An open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury from the House of Bishops of the Church of Nigeria

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The proposed Anglican Communion Covenant is the one way for us to uphold our common heritage of faith while at the same time holding each other accountable to those teachings that have defined our life together and also guide us into the future. It has already received enthusiastic support from the majority of the Communion. Therefore we propose the following action plan:

As a matter of utmost urgency, call a special session of the Primates Meeting to:

a) Receive the responses made by The Episcopal Church to the Dromantine and Dar es Salaam Communiqués and determine their adequacy.

b) Arrive at a consensus for the application of the Windsor Process especially in Provinces whose self-understanding is at odds with the predominant mind of the Communion.

c) Set in motion an agreed process to finalize the Anglican Covenant Proposal and set a timetable for its ratification by individual provinces. This cannot be done at the Lambeth Conference because it is simply too large and, we all know, the Anglican Covenant requires individual provincial endorsement and signature.

Postpone current plans for the Lambeth Conference (as has been done before). This will:

a) Allow the current tensions to subside and leave room for the hard work of reconciliation that is a prerequisite for the fellowship we all desire.

b) Confirm that those invited to the Lambeth Conference have already endorsed the Anglican Covenant and so are able to come together as witnesses to our common faith.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury Anglican PrimatesPrimates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007Anglican ProvincesChurch of NigeriaEpiscopal Church (TEC)Lambeth 2008

36 Comments
Posted September 14, 2007 at 6:43 pm

To comment on this article: Go to Article View

The URL for this article is http://www.kendallharmon.net/t19/index.php/t19/article/5924/



1. Bob from Boone wrote:

At first blush, it seems to me that the purpose of this letter is at least three-fold: (1) to elevate the Primates Meeting as a decision-making rather than a consultative Instrument; (2) to scuttle the Lambeth Conference as planned by Cantueburry; (3) to make any Lambeth attendees swear an oath to approve the Anglican Covenant as drafted along with any revisions proposed by the African primates.  It will be designed in such a way as to make it possible to boot out the North Americans and bring the alternative NA Anglican body now forming into the AC as the legitimate Anglican province.

Given that +Abuja is about to consecrate four new bishops for CANA, words about “the hard work of reconciliation” are worse than a joke.  This letter is another step in ++Akinola’s plan to revamp the AC to his own liking, and to demonstrate the power of his provincial episcopacy. I doubt that +++Rowan will be confused by all this. The question is: how will he respond?

Schism is already in the making. What ++Akinola and his HOB want to do is “reform” the AC.

September 14, 7:37 pm | [comment link]
2. David+ wrote:

By any measure I use, the Communion needs reformation!  And this is a most reasonable letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury.  To ignore it will have serious repercusions for the future of the Anglican Communion.

David+

September 14, 7:45 pm | [comment link]
3. Rocks wrote:

Considering there is a very good chance Popoola had some hand in this I don’t see how we can accept this until we have heard from each and every Nigerian Bishop. wink

There is a tendency among many shallow thinkers of our day to teach that every human act is a reflex, over which we do not exercise human control. They would rate a generous deed as no more praiseworthy than a wink, a crime as no more voluntary than a sneeze . . . such a philosophy undercuts all human dignity . . . all of us have the power of choice in action at every moment of our lives—Fulton J. Sheen

September 14, 8:02 pm | [comment link]
4. Alice Linsley wrote:

This letter represents clear thinking, good judgment and an appropriate urgency.  I hope that Archbishop Rowan Williams will take it seriously.

http://jandyongenesis.blogspot.com

September 14, 8:20 pm | [comment link]
5. TonyinCNY wrote:

Hey Bob, when talking about the hard work of reconciliation, we can’t help but notice how reconciliation is done in pecusa: lawsuits, inhibitions of clergy, attempted intimidation of laity.  Not funny at all.

Banned by the Head Totalitarian at Stand Firm in Faith

September 14, 8:37 pm | [comment link]
6. Brian from T19 wrote:

Is this meant to be a joke?

The view that has been expressed by all the Instruments of Communion in recent years is that <u>interventions are not to be sanctioned</u>. - Archbishop Rowan Williams

September 14, 9:09 pm | [comment link]
7. Vintner wrote:

Rowan should well file this letter right alongside the one from Spong.  Unlike Brian, I think they, or Akinola who is probably behind the pen of this letter, are serious but they are simply not to be taken seriously.

September 14, 9:22 pm | [comment link]
8. Alice Linsley wrote:

Smuggs, The Church of Nigeria is voicing a sentiment felt by other Global South bishops and primates.  They will be taken seriously.

http://jandyongenesis.blogspot.com

September 14, 9:29 pm | [comment link]
9. Vintner wrote:

Only by other Global South bishops and primates.  Not necessarily by Rowan.  I think he’s a lot smarter than to allow himself to be intimidated by the likes of Akinola.

September 14, 9:32 pm | [comment link]
10. dwstroudmd+ wrote:

Or the likes of ECUSA/TECans?

September 14, 9:43 pm | [comment link]
11. John A. wrote:

Bob, Brian, Smuggs, which part(s) of the proposed Covenant do you disagree with?

September 14, 9:50 pm | [comment link]
12. AnglicanFirst wrote:

Bob from Boone said “At first blush, it seems to me that the purpose of this letter is at least three-fold: (1) to elevate the Primates Meeting as a decision-making rather than a consultative Instrument;....”

Uh Bob,

Of the four existing instruments of Communion:
oo The primates make the key decisions ‘in synod’ for the Anglican Communion. 

oo The Archbishop of Canterbury is “a first among equals.”

oo The Lambeth Conference is a general meeting of all bishops who in the final instance are accountable to their primates.  Thus all real power in the Anglican Communion rests with the primates. 

oo And the Anglican Consultive Council is nothing but a support staff of consisting of flunkeys.

It is laughable to give the Anglican Consultive Council any more regard than that due to a support staff.

September 14, 10:16 pm | [comment link]
13. Alice Linsley wrote:

The Archbishop of Canterbury isn’t easily intimidated, but he does recognize spiritual authority when he sees it.  I certainly hope that he will not fall into the trap that Jim Naughton suggests:  Keep Rowan busy with “something to chew on.”  The Archbishop is so cerebral that he can be distracted from taking action.  I think some are relying on him to mentally masticate throughout the deliberations in New Orleans.

http://jandyongenesis.blogspot.com

September 14, 10:32 pm | [comment link]
14. D. C. Toedt wrote:

AnglicanFirst [#12] writes: “The Lambeth Conference is a general meeting of all bishops who in the final instance are accountable to their primates.  Thus all real power in the Anglican Communion rests with the primates.

First, U.S. bishops are not accountable to the PB except in a very limited sense.

Second, the AC is going to be a body in which actual power rests with the primates, that’s yet another good reason to demur from signing onto the “Covenant.” Better TEC should go its own way with other like-minded churches.

The First Commandment requires us to face the facts as best we can — to deal with the universe as God wrought it, not as we wish it were. (My blog: The Questioning Christian)

September 14, 11:15 pm | [comment link]
15. D. C. Toedt wrote:

The Nigerian bishops’ letter strikes one as a stalling tactic. But why? My guess is this: The good bishops fear that, if Lambeth ‘08 proceeds as scheduled, they’ll lose whatever votes get proposed; so they want to delay (perhaps so they can consecrate more bishops in the meantime?)

The First Commandment requires us to face the facts as best we can — to deal with the universe as God wrought it, not as we wish it were. (My blog: The Questioning Christian)

September 14, 11:21 pm | [comment link]
16. Bob from Boone wrote:

Well, no one has mentioned it yet, but those tough Nigerian bishops and their hard-nosed Primate have let it be known that they are scared that if they come to Lambeth a bunch of people carrying placards are going to show up and shout at them, maybe even punch them. Dear of dear, they may even stay away. O, c’mon, fellows, surely you have more guts than that! You’re Nigerians! Play the man, ++Peter, lead your forces into the breach and take control. You can do it!

September 14, 11:33 pm | [comment link]
17. Craig Stephans wrote:

How many Anglicans does this letter represent in terms of constituency versus how many total members does TEC have?

September 14, 11:38 pm | [comment link]
18. Ross wrote:

As I read it, they’re proposing that the Primates will finalize the draft Covenant, and then submit it to the provinces for each of them to make a yes-or-no decision… with “no” meaning “We are no longer part of the Communion.”  Apparently nobody below the rank of Primate would be allowed to have further input on the content of the Covenant; not even those pesky bishops.

Well, +++Rowan will do as he chooses with regards to the Lambeth Conference; it is his party, after all.  But if the Primates expect us plebes to bend our knees and tug our forelocks in their direction, they’re in for a surprise.

———————————————————————-
Who am I?  Visit my web page or my blog  to find out.

September 15, 12:42 am | [comment link]
19. AnglicanFirst wrote:

D.C. (#14) said
“First, U.S. bishops are not accountable to the PB except in a very limited sense.”

Yes D.C. I am aware of this fact. 

This is why ECUSA is not really an episcopal (small “e”) church. 

ECUSAn leadership plays games with this fact.  When it suits them, as in cases of heresy, that leadership claims little authority over its dioceses, but when it is in their interest, as with property ownership, they claim strict pyramidal chain of command authority.

In the slang, its called being “two faced.” 

However, if ECUSA doesn’t want to be episcopal over matters of heresy or other deviations in its command and control stucture, then it really shouldn’t claim to be part of the Church Catholic.  And it shouldn’t pretend to be an episcopal church. Because, after all, truly Anglican churches are really organized around ‘belief’ and not around ‘property.’

September 15, 6:33 am | [comment link]
20. Alice Linsley wrote:

Bob, we didn’t have to say it.  That’s all reappraisers are talking about on their blogs.  How ++Akinola is scared.  Now maybe he can imagine what it is like to be a real victim, to be beaten for being gay, to be persecuted for holding a different belief.  Again the victim theme.

http://jandyongenesis.blogspot.com

September 15, 7:06 am | [comment link]
21. Vintner wrote:

I think Bob from Boone is right on the money in his comments at #1.

If Akinola & Co. can’t get Rowan to rescind the invitations to Lambeth, the next step is to get him to delay Lambeth.  It makes it sound as if the Nigerians want to remain a part of the Anglican Communion but with all the talk about “Who needs Canterbury?” followed by York’s “If you don’t come, you will have removed yourself from the Communion”, one has to wonder if they’re really serious about their desire to stay as opposed to their desire to form a new creation in their own likeness.

September 15, 7:50 am | [comment link]
22. Biff wrote:

The suggestion to delay Lambeth gives me the feel the GS fellows are backing down a bit and I don’t like it one bit.

September 15, 8:06 am | [comment link]
23. seitz wrote:

1. The Instruments of Unity/Communion in entirety gave enhanced responsibility to the Primates; 2. The ACC has in its number the Primates as bona fide members; 3. +RDW has himself clarified that, in these difficult times, he will work closely with the Primates regarding decisions involving the whole Communion.

One may not approve of the decisions of the Communion and its Instruments in this regard, but nevertheless this has fairly represented the mind of the Communion, and not back-room manipulation. If the ACC’s General Secretary is now trying to undo this state of affairs, that is of course another matter.

September 15, 8:19 am | [comment link]
24. Brian from T19 wrote:

It is laughable to give the Anglican Consultive Council any more regard than that due to a support staff.

AnglicanFirst, yet another proof that your screen name is a misnomer.

The view that has been expressed by all the Instruments of Communion in recent years is that <u>interventions are not to be sanctioned</u>. - Archbishop Rowan Williams

September 15, 8:21 am | [comment link]
25. seitz wrote:

PS. 1. ACI has consistently argued for the necessity of a Primates meeting to adjudicate Dar requests; 2. that would be an appropriate time for the ABC to review, as he indicated he would, invitations to Lambeth; 3. Lambeth could then meet and undertake the covenant work.

Having said that, Nigeria’s request here seeks something of the same general outcome.

September 15, 8:23 am | [comment link]
26. TonyinCNY wrote:

#6: Bob, as one who has been inhibited I can tell you that it is no joke.  It is not funny that when your side wages reconciliation it looks like war.  Just some more liberal redefinition work I guess, which is why we can’t even hold a good conversation.

Banned by the Head Totalitarian at Stand Firm in Faith

September 15, 8:25 am | [comment link]
27. Brian from T19 wrote:

The Nigerian bishops’ letter strikes one as a stalling tactic. But why? My guess is this: The good bishops fear that, if Lambeth ‘08 proceeds as scheduled, they’ll lose whatever votes get proposed; so they want to delay (perhaps so they can consecrate more bishops in the meantime?)

D.C.

I think the problem is that they will appear 2 faced.  They have threatened not to attend now and given several reasons:

-We won’t attend if any US consecraters attend
-We won’t attend if +Gene attends
-We won’t attend if you don’t invite our Bishop (now 6 Bishops)
-We won’t attend if it is not a decision-making body
-We won’t attend because people from London may beat us up (which begs the question:  Who is more safe from harm?  ++Akinola in London or +Gene in Abuja?)

Now they realize that ++Rowan isn’t bowing to their pressure, so they need to further back-pedal in order to keep their voice.

The view that has been expressed by all the Instruments of Communion in recent years is that <u>interventions are not to be sanctioned</u>. - Archbishop Rowan Williams

September 15, 8:27 am | [comment link]
28. Alice Linsley wrote:

Tinpipes, #21, I agree.  The Church of Nigeria letter proposes a reasonable way forward. Even Dr. Seitz states that it moves in the general direction of the will of the Primates’ meeting in Dar.  He also says concerning KJS’s APO plan: “Where are the other Dar aspects, which will be crucial to the success of (1) the scheme itself, and (2) its viability in respect of the Primates? If Schori means to propose Henderson as a rep for the PC, that may be within Dar guidelines. But the ENTIRE point of Dar was that the scheme had actually to meet the concerns of those (CA Bishops) who wish fully to comply with Windsor and Lambeth 1.10 and other Communion principles.”

http://jandyongenesis.blogspot.com

September 15, 11:45 am | [comment link]
29. Bob from Boone wrote:

Tony, Do you have “Bob” on your mind? #6 was Brian. Brian, #29, I think you have summed it up nicely. Alice, you are a dear.

I think this letter is another step in the African/American dissident axis’ long-range political movement to remake the Communion in their own image and establish the Primates as the Curia and Magisterium of a Covenant (i.e., Confessing) Church. All of the position papers from the American Acronyms; all of the polemic to paint TEC in the most lurid heretical colors; all of the step-by-step announcements of new bishops for African missions in the USA (dripping out one at a time); all the breathless announcements of countdown clocks and deadlines: all of this intended to stampede others into the direction they want the rest of us to go.

Of course, if it doesn’t work, they can form their own alternative Anglican Church in NA and perhaps an alternative AC, and feel biblically faithful, orthodox, and triiumphant.

This summer my wife and I vacationed in Scotland, and we learned something about the Covenant Church there, and about the covenanting activities of the 17th century Puritans. Now, I understand the import of the term better, and also understand better why I have been uncomfortable with the Draft Covenant. I felt that there was something missing in it; it lacks an ANGLICAN spirit. Our 17th c. forebears rejected the idea of a covenant, and for good reasons. I think that the AC should think long and hard about even adopting a covenant that changes the way Anglicanism has developed over the centuries; and the rest of the provinces certainly shouldn’t be stampeded into it by the Nigerians, who have their own agenda for using it.

In an article published in the New Yorker, Paul Zahl was reported as saying that it was time to abandon the Elizabethan Settlement. I was shocked by that. I think we need to hang on to it with all our might.

September 15, 12:02 pm | [comment link]
30. John A. wrote:

OK Bob, What do you believe the Anglican Communion stands for?  If we change the teaching on the meaning of marriage and if we do not believe in the unique role of Jesus then what are we doing?  What about the Elizabethan settlement is worth holding onto?

September 15, 1:10 pm | [comment link]
31. Daniel Lozier wrote:

While the Covenant may seem to many to be the answer, why would we take for granted that if TEC signs it, they will not afterward simply say they were “the messengers” or that they were crossing their fingers when they signed it for the sake of “unity”?  We have come to know that what they say and what they do are two completely different things.

September 15, 2:21 pm | [comment link]
32. John A. wrote:

#33 I agree.  Jesus said unity is important but at the moment we have no consensus on what ‘unity’ means.  For there to be unity there must be some level of unity on how we work together.  I assume we must do more than talk and pray together even people from different faiths can do that.  And what we are working towards.  If its just a matter of having tea together every ten years then its a waste of time.

September 15, 3:33 pm | [comment link]
33. MJD_NV wrote:

The Left still doesn’t get it.

The GS really DOES NOT WANT the Communion to fall apart - much more so than the ExCUSAns, who really could not care less.

Once again, ECUSAns in the GC Church show how unbrotherly they truly are.

If God is not Father, Jesus is not Lord, the Son is not unique, baptism is not necessary, the creeds are optional, repentance and sin are dated concepts and the atonement is marginalized or even rejected, where do we go from here? The faith remaining will be a very different faith from the Christian faith once delivered to the saints - and I, for one, am not going there!  ~ Bp. Miller, Church of Ireland

September 16, 10:01 am | [comment link]
34. Ed the Roman wrote:

...time to abandon the Elizabethan Settlement.

Since the Elizabethan Settlement AFAIK was a political imposition by the State upon the Church to get parties of contradictory theology to refrain from warfare, in England, in the 16th Century, I wonder at present attachment to it.  It is not a creed, or even a set of canons.

September 17, 11:09 am | [comment link]


© 2014 Kendall S. Harmon. All rights reserved.

For original material from Titusonenine (such as articles and commentary by Dr. Harmon) permission to copy and distribute free of charge is granted, provided this notice, the logo, and the web site address are visible on all copies. For permission for use in for-profit publications, please email KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com


<< Back to main page

<< Return to Mobile view (headlines)