The Archbishop of the Anglican Church in Nigeria, the Most Rev. Peter Akinola, has written an open letter to fellow Anglican leaders in which he explained the motives behind the recent changes to the Nigerian Church’s constitution.
In the letter, Rev. Akinola said that the latest decision to amend the constitution by removing all reference to Canterbury was taken in order to clarify their commitment to the apostolic faith.
“Our intention was to make clear that we are committed to the historic faith once delivered to the Saints, practice and the traditional formularies,” said Akinola, one of the most outspoken critics of the liberalising trend visible in the U.S. and U.K. churches.
He continued: “We treasure our place within the worldwide family of the Anglican Communion but we are distressed by the unilateral actions of those provinces that are clearly determined to redefine what was once our common faith.”
Rev. Akinola made clear that the move was designed to clearly distinguish the conservative Nigerian Church from more liberal churches: “We have now amended the language of our constitution so that those who are bent to walk a different path may do so without us.
We have chosen not to be yoked to them as we prefer to exercise our freedom to remain faithful,” he said.
|QUOTE|The new constitution also includes provisions for the pastoral care of other Anglican members outside of Nigeria who share the same convictions of faith as the Nigerian Church, including the newly established Convocation of Anglican Nigerians in America.
The letter comes just weeks ahead of two important meetings on the Anglican Church, the CAPA Primates’ meeting in Dar el Salaam, and the South/South Encounter in Alexandria, Egypt.
Commentators have predicted a schism within the Anglican Communion following developments regarding homosexual members of the Church, including the consecration in the U.S. of Gene Robinson, Canada’s recent decision to allow same-sex marriage blessings and the Church of England’s approval of gay bishops registered under the Civil Partnerships Act on the promise of abstinence.
“The longer this sort of rhetoric goes on, the less people will make the effort to stay together with people they disagree with,” said Church Times editor Paul Handley to Reuters on Tuesday.
Rod Thomas, spokesman for Reform, a conservative evangelical group within the Church of England, said, “It looks as if we are heading in the direction of schism. Rowan Williams is part of the problem and not the solution.”
Akinola Affirms Commitment to Historic Faith in Letter to Anglicans
The Rev. Peter Akinola of the Anglican Church in Nigeria has said that the motive behind the recent amendments to the constitution was make clear the Church's commitment to the apostolic faith.
Published 23 September 2005 | Maria Mackay