frgavin on November 25th, 2011

Paul and Christine Perkin and Chris Sugden

Church of England Newspaper 25 November. 2011

An Anglican Commonwealth Conference has issued a sharp rejoinder to David Cameron over his call to link the provision of aid to human rights.

The Divine Commonwealth Conference ( held in Abuja Nigeria earlier this month claimed his true agenda is to force the normalisation of homosexuality and gay marriage as a human right.

An estimated 5000 members of the Church of Nigeria attended the conference which is intended to be an annual event. The basis of participation was the Jerusalem Statement.

A team was invited from the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (UK and Ireland) and led by Bishop John Ellison the chair of the panel of bishops of the Anglican Mission in England. It consisted of the rectors of the “minster churches” of All Souls Langham Place, Jesmond Newcastle and St Mark’s Battersea Rise, together with senior leaders from St Helens Bishopsgate, of Holy Trinity Brompton and the Alpha Course, with the General Secretary of Crosslinks and the chair and past chair of the Barnabas Fund.

First stop for two members of the team was the Church of West Africa in Accra. Paul and Christine Perkin on a third meeting in two years with the West Africans led seven days of meetings with fifty bishops and clergy, and with clergy spouses and lay leaders. Paul and Christine led workshops with young couples and encountered a tremendous hunger for biblical teaching and practical guidance on marriage.

Issues that West Africans face include the predictable problems of health, education, poverty, housing, corruption and employment. In Ghana where there is relatively little tension between Christians and Muslims, the issues of marriage and family life as the foundation for a stable community have a familiar ring to us in the West.

The church of Ghana is finding its identity for today, having discovered a vibrant spiritual life in tension with an outwardly formal Anglicanism adopted over a century ago, and little changed since. Negotiating the transition to retain the best of the past and introduce a ministry relevant to the younger generation and distinctively African in culture will require a radical overhaul, but it is committed to the Jerusalem Declaration as its doctrinal anchor.

Archbishop Okoh, the Primate of all Nigeria, opening DIVCCON said that it was neither an Episcopal Synod, Clergy Conference, nor a gathering only of Anglicans or Nigerians – “it is the Body of Christ, the new humanity, the ecclesia of God, which is the divine commonwealth of God. ..It is a call apart for our spiritual rejuvenation and mutual edification, in an atmosphere of deep spirituality and learning.”

The programme continued the brand of GAFCON at Jerusalem in 2008. Bible Studies in groups of 150-200 began the day. Two plenary presentations followed by questions to the speakers filled the morning.

Afternoon seminars were often led by lay people and provoked lively interaction. Those on the recent violence in Northern Nigeria, on leadership and on church planting were world class. The evening ‘revival hour’ had vigorous preaching with an appeal and very vigorous worship.

Rev Hugh Palmer, rector of All Souls commented on the mixture of serious bible study, Pentecostal “overcoming” and facing up realistically to articulating as a church both their own possible weaknesses and those of the country.

Archbishop Okoh told the FCA (UK and Ireland) team at the close of DIVCCON: “We value your presence and your friendship. On our part we will do our best to connect with you in England.”

In response to questions about the issues of sexuality in the western churches. Archbishop Eliud Wabukala of Kenya, the chair of the Primates Council of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans reaffirmed the grief of the Global South Primates at the undermining of Scriptural authority in Anglican churches in the west with ordination and consecration of active gay and lesbian clergy and bishops. “We know where we stand, “ he said, “we have listened long enough.”

The DIVCCON conference statement said: “We were shocked by the recent statement from the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, the Right Honourable David Cameron, to the effect that his Government would aid only those countries that adhere to ‘proper human rights’. It is clear that his true agenda is to force the normalization of homosexuality and gay marriage as a ‘human right’. While acknowledging the sacred worth of every human being we reject this erroneous notion as contrary to God’s intention for humankind and harmful to those he claims to protect. Another implication of this is that the ‘Commonwealth of Nations’ is still being treated as a body of unequal partners, where, because of economic status, some nations are still vulnerable to manipulation. We urge the Federal Government of Nigeria to resist any such intimidation on this matter.”

Pictures, presentations and further information are on

The Rev Paul and Mrs Christine Perkin lead St Mark’s Church, Battersea Rise. Paul is chairman of FCA (UK and Ireland). Chris Sugden a Canon of Jos in the Church of Nigeria.

The full DIVCCON statement below is here at

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