Saturday, February 17, 2007

Seven Primates refuse Communion at Primates' Meeting

A statement posted on the Church of Nigeria's website is here:
These Primates apparently did this to remind us that communion has been broken by the Episcopal Church's actions. They demand our repentance before they can sit with us.

It is worth noting that there are a lot fewer Primates refusing Communion than at the last meeting, after TEC consecrated Gene Robinson. Anyway, the seven idiots are:

Abp. Peter Akinola (Nigeria)
Abp. John Chew (Southeast Asia)
Abp. Benjamin Nzimbi (Kenya)
Abp. Justice Akrofi (West Africa)
Abp. Henry Orombi (Uganda)
Abp. Gregory Venables (Southern Cone)
Abp. Emmanuel Kolini (Rwanda)

Archbishop John Chew's Province of SE Asia includes Singapore, my hometown. As such, I am especially ashamed of his actions. Are you listening, Abp Chew? In addition to this shameful act, it is reported that Chew and Akinola met the Archbishop of Canterbury before the Meeting, trying to persuade him to expell ++KJS and ++John Sentamu (whom was brought along to represent England, as ++Williams had difficulty doing that and playing the role of moderator at the same time).

Jim Naughton, of the blog Daily Episcopalian, has accused these Primates of making Communion about themselves, not about God. I agree. In the traditional Anglican understanding, the Holy Eucharist is what draws us into communion with each other. We do not demand complete theological agreement with each other, unlike some (and I emphasize, only some) Roman Catholic leaders who would exclude supporters of abortion rights from Communion. Among Anglicans, if you can't take Communion with some people, perhaps the problem is with you. No use telling that to a narcissist, of course.

In November 2003, after +Gene Robinson's consecration, John Chew's predecessor, Yong Ping Chung, released the following statement on the Diocese of Singapore's website (

"The Synod of the Province of the Anglican Church of South East Asia (‘the Province’) unanimously reject the purported consecration of Dr Gene J Robinson (‘Robinson’) on 2 November 2003 by the Episcopal Church in the United States of America (‘ECUSA’) in New Hampshire, as a bishop in the Anglican Church. The Province views the purported consecration as a flagrant disregard of the fundamental teachings of the Bible and the long established doctrines of the Church.

As Dr Gene J Robinson is a practising homosexual who had divorced his wife and has for the last 13 years been living with a male partner, the Province cannot and do not recognize his consecration and ministry in the Anglican church.

In view of ECUSA’s action in proceeding with the consecration despite the warnings and pleas of a large majority of Anglican churches worldwide, the Province regrets that communion with the ECUSA as well as those who voted for the consecration and those who participated in the consecration service is now broken.
This means that the Province no longer treats those in ECUSA who carried out and supported the act of consecration as brothers and sisters in Christ until and unless they repent of their action and return to embrace Biblical truths. At the same time, the Province remains in fellowship with the faithful believers within ECUSA who rightly oppose and reject the erroneous actions of their house.

This decision was made unanimously at an Extraordinary Meeting of the Synod held in Kudat, Sabah, Malaysia on 20 November 2003. A copy of the resolution is attached for general information."

Some Global South leaders are obsessed with homosexuality, even more than most of the actual homosexuals I know. When the Episcopal Church consecrates a bishop who is gay, that is seen as us forcing homosexuality on everyone else. It is an ugly truth, but repeatedly, TEC has been accused of imposing its will on the rest of the Anglican Communion. It is true that in the past, Western missionaries forced their cultures in addition to their religion onto indigenous people, at the expense of indigenous cultures. We are, to some extent, seeing the aftereffects of cultural and religious colonialism. Still, this is no excuse for their actions.

Even today, though, too many Global South Christians listen to quacks promoting extremist doctrines, rather than more moderate Christian scholars. I can say that because I learned those quack doctrines growing up. I was taught not to believe in evolution. I was taught that the Beatles were Satanic (partly because much of their music was written on drugs), and that I had to stop listening to them - that caused a very ugly fight with my mom. I was taught Christian Zionist eschatology, and the Methodist Church in Singapore utterly failed to condemn the Israeli occupation, despite the fact that Methodists are supposed to have a strong social conscience. And of course, I was taught to avoid "homosexual temptations". The aftereffects of colonialism only reinforce these false teachings.

Western churches must forever renounce colonialism in all forms, or else we will keep paying for it. We must reach out as partners - NOT as superiors - to our Global South counterparts, and help undo the legacy that some of our ancestors created. And we must hold our own governments accountable for their actions that continue to colonize the Global South.

That's a long-term solution, though. In the short term, we will have to ride this out. We will have to balance remaining in the Anglican Communion with ensuring that our LGBT members have an equal place at the table. It won't be easy.

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