dropping the conference, leaving the GAFfes.

Archbishops Peter Jensen of Sydney and Peter Akinola of Nigeria have now met (separately) with Bishop Suheil Dawani of Jerusalem about GAFCON, the gathering proposed over this past Christmas for self-proclaimed "orthodox" bishops, clergy, and laity in Jerusalem. The organizers hadn't thought to meet with the Bishop of Jerusalem or with Mouneer Hanna Aris, the Primate of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East, before sending out a press release saying that the were holding a conference in his diocese, and as it turns out, neither one of these bishops of the chosen site for GAFCON are even remotely pleased about its being held there any more than they are about not having been consulted before the site was announced.

But now Jensen and Akinola have met with Dawani -- separately, despite the meetings being only three days apart -- and Thinking Anglicans has posted the minutes of those meetings, which make for very interesting reading.

Apparently Archbishop Akinola didn't take kindly to the objections of his host: "[Akinola] stressed that liberty was important for Africa and that he could not allow anyone to tell his community what to do and to say." At no point, according to the minutes, did he acknowledge his host's concerns; he apologized only "for sending his letter to Bishop Suheil at a very inconvenient time (at Christmas) and at such short notice, but he said that he could not see how this conference could become a 'political problem'." Nor did Akinola ask his host what he might respond to or ameliorate the concerns of Jerusalem's Primate, bishop, and people.

Instead, he tried another tack. "Archbishop Akinola then said, that this was a pilgrimage and wondered what the difference was to other pilgrimages. The Rev’d Canon Hosam responded by saying that this was not only a pilgrimage, since the Archbishop himself was talking about a conference with an agenda. Archbishop Akinola replied that he would be happy to change the terminology and refrain from calling it a conference, in which case he would call it a pilgrimage."

Hosam has a point. Clearly the event was intended from the start as a conference -- hence the name 'GAFCON," the Global Anglican Future Conference. The front page of the GAFCON website refers to it as a "conference" fifteen times, including in every header, while the word "pilgrimage" appears a grand total of three times. At least the organizers finally added the picture of one person of color (Archbishop Akinola); the first incarnation of the website, the domain of which was registered in Englishman Canon Chris Sugden's name, had pictures only of white men (Sugden, Jensen, and Bishop Bob Duncan of Pittsburgh).

In any case, none of the Jerusalem Christians present were going to buy the line that GAFCON isn't really a convention -- at least not as it's currently being organized. And so, although he hadn't been asked his opinion on what might help, Bishop Suheil rather generously offered a suggestion: that Akinola's agenda be spilt in two, with the conference taking place in Cyprus so what happened in Jerusalem could be a pilgrimage only.

That's what closed the meeting, with no response from Akinola, who had earlier "repeated that his interests were not political, and that his major concern was about how to grow and how to be strengthened and exchange experiences." I'm not surprised that he did not immediately accept Suheil's suggestion, or even promise to think about it. I'd say it was clear from the start that GAFCON was not only a conference, but a conference with political intent. My hunch is that organizers "immediately felt that [Jerusalem] was the right venue," as Jensen put it, because of the resonance they hoped edicts from that gathering would have as a kind of reconvening of the "apostolic council" in Jerusalem described in Acts 15.

Acts, however, describes "the whole group of those who believed" as being "of one heart and soul" (Acts 4:32), and it's clear that, not having consulted with the Jerusalem Christians before announcing a conference there, that GAFCON is not building that kind of community.

So who knows -- organizers may drop the "CON" from the name to further description of the event as not being a conference. It might be an even more appropriate name if they do -- the organization seems to have been nearly all gaffe thus far.

January 22, 2008 in ++Peter Akinola, Africa, Church of Nigeria, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (4)

+David Bena leaves TEC for CANA; Nigerian bishops flout Primates' Communiqué

The Church of Nigeria's House of Bishops has issued a statement from their meeting Sunday, March 4. At that meeting they consecrated, twenty new bishops, and then, while everyone was there, they elected six more bishops, five of them for new dioceses. If the Lambeth Conference in 2008 votes on anything, and assuming that the Church of Nigeria does not make good on its Primate's threat to boycott Lambeth, it looks like Nigeria's going to have a lot more votes than they did in 1998.

That statement discloses a couple more surprising points, though.

The first is that +David Bena, the retired suffragan bishop of Albany, has left The Episcopal Church to join CANA.

The second is that "in light of the report from the recent meeting of Primates in Dar Es Salaam," the Nigerian House of Bishops has agreed not to elect any more bishops for CANA -- until their September 2007 meeting. Since even the least generous "deadline" for action from The Episcopal Church to conform to the requests of the Primates' Meeting is September 30, this seems to me to indicate clearly that despite the Primates' timetable (which is hardly expansive!), the Nigerian House of Bishops (or at least their Primate) apparently feels entirely free to expand incursions into TEC jurisdictions before any deadline has passed, and certainly before any kind of prayerful consultation in the Communion could take place about it.

Is there a more generous way to read this last point?

The Church of Nigeria is a church in a very, very big hurry.

[Update: The Diocese of Albany has posted this letter from +Bena, which suggests that +Bena intends to provide oversight in TEC dioceses other than Albany.]

March 5, 2007 in ++Peter Akinola, Church of Nigeria | Permalink | Comments (8)

Medical Test Now Mandatory for Anglican Priests


This Day (Lagos)
August 14, 2005
Posted to the web August 15, 2005

By Chuka Odittah

Head of the Anglican Communion in Africa, Primate Peter Akinola has made periodic medical examination a mandatory exercise for all Anglican clergies.

Dr Christian Ebesike, Director of Social Welfare of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) stated this in Abuja during a forum for religious, traditional leaders and the media on immunisation and child survival in Nigeria.

Ebisike disclosed that henceforth it had become mandatory for all practicing Anglican priests to undergo complete medical examination at least once every two months. The cost of such exercises he said were picked by the church or public minded persons who were relevant to such programmes.

Ebisike explained that Primate Akinola's decision was to forestall cases of sudden death often recorded among clergies while in active service.

According to him, the new rule was a way of proffering a holistic approach to the physical and spiritual needs of the priests, adding that in christianity, one could not exist in isolation

He said the nature of examinations specified included HIV tests, blood pressure, diabetes tests and any other that may be necessary.

Ebesike said such support service was aimed at providing the priests with an enabling support to perform their duties without distractions.

He also stated that the Anglican church is currently in the forefront of Compassionate evangelism, which he said entails the distribution of food items, clothes and financial assistance to needy members whenever necessary.

Copyright © 2005 This Day. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).

Link to original article

August 15, 2005 in ++Peter Akinola, Africa, Church of Nigeria | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack