Taking a stand against The Episcopal Church of the United States’s seizure of properties owned by conservative churches, the Anglican Church of Nigeria is boycotting the annual Primates Meeting held in Canterbury this October. The overriding issue is the embrace of same-sex marriage, transgenderism, and other contra-biblical views of sex by The Episcopal Church. By way of contrast, the African Anglican churches continue to be steadfast in their true gospel witness and their adherence to the clear teachings of the Bible concerning sexuality and gender fluidity.
As conservative Anglican churches grow, The Episcopal Church continues to shed members as it stubbornly clings to its progressive agenda. More and more Dioceses in the United States are joining the Anglican Church of North America, which is a “full province partner of the Global South.” As they do so, the conservative churches are finding themselves embroiled in costly lawsuits as The Episcopal Church attempts to seize their property. The latest conservative Episcopalians/Anglicans in this country to find themselves at the center of aggressive legal action is the Diocese of South Carolina.
In response, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh wrote a press release denouncing the continued bullying by The Episcopal Church of the United States and explaining his decision to boycott the upcoming meeting of the Primates. The Most Rev’d Okoh is the Primate for all Nigeria and Chairman of the GAFCON Primates Council.
In his press release, The Most Rev’d Okoh explains:
I attended the Canterbury Primates Meeting held in January 2016 because I believed it might be possible to make a new start and change the pattern of repeated failure to preserve the integrity of Anglican faith and order. I was disappointed. The Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Lusaka the following April neutered the Primates’ action to distance The Episcopal Church of the United States (TEC) from Communion decision making. TEC has not repented, and continues to take aggressive legal action against orthodox dioceses. For example, the congregations of the Diocese of San Joaquin are currently having to turn over their places of worship to TEC, which has no realistic plan for filling them with worshippers. At the same time, the Diocese of South Carolina is now facing the potential loss of many of its historic buildings. … In these circumstances, I have concluded that attendance at Canterbury would be to give credibility to a pattern of behaviour which is allowing great damage to be done to global Anglican witness and unity. Our energies in the Church of Nigeria will be devoted to what is full of hope and promise for the future, not to the repetition of failure.
Pushing back against anticipated criticisms, Okoh makes a bold claim:
Now we are living in the midst of the next great Reformation. In our day also there is broken fellowship, over homosexual practice, same sex marriage and the blurring of gender identity, none of which are mentioned in the Creeds, but all of which contradict fundamental biblical understandings of marriage and human identity.
The boycott by Archbishop Okoh is no small matter. As the divide over LGBTQ issues, including same-sex marriage and transgenderism, continues to grow, conservative Christians in Episcopal/Anglican churches in America are going to need that type of faithful boldness demonstrated by Okoh.