Archbishop Of Nigeria Battles For 'Faithful Church' Against Pressure To Compromise On Gays

The Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria, Nicholas OkohGafcon

The evangelical Archbishop who heads the Anglican church's most conservative wing has condemned the inclusion of one of the most liberal bishops in a delegation to meet the Pope.

He has also spoken of the growing pressure to "compromise" on the gay issue, which he describes as most intense in the Church of England. 

Archbishop of Nigeria Nicholas Okoh, chairman of the conservative Global South grouping GAFCON, says in his latest newsletter that he was "deeply disturbed" that the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church (TEC) had gone with the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby to Rome. 

Earlier this year, TEC was penalised by Anglican primates for its liberal stance over same-sex marriage and gay clergy.

The church was told it must face the "consequences" of its actions.

The primates said TEC should "no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity."

TEC Presiding Bishop Michael CurryReuters

Archbishop Okoh writes: "Many of us were therefore deeply disturbed that the Presiding Bishop of the American Episcopal Church, Michael Curry, was a prominent member of the Archbishop of Canterbury's delegation in Rome, despite the fact that the Canterbury meeting of Primates in January this year had resolved that, among other things, TEC should not be involved in representing the Anglican Communion in ecumenical or interfaith relations."

The Anglican delegation was in Rome at the same time as Archbishop Okoh and the other GAFCON primates met in Cairo for their sixth conference.

In Cairo, Okoh preached about the peace which Jesus Christ alone can bring.

He writes: "The call to be peacemakers is also a call to evangelism because peace with one another cannot be separated from peace with God, and peace with God cannot be separated from faithfulness to the biblical and apostolic gospel of God.

"I therefore warmly commend the Global South Chairman, Bishop Mouneer Anis, for his bold warning about the 'ideological slavery' which some Western Churches seek to impose on the Global South by using their money and influence to promote teachings which overturn the bible and offer a false gospel."

He says he has hope for the future.

He can see "victory in our spiritual battle for a faithful Church when the orthodox are willing not only to stand, but also to stand together as we experienced in Cairo despite many cultural and historical differences. The Anglican Church in North America came about as a new province because of a willingness to surrender narrow ambitions for the sake of a wider cause and there is a lesson here in godly unity throughout our movement."

He also makes clear his desire to see the Church of England not move towards accepting same-sex blessings when General Synod meets again next year.

He writes: "It is increasingly clear that the Church of England is becoming the place where pressure for compromise has become most intense and I am encouraged that 88 evangelical Anglicans leaders from varied backgrounds have come together this month to sign an open letter to the English House of Bishops calling on them 'not to depart from the apostolic inheritance with which they have been entrusted'. Please join with me in praying for these leaders in the Church of England, the Mother Church of our Communion, asking for them to have courage and unity at this critical time."