Archive for January, 2017

Are the Leaders of Africa’s Anglican Churches “Despotic”?

Monday, January 16th, 2017

Are the Leaders of Africa’s Anglican Churches “Despotic”?
Anglican Consultative Council secretary general decries GAFCON

By David W. Virtue, DD
www.virtueonline. org
A Nigerian Archbishop who is also secretary general of the Anglican Consultative Council — an instrument of unity in the Anglican Communion – blasted Anglican provinces in Africa as the cause of “disagreement even hatred” between fellow Anglicans and conceded that there was no hope or possibility of the Anglican Church ever agreeing on human sexuality.

“They [the provinces] must live together or splinter into groups and that will not glorify the Lord,” Dr. Josiah Idowu-Fearon told Canon Ian Ellis, editor of the Church of Ireland Gazette, in a radio interview.

He confessed that he took the job because he felt called to do something to address the “disagreement and even hatred” between fellow Anglicans. He said much of the hatred came from the Southern hemisphere. Asked what he thought of Australian Archbishop Peter Jensen, who is playing a leadership role in GAFCON, Fearon said, “unfortunately for me I know all these characters… we were good friends. He invited me to Sydney. He asked me what I thought of GAFCON and I said I am sorry but it is not a movement of the Holy Spirit because it is divisive.”

While the Anglican leader said his commitment to reconciliation remained firm, he conceded that on the root of the disagreements, human sexuality, he said there was “no way” of finding agreement. “It’s not possible,” he said. The alternative to finding a way to live together was to allow separate “splinter groups”.

The former Nigerian archbishop criticized the leadership of Anglican churches in Africa, calling them “ineffective.” He said he was speaking from experience, and described them as “despotic”.

“Church leaders in Africa generally do not see themselves as leading the way Christ leads his Church. Rather, the African Church leader sees himself – mainly ‘himself’ – in the light of the traditional rulers, those with absolute authority.”

Fearon said that not all African Christians were against same sex. “We need to hear from those who subscribe to same sex and those who don’t. Not everybody is against same sex.”

Fearon said he had come across “hatred, vilification and character assassination”.

The former Archbishop of Kaduna in Nigeria said he was wholly committed to Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference which sets a traditional line on sexuality. He described it as a “benchmark” of Anglican teaching. He said the next Lambeth Conference will take place in 2020.

“I am conservative – I’ve always been conservative”, he opined, and said he wanted to address the issue from the perspective of Jesus Himself; “What is the Lord doing in his Church?”

Fearon ripped GAFCON of being a breakaway movement, even though it bills itself as a global family of authentic Anglicans standing together to retain and restore the Bible to the heart of the Anglican Communion. GAFCON chairman Nigerian Archbishop Nicholas Okoh recently warned in his Advent pastoral letter that the Anglican Church is at risk of “sleepwalking into fatal compromise”. GAFCON is among several groups supporting the orthodox Anglican Mission in England (AMiE) as well as GAFCON — UK.

Idowu-Fearon accused GAFCON of “shifting” its position and then he said that he had even told one of the leadership team; “It is not a movement of the Holy Spirit because it is divisive. GAFCON was given birth but I have never subscribed to the principle of GAFCON.”

Pushed by Canon Ellis, Fearon said he would back the creation of a body for dialogue and reconciliation between GAFCON and the Anglican Communion.

His said he had experience as a bridge-builder between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria and across Africa meant he felt he had something he could offer to the warring Christians. “In my country, there is deep rooted hatred between Christians and Muslims. Hatred is very deep.”

Fearon repeatedly described himself as a “messenger” and “ambassador.”

BC to go ahead with gay weddings

Sunday, January 15th, 2017

George Conger

The Bishop of British Columbia will not wait for the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada to authorize same sex-marriage rites, but will give his permission for celebrations of gay weddings in churches in his diocese with immediate effect. Minutes of the diocesan synod held on 27 Oct 2016 at the Church of the Advent in Colwood, B.C., state that in his presidential address, the Rt. Rev. Logan McMenamie (pictured) said that after “prayerful” consideration, he would let his clergy to bless same sex couples on a “case by case” basis. The minutes of the council meeting stated the bishop believed “principle take precedence over procedure.”  He responded to concerns his decision to move forward with gay blessings in the teeth of opposition from the wider Anglican Communion was not a violation of the godly principle of unity. “Unity was not agreement but the willingness to work together and to walk together,” he said according to the minutes of the meeting. The bishop conceded that not all agreed with his views, but he was nevertheless willing to “journey forward  together” with those he believed he was in error.  At its July 2016 meeting of General Synod the Anglican Church of Canada voted to begin the process towards permitting same-sex marriage rites. A second vote, to be held at the 2019 synod, must be taken before it becomes lawful. The Bishop of British Columbia’s decision preempts the synodical process. Bishop McMenamie is not alone, however. The bishops of Niagara, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Edmonton, Huron, and Rupert’s Land have said they too will ignore synod and move forward with same-sex weddings.

Canadian bishop lays out the case for same-sex marriage

Sunday, January 15th, 2017


Michael Bird

The three years leading up to this year’s General Synod were a journey for many in the church and for me in particular as the Bishop of Niagara. It involved a great deal of work in terms of developing and building upon relationships:

  • relationships with the members of the LGBTQ2 community … many of them, our fellow parishioners, clergy and leaders, as well as friends, children and grandchildren;
  • relationships with my colleagues in the House of Bishops and our Primate;
  • relationships with our international partners;
  • relationships with Ecumenical partners as well.

As the General Synod approached I was aware that there was a strong possibility that the required majority would not be achieved in all three Houses, and while I continued to work at building relationships I also knew that I would need to decide what, if any, action or statement I would make in the wake of a “no” vote.

After long hours of prayer, consultation and soul-searching, I came to the decision that I could not allow such a vote to be the final word on this matter for the next nine years. (It would be nine years before two more Synods could give the required assent.) I was also encouraged by the released opinion of the National Chancellor and supported by our own Chancellor that the present Marriage Canon, Canon 21, does not prevent a bishop from exercising his or her authority as chief liturgical officer and chief pastor to give permission for all persons who are duly qualified by civil law to enter into marriage, and to have that marriage solemnized in the churches of his or her diocese.

I also came to the conclusion that in the event of a “no” vote I would no longer be able to stand before the members of the LGBTQ2 community as a senior leader in this church or to stand before the people of the Diocese of Niagara as your bishop without taking a stand.

Bill Mous is our Communications Director, and as is the case with all our written and verbal communication at Synod office, we are very intentional about the ways in which we proclaim the gospel message to our members and the wider society. Bill and I, and others with whom we consulted, worked together to be prepared to speak decisively and quickly when the vote was taken. In the wake of the “no” vote, I therefore issued a statement that I would be giving my permission for the celebration of marriages for same gendered couples in the Diocese of Niagara on the pastoral grounds provided for in the Canon.

It is a decision that I believe is grounded in our proclamation of the gospel and our witness to the kingdom of God. It is a decision that comes with the integrity that has been won over decades of work undertaken by the Synod of the diocese and by our bishops, clergy and lay leaders.

Having said that, I also know that not everyone in the diocese agrees with the actions I have taken and I am more than willing to make time to speak to and listen to anyone who would like to talk to me further about this matter.