From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[ENS] Mixed signals emerge from Nairobi meeting of Global South

From Worldwide Faith News <>
Date Sat, 17 Apr 2004 08:40:15 -0700

Friday, April 16, 2004

Mixed signals emerge from Nairobi meeting of Global South primates

By Jan Nunley and Matthew Davies

ENS 041604-1

[ENS] Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, chair of the Council of Anglican 
Provinces of Africa (CAPA), declared April 15 that African Anglican 
primates will refuse money from any US diocese that allows gay men and 
lesbians to function as clergy in the Episcopal Church.

"If we suffer for a while to gain our independence and our freedom and to 
build ourselves up, I think it will be a good thing for the church in 
Africa," Akinola told the Associated Press during a news conference in 
Nairobi. "And we will not, on the altar of money, mortgage our conscience, 
mortgage our faith, mortgage our salvation."

But a statement released on behalf of the CAPA primates the next day does 
not refer to any plans that reject US funding, although it does call for 
the Episcopal Church to be disciplined if it shows no "signs of repentance" 
within three months for consecrating a gay man as a diocesan bishop in 
November 2003.

"As CAPA Primates we stand firm to what we have decided that if there is no 
sign of repentance on the part of ECUSA, the consequences will determine 
the next line of our action," the statement said.

Focus on spreading the Gospel

The primates' statement came during a series of meetings involving members 
of CAPA, which includes 12 African Anglican provinces and the Diocese of 
Egypt. The primary focal point of the gathering was a mission and 
evangelism conference entitled "Transforming Mission: Taking your place in 
mission in God's world," jointly hosted by CAPA and the Church Mission 
Society (CMS).

While at the mission conference, separate meetings were held involving the 
CAPA and other Global South primates, including Archbishops Akinola of 
Nigeria, Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya, Emmanuel Kolini of Rwanda, Fidele 
Dirokpa of Congo, Joseph Marona of Sudan, Bernard Malango of Central 
Africa, Drexel Gomez of West Indies, Greg Venables of the Southern Cone, 
and Yong Ping Chung of South East Asia. Also attending were Bishops John 
Chew of Singapore, Nicodemus Okille of Uganda, Dinis Sengulane of Southern 
Africa, Mouneer Anis of Egypt, and Jean-Claude Andrianjafimanana of 
Mahajanga (Indian Ocean).

The mission conference involved discussions about developing the region's 
strategy for mission work and ensuring that the church in Africa does not 
lose its focus on spreading the Gospel. Intended as a follow up to the 
Nairobi Mission Coordinators' Conference 2002 and the Mission Organizations 
Conference held in Cyprus in 2003, the conference, which brought together 
more than 30 representatives, focused on how the Anglican churches in 
Africa can be agents for transforming mission and "resolved to develop and 
implement clear strategies of how to spread the Gospel and win people to 

Led by Akinola, the conference heard addresses from some of the primates, 
in addition to talks from Marjorie Murphy, director of mission and 
evangelism for the Anglican Communion Office in London; Dr. Agnes Abuom, 
president of the African chapter of the World Council of Churches; and Dr. 
Zac Niringiye of CMS Africa Regional Office. Particular attention was given 
to the issue of appropriate theological training, women's ministry, and the 
integration of children into the life of the church.

Surprised reaction

At the Episcopal Church Center in New York, the Rev. Benjamin 
Musoke-Lubega, partnership officer for Africa, expressed surprise at the 
CAPA statement's strong emphasis on the issue of human sexuality.

"In my capacity, I have visited many of the provinces in Africa and 
observed what goes on the continent," said Musoke-Lubega. "I wonder why the 
primates did not address the issue of genocide that is currently an issue 
in the Darfur region of Sudan, the conflicts in Northern Uganda and the 
Democratic Republic of Congo, the continuing situation in Liberia, and 
especially the tragedy of HIV/AIDS, which affects millions of Africans

The statement briefly mentions the peace process in Sudan, but does not 
address the conflict between Arab and African Muslims in Darfur, a 
situation that has been compared to the Rwandan genocide. It congratulated 
Rwanda on its efforts at reconciliation, urged peace in the Middle East and 
self-determination for the people of Iraq, and referred to the current 
controversy over the retirement of Archbishop Robert Okine of West Africa.

Effects not clear

It was not clear what would be the immediate effect of Akinola's 
declaration that the CAPA primates would not accept donations from certain 
dioceses within the Episcopal Church.

"All disbursements for mission from the national budget for this year have 
been made already," said the Rev. Pat Mauney, director of Anglican and 
Global Relations (AGR) for the Episcopal Church. "The disbursements are 
offered without strings attached. If they decide not to accept, we respect 
their decision."

Of the 12 African provinces, Nigeria and Central Africa do not request 
mission funds from AGR. Of the remaining ten, only Uganda has rejected a 
$7500 grant, and Rwanda has not yet responded for the 2003-2006 triennium. 
The CAPA secretariat accepted a $16,000 grant from AGR for 2003.

Other mission funds come through wealthy parishes such as Trinity Church in 
New York and Truro Church in Virginia, as well as independent foundations 
and mission organizations. Another source is the companion diocese 
relationship between American and African dioceses and provinces. Currently 
19 US dioceses whose bishops voted in favor of the Robinson consecration 
have formal or informal relationships in Africa, while another 17 whose 
bishops voted against Robinson have formal or informal links with African 

The CAPA primates' call for the Episcopal Church to repent for the 
consecration of an openly gay priest as Bishop of New Hampshire did not 
define what would constitute "signs of such repentance," or recommend a 
particular disciplinary action by the Communion.

"Of course, Christians must always be willing to repent," said Dan England, 
director of communication for the Episcopal Church, "But in the American 
church, decisions such as this one are made by the General Convention, and 
only the General Convention can affirm or reverse them. And the General 
Convention meets next in 2006."

Call for understanding and patience

On the final day of the CAPA meeting, which he did not attend because of 
the South African national elections, Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane of 
Cape Town issued a press statement calling for "the understanding and 
patience of the church community in Africa in the wake of criticism by the 
African Provinces of the Ordination of openly gay persons."

"In Africa we have the wisdom of the philosophy that claims we become 
ourselves through other people. In times of conflict and disagreement it is 
vital that we apply this lesson to our conduct," said Ndungane, referring 
to the South African concept of ubuntu, which emphasizes relationship. "As 
we seek answers to questions of human sexuality and in other areas of 
conflict it is important that we remember that as the Church we are called 
to be a family. This relationship means that while we may have differences 
we need to work together to find solutions through dialogue, prayer and an 
ever greater understanding of each other."

--The Rev. Jan Nunley is deputy director of Episcopal News Service. Matthew 
Davies is staff writer of Episcopal News Service.  Information for portions 
of this article was taken from a report by Justus Waimiri, communications 
officer for CAPA.

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