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Archbishop Akinola: A Pastoral Letter to the Church

Source: Anglican Communion News Service
From Church of Nigeria News

March 18, 2005

The 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, Archbishop Peter Akinola, on behalf of the Standing Committee of the Church, which ended its meeting in Kaduna last Saturday.

The Primate called on members of his church to approach the mission agenda of the church, Vision 1-1-3, with the spirit of obedience for fruitful results.

Under Vision 1-1-3, the Church of Nigeria hopes to double its present size of 17 million by 2007. It believes in the planting of more churches and places of worship as a strategy.

The Pastoral Letter of Archbishop Akinola follows:

Our beloved people of God,

The Standing Committee brings you greetings of love, peace and joy of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ from its meeting here in Kaduna. A number of events, some pleasant and memorable, and some others unpleasant, have occurred since we met last in Enugu. In all things, we thank God for life and health, and we glorify His name. The Standing Committee focuses on “TO OBEY IS BETTER THAN SACRIFICE” (1 Samuel 15:22).

After many years of fruitful ministry, Samuel was growing old. He therefore appointed his sons in his place as judges over Israel. His sons proved to be unfaithful and disappointing leading Israel to request for a king as was the case with the surrounding nations. Saul was thus appointed and made king, but his performance turned out to be disastrous. Saul failed to carry out to the letter, the Lord’s command to destroy Amalek. That failure of Saul attracted these words from Samuel to Saul: … “to Obey is better than sacrifice”. With these opening words, we come face to face with daily choice in our lives as individuals, families, congregations, peoples and nations, whether to obey God or our own selfish desires. Examples of these situations that decide our choice of God or self, abound and a few examples will suffice:

* Church of Nigeria has the mission with Vision 1-1-3. We need to approach this with the spirit of obedience for fruitful results.

* Church of Nigeria has the mission fund tagged, “Endowment Fund”. The spirit of attaining its goal is obedience to the letter.

* The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) has 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 resulting in the first African Anglican Bishops’ Conference (AABC) between October 25 and November 1, 2004 in Lagos, which was a huge success. This obedience brought honour to God.

Bear in mind that obedience always has its sacrifices along the path, which should not be underrated. AABC was successfully hosted but it cost money of varying amounts from the Dioceses, with some Dioceses, bearing somewhat heavy burden more than others. But together and with total obedience to the will of God for the Church in Africa, the event was a joy and glory.

On our main task of evangelism, the time has come when each Diocese requires to rise up, mobilize and empower the laity for large-scale mission. This in the spirit of obedience will call for substantial and adequate provision for funding in Diocesan Budget.

We will continue to thank God for some of our brothers and sisters who in obedience to God give generously for the work of evangelism. Worthy of special mention is the magnanimity of Mr Alex Ibru, who has made available to our Church a multi-million-naira retreat centre. We encourage all to emulate this worthy example.

The Standing Committee for now has resolved that the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) shall not commence the ordination of women.

However, the issue may be revisited in the future.

Our dear people of God, we entreat you to apply this principle of obedience in all your endeavour as individuals, families, people, congregation and State.

With prayerful wishes and warm regards.

Your Primate and friend,
The Most Revd Peter J. Akinola, DD, CON
Primate of All Nigeria

Posted at 12:00 am 3.18.2005 | Permalink