Nicholas D. Okoh, the Primate of the Anglican Church in Nigeria, has responded to the announcement of the resignation of Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.
The following press release gives some idea of the impossible task Rowan Williams set himself when he became the Archbishop of Canterbury. How could anyone have ever hoped to hold this together?
CHURCH OF NIGERIA REACTS TO ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY’S RESIGNATION
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd and Rt. Hon. Dr. Rowan Williams took over the leadership of the Anglican Communion in 2002 when it was a happy family. Unfortunately, he is leaving behind a Communion in tatters: highly polarized, bitterly factionalized, with issues of revisionist interpretation of the Holy Scriptures and human sexuality as stumbling blocks to oneness, evangelism and mission all around the Anglican world.
It might not have been entirely his own making, but certainly “crucified under Pontius Pilate”. The lowest ebb of this degeneration came in 2008, when there were, so to say, two “Lambeth” Conferences one in the UK, and an alternative one, GAFCON in Jerusalem. The trend continued recently when many Global South Primates decided not to attend the last Primates’ meeting in Dublin, Ireland.
Since Dr. Rowan Williams did not resign in 2008, over the split Lambeth Conference, one would have expected him to stay on in office, and work assiduously to ‘mend the net’ or repair the breach, before bowing out of office. The only attempt, the covenant proposal, was doomed to fail from the start, as “two cannot walk together unless they have agreed”.
For us, the announcement does not present any opportunity for excitement. It is not good news here, until whoever comes as the next leader pulls back the Communion from the edge of total destruction. To this end, we commit our Church, the Church of Nigeria, (Anglican Communion) to serious fasting and prayers that God will do “a new thing”, in the Communion.
Nevertheless, we join others to continue in prayer for Dr. Rowan Williams and his family for a more fruitful endeavour in their post – Canterbury life.
+Nicholas D. Okoh
Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria
The tone of this press release from Nigeria makes it difficult not to wonder whether the leaky ship of the worldwide Anglican Communion was actually worth all the work and struggle Rowan Williams exerted in his struggle to keep it afloat.
After Williams’ announcement, the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu was asked if he wanted the job. He replied with a tone that could almost be characterized as angry, “You can’t be serious!” Who can blame him?
Speculating on the future for the Anglican Communion after Williams, one conservative commentator suggests,
Whichever way it goes one thing is certain, there will be no stopping the rise of the Global South with its millions of evangelical Anglicans and the slow but inevitable death of Western Anglicanism if it does not repent of its sin. And that it would seem, is not going to happen.
If “the rise of the Global South” means an increase in the kind of leadership the Archbishop of Nigerira appears likely to provide, the worldwide Anglican Communion will be a very different family ten years from now than it is today.