected the Episcopal Church’s contention that the CANA secessions were a local matter. He held “it blinks at reality to characterize the ongoing division within the diocese, [the Episcopal Church], and the Anglican Communion as anything but a division of the first magnitude.”

“The rapidity with which [The Episcopal Church’s] problems became that of the Anglican Communion, and the consequent impact-in some cases the extraordinary impact-on its provinces around the world,” he said.

The Episcopal Church and the Diocese have challenged the legality of the law, saying it violates Federal constitutional guarantees separating Church and State. A hearing before Judge Bellows is scheduled for May 28 on this issue. Virginia’s Attorney General has announced he will defend the legality of the statute against the Episcopal Church’s claims. The third phase of the litigation—disposition of the property—will be addressed later this year.

While the trial court’s ruling on the applicability of the relevant law does not rule out the Episcopal Church eventually prevailing in the fight, the April 3 ruling comes as a blow to the Church’s plans to use civil courts to enforce the interpretation of Church canons by the Presiding Bishop.

The Virginia law “plainly deprives the Episcopal Church and the Diocese, as well as all hierarchical churches, of their historic constitutional rights to structure their polity free from governmental interference and thus violates the First Amendment and cannot be enforced,” US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said on April 4.

The Diocese of Virginia objected to the ruling as well arguing that the “people in the CANA congregations were free to leave, but they cannot take Episcopal property with them.”

A spokesman for the parishes lauded the judge’s decision that upheld its contention that “”our churches’ own trustees hold title for the benefit of the congregations.”

CANA Bishop Martyn Minns said he was confident they would prevail. “There will be another hearing on the constitutional issues that have been raised and I am sure that there will be a variety of appeals but we are confident of the rightness of the path that we have chosen and grateful to God for his favor,” he said.

Nigeria has more dioceses than the USA: CEN 4.11.08 p 8. April 13, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria.
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The Church of Nigeria has surpassed the Episcopal Church in the United States as the Province with the largest number of dioceses, following the creation of 19 dioceses at a joint meeting of the Church’s House of Bishops and Standing Committee on March 26-29 in Nnewi.

“Plans and funds are now in place for the creation of one full-fledged and eighteen new missionary dioceses,” the Church reported, and twenty new bishops were elected to fill a vacant post and the new sees. The Nigerian Church will now boast 131 dioceses and missionary jurisdictions.

“The creation of new dioceses as a deliberate evangelistic strategy is bearing remarkable fruit,” the final communiqué said, as “those missionary dioceses created twelve months ago have reported that they have already planted over three hundred new congregations.”

In other business the meeting addressed the issue of polygamy in Nigerian culture. “While there are complex pastoral issues that must be addressed, we as a Church stand against it” the bishops wrote and affirmed as the “biblical norm for holy matrimony” life-long monogamy.

The Church of Nigeria had set out to become “known around the world as a champion for Biblical Sexual Morality. We recognize that we cannot simply ask others to conform to biblical norms if we ourselves are unwilling to look inward especially on the issue of the sanctity of marriage,” they said.

The Nigerian Church also affirmed its participation in the GAFCON conference in Jerusalem. The bishops affirmed the importance of the Lambeth Conference within the life of the Communion, but said that its present configuration prevented them from attending.

GAFCON will “provide a unique opportunity for those who hold to the historic teachings of the Church to meet and discern God’s call for our common future as Anglican Christians,” they wrote, noting that “in the last few days God has shown his favor on these plans by sovereignly providing the funds necessary for all of the Bishops, their wives, the clergy and lay delegates of the Church of Nigeria to attend” the June gathering in Jerusalem.

Coca-Cola teams up with Christian Aid: CEN 3.14.08 p 6. March 16, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Health/HIV-AIDS, NGOs.
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Christian Aid’s “Nets for Life” anti-malaria programme had its formal Nigerian launch last week in Abuja.

Nigerian government ministers, Church, NGO and business leaders kicked off the campaign on Feb 28, which seeks to distribute 82,500 mosquito nets treated with insecticide to malaria prone regions of the country. The programme is underwritten by grants from Coca-Cola, ExxonMobile and the Standard Chartered Bank in partnership with Christian Aid and Episcopal Relief and Development.

Malaria was the leading cause of illness in Nigeria, the Director General of Nigeria’s National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control told the gathering. Half of Nigeria’s adults would have an attack brought on by the illness each year while children would have three to four attacks each year Dr. Dora Akunyili said. The disease was so prevalent that seven in ten hospital admissions in Nigeria were due to malaria.

The executive director of ExxonMobile Nigeria told the gathering his company had invested almost £20 million in malaria projects across Africa and would pledge a further £5 million in 2008.

“Science tells us that the malaria parasite thrives on disorganized human systems. But it can be defeated through collaboration. Nets for Life are exactly the type of collaborative effort that can have real impact in combating malaria”, ExxonMobil’s Cyril Odu said, according to local press reports.

Christopher Knight, the chief executive officer of Standard Chartered Bank said malaria cost Africa over £6 billion a year and was a “major constraint to sustainable economic development.”

In 2006 his company had set a goal of distributing 1 million mosquito nets across Africa. Working with the Church of Nigeria and community leaders, Nets for Life started a pilot programme in the Plateau and Benue states that had distributed 11,000 treated nets last year.

The Archbishop of Jos, Dr. Benjamin Kwashie thanked the companies for their work, saying it was a good start to beating back the disease.

“The funds invested in this project might not be enough, but God works in miraculous ways for more people to be touched. In caring and in doing good, you might not know who is being touched, but God returns the goodness in many more ways”, Archbishop Kwashie said.

Traditionalist bishop inadvertently invited to Conference: CEN 2.29.08 p 6. February 26, 2008

Posted by geoconger in CANA, Church of England Newspaper, Lambeth 2008.
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martyn-minns.jpgCANA Bishop Martyn Minns appears to have been inadvertently invited to the Lambeth Conference.

A clerical error, or as one aide suggested-deliberate mischief – caused a flurry of excitement at Lambeth Palace this week after reports surfaced that Bishop Minns had been asked to pledge his financial support to assist overseas bishops to attend the conference.

The fundraising letter was part of a mass mailing sent to all of the bishops of the Communion asking their help in defraying the £3,500 conference costs to assist their brethren from the developing world to attend the gathering. Bishop Minns told The Church of England Newspaper he had received the letter last week, which closed with the note that the conference organisers looked forward to seeing him at Lambeth this July.

Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire told CEN he had ‘not received any kind of invitation to Lambeth, and my plans remain up in the air’.

Attempts to contact Dr Nolbert Kunonga, the former Bishop of Harare, to ascertain whether he had received the note were unsuccessful.

A spokesman for Lambeth Palace stated there had been no change in the Archbishop of Canterbury’s invitation policy, and they were at a loss to explain the letter. The Lambeth Conference organizing committee stated it had not sent the letters, and suggested it might have been a hoax to create further mischief in the run up to the summer gathering.

The Primate of Nigeria and the last Bishop in China 丁光訓 February 18, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), China, Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria.
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The Most Rev. Peter Akinola, Archbishop of  Abuja and Primate of Nigeria, and the Rt. Rev. Kuang-Hsun Ting ( 丁光訓 ),  Bishop of Chekiang (Zhejiang), 1955 – ?, Photo taken July 18, 2006 in Shanghai.

Mixed world reaction to [Williams’ Sharia] speech: CEN 2.15.08, p 5. February 14, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Episcopal Church of the Sudan, Islam.
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rowan-williams.jpgThe Archbishop of Canterbury’s observation that some form of Sharia law in Britain “seems unavoidable” has drawn mixed reactions overseas. Muslim leaders have welcomed Dr. Williams’ comments and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland has come to his defence in the ensuing row.

However, Western religious, political and social commentators—and film stars—have been less than enthusiastic in their responses.

Australia’s Attorney-General Robert McClelland told reporters the government of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd “is not considering and will not consider the introduction of any part of Sharia law into the Australian legal system.”

The Diocese of Sydney was equally firm. Diocesan spokesman Bishop Robert Forsyth of South Sidney said: “We do not agree with the archbishop’s comments.”

“In the case of Australia, we are thankful for freedom of religion but would oppose the idea of different systems of law for different people groups,” Bishop Forsyth said in a statement.

The Times of India called Dr. Williams comments “nonsense concocted in cloud cuckoo land.” Allowing British Muslims to have “marital disputes or financial matters dealt with in a Sharia court rather than the ones patronized by white English Mr. and Mrs. Johnny Bulldog” would be a social disaster it said.

It noted former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had “agreed to orthodox Muslim demands for the protection of [Sharia] Law” in marital disputes, as Dr. Williams’ had suggested. The result had led to Muslim women being denied the right to alimony in divorce cases.

Church leaders in Nigeria and the Sudan were equally perturbed by the consequences of the speech. One Sudanese church leader told The Church of England Newspaper Dr. Williams appeared to have conceded one of the principle disputes that had led to the decades old war between Christians and Muslims in the Sudan.

In an interview with the BBC, the Archbishop of Jos in Northern Nigeria, Ben Kwashi said he was “shocked. I am disappointed. I am in total disbelief.”

Dr. Williams’ comments would have major ramifications in Nigeria, he said. “If the Christians are the ones asking for Sharia Law, now that will be used against us who are saying that we do not think Sharia law will help the cause of freedom and the cause of the gospel of Jesus Christ in Northern Nigeria.”

Populist American radio commentator Rush Limbaugh, whose 3 hour radio show draws over 20 million listeners, denounced Dr. Williams’ remarks, saying “This is what you get when you have unchecked, unbridled liberalism. By the way, this is liberalism disguised as an archbishop, as a religious figure. Liberals will give away the culture and the freedom of western democracies.”

Across the intellectual spectrum, Roger Kimball, the editor of the highbrow intellectual journal the New Criterion, called Dr. Williams a “civilization Quisling.” Unlike his predecessor Thomas a Becket who “faithfully served his church and was savagely punished for it, Rowan Williams loses no opportunity to besmirch his Church and is lavishly praised for his perfidy.”

Dr. Williams’ lecture was also a topic of conversation at the Berlin film festival last week. Actor Daniel Day-Lewis told reporters on Friday “the Archbishop of Canterbury has been getting it from all sides today,” but had “made a big mistake.”

However, the Moderator of the Church of Scotland has defended the archbishop. The Rt. Rev. Sheilagh Kesting wrote Dr. Williams on Friday saying she was “appalled by the way the response to your lecture has become a personal witch-hunt calling for your resignation.”

The Al-Azhar in Cairo—the Anglican Communion’s dialogue partner with Islam—on Saturday welcomed Dr. Williams’ remarks. Sheikh Abdel Fattah Allam told the Egyptian news agency MENA the introduction of Sharia law in Britain was a “move in the right direction and will have a positive impact in Muslim countries.”

Dr. Williams’ comments would be well received, he said, as they “encouraged dialogue between cultures and civilizations in a framework of mutual respect of religions.”

Mohammad Hashim Kamali, professor of law at the International Islamic University of Malaysia, told Al Jazeera television the Archbishop’s suggestion that Muslims be allowed their own courts was a “good start” and would “not have any harmful consequences” for Britain.

Sharia law “is part of the Islamic identity, especially for the Islamic minority communities” in the West, he said.

“It is a recognition of the demand we have been experiencing in recent decades,” Dr. Kamali said. “The fact that there is a response by a credible religious figure is welcome news.”

Corruption attacked: CEN 2.08.08 p 6. February 9, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Corruption.
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Archbishop Peter Akinola has urged the Nigerian government’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to expand its brief and root out corruption in the civil service, industry and the church.

Speaking at the dedication of St. Peter’s Cathedral in Asaba in the Niger Delta on Jan 19, Archbishop Akinola charged that “corruption had taken a firm root” across Nigerian society. He urged the government’s anti-corruption investigators to redouble their efforts and “bring whoever is found wanting to book.”

Since independence Nigeria’s rulers had squandered its natural riches. If the amount of money invested by the government had been used “judiciously, Nigeria would have overtaken China and India in terms of development,” he declared.

“Our health system,” he went on, “has collapsed, the educational system is dead and our roads are in deplorable shape, yet these same leaders go to church and pray to God. No amount of prayers can cover your sins. Christ obeyed God till death, why can’t you obey Him in simple daily matters?” he said according to a report published in the Vanguard newspaper of Lagos.

Politicians often approached him for his support and prayers, he told the congregation at St. Peter’s. Yet those who solicited his prayers nullified their effect by the crimes they committed in office. Politicians, who claimed to love the people, often should little sign of this affection for the welfare of the common man in their public acts.

The seeds of corruption began with acquiescence to small sins and petty misdeeds, he said. Honor God in the small things and seek the good of all, Archbishop Akinola said.

Lambeth boycott is not the end of the Communion: CEN 2.08.08 p 5 February 7, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Australia, Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, GAFCON, Lambeth 2008.
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peter-jensen.jpgThe boycott of the 2008 Lambeth Conference does not mark the end of the Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Sydney has said. However, the Lambeth Conference’s role as an “instrument of unity” is no more.

Writing in the Sydney Morning Herald on Feb 5, Dr. Peter Jensen said he and his suffragans would not attend the July 16 to Aug 3 gathering out of “faithfulness” to Scripture and in solidarity with Africa’s Anglicans.

On Jan 30 Archbishop Peter Akinola stated the Nigerian bishops along with those of Rwanda and Uganda “are not going to the Lambeth Conference.”

The proposed agenda of the 2008 Lambeth Conference will differ in purpose and structure from past gatherings of the Communion’s bishops. Speaking to the BBC Radio 4’s Sunday programme on Jan 27, Archbishop Rowan Williams stated he wanted the Lambeth Conference to give “space” to the “huge number of Anglicans” for whom homosexuality is “not the overwhelming issue, who really want to talk about mission, about development, and questions like that.”

Dr. Williams said he hoped Lambeth would allow the bishops to have a “good serious look at what structures we need to avoid the kind of confusion we’ve had in the last couple of years.”

His desire was also for “both ends of the spectrum” to “make some concessions to stay together. So the American Church is willing to say, ‘Alright, we won’t rush things,’ if the African and other churches are willing to say, ‘We won’t instantly condemn’.”

In his Advent letter to the Primates, Dr. Williams stated the Lambeth Conference would be “a meeting of the chief pastors and teachers of the Communion, seeking an authoritative common voice.”

However, the agenda does not envision creating a forum for the bishops to find their voice. The bishops will be given a “look” at the proposed Anglican Covenant, but no action will be taken, nor will there be any consequences for rejecting the common voice reached in 1998.

Archbishop Akinola expressed disquiet with the proposed agenda. “What is the use of the Lambeth conference for a three weeks’ jamboree which will sweep” the issues dividing the Communion “under the carpet,” he said.

Dr. Jensen explained that while the 1998 Lambeth Conference “made it clear that the leaders of the overwhelming majority of Anglicans worldwide maintained the biblical view of sexual ethics,” within five years Anglican churches in the US and Canada had “officially transgressed these boundaries in defiance of the Lambeth resolution and the teaching of the Bible.”

The “fallout” had made it “clear that we shall never go back to being the communion which we once were,” he said.

The African provinces that are boycotting Lambeth are “are not ending the Anglican Communion, or even dividing it. They are simply dealing with the reality that the nature of the communion has now been altered and reflecting that Lambeth is not as crucial to the future as it once was.

Dr. Jensen said he had come to share the African view “that since the American actions were taken in direct defiance of the previous Lambeth Conference, the Americans have irreparably damaged the standing of the conference itself.” To attend the conference without a resolution of these questions would be to “overlook” the “issues at stake.”

As the Conference is presently constructed, “those who say [that these issue do] not matter are the ones who are attending Lambeth,” Archbishop Akinola said.

Leaders of the Global South coalition tell The Church of England Newspaper there appears to be little the Archbishop of Canterbury can say or do at this stage to salvage the situation. While assurances have been given and programmes laid out at every Primates meeting since 2003, no substantive action has occurred.

“Why will it be different this time?”, one primate said.

Nigerian Church begins Prayer Book revision: CEN 2.01.08 p 8. February 2, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Hymnody/Liturgy.
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The Church of Nigeria will begin a new round of Prayer Book revision, Archbishop Peter Akinola said in a pastoral letter published at the end of the church’s House of Bishops’ meeting last week.

The current Prayer Book, last revised in 1996, will seek to use modern language and African imagery to “help us to worship God meaningfully and relevantly in our setting and many situations,” Archbishop Akinola said.

He encouraged Anglicans to “prepare prayerfully so that the liturgy does not become a cold and lifeless aspect of our worship life, but a vibrant, inspiring and liberating encounter with our self-revealing God.”

The revision process for the Nigerian Church’s new prayer book will differ from that taken by the Episcopal Church with the 1979 Book of Common Prayer in that no doctrinal innovations or revisions will be made.

In 2005 the Nigerian Church amended its constitution outlining the substance of its faith and subordinating its ecclesial structures to doctrinal formularies. Language that defined the Church as being “in communion with the See of Canterbury” was rescinded.

The Nigerian Church would now be “in communion” with “all Anglican Churches, Dioceses and Provinces that hold and maintain the Historic Faith, Doctrine, Sacrament and Discipline of the 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 ordinal of 1662 and in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion.”

Sources familiar with the revision project tell The Church of England Newspaper the Church of Nigeria is committed to the “historic faith once delivered to the Saints” and to Anglicanism’s traditional formularies. The new book will seek to acculturate these doctrinal truths into a West African context, allowing the Church to grow through a living liturgy.

State ruling is blow to Church: CEN 1.18.08 p 9. January 21, 2008

Posted by geoconger in CANA, Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, Virginia.
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The state has intervened in the Diocese of Virginia property lawsuits, backing the legal arguments of the Nigerian-led breakaway group, CANA.

In a brief filed in the Fairfax County Circuit Court on Jan 10, Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell defended the constitutionality of a state law governing church property disputes, dealing a sharp blow to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori’s campaign to halt the defection of traditionalist congregations through litigation.

“As a matter of federal constitutional law, the Episcopal Church is simply wrong. The Constitution does not require that local church property disputes be resolved by deferring to national and regional church leaders,” the government brief said.

While not addressing the factual issues in dispute between the Diocese of Virginia and the Episcopal Church in its suit against the 11 breakaway congregations, the attorney general said CANA’s legal arguments were “constitutionally sound.”

Virginia law states that if the majority of a congregation’s members decide to secede from their parent church, that congregation can retain the parish property, if there is no legal encumbrance recorded on the property deed.

The Attorney General stated the “Episcopal Church believes that, when there is a property dispute involving a hierarchical denomination, the National and Virginia Constitutions require deference to regional and national church leaders.”

This was false, he argued, as civil law governs church property disputes when issues of doctrine are not before the court.

Lawyers for the Episcopal Church have disputed the applicability of the Virginia statute that allows congregations to keep their property, and have also disputed the constitutionality of the law.

Akinola urges Bishops to make worship more interesting: CEN 1.16.08 January 16, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Hymnody/Liturgy, Lambeth 2008.
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Lex orandi, lex credendi should be the rule of the Church of Nigeria, Archbishop Peter Akinola told members of that Church’s House of Bishops last week, urging a reform of liturgical practices to strengthen the faith of all believers.

“We must make our style of worship so styled and spirit-filled that our congregations will be moved to see vision like in the book of Isaiah,” he told the 120 bishops gathered at the Ibru Centre in Agbarha-Otor from Jan 7-12.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Akinola urges Bishops to make worship more interesting

‘This is not about us, it is about the Gospel’: CEN 11.16.07 p 9 November 15, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Ecclesiology, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue.
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akinola.jpgThe Church of Nigeria is not interested in territorial aggrandisement, but in preserving the catholic faith, Archbishop Peter Akinola said last week in an open letter to the Primates.

Continued inaction on the American crisis was crippling the Communion. “We are losing members. We are losing time. We are losing our integrity as an important part of the One, holy Catholic and Apostolic Church,” Archbishop Akinola said.

Released upon his return from Shanghai from a meeting of the Global South primates’ coalition, Archbishop Akinola defended his church’s intervention in the United States.

“Although they have variously been described as ‘interventions,’ ‘boundary crossing,’ or ‘incursions,’ they are a direct and natural consequence of the decision by The Episcopal Church to follow the path that it has now chosen,” he said.

These pastoral initiatives were “undertaken to keep faithful Anglicans within our Anglican family” and have been undertaken at a “considerable cost of crucial resources to our province.”

He rejected any notion of “moral equivalence” between the border crossings and the innovations of doctrine and discipline taken by the American Church, saying Nigeria had responded to a “heartfelt” cry for help from persecuted traditionalists.

Archbishop Akinola also rejected assertions that the creation of flying bishops for the US violated “historic Anglican polity” and the canons of the Council of Nicaea. This suggestion, he said employed “bad faith” and bad history, noting that the Council of Nicaea placed right doctrine over the sanctity of jurisdictional boundaries.

Patristic scholars have supported Archbishop Akinola’s observation that the Windsor Report and subsequent statements by US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori have not accurately recounted the actions of the Council of Nicaea. Writing in the April 2005 issue of Touchstone magazine, Prof. William Tighe wrote in ‘Abusing the Fathers’ “any attempt to construct a theory of the inviolability of diocesan boundaries cannot find any support in the theory and practice of the early Church.”

Archbishop Akinola stated that at its heart, the conflict was not about “structure or conferences but about irreconcilable truth claims.”

“Until the Communion summons the courage to tackle that issue headlong and resolve it we can do no other than provide for those who cry out to us,” he said. “One thing is clear we will not abandon our friends.”

UN begins environmental survey in Niger Delta: CEN 11.13.07 November 13, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Crime, Environment.
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THE UNITED Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has begun an environmental impact survey on the damage done to the Niger Delta by oil drilling.

The Nov 5 announcement has been welcomed by church and civil leaders in Nigeria, as it marks a significant step towards peace and reconciliation in the troubled Ogoniland region of the Niger Delta. Scarred by decades of unregulated oil production, Ogoniland has been a hotbed of social and tribal unrest.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

UN begins environmental survey in Niger Delta

Archbishop ‘relieved’: CEN 10.05.07 p 6. October 4, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury has released a statement noting his “relief” that a press report accusing the bishop of Uyo, Nigeria of uttering homophobic statements has been shown to be false.

On Sept 20, after a meeting earlier in the week with Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola, Lambeth Palace released a statement of clarification.  “As I said last week,” Dr. Williams wrote, “these reports were very concerning and it is a great relief to have had full assurances that the stories were false and should never have appeared. I am grateful that the prospect of the severe offence that would have been caused has now abated”.

On Sept 7, Dr. Williams first expressed his “deep shock” at remarks attributed to Bishop Isaac Orama, based upon a Sept 2 United Press International (UPI) report.

Citing a News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) story, UPI quoted Bishop Orama as having said “Homosexuality and lesbianism are inhuman. Those who practice them are insane, satanic and are not fit to live because they are rebels to God’s purpose for man.”

Contacted by The Church of England Newspaper after the UPI story was published, Archbishop Akinola’s office investigated the matter and told the CEN the story was false.  Leaders of the Church of Nigeria were dismayed Dr. Williams would issue such a harsh statement without first checking upon its veracity.

Primates Asked to Critique Bishops’ Response: TLC 10.02.07 October 2, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Church of Kenya, Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of Ireland, Church of Nigeria, Church of the Province of Uganda, House of Bishops, Living Church.
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Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has begun soliciting the views of the primates as to whether the Sept. 25 statement from the House of Bishops adequately responds to the primates’ request for clarification on The Episcopal Church’s stance on gay bishops and rites for the blessing of same-sex unions.

Archbishop Williams has begun telephoning and writing the primates, seeking their views. However, his trip to Armenia and Syria, and the opening of the Church of England’s House of Bishops meeting on Oct. 1, has hindered a speedy response to the New Orleans statement.

Public statements from some of the primates indicate a split of opinion along factional lines, with some declaring the statement adequate, while others have dismissed it as dishonest and non-responsive to the primates’ request.

Archbishop Alan Harper, Primate of Ireland, said the “American bishops have gone a considerable way to meeting the reasonable demands of their critics.”

Bishop David Beetge of the Highveld, the acting primate and vicar general of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, said he welcomed the decision “for the simple reason it gives us more space and time to talk to each other.”

The Primate of Australia, Archbishop Philip Aspinall of Brisbane said he believed the bishops had “responded positively to the substance of [the primates’] requests.”

Other primates were more critical. “What we expected to come from them is to repent. That this is a sin in the eyes of the Lord and repentance is what we, in particular, and others expected to hear” from the House of Bishops, said Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi, Primate of Kenya.

The Primate of Nigeria, Archbishop Peter Akinola, said the bishops’ response fell short. The primates had given The Episcopal Church “one final opportunity for an unequivocal assurance” that it would conform “to the mind and teaching of the Communion,” he said, and the bishops failed to do that. The primates are unwilling to accept further “ambiguous and misleading statements” from The Episcopal Church, he said.

Published in The Living Church.

Split Looming Despite Compromise: CEN 10.05.07 p 3. October 2, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Church of Kenya, Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England Newspaper, Church of Ireland, Church of Nigeria, Church of the Province of Uganda, House of Bishops.
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Reactions to the US House of Bishops New Orleans statement amongst the Primates have broken along factional lines, with conservatives denouncing the statement as insubstantial and dishonest, while liberals have praised its candor and modesty.

The divergent views of the adequacy of the US response to the Primates request for clarification of American church practices towards gay bishops and blessings further complicates the Archbishop of Canterbury’s hopes of forestalling a schism within the Communion.

Straightened finances and fears of a boycott by the primates of Wales, Ireland and Scotland to an emergency primates’ meeting to discuss the American response to the primates’ Dar es Salaam communique, has led to Dr. Williams telephoning the Communion’s primates to try to find a common mind.

Whether the primates’ round robin will produce an amicable resolution appears to be further hampered by the different world views of the players in Anglicanism’s great game. Aides to the Archbishop told The Church of England Newspaper during his meeting with the American bishops in New Orleans that Dr. Williams hoped to find the right combination of words that would satisfy the church’s disparate factions.

However, leaders of the Global South coalition have demanded not words, but action from the American church, and have little trust in the veracity of American promises of good behavior. Leaders of the liberal wing of the US Church and across the Communion are also divided, with some arguing that truth must not be subordinated to expediency while others hope their place within the councils of the church can be saved through the artful use of semantics.

The Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Alan Harper of Armagh lauded the American response, saying the American “Bishops have gone a considerable way to meeting the reasonable demands of their critics.”

Archbishop Harper noted the “generous agreement” of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori “to put in place a plan to appoint Episcopal visitors for dioceses that request alternative oversight” and stated that while the bishops had declined “participation in the ‘Pastoral Scheme’ offered by the Primates,” they had “at least” recognized the “useful role” of the Communion in these debates.

Dr. Harper stated this seemed to be a “balanced and relatively generous response in a very delicate area of inter-provincial relationships.”

Bishop David Beetge of the Highveld, the acting primate and vicar general of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, said he welcomed the decision “for the simple reason it gives us more space and time to talk to each other.”

The Primate of Australia, Archbishop Philip Aspinall of Brisbane said he believed the US had “responded positively to all the requests put to them by the Primates in our Dar es Salaam communiqué.”However, he went on to damn the American Church with faint praise saying “Certainly they have responded to the substance of those requests.”
However the Archbishop of Sydney, Dr. Peter Jensen was not as sanguine. “At first reading, the statement from the TEC bishops does not seem to say anything new,” he noted. “The situation may not then be changed in any way.”

The African churches were stronger in their condemnation. “What we expected to come from them is to repent. That this is a sin in the eyes of the Lord and repentance is what me, in particular, and others expected to hear coming from this church,” Kenyan Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi said.

The Assistant Bishop of Kampala, David Zac Niringiye told the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme Uganda believed the statement was inadequate as it was “not a change of heart”, but a temporizing solution.The Primate of Nigeria, Archbishop Peter Akinola stated the US response fell short of what was required. The primates had given the US “one final opportunity for an unequivocal assurance” that it would conform to the “to the mind and teaching of the Communion.”

He said the primates were unwilling to accept further “ambiguous and misleading statements” from the US Church. “Sadly it seems that our hopes were not well founded and our pleas have once again been ignored.”

Meanwhile the Anglican Mainstream group said they were disappointed with the response because it failed to address the specific questions asked of it by the Primates’ Meeting in February, and backed the Common Cause College of Bishops. In a statement they said: “The first two points — on the election of non-celibate gay and lesbian bishops, and on public rites for blessing same-sex unions — suggest that the TEC House of Bishops has agreed not to walk further away from the rest of the Anglican Communion for the moment.

“However, the TEC House of Bishops gives no indication of being prepared to turn and walk back towards us so that we may walk ahead together, and in reality same-sex blessings are continuing.

“Moreover, there is no response to the Primates’ request to suspend all legal action.”

The Church Society also rejected the House of Bishops statement saying it demonstrates TEC has ‘abandoned orthodox Christianity’.

More Nigerian US Bishops: CEN 9.21.07 p 9. September 23, 2007

Posted by geoconger in CANA, Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria.
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Nigeria has added four more bishops to the roster of CANA, the Convocation of Anglicans in North America.  Their election will increase the total number of African-sponsored missionary bishops to the United States to 17 by year’s end: six from Nigeria, two from Uganda, two from Kenya, and seven from Rwanda

The President of the American Anglican Council, the Rev. Canon David Anderson, the former rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Akron, Ohio, the Rev. Canon Roger Ames, and two Nigerian priests serving expatriate African congregations in the United States, the Ven. Amos Fagbamiye and the Rev. Canon Nathan Kanu were elected by the Nigerian House of Bishops on Sept 12.

The four will be consecrated later this year in the US and will assist Bishop Martyn Minns in “providing an indigenous ecclesiastical structure for faithful Anglicans in this country,” CANA said.

The Nigerian House of Bishops also re-elected five and elected two new archbishops.  Edmund Akanya of Kebbi succeeded the Josiah Idowu-Fearon as Archbishop of Kaduna and Benjamin Kwashi of Jos succeeded the Emmanuel Mani as Archbishop of Jos.

The Archbishop of Lagos, Ephraim Ademowo of Lagos; the Archbishop of Owerri, Bennett Okoro of Orlu; the Archbishop of Ondo,  Samuel Abe of Ekiti; and the Archbishop of Ibadan,  Joseph Akinfenwa of Ibadan were re-elected to five year terms.

According to a press release published on CANA’s website, the convocation now boasts 60 congregations and 80 clergy spread across 20 states.  A quarter of CANA’s members are Nigerian immigrants, with the balance consisting for the most part of former members of The Episcopal Church.

Canon Ames, who with his parish seceded from the Episcopal Church in 2005 for the Diocese of Bolivia, said that approximately 50 former Episcopal parishes under the jurisdiction of the Bolivian church were in talks with CANA to transfer jurisdictions.

On March 7, the Nigerian House of Bishops stated that in light of the Primates’ Dar es Salaam communiqué it would “defer the request for additional Episcopal elections for CANA until our meeting in September 2007.”  The rejection by the US House of Bishops of the Primates pastoral scheme for US traditionalists prompted last week’s election.

On Sept 15 Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda issued a statement endorsing the elections.  The rejection by the US bishops of the “Pastoral Scheme presented to them unanimously by the Primates of the Anglican Communion and the subsequent rejection by TEC’s Executive Council” was “evidence of this desperate need to care for, support, and encourage orthodox Anglicans and Episcopalians in America,” he said.

The election of four more bishops will not divide the conservative movement in North America he said.  The “renewal of Anglicanism in America” will come through a unity “based in the Word of God” and “demonstrated through its Bishops who work together cooperatively and collaboratively for increased mission in America.”

Nigeria appeals for Lambeth 2008 to be postponed: CEN 9.21.07 p 9 September 23, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Lambeth 2008.
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The Church of Nigeria has urged Archbishop Rowan Williams to postpone the 2008 Lambeth Conference, writing that a meeting of bishops that comes before a resolution of the Anglican Communion’s wars over doctrine and disciple would hasten its destruction.

In a letter released on Sept 13 following a meeting of the church’s Standing Committee and House of Bishops, the Nigerian Church warned that the “pressures of the present situation” made holding Lambeth 2008 unwise.

Dr. Williams’ desire to have the Lambeth Conference be a “place for fellowship and prayer and an exploration of our shared mission and ministry” could not be achieved in the current climate.

The Nigerian bishops detailed the campaign of abuse and slander mounted against them and decried the “spate of hostility in the UK” against those holding traditional moral views.

“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?” they said.

With “relationships are so sorely strained and our life together so broken” such that the bishops could not share the Eucharist with one another, gathering next summer in Canterbury “would be a mockery and bring dishonour” to God.

The Nigerian Church lauded Dr. Williams’ plans for an Anglican Covenant and suggested the Communion first hear out the Episcopal Church’s plea for special treatment on issues of human sexuality.  They called for a special meeting of the Primates to deal with the American question and asked that work begin toward a Communion-wide consensus on the “application of the Windsor Process.”

They also asked that Dr. Williams “set in motion an agreed process to finalize the Anglican Covenant Proposal and set a timetable for its ratification by individual provinces.”  Once these processes were in place, they argued, a productive Lambeth Conference could be held.

Nigeria, Uganda, Rwanda and the diocese of Sydney have warned Dr. Williams they might abstain from attending the conference set for next July at the University of Kent at Canterbury.  The Anglican Church of Kenya’s Primate, Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi last week said his church would give their decision on attending Lambeth in December.

The Nigerian’s call for a postponement of Lambeth echoes suggestions made last year by then Canadian Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, who urged Dr. Williams to postpone Lambeth until the current tensions were abated.  The world wars had caused gaps of 12 and 18 years to pass between Lambeth Conferences, and a delay at this time would serve to dissipate the tensions and distrust that had arisen within the church, he said.

Nigeria Appeals for Lambeth 2008 to be Postponed: CEN 9.21.07 p 9 September 19, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Lambeth 2008.
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THE CHURCH of Nigeria has urged Archbishop Rowan Williams to postpone the 2008 Lambeth Conference, writing that a meeting of bishops that comes before a resolution of the Anglican Communion’s wars over doctrine and disciple would hasten its destruction.

In a letter released on September 13 following a meeting of the church’s Standing Committee and House of Bishops, the Nigerian Church warned that the ‘pressures of the present situation’ made holding Lambeth 2008 unwise.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Nigerian call for Lambeth delay