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[ENS] Mixed signals emerge from Nairobi meeting of Global South
Worldwide Faith News <email@example.com>
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] 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
"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
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.
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
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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