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The Most Reverend
Peter Akinola
Akinola2.jpg
Denomination Church of Nigeria
Senior posting
See Abuja
Title Archbishop of Province III,
Primate of all Nigeria
Period in office 2000 — present
Consecration 27 February 2003
Religious career
Priestly ordination 1979
Previous bishoprics Bishop of Abuja
Previous post Bishop
Personal
Date of birth January 27, 1944 (1944-01-27) (age 65)
Place of birth Ogun, Nigeria

Peter Jasper Akinola (born 27 January 1944[1]) is the current Anglican Primate of the Church of Nigeria. He is also Bishop of Abuja (Nigeria's capital) and Archbishop of Province III, which covers the northern and central parts of the country.

Akinola is chairman of the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa and chairman of the South-South Encounter of the Anglican Communion.

A "low church" Evangelical, Archbishop Akinola emphasizes the Bible and the teachings of the apostles (apostolic tradition) in a particular way.[2] As one of the leaders of the Global South within the Anglican Communion, Akinola has taken a firm stand against theological developments which he contends are incompatible with the biblical teachings of Christianity, notably setting himself against any revisionist or liberal interpretations of the Bible and, in particular, opposing same-sex blessings, the ordination of non-celibate homosexuals or, indeed, any homosexual practice. He is a leader of some conservatives throughout the Anglican Communion including the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, but is seen by others as a divisive force.[3]

Contents

Biography

Part of a series on the
Anglican realignment

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Provinces

Anglican Church in North America · Anglican Church of the Southern Cone of America

Associations

American Anglican Council · Anglican Coalition in Canada · Anglican Communion Network · Anglican Mission in the Americas · Convocation of Anglicans in North America · Federation of Anglican Churches in the Americas

Events

Global Anglican Future Conference · Departures from the Episcopal Church of North America

Related churches

Anglican Province of America · Episcopal Missionary Church · Reformed Episcopal Church

People

Peter Akinola · Robert Duncan · Drexel Gomez · Gene Robinson · Gregory Venables · Rowan Williams

Issues

Anglicanism · Windsor Report · Ordination of women · Homosexuality and Anglicanism


Anglicanism Portal

Peter Akinola was born in 1944 to a Yoruba family in Abeokuta in southwestern Nigeria . His father died when he was four years old and due to financial pressures Akinola had to leave school early.[4] He learned carpentry and at twenty he had a successful furniture business and had finished high school by distance education.[5] He studied at a Nigerian Anglican seminary and was ordained to the priesthood in the Anglican Church of Nigeria. Soon after ordination, he pursued further study at the Virginia Theological Seminary.[5]

Returning to Nigeria at the beginning of the 1980s, Akinola was assigned to create an Anglican presence in the new capital Abuja which was about to be built. He holds it one of his greatest successes to have created out of nothing a vibrant Anglican community there.[5] In 1989 he was ordained bishop of Abuja and 1997 archbishop of Province III of the Church of Nigeria, consisting of the northern dioceses of Nigeria. On February 22, 2000 he was elected primate of the Church of Nigeria, the second biggest church in the Anglican Communion, then numbering 18 million members.

Akinola was given the National Award of Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) in December 2003.[6]

In 2006 Akinola appeared on TIME magazine's list of the world's 100 most influential people in the category Leaders and Revolutionaries.[7] However, in 2007 TIME magazine suggested [8] that he "has some explaining to do" in relation to his support for legislation [9] criminalising "gay... organizations" and "Publicity, procession and public show of same-sex amorous relationship through the electronic or print media physically, directly, indirectly or otherwise".

In 2007, the Nigerian newspaper ThisDay gave him together with 17 others a Lifetime Achievement Award, stating in its citation: "Called a bigot by some in the Anglican Church, his attitudes nonetheless represent a deep-rooted conservative tradition in African Christianity that is flourishing and growing." [10] But he has been criticised by other sections of the international press, including the right-leaning Daily Telegraph which in an editorial on 23 March 2007 characterised him as one of the "extremists" who had "hijacked" conservative Anglicanism, and as "a deeply divisive figure" who has "defended new Nigerian legislation that makes "cancerous" (his word) same-sex activity punishable by up to five years' imprisonment." [3]

Akinola was at one time President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, an ecumenical body bringing together 52 million Protestant, Catholic, and African independent Christians.[6] During his Presidency, the National Ecumenical Centre in Abuja was completed, which had been a building ruin for 16 years.[11] Akinola was voted out of his position as National President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in June 2007, and replaced by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Nigeria, who polled 72 votes to Akinola's 33 votes.[4] This followed criticism of Akinola's allegedly high handed leadership style and of his alleged failure to confront Nigerian President Obasanjo as other Christian leaders had.[12] Subsequently, his candidacy as Vice President was rejected by the General Assembly of the Christian Association of Nigeria.[13]

Peter Akinola is married and a father of six.[4]

In October 2009, he reacted to the Vatican's proposed creation of personal ordinariates for disaffected traditionalist Anglicans by saying that although he welcomed ecumencial dialogue and shared moral theology with the Catholic Church, the current GAFCON structures already meet the spiritual and pastoral needs of conservative Anglicans in Africa. [14]

In November 2009, Akinola signed an ecumenical statement known as the Manhattan Declaration calling on evangelicals, Catholics and Orthodox not to comply with rules and laws forcing them to accept abortion, same-sex marriage and other matters that go against their religious consciences.[15]

Church politics

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Vision of the Church of Nigeria

One of his first actions as primate was to get together 400 bishops, priests, lay members, and members of the Mother's Union to elaborate a vision for the Church of Nigeria under chairman Ernest Shonekan, a former president of Nigeria. [16] The vision elaborated was:

"The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) shall be; bible-based, spiritually dynamic, united, disciplined, self supporting, committed to pragmatic evangelism, social welfare and a Church that epitomizes the genuine love of Christ." [16]

Part of the program of actions were, e.g.

  • on central level
    • translating the books of liturgy in further languages
    • establishing a group of 3000 leading lay personalities who will take care of fundraising and relieve the bishops of this duty
    • establish a legal support team to enforce the constitutional right of freedom of religion and worship
    • establish colleges for theology and universities
    • provide internet access for the dioceses
  • for each diocese
    • training fulltime itinerant evangelists
    • on the job training for priests and their wives
    • working out a social welfare program for less privileged people
    • establish a hospital with at least 30 beds
    • establish secondary schools
  • on community level
    • literacy courses for adults
    • set up cottage industries for the unemployed

Relations with the Anglican Communion

Archbishop Peter Akinola in his cope and mitre, traditional vestments.

In August 2003 he stated that if the celibate homosexual Jeffrey John was consecrated as Bishop of Reading or the non-celibate homosexual Gene Robinson consecrated as Bishop of New Hampshire, the Church of Nigeria would leave the Anglican Communion. A number of dioceses throughout the world, including the Diocese of Sydney, made similar statements. Under pressure from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. John withdrew from appointment as bishop and was subsequently appointed as Dean of St Albans. Gene Robinson's consecration went forward, precipitating a crisis in the Anglican Communion. At the end of 2003 Akinola commissioned together with Drexel Gomez, primate of the Church in the Province of the West Indies and Gregory Venables, Presiding Bishop of the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone Claiming our Anglican Identity: The Case Against the Episcopal Church, USA, a paper for the Primates of the Anglican Communion detailing the implications of the consecration of Gene Robinson for the Anglican Communion, in the view of conservative Primates. [17]

His first reaction on the Windsor Report 2004 was outspoken and critical,[18] but the statement from the Primates gathered at the first African Anglican Bishop's Conference, headed by Akinola, was more moderate and expressed commitment to the future of the Anglican Communion. [19] However, whilst strenuously supporting those parts of the Windsor Report which address the gay issue, he has not followed with those parts that deplore overseas interventions in the U.S. Church and has, on the contrary, set up a missionary body, the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, in order to formalise the ties between break-away Anglicans in the U.S. and the Church of Nigeria.

In September 2005, Bishop Akinola spoke out against the Church in Brazil deposition of an Evangelical bishop and excommunication of over 30 priests [20] .

In September 2005, the Church of Nigeria redefined in its constitution its relationship to the Anglican Communion as "Communion with all Anglican Churches, Dioceses and Provinces that hold and maintain the Historic Faith, Doctrine, Sacrament and Discipline of the one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.". [21] In a later press release, Akinola clarified "We want to state that our intention in amending the 2002 Constitution of the Church of Nigeria was to make clear that we are committed to the historic faith once delivered to the Saints, practice and the traditional formularies of the Church. ... We treasure our place within the worldwide family of the Anglican Communion but we are distressed by the unilateral actions of those provinces that are clearly determined to redefine what our common faith was once. We have chosen not to be yoked to them as we prefer to exercise our freedom to remain faithful. We continue to pray, however, that there will be a genuine demonstration of repentance."[22]

On November 12, 2005, Akinola signed a Covenant of Concordat with the Presiding Bishops of the Reformed Episcopal Church and the Anglican Province of America.

Akinola refused to take Holy Communion in company with the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, both at the Primates Meeting at Dromantine in 2005 and at the Primates Meeting at Dar-es-Salaam in 2007 and, on the latter occasion, he issued a press release in order to publicise and explain his refusal and that of others associated with him.[23]

Akinola's name as chairman of the Global South Primates heads the list of signatories to a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury on November 15, 2005. [24]. In this letter Europe is described as "a spiritual desert" and the actions of the Church of England in supporting the new civil partnerships laws are said to give "the appearance of evil".

Three of the bishops whose names appeared on the document at the Global South website (President Bishop Clive Handford of Jerusalem and the Middle East, the Primate of the West Indies Archbishop Drexel Gomez, and the Presiding Bishop of the Southern Cone Bishop Gregory Venables) denied signing or approving the letter, and criticised it as "an act of impatience", "scandalous", and "megaphone diplomacy"[25].

Akinola was among the Global South leaders who opposed the consecration of Gene Robinson, the first openly homosexual bishop in the Anglican Communion. This group successfully pressed for the voluntary withdrawal of ECUSA's representatives from the Anglican Consultative Council's meeting in Nottingham in 2005, although representatives did attend in order to make a presentation supporting full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the life of the Church, for which a vote of thanks was passed.

In August 2005 he denounced a statement of the Church of England's House of Bishops on civil partnerships and called for the disciplining of the Church of England and ECUSA on the grounds that the Church has not changed its position on same-sex partnerships. Since the Anglican Communion has historically been defined as those Churches in communion with the See of Canterbury, whose Archbishop is head of the Church of England and thus primus inter pares in the Anglican Communion, this led to speculation that Akinola was positioning himself as a possible international leader of a more conservative church than the present Anglican Communion, which would no longer recognise the authority or primacy of the Archbishop of Canterbury. However, he attended the subsequent Primates Meeting in Tanzania in 2007, although he absented himself from all the celebrations of Holy Communion during that meeting.

In May 2007 he flew to the USA to install Martyn Minns, a priest who had left the Episcopal Church of the USA, as a bishop of the Church of Nigeria. Akinola reportedly ignored requests not to do this from both the Presiding Bishop and the Archbishop of Canterbury. However, the timing of the requests and their intent, relative to Akinola's departure from Nigeria is a subject of contention[26][27]. The newly installed bishop indicated at a press conference that the intention was to replace the Episcopal Church of the USA (as an organ of the Anglican Communion) with a structure formed under auspices of the Church of Nigeria[28].

Bishop Akinola is one of the principal founders of the Global Anglican Future Conference[5], an international gathering of conservative Anglican bishops planned for June 2008,[29] and has declared that the Church of Nigeria is in full communion with the emergent Anglican Church in North America, which was founded to create a separate ecclesiastical structure to the Episcopal Church of the United States within the Anglican Communion.[30]

Homosexuality laws in Nigeria

In September 2006, the Standing Committee of the Church of Nigeria, headed by Akinola, issued a Message to the Nation, taking up ten political controversies in Nigeria, among them a bill regarding same-sex relationships: "The Church commends the law-makers for their prompt reaction to outlaw same-sex relationships in Nigeria and calls for the bill to be passed since the idea expressed in the bill is the moral position of Nigerians regarding human sexuality." [31] The bill in question, as well as criminalising same-sex marriage, also proposed to criminalise "Registration of Gay Clubs, Societies and organizations" and "Publicity, procession and public show of same-sex amorous relationship through the electronic or print media physically, directly, indirectly or otherwise", on penalty of up to 5 years of imprisonment. The proposed legislation was formally challenged by the United States State Department as a breach of Nigeria's obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Some western supporters justify the legislation on the basis that it does not support the stoning to death of homosexuals under the Sharia code.

Reaction to Muslim cartoon riots

In February 2006, Muslims rioting over the Danish newspaper cartoon controversy spread to Nigeria. Rioters targeted Christians and their property, resulting in a reported 43 deaths, 30 burned churches [6] and 250 destroyed shops and houses [7]. Included among the victims was the family of one of Akinola's bishops, Ben Kwashi, the Bishop of Jos. Kwashi's home was broken into and his wife was tortured and sexually assaulted, resulting in her temporary blindness. The rioters also severely beat Kwashi's teenage son. (Kwashi was out of the country in the United Kingdom at the time of the attack.)[8] In response to the rioting, Akinola issued a statement in his capacity as President of the Christian Association of Nigeria: "May we at this stage remind our Muslim brothers that they do not have the monopoly of violence in this nation." Some criticized this statement as inciting Christian counter-riots against Muslim targets in Nigeria (for example, Christian mobs in Onitsha retaliated against Muslims, killing 80 persons,[9], burned a Muslim district with 100 homes[10], defaced mosques[11] and burned the corpses of those they had killed in the streets[12], forcing hundreds of Muslims to flee the city [13]). American evangelical leader Rick Warren, however, wrote that Akinola's angry response "was no more characteristic than Nelson Mandela's apartheid-era statement that 'sooner or later this violence is going to spread to whites.'"[14]

References

  1. ^ "The Primate of Nigeria". Church of Nigeria. http://www.anglican-nig.org/main.php?k_j=22. Retrieved 2007-09-30.  
  2. ^ "Vision". Church of Nigeria. http://www.anglican-nig.org/vision.htm. Retrieved 2008-08-30.  
  3. ^ Telegraph.co.uk
  4. ^ a b BBC News: Profile: Archbishop Peter Akinola
  5. ^ a b c Sarah Simpson, An African Archbishop Finds Common Ground in Virginia, Christian Science Monitor, January 08, 2007
  6. ^ a b Sagay, From Carpenter to Primate, THE GUARDIAN 1st October, 2006
  7. ^ The TIME 100
  8. ^ TIME magazine 8 March 2007
  9. ^ Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill
  10. ^ National Champions, World Class Brands, TMCnet, 5. January 2007
  11. ^ National Ecumenical Centre dedicated in Abuja
  12. ^ The Sun News On-line
  13. ^ [1]
  14. ^ A Pastoral Exhortation to the Faithful in the Anglican Communion
  15. ^ Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience
  16. ^ a b Vision of the Church of Nigeria
  17. ^ Claiming our Anglican Identity: The Case Against the Episcopal Church, USA
  18. ^ From Nigeria's Primate, Archbishop Peter Akinola: Statement on Windsor Report, October 19, 2004
  19. ^ Statement from the Primates gathered at the first African Anglican Bishop's Conference
  20. ^ [2]
  21. ^ Canons of the Church of Nigeria
  22. ^ PRESS BRIEFING BY THE PRIMATE OF ALL NIGERIA
  23. ^ Press release on refusal to share Holy Communion
  24. ^ Letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury
  25. ^ Episcopal News Service Archives
  26. ^ Akinola Response to KJS, May 2007
  27. ^ Akinola Response to RW, May 2007
  28. ^ U.S. Bishop, Making It Official, Throws in Lot With African Churchman - New York Times
  29. ^ George Conger. "Anglicans choose Jerusalem for key June conference". The Jerusalem Post, 2007-12-31. http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull&cid=1198517248310. Retrieved 2008-01-14.  
  30. ^ http://religionblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2009/03/church-of-nigeria-in-full-comm.html
  31. ^ Standing Committee of the Church of Nigeria: Message to the Nation, September 2006

Further reading


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

The Most Reverend Peter Jasper Akinola (born 1944), is Anglican Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Archbishop of Province III of Nigeria, and Bishop of the capital city, Abuja.

Sourced

  • "We in Africa are always on the receiving end. We have had human slavery, political slavery, economic slavery and now religious slavery. We in the church are saying no. We are prepared to live by what God says, not what you say. Man shall not sleep with man, woman shall not sleep with woman."
  • "I didn’t create poverty. This church didn’t create poverty. Poverty is not an issue, human suffering is not an issue at all, they were there before the creation of mankind."
    • Reported in the East African Standard January 2004, now only available online here.
  • "We will not, on the altar of money, mortgage our conscience, mortgage our faith, mortgage our salvation."
    • (Explaining the decision to reject American funding as a protest over liberal theology and practices, including the ordination of homosexuals.)
  • "They are trying to make my God a liar. That I will not accept. If that's the case, then better to be poor and loyal to God than to have all the money in the world."
  • "To opine that, unknown to humans, God had hitherto created some people to be homosexuals and lesbians (i.e., sexual orientations) is tantamount to creating God in our own image and introducing a cancerous element into the fabric of the African understanding of marriage and family."
  • "Homosexuality and lesbianism, like divorce, breed a society of single parents which gives rise to a generation of bastards. And in the context of much poverty and lack of education, this further produces an ill-bred generation of hooligans, portending much terror to the peace and stability of the society."
  • "In a society where many women are finding it difficult to have husbands of their own due to depletion of men by many factors, homosexuality will exacerbate the disequilibrium, leading to much social unrest."
  • "All Nigerians must learn from Christ and be determined to imbibe the lesson of divine condescension."
  • "We must never forget that if Christ had been so inclined, he would not have come and there will be no Christmas to celebrate."
  • "By your victory at the polls, you have put to shame the revisionists and their agenda in the Church of Christ, and particularly in the Episcopal Church of United States of America (ECUSA). I hope that by your election victory, these ordained men and women will feel rebuked and be forced to repent of this grievous sin of repudiating the word of God, and to seek genuine restoration."
    • From An Open Congratulatory Message to the President George W Bush
  • "Let there be no illusions. The Communion is broken and fragmented. The Communion will break."
  • "Britain has joined its brethren in the 'civilised West' to legitimise civil partnerships, which to us simply means same-sex marriages. They are also putting a ban on preaching because it offends Muslim minorities. Britain has, of course, made Sunday a working day."
  • "a misfit, a wolf in shepherd’s clothing and one of the end-time agents of the devil sent to lead astray those who would have believed in God."
    • (referring to the Anglican Primate of South Africa, Archibishop Winston Njongonkulu Ndungane of Cape Town)
  • "May we at this stage remind our Muslim brothers that they do not have the monopoly of violence in this nation. Nigeria belongs to all of us – Christians, Muslims and members of other faiths. No amount of intimidation can Change this time-honoured arrangement in this nation. C.A.N. may no longer be able to contain our restive youths should this ugly trend continue."
    • (Statement issued in his capacity as President, Christian Association of Nigeria, February 2006, "on the ugly development of renewed religious fanaticism in this country")
  • "The Church commends the law-makers for their prompt reaction to outlaw same-sex relationships in Nigeria and calls for the bill to be passed since the idea expressed in the bill is the moral position of Nigerians regarding human sexuality."
    • (Communique on the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill 2006
    • The 2006 Bill, as well as criminalising same-sex marriage, also proposed to criminalise "Registration of Gay Clubs, Societies and organizations" and "Publicity, procession and public show of same-sex amorous relationship through the electronic or print media physically, directly, indirectly or otherwise", on penalty of up to 5 years imprisonment.
  • "We remind our churches to maintain the emphasis on the war against indecent dressing"
    • (Pastoral Letter September 2006)
  • "Is the Church of England an Anglican church? The church did not start in Canterbury, the church did not start in Rome. Whether Canterbury is Anglican or not is immaterial. We are Anglicans. They are the Church of England."
    • (Interview in Christianity Today, October 2006)
  • "Self-seeking, self-glory, that is not me. No. Many people say I embarrass them with my humility."
    • (Interview in The New York Times, 25 December 2006)
  • "Homosexuality seeks to destroy marriage as we know it, unity as we know it, family life as we know it, so how can we endorse that? That is completely outside what God planned for humanity. When God created man, he saw man was alone and added a female mate for him. Why didn't he pick one of the baboons, one of the lions to make his partner? He could have done so. He didn't. Homosexuality is nothing short of sinning against God with impunity as you are going against his will. Homosexuality is wrong, it's from the devil."
    • (Interview in The Christian Science Monitor, 8 January 2007)
  • "Whoever God is calling to govern must put God first, must know the people, must know what their aspirations are, must know what their needs are and address those needs. In that way they will be blessed, they will rejoice and God too will be honoured."
    • (Interview in the Guardian newspaper, 24 January 2007)
  • "He will do what we tell him."
    • (To another Primate at Dromantine in 2005, about the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. Reported in the Guardian, 14 January 2007)
  • "I was shocked to my marrow the very first time I heard the Church is saying a man can marry a man. What? It is from that shock, that surprise, how is that possible? Is it a kind of experiment or something? They are sick or tired of normal heterosexual relationships? How could that be?"
    • (Interview in The Times, 5 July 2007)

Associated quotations

  • "This Conference:... (3) recognises that there are among us persons who experience themselves as having a homosexual orientation. Many of these are members of the Church and are seeking the pastoral care, moral direction of the Church, and God's transforming power for the living of their lives and the ordering of relationships. We commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual persons and we wish to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ; (4) while rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture, calls on all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals"
    • (Resolution 1.10 on Human Sexuality, Lambeth Conference 1988.)
  • "The victimisation or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex is anathema to us."
    • (Statement of the Primates of the Anglican Communion at Dromantine, February 2005)

Criticism

  • "The archbishop's support for this law [the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill 2006, see above] violates numerous Anglican Communion documents that call for a "listening process" involving gay Christians and their leaders. But his contempt for international agreements also extends to Articles 18-20 of the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which articulates the rights to freedom of thought, conscience, religion, association and assembly. Surprisingly, few voices -- Anglican or otherwise -- have been raised in opposition to the archbishop. When I compare this silence with the cacophony that followed the Episcopal Church's decision to consecrate the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, a gay man who lives openly with his partner, as the bishop of New Hampshire, I am compelled to ask whether the global Christian community has lost not only its backbone but its moral bearings."
    • (John Chane, Bishop of Washington)
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