Nigerian bishop to be the Anglican Communion’s next Secretary General
By ACNS staff
The Most Revd Dr Josiah Atkins Idowu-Fearon has been appointed to be the next Secretary General of the Anglican Communion.
Dr Idowu-Fearon currently serves as Bishop of Kaduna in the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) where he has earned a global reputation in the Church for his expertise in Christian-Muslim relations.
He was selected out of an initial field of applicants from Oceania, Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas.
Since 1998 the Most Revd Dr Idowu-Fearon has been Bishop of Kaduna, and he is the current Director of the Kaduna Anglican Study Centre. Before that he served as Bishop of Sokoto, Warden at St Francis of Assisi Theological College in Wusasa, and Provost of St. Michael’s Cathedral in Kaduna.
Responding to his appointment, Dr Idowu-Fearon said, “I am excited to take up the post of Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, and to continue the fine work undertaken by my predecessors in this office.
“It is a privilege to be so honoured and recognised by the Communion for this leadership position. I look forward to serving the Anglican family with my future colleagues at the Anglican Communion Office and the Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury.”
Chair of the Anglican Consultative Council, Bishop James Tengatenga warmly welcomed the appointment saying, “I am delighted that Bishop Josiah has accepted the position. He will bring a vital new perspective on the Anglican Communion, its life and ministry. His experience and expertise in Christian-Muslim relations is particularly welcome at this time.”
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said, “I warmly welcome the appointment of Bishop Josiah and look forward to working closely with him in the renewal of the Anglican Communion amidst the global challenges facing us today.”
Bishop Josiah has a PhD (Sociology) and Postgraduate Diploma in Education from Nigeria’s Ahmadu Bello University, an MA in Islamic Theology from the UK’s Birmingham University, and a BA in Theology from Durham University in the UK.
He has lectured and been published widely on the subject of Christian-Muslim relations. He serves on a variety of national inter-religious bodies and has previously worked with the Anglican Communion Office and Lambeth Palace on several projects.
Bishop Josiah has been awarded the Officer of the Order of the Niger, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Cross of St. Augustine’s Award, and is a Canterbury Six Preacher.
The person specification for the role of Secretary General indicated that the next incumbent should “assist the Communion to become even more faithful to, and engaged in, God’s mission of reconciliation.
“The successful candidate will be a committed Christian, a person of deep faith and prayer, a visionary ambassador for Christ and his Church, a bridge-builder to effect healing amongst the churches of the Anglican Communion, a creative and imaginative thinker, and an inspirational leader who will help to renew the witness and effectiveness of the Communion, its structures, and its programmes.”
Lay and clergy individuals from a member Church of the Anglican Communion were encouraged to apply.
Bishop Josiah, who is married to Comfort and has two children, Ibrahim and Ninma, is expected to take up the role in July 2015.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
1. This is an independent selection process.
2. The interview panel is made up of the sub-committee of the ACC Standing Committee.
3. The Archbishop of Canterbury is not involved in the interview process but receives the nominations for approval.
(See also): http://berkleycenter.georgetown.edu/interviews/a-discussion-with-bishop-josiah-fearon-of-kaduna
Bishop Josiah Atkins Oduwo-Fearon in the second bishop from the Anglican Church in Africa to have been appointed to high office in the world-wide Anglican Communion.
The first was Bishop James Tengatenga, whose provenance is quote here:
The Rt. Rev. J. Neil Alexander, dean of the University of the South’s School of Theology, announced today the appointment of the Rt. Rev. James Tengatenga, Ph.D., as distinguished visiting professor of global Anglicanism.”
“13 May 2014
On Friday May 8, 2009 the Anglican Consultative Council broke into enthusiastic applause with the announcement that the Rt Revd James Tengatenga was elected as the new chair of the Anglican Consultative Council.”
One very important distinctive mark of Bishop Josiah is his MA in Islamic Theology at Birmingham (UK) University. He also has a history, in Nigeria, of an eirenic relationship with Muslims, which must surely be a great starting point for his capability of finding common ground with other Anglicans whose theological stance on gender and sexuality may be different from his own.
With 2 African Bishops now in positions of more than regional authority in the Anglican Communion, one might wonder how this will affect the tussle between the GAFCON Provinces (of which Nigeria is one) and those provinces of the Communion for supremacy on matters of gender and sexuality that have been the cause of schismatic activity on the USA, Canada and now, England, with the arrival of AMiA, the Anglican Mission in England.
Both African Bishops are reckoned to be peace-makers within the provincial structures of the Anglican Communion. So it will be interesting to see how effective is their high-ranking influence towards the healing of Communion relationships.
At present, GAFCON Leaders refuse to share at the Table of the Lord in communion with those Leaders of other Provinces which do not share their reluctance for an inclusive Church – such as has been evidenced in the ordination of gay clergy in both the USA and Canada. Perhaps the new Secretary-General of the Anglican Communion may be able to turn around the stand-off situation that has been engendered by GAFCON’s refusal to live alongside other Provinces of the Communion that do not share their conservatism.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand