The Church of Nigeria seems to be planning to boycott the Lambeth Conference and to holds its own gathering unless the Episcopal, Canadian, and, apparently, English churches allow Archbishop Akinola to dictate their beliefs. A communiqué from its recent Episcopal synod is here.
The relevant section reads:
3. THE LAMBETH CONFERENCE
The Lambeth Conference which is one of the accepted organs of unity in the Anglican Communion is due for another meeting in 2008. the Synod, after reviewing some recent major events in the Communion, especially the effects of the ‘revisionists’ theology’, which is now making wave in America, Canada and England, observed with dismay the inability of the Church in the aforementioned areas to see reason for repentance from the harm and stress they have caused this communion since 1988 culminating in the consecration of Gene Robinson, a practicing homosexual in 2003 as a bishop in ECUSA. Synod also regrets the inability of the See of Canterbury to prevent further impairment of the unity of the Church. It therefore, believes strongly that the moral justification for the proposed Lambeth Conference of 2008 is questionable in view of the fact that by promoting teachings and practices that are alien and inimical to the historic formularies of the Church, the Bishops of ECUSA, Canada and parts of Britain have abandoned the Biblical faith of our fathers.
4. GLOBAL SOUTH CONFERENCE
Synod underlines the need for maintaining the age-long tradition of a ten-yearly Conference of Bishops in the Anglican Communion for discussing issues affecting the Church. It therefore calls on the leadership of the Global South and Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa (CAPA) to do everything necessary to put in place a Conference of all Anglican Bishops to hold in 2008 should all efforts to get the apostles of ‘revisionist agenda’ to repent and retrace their steps fail.
In light of this news, I was taking another look at Bishop John Chane's op-ed piece in the Washington Post back in February. The bishop said that the Niigerian Church's support for a repressive law that punishes gays and lesbians for exercising freedom of speech and association with five years' imprisonment was especially worrying given the prominence of Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola:
"Were Archbishop Akinola a solitary figure and Nigeria an isolated church, his support for institutionalized bigotry would be significant only within his own country. But the archbishop is perhaps the most powerful member of a global alliance of conservative bishops and theologians, generously supported by foundations and individual donors in the United States, who seek to dominate the Anglican Communion and expel those who oppose them, particularly the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada. Failing that, the archbishop and his allies have talked of forming their own purified communion -- possibly with Archbishop Akinola at its head."
In response to the piece, the Rev. Martyn Minns, rector of Truro Church in Northern Virginia, who has hosted Akinola's visits to the United States wrote in a letter to his parishioners: "[T]he idea that [Akinola] is looking to establish a ‘purified communion’ bankrolled by cabal of conservatives in the USA has no basis whatsoever and is surely the product of an overheated episcopal imagination."
Four months later, Minns is a bishop-elect in the Nigerian Church, charged with evangelizing within the United States; the conservative money stream has been documented using records filed by the American Anglican Council and others with the Internal Revenue Service; the Nigerian bishops have realeased a statement characterizing churches that fully include gays and lesbian in thier ministries as "a cancerous lump " that must be "excised" from the Anglican Communion and Akinola is threatening to hold his own Lambeth.
Overheated episcopal imagination?
(For a comprehensive study of the Nigerian bill, visit Political Spaghetti. And for the first extended commentary on today's developments, visit Mark Harrs' Preludium. Tobias Haller offers a few words, as well.)