December 19, 2006
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our only Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ.
Bishop Martyn Minns has informed me of your courageous decision to separate yourselves from The Episcopal Church and become part of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America.
This action demonstrates your desire to stay faithful to the Gospel of Christ and to remain firmly connected to the world-wide Anglican Communion through this Convocation, a mission initiative of the Church of Nigeria. I welcome you to our family.
Sadly, I have also heard that some are suggesting that you are now affiliated with a Church that seeks to punish homosexual persons. That is a distortion of our true position. We are a Church that teaches the truth of the Holy Scriptures and understands that every person, regardless of their religion or sexual orientation, is made in the image of God, loved by God, and deserving of the utmost respect. That is the conviction that informs our passion for evangelism and drives our determination to establish new dioceses and congregations. We have no desire to place anyone outside the reach of God's saving love and that is why we have supported well reasoned statements such as Resolution 1.10 from the Lambeth Conference in 1998 and also the section of the Dromantine Communiqué, which condemns the "victimization or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex."
As I am sure you have heard, there is a bill currently being debated by the Nigerian Legislature that addresses the topic of same-sex marriages and homosexual activism. The Standing Committee of the Church of Nigeria, in its desire to see the strengthening of marriage and family life in our society, has commended the legislators for tackling this difficult issue. We have no desire to see our nation follow the path of license and immorality that we have witnessed in other parts of the world. And we also oppose the severe sanctions of Islamic law.
We recognize that there are genuine concerns about individual human rights that must be addressed both in the framing of the law and its implementation. I am glad to inform you that while the Honorable Speaker of the House, a Moslem, wanted the immediate and outright passage of the bill, the Deputy Speaker, an Anglican, persuaded his colleagues to allow full public debate on it.
I am troubled, however, by the silence of outside commentators concerning the rights of the clergy, Christians, and particularly converts to our Church whose lives are threatened and too often destroyed because of mob violence. I see no evidence of compassion for those whose rights are trampled on because of the imposition of unjust religious laws in many parts of the world. There seems to be a strange lack of interest in this issue.
We are concerned about eternal destiny and the need of every person to know the saving love of God. We preach a Gospel for all people that not only offers welcome but also the promise of transformation. We are delighted that you share these convictions with us and look forward to mission and ministry together with you in the coming years.
To God be the Glory — great things He has done . . . and is doing!
The Lord be with you.
The Most Rev. Peter J. Akinola, D.Div.