2013 Toronto Conference Address by Bishop Josiah of Nigeria

Josiah Idowu-Fearon’s views on the Anglican Communion

Titusonenine has published a transcript of a lecture given by Bishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon in Toronto in 2013 titled The Instruments of Unity and the Way Forward.

The original audio recording can be found here, at the website of The Cranmer Institute.

The transcript can be read from this link.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento (Thinking Anglicans) on Tuesday, 7 April 2015

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Thanks to Simon Sarmiento of ‘U.K. web-site ‘Thinking Anglicans’ for linking the latest insights into the opinion of the newly-appointed Secretary-General of the Anglican Communion. (The radio transmission is worth listening to (Fr.Ron)

As an admittedly Evangelical  Bishop from the Anglican Church of Nigeria, who has been criticised for his seemingly dismissive statements on the thorny subject of homosexuality at various Anglican Church conferences, the new Secretary-General, Bishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, can now be heard in a recording made at a 2013 Anglican Church Conference in Toronto; wherein he set out to re-define what he feels would be the best way of addressing current strife within the world-wide Anglican Communion.

Freely admitting that African Church culture still looks upon bishops – but especially provincial Archbishops – as monarchical authority figures, Bishop Josiah knows what he is talking about. He, himself, was demoted from his office as an Archbishop in the Nigerian Anglican Church by none other than the previous Provincial Archbishop Peter Akinola. As Abp. Akinola was one of the prime movers in the separatist GAFCON movement, one can guess the reason for Bishop Josiah’s demotion, which was possibly partly connected with the fact that he did not see the office of Archbishop of Canterbury as needing to  fulfil the African concept of an authority figure within the Communion. It is a known fact that GAFCON primates have considered successive Archbishops of Canterbury as being ‘too weak’ on issues of gender and sexuality.

Bishop Josiah, in the Toronto Conference, made the suggestion that the ABC and each of the established ‘Instruments of Unity’ had a purpose and validity. However, he did say that he thought the office of Archbishop of Canterbury could be better understood – both by the Church of England and the rest of the Communion – not as an over-ruling monarchical authority, but rather as the ‘face’ of the Communion in ecumenical affairs.

Bishop Josiah sees the Lambeth Conference as, principally, a forum for discussion by the bishops of the Church – not as the place from which authoritarian decisions are made.

Such decisions could be formulated at the Primates’ Conference, where provincial archbishops should each be accompanied by 2 bishops – one conservative and one liberal bishop. In proposing this, Bishop Josiah was willing to admit that there are two factions within the Communion that both need to be heard. Provisional decisions made at the Primates’ Meetings should then be submitted to the next stage of the process, which is:

The Anglican Consultative Council, which had bishops, clergy and lay-people (across-the-board representation of the A.C.) who would then make the final decisions which could be taken back to the Provinces to be implemented – by common consent.

In this way, Secretary-General Josiah thinks, the solidarity of the Anglican Communion could be best preserved. On the face of its, this might seem the best way to consolidate the Communion – by bonds of love and affection, rather than monarchical rule.

My only question in all of this is: can individual provinces live together with differences in matters of cultural values that are present sources of conflict within the provincial Churches that make up the Communion. This would depend, surely, on the openness with which such differences are allowed to be more widely discussed and dealt with locally, in as  pastoral a method as each Province is allowed to decide?

I am wondering whether Bishop Josiah, as a Nigerian Anglican Bishop, whose own Provincial Church is committed to the GAFCON ‘Jerusalem Statement’ with its separatist agenda for conservative Anglicanism, will be present at the upcoming GAFCON Primates’; Meeting in London; where these African Primates will be affirming their sponsors’ relationship with the competing ‘Anglican Mission in England’  (AMiE) Church which they have already planted in the U.K.?

These are questions that might very well influence the future of the Anglican Communion. I wonder, what would Jesus have to say?

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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