- The Anglican 'Church of Nigeria' says it will not commence the ordination of women but the issue may be revisited in the future. This is contained in a pastoral letter issued by the Primate of the Church, conservative Archbishop Peter Akinola, who also announced a major missionary strategy that is set to double the church's members by 2007.
The issue of ordination of women had been discussed at the Church of Nigeria's standing committee, which ended a larger meeting in Kaduna last Saturday. Archbishop Akinola, on behalf of the committee, said that Nigeria's Anglicans not yet were considering taking on female clergy.
- The Standing Committee for now has resolved that the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) shall not commence the ordination of women, the Archbishop's pastoral letter says. "However, the issue may be re-visited in the future," it adds. No further explanation is given, there is no reference to the discussion by the church men and no references are given.
The pastoral letter by Archbishop Akinola continues in the authoritarian style he has been widely known for. "Obedience" is the most used word in the letter to Nigeria's 17 million Anglicans. "The spirit of obedience" would give "fruitful results" for the expanding church, he says.
Expansion and exercise of power turned out to be the main aims of the Nigerian Anglican chief. The Church of Nigeria had "a choice to either give leadership to the Church in Africa or to carry on only with our own domestic mission agenda. We, under God, chose the former," Archbishop Akinola emphasised. "This obedience brought honour to God," he adds.
Apart from aiming at a leadership in Africa at large, the Nigerian Archbishop aims at making Anglican Christianity the country's leading religion within a few years. The Primate called on members of his church to approach the mission agenda of the church. Under this agenda, the Church of Nigeria hopes to double its present size of 17 million by 2007.
- On our main task of evangelism, the time has come when each Diocese requires to rise up, mobilise and empower the laity for large-scale mission, Mr Akinola says. "This in the spirit of obedience will call for substantial and adequate provision for funding in Diocesan Budget," he adds, thanking Nigerian donors for their support.
At the same time, the Anglican Church Province of Southern Africa also presented its new "plan of action." Southern African Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane demonstrated a very different spirit in his church province's strategy, reminding Anglicans that "the church is perhaps the only society that exists primarily for its non-members, for those on the margins of society - the poor and the excluded."
Archbishop Ndungane asked a representative body of church clergy and laity who attended a Cape Town meeting to "avoid falling into patronising attitudes towards those worse-off and to look on all people with respect, honouring their right to be treated with dignity." Discussions focused on women's emancipation, improving levels of education, making public services accessible to the poor, tackling HIV and AIDS and help reducing poverty.
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