Skip to comments.Nigerian Bishops Warn of Schism in Anglican Church
Posted on 01/20/2007 6:04:21 PM PST by sionnsar
Anglican leaders from the Church of Nigeria have warned the worldwide communion that they "cannot walk together" with provinces that do not repent of their departure from Scripture.
In a communiqué issued at their annual retreat on Jan. 9-13, the House of Bishops of the Church of Nigeria said that it maintains its posture not to share fellowship with member-Provinces that "denigrate the authority of Scripture."
"Our participation in this worldwide fellowship is contingent on genuine repentance by those who have chosen to walk away, for two cannot walk together except they are in agreement," said the Most. Rev. Peter Akinola of the Church of Nigeria in a statement. "Christian unity must be anchored on Biblical truth."
The Nigerian primate's statement was directed to the U.S.-based Episcopal Church which had consecrated an openly gay bishop and elected Katharine Jefferts Schori, who supports same-sex unions in recent years, as Presiding Bishop of the U.S. arm of Anglicanism.
The recent decisions of the Episcopal Church violated the 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10, which states that they reject homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture while they are still called on to minister to all despite sexual orientation.
In September 2006, the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa (CAPA) agreed to "The Road to Lambeth," clearly stating that the North American chu rches must repent or depart. The Nigerian Anglican leaders at the recent retreat reaffirmed the CAPA document.
If the churches, or "the apostles of 'revisionist agenda,'" fail to repent, CAPA leaders warned that they would hold their own Lambeth conference on African soil in 2008 rather than joining the worldwide Anglican Communion.
Lambeth conferences are held once every 10 years. Bishops from around the globe are scheduled to gather for worship and discussion in July 2008 at the University of Kent at Canterbury, England.
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams , the Anglican spiritual leader, said earlier this month that he feared schism in the church as the situation is slipping out of his control.
Recent actions of the Episcopal Church's General Convention and its failure to obey the demands of the Windsor Report push the possibility that Africans will have their own Lambeth 2008, Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi of the Anglican Church of Kenya indicated in an interview with Virtue Online.
African bishops had considered the Windsor Report, which called parties to the controversy to express regret, "a vehicle by which the offending churches" would repent and turn back.
Congregations in the United States also opposing recent actions of the Episcopal Church have split with the national body. And most recently, two of the largest churches in the Diocese of Virginia joined the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) - a splinter group and an outreach initiative of the Church of Nigeria.
African bishops at the recent retreat said they were delighted that CANA was taking "giant strides to other parts of the world."
The latest warning by the Church of Nigeria comes months after Anglican leaders of 20 provinces proposed the formation of a separate orthodox Anglican body in the U.S. Some also stated that they would not be able to recognize Jefferts Schori as a representative of the U.S. Anglican arm at the upcoming Primates meeting in February.
The Church of Nigeria Bishops on the Feb. Primates' Meeting & Lambeth 2008:
On the Primates' February Tanzania meeting and the homosexuality issue:
"We are not going to Tanzania to discuss gay marriages. We are going to Tanzania because we are Primates of the Church and we have many things to talk about and to pray about. We come together primarily for fellowship as Primates, we come together to study the word of God and to think together on various matters that concerns our provinces. So the gay marriage thing is not the main agenda. It may rear its ugly head again but it is not the main agenda."
Church of Nigeria Bishops and Lambeth 2008:
"We are part and parcel of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Lambeth Conference is called once in every ten years for all Anglicans Bishops therefore it is our conference. What we are saying in Church of Nigeria and in many other provinces in Africa is that for us to gather all over the world as many as 800 Bishops, and to build that consensus and to agree on certain things, and for some to say 'well it doesn't matter; we can continue things in our own way'.
Then think of the financial implication, think of the risks involved. For 120 Bishops from Nigeria to travel to England, consider the financial implication. It will not cost any diocese in the country lest than N1million - for the delegates and other expenses-. We are talking about N120million and we are going to spend three weeks there. And then on return, there is nothing to show for it, that is what we are arguing against.
So, we are part and parcel of Lambeth Conference, but we are challenging the authorities that before we come, we have to be sure that we are not coming for a Jamboree. We are coming for serious business and we have plenty of time before Lambeth to decide whether we are coming for a mere jamboree or a serious conference."
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