by Chris Sugden Anglican
November 8th, 2011
Report from Day 1,
This conference the first of its kind in the Church of Nigeria is being held in the National Christian Centre in Abuja. It was opened on Monday night by Archbishop Nicholas Okoh and is being attended by 5000 members of the Church of Nigeria.
Archbishop Okoh said that the conference is neither an Episcopal Synod, Clergy Conference, nor a gathering only of Anglicans or Nigerians – “it is the Body of Christ, the new humanity, the ecclesia of God, which is the divine commonwealth of God. ..It is a call apart for our spiritual rejuvenation and mutual edification, in an atmosphere of deep spirituality and learning.”
All the sessions take place in the magnificent National Christian Centre. The day begins with bible studies in 20 groups of around 200 followed by a talk and lecture with discussion and questions. On the first morning the Rev Miles Toulmin of Holy Trinity Brompton and Alpha spoke on The Church as the Divine Commonwealth, and Professor Gerry Gana, who held various Cabinet Posts over many years spoke of moral issues facing Nigeria in the fields of politics, business and social relationships between various groups in society.
The afternoon is devoted to specialist seminars with well –informed speakers. There were very good reports of the seminar given on the Challenges of Violence by Bishop Timothy Yahaya Bishop of Jalingo in Northern Nigeria where the violence is specially experienced.
Some readers will be familiar with the format of the Jerusalem GAFCON conference in 2008, others will be familiar with the format of New Wine and Spring Harvest Conferences. Imagine if you will all the events taking place in one huge permanent tent ( the National Cathedral) where people can freely mingle and be together throughout the day. Worship is led by the massive organ, formal choirs and upbeat music groups. It includes traditional hymns, classical anthems, and lively gospel “praises”.
During one session questions were asked about the issues of sexuality in the western churches. Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Archbishop of Kenya, and chair of the Primates Council of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans referred to the statement by the Global South Primates in China in September: [12. At the same time, it grieves us deeply to observe many Anglican churches in the west yielding to secular pressure to allow unacceptable practices in the name of human rights and equality. Beginning with the undermining of Scriptural authority and two millennia of church tradition, the erosion of orthodoxy has gone as far as the ordination and consecration of active gay and lesbian clergy and bishops, and the development of liturgies for same-sex marriage.
Christian Church commended the Church of Nigeria for its faithful witness in the Anglican Communion. He was self-described as an “Anglican on Excursion” having been brought up in an Anglican family and church. He said “I believe that God who is starting a new thing in the Anglican Communion here will start a new thing in your lives.”
Archbishop Okoh prayed for his ministry and that of the Redeemed Christian Church and looked forward to further interaction with them.
Chris Sugden, the author of this article found on the web-site ‘virtueonline’, is one of the clergy of the Church of England – formerly a member of General Synod – who are intent on overturning the perceived liberality of Churches in the Anglican Communion whose outlook is open towards the inclusion of Women and the LGBT community in the life, ministry and witness of the Church in the modern era.
From this article, it will be discerned the Sugden is at one with the Archbishop of Kenya, Eliud Wabukala, who has ordained English clergy to become part of the conservative rival in England to the Established Church, known as ‘The Anglican Mission in England’ (AMiE), formed to replace the life and ministry of the Church of England – in an attempt to introduce a ‘Sola Scriptura’ view on gender and sexuality to Christians in the U.K.
The Meeting mentioned in Sugden’s article is one of GAFCON’s moves to establish it’s own puritanical version of Anglicanism – in opposition to the Provinces of the Anglican Communion presided over by Lambeth, the Anglican Consultative Council, and the primus-inter-pares, Archbishop Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand