Henry Chukwudum Ndukuba | anglican-nig.org
Ndukuba Elected New Nigerian Primate
September 29, 2019 News
By Mark Michael
The House of Bishops of the Church of Nigeria, the Anglican Communion’s largest province aside from the Church of England, chose the Most Rev. Henry Chukwudum Ndukuba, 60, as its new primate during a meeting at Saint Peter’s Cathedral in Asaba on September 24. Ndukuba will succeed the Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, Primate of All Nigeria in 2020, when Okoh’s ten-year term expires.
For most of his ordained ministry, Ndukuba has been a pioneering missionary in the majority Muslim northern region of the country. He was consecrated in 1999 as the first bishop of Gombe and in 2017 also became Archbishop of Jos, with oversight of the dioceses in the northeastern part of the country.
Tensions between Christians and Muslims have intensified in recent years in Northeastern Nigeria. There were three assassination attempts on the life of Ndukuba’s predecessor, Archbishop Ben Kwashi, whose home was also raided during fighting between Christian farmers and Muslim Fulani herdsmen in 2018
During his first provincial assembly as Archbishop of Jos in March, 2018, Ndukuba announced a church-based rehabilitation and restoration program for those affected by the clashes, including scholarships for orphans and relief for internally displaced people. He said that member dioceses would also work with the national government to secure funds for rebuilding churches that had been destroyed by the Fulani herdsmen.
A native of Imo State in Southeastern Nigeria, Ndukuba was described by Anglican Cable Network Nigeria as “a sound Biblical scholar, teacher, master liturgist, pastor and an accomplished evangelist. He loves the Lord Jesus Christ and has a great heart for the Word of God and also a prolific writer.” His works include a book, “Christ Above All: A Theology of the Epistle to the Hebrews.” Ndukuba has also served as the chairman of the Liturgy, Prayer and Spirituality Committee of the Church of Nigeria.
The Church of Nigeria reports it has 18 million members, and has expanded rapidly in recent decades, growing from 91 dioceses in 2002 to 161 dioceses in 2017. The church has also played a prominent role in the Anglican realignment over the past two decades. It notably redefined the Anglican Communion in its constitution in 2005 as “all Anglican Churches, Dioceses and Provinces that hold and maintain the ‘Historic Faith, Doctrine, Sacrament and Discipline of the one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church’.”
In 2006, the clergy and many members of several Episcopal churches in Northern Virginia declared themselves to have broken communion with the Episcopal Church. They became members of the Church of Nigeria by affiliating with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), a body that had been previously established by the Church of Nigeria to minister to church members living in the United States. CANA is now an affiliate body of the Anglican Church in America.
Kwashi, Ndukuba’s successor as Archbishop of Jos, became General Secretary of the GAFCON Movement, the primary organizing force within the Anglican realignment in January 2019. The Church of Nigeria has sent large delegations to the GAFCON gatherings, and until last April, Okoh was chair of the GAFCON Primate’s Council.
The final paragraph (highlighted by me) of this communication from the ‘Living Church‘ organisation in the U.S.A., indicates that, with the election of a new Primate, the Anglican Church of Nigeria (which has links to ACNA and CANA in the U.S.A.) will continue with its separatist dogmatic separatiion from the Lambeth-based Provinces of the Anglican Communion.
As an executive member of the reactionary GAFCON Provinces – whose members will probably not be sending any of their bishops and primates to the next Lambeth Conference in July 2020 – the current Nigerian Archbishop, Nicolas OKOH, will be expected to bequeath his disdain for the official Anglican ‘Instruments of Unity to his anointed successor, The Most Rev. Henry Chukwudum Ndukuba, currently the Bishop of Jos,
Okoh, whose 10 years as Archbishop of Nigeria has been marked by a deterioration of GAFCON’s links with Lambeth; the Archbishop of Canterbury; and the Anglican Churches of the ‘Global North’; has served his time as the Chair of GAFCON, but there can be little doubt that his successor will want to continue his association with the Provinces of the ‘Global South’ that have set up their own constitutional Church under the GAFCON banner – as being more ‘orthodox’ – in their opinion – that the rest of us on the Anglican Communion who are open to the emancipation of women and the LGBTQI communities in our local provincial Churches.
SO! Probably no change in the status quo of the current stand-off of the Anglican Church of Nigeria – from the official Anglican Communion Churches (including the Church of England, The Anglican Church of Canada, and the Espiscopal Church of the United States). UNLESS the new Archbishop of Nigeria decides to move towards a reconciliation of Nigeria and the other GAFCON Provinces with the rest of us.
I, personally, am not holding my breath on that possibility. But, one never can tell!
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand