Church of Nigeria issues wide-ranging communiqué

The Standing Committee of the Church of Nigeria has issued a communiqué after its recent meeting. What do you make of the topics covered and the tone?


 

 

The Communiqué issued at the end of the Standing Committee Meeting of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) held from 21 to 25 September 2015 at the Cathedral Church of St David, Ijomu, Akure, Ondo State.

INTRODUCTION

The Standing Committee of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the leadership of the Most Rev. Nicholas D. Okoh, Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of all Nigeria with his wife, Mrs Nkasiobi Okoh, President of the Women’s and Girl’s Organizations in attendance, met at the Cathedral Church of St David, Ijomu, Akure, Ondo State, from 21-15 September, 2015. One hundred and forty seven bishops, One Hundred and Fifty-Two clergymen, and Sixty-Eight members of the House of Laity were present. At the opening ceremony, the Standing Committee welcomed His Excellency, Dr Olusegun Mimiko, Governor of Ondo State, who gave a goodwill message. The opening session was also graced with the presence of our Guest Speaker, Prof Jerry Gana, who presented a paper titled: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s”.

At the end the Standing Committee issued this Communique:

THE THEME OF THE STANDING COMMITTEE

The theme of the Standing Committee was ‘Look and Live’ (Numbers 21:8)

Considering the challenges we face as a result of our experiences during trials and temptations in the world, the Standing Committee calls upon

  • all Christians to exercise simple faith and obedience to God for victory by living lives that are characterized by honesty, truth and integrity and calls the Church to faithfulness in her message to uphold the holiness and righteousness of the Living God
  • all Nigerians to pray to God for a quick end to insecurity of all types – insurgency, kidnapping, armed robbery, etc.
  • Government at all levels to look up to God and forsake all vices and corrupt tendencies, so that there can be true development in our country.

CONGRATULATIONS

The Standing Committee congratulates His Excellency Muhamadu Buhari and the Vice President, His Excellency, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo on their victory at the March 28, 2015 General Elections and assures them of the church’s continued prayers and willingness to partner with the government. The Standing Committee urges the President to endeavor to harness the vast resources which God has blessed the nation with, to transform it from a mono-economy to a diversified one.

SECURITY CHALLENGES

The Standing Committee expresses his gratitude to the Federal Government on the successes achieved so far in the fight against insecurity and insurgency. It commends the Nigerian military for its gallantry and calls on the Federal Government to extend strong security presence to all the areas where kidnapping is thriving in order to completely arrest the menace and ensure security which is necessary for peace, free movement and development.

POWER SECTOR

Of recent there has been an improvement on power supply across the country. It is on this note that the Standing Committee wishes to encourage the Federal Government to ensure that the promise to provide sustainable power be increasingly pursued so that the gains of privatization of the power sector are not only improved but also sustained as this is the key to industrialization and creation of job opportunities.

UNEMPLOYMENT AND POVERTY

The Standing Committee notes with pain the very ugly challenge of poverty and unemployment and calls on Government at all levels to be more proactive in providing an enabling environment for the private sector to also assist in the area of job creation, for the teeming population of our youths.

NATIONAL ECONOMY

The Standing Committee observes with delight the efforts that are being made towards revamping the economy of our nation and calls for intensified efforts to forestall the looming economic recession.

CORRUPTION AND INDISCIPLINE

We welcome the renewed zeal in the fight against corruption in the country. Accordingly, the Standing Committee urges all Nigerians to bury their differences – political, religious, ethnic etc. in the face of this common enemy that has held the country down since independence. We call on Government and all Nigerians to embark on a total war against indiscipline in our public and private lives. Those with the mandate to facilitate this process should ensure that this fight is total, comprehensive and successful.

THE STATE OF OUR ROADS

The Standing Committee recognizes the work of the Federal Government on the roads through FERMA. Ease of movement being a basic necessity, a lot more needs to be done to deliver good roads to Nigerians.

CLIMATE CHANGE AND FLOODING

Climate change has become a world-wide subject for detailed debate and attention but human practices have continued to worsen the situation. The impending gradual release of excess water from Lagdo Dam in Cameroon and the heavy rains expected in the remaining months of the year are a cause for serious concern. The Federal Government is consequently called upon to expedite action in ensuring that the effects of flooding are mitigated. People living on water ways are called upon to heed timely warnings and relocate to uplands.

ISSUE OF SAME-SEX MARRIAGE

The Standing Committee unanimously resolved to continue to maintain the orthodox biblical stand on this matter. It also calls on her members to defend the orthodox biblical teaching on marriage and family. On its part, the Federal Government is further enjoined to continue to resist the foreign pressure to make it rescind its stand on same-sex marriage.

THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION WORLD

While the Anglican Communion continues to be impaired by revisionist theologies of some Anglican Provinces, the Standing Committee calls the leadership of the Anglican Communion to repentance and renewed faith in Christ as expressed in the bible, the articles of religion and the Jerusalem Declaration, and further reaffirms our commitment on these as the basis of our relationship with other parts of the communion.

DEMISE OF CHIEF DR (MRS) HANNAH I.D. AWOLOWO

The Standing Committee received the news of the home call of Chief Dr (Mrs)

(Hannah I.D. Awolowo with gratitude to God for a life well spent. As a member of our Church, we testify that she lived an exemplary Christian life both in family and public. Apart from being a political icon, she was at different times a member of the General Synod and Standing Committee of our Church. May her gentle soul rest in peace.

CONCLUSION

The outward peace the world seeks can only come when men obediently embrace the inward peace with God through faith in Jesus Christ to whom the bronze replica of the poisonous serpent points. In all circumstances, therefore, let us as Christians and as a nation, in obedience and faith look up to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. He is the Lamb of Calvary and the conquering Lion of the tribe of Judah. “Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.”

The Most Rev’d Nicholas D. Okoh

Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria


Photo credit: Anglican News Service

 

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15 Comments
  1. William Kammann

    Comforting to know exactly whom to hate. An important part of Christianity which is often overlooked.

  2. JC Fisher

    “On its part, the Federal Government is further enjoined to continue to resist the foreign pressure to make it rescind its stand on same-sex marriage”

    A fatuous lie: there is NO “foreign pressure to make [the Nigerian government] rescind its stand on same-sex marriage.” There’s barely any foreign pressure to make them rescind their policy of CRIMINALIZING homosexuality!

    What else are you lying about, Archbishop?

    • Cynthia Katsarelis

      Preach, JCF, preach!

    • Anand Gnanadesikan

      He’s probably referring to stories like this one

      http://www.ibtimes.com/obama-pressure-nigeria-anti-gay-law-during-buharis-white-house-visit-2007599

      which seem to mirror the problem that JC identifies. One can be in favor of SSM, as I am, but recognize that there is a difference between laws that refuse to recognize SSM and laws criminalizing homsexuality. Much of the discussion on this, including this news article, neatly elides the difference.

      Which then plays into the hands of those who use hatred against gays as a way to distract from their own failures in governance.

  3. Rev. Mark H. Hatch

    In addition to the above referenced disturbing concerns and communiques from the Nigerian meeting, this caught my eye: “One hundred and forty seven bishops, One Hundred and Fifty-Two clergymen…”

    Surely this is the most top-heavy or skewed ecclesia that I know of, or perhaps I am just reading this wrong? What is going on here?

    • Anand Gnanadesikan

      With 18,000,000 adherents, the Church of Nigeria arguably needs that many bishops…

  4. Mary Naughton

    This is completely devoid of respect, charity or humility, not to mention openness to the Holy Spirit. There is nothing Christian here.

  5. Lynn Hade

    With all due respect, it seems that the attention paid to matters of security in the face of insurgent groups (read Boka Haram), the effects of climate change, job development young adults, development of roads and power infrastructure are all matters of Christian concern. Are we so self-centered that we cannot see that Nigerian Christians have matters of concern that extend far beyond our American desire for full inclusion of our GLTBQ friends and family? Where is our humility?

    • Cynthia Katsarelis

      Do you not realize that we are not talking about inclusion at all? We are talking about outright violations of human rights perpetrated by the church. Apparently you don’t know that that Nigeria’s Anglican Church leaders strongly support the laws that send LGBTQ people to jail for years for simply being gay.

      That is an enormous violation of basic human rights. Not First World inclusion.

      • Lynn Hade

        Of course I realize that. And I agree that imprisonment of gays is a violation of basic human rights. But I also realize that this is a very complicated issue for the global south and that our ignorance of that fact is disrespectful and has often interfered with any real progress on this issue. Perhaps if we could have the humility to understand that Nigeria faces a number of grave challenges our concern over the welfare of the LGBTQ community might be taken more seriously. As it is, a focus on a single issue appears, at least, to be western hegemony. Sometimes our ignorance, and arrogance, works against the very progress we would like to see.

      • Ann Fontaine

        Southern Africa and other countries in Africa do not have punitive anti-gay laws – South America (also Global South) has many countries with marriage equality. Nigeria uses the gay issue to divert attention from corruption and other challenges. All oppression is of one piece. So no they don’t get a pass on this.

      • Cynthia Katsarelis

        Thank you, Ann, for the reality check.

        Lynn, I don’t know who you’re calling ignorant, you seemed to be conflating inclusion with outright abuses. Read a Human Rights Watch comprehensive report on the strife in the north in Nigeria. They are very interesting, they identify numerous sources of tension and make excellent recommendations to achieve justice and peace. Absolutely none of them indicate that violating human rights of gays improves the lives of others. That is a smokescreen.

        Further, gay Africans themselves are speaking up for themselves and they want us to keep speaking to the human rights abuses to press for an end to the oppression. So by that reckoning, it would be ignorant to be silent and leave them in the lurch.

        There are gay Nigerian activists living in the UK and US. Look them up. Friend them on FaceBook. Talk to them. Then see who is being ignorant here.

      • Cynthia Katsarelis

        Your version of “humility” is LGBTQ people being doormats to abuse.

        When urged that “this isn’t the right time” to press for Civil Rights, MLK responded with his Letter from the Birmingham (Alabama, not the UK city with the difficult train station) Jail. He said that those seeking moderation were asking African-Americans to continue to carry the burden of injustice for the comfort of the well-to-do. This is precisely what you are calling for. You are calling for African LGBTQ people to bear an unconscionable burden for the comfort of human rights abusers.

        It may be an effort to be sensitive to Nigeria’s issues. But have a look at one of the Human Rights Watch reports. Some of the trouble between Muslims and Christians are occurring because the dominant Christians have laws that favor them at the expense of the Muslim minority. So there are battles over grazing rights and other pocket book issues.

        Again, Ann Fontaine is right and sums it up succinctly when she says “All oppression is of one piece.”

  6. Lynn Hade

    All oppression is of one piece, and we all must choose which form our resistance to oppression takes. You use your energy to support the dignity of our LGBTQ fellow humans who live across the globe, and I support the rights and dignity my fellow Americans of the LGBTQ in the voting booth. But my energy I direct towards concerns about global warming, racism within our country and across the globe and concern over the legacies that the west has left behind in the former colonies of Africa.

    My original concern was just this; surely the other issues addressed by the Standing Committee are of equal importance to the welfare of the nation of Nigeria and our LGBTQ fellow humans, and yet you only commented on one. And as we know much about the contribution of civil strife to the welfare of identified ‘outcasts’ in society, we ought to at least show as much concern for those issues as for the issue that we are most passionate about. Because they are indeed all of one piece. What happens with global warming, government corruption, concerns over education and threats of terrorism do affect the welfare of all and contribute to civil unrest and the success of those who would exploit it for inhumane ends. It is likely that should radical Islam continue to flourish in the world, our LGBTQ friends and family would be among the first to be persecuted.

    You may aware of the connections between the issues above, but many of your readers may not be. And the ignorance of the complexity of the issues on the ground in countries like Nigeria (which has a very different post-colonial experience, I might add, than South Africa–African nations are not cut out the the same bolt of cloth) I believe only further endangers the very cause we both support. I only ask that in comments on things like the Standing Committee report you be sensitive to the nuances of the situation. Doing so, I believe, actually furthers the welfare of our LGBTQ fellow humans.

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