A statement from the Province of West Africa

Anglican Communion News has the text of a statement released by the Anglican “Church of the Province of West Africa on the state of the Anglican Communion”. The statement reiterates the Province’s objections to the actions being taken by other Anglican Provinces in ordaining partnered gays and lesbians and in allowing the blessing of the unions. But the statement is notable for what it does not say.

Rather than insist on discipline for the Provinces described in the statement, the call is rather that all parties “tread very cautiously” in these moments. Additionally the statement closes by calling all parties to refrain from intemperate “name-calling”, pointing out that such behavior is only making things more difficult.

It’s probably also noteworthy that while the Primate of West Africa was among those who refused to take communion with the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Dar es Salaam, this statement does not describe the Province as being out of communion with the Provinces with whom it is in disagreement.

The full statement follows:

The Church of the Province of West Africa (Anglican Communion) meeting in Douala, Cameroon, on the 11th day of April, in the year of our Lord, Two Thousand and Eight, having considered very carefully, among other pressing and very important issues, the current general state of the Anglican Commuion in the light of same – sex relationship receiving official recognition and approval by some dioceses and provinces, an issue which is seriously threatening the unity of the Communion, do hereby make the following statement:

1 i. That we are resolved to continue to be in communion with the See of Canterbury as we unequivocally and unambiguously remain in the Anglican Communion.

ii. In this regard, we reiterate the resolution of Anglican Consultative Council, Hong Kong, August 2002 in response to Archbishop George Carey’s urging that dioceses ‘that are considering matters of faith and doctrine that could affect the unity of the Communion to consult widely in their provinces, and beyond before final decisions are made or action is taken.’

iii. We affirm the importance of showing concern and regard to the rest of the Communion.

2. We, however, out rightly condemn and reject the unacceptable action of some of the members of the Communion in the blessing and formal acceptance of same-sex marriages and relationships, the appointment, election and ordination to ecclesiastical offices of those persons who openly admit and declare that they are homosexuals and lesbians (cf Romans 1:26-27). That such practices of some of the members of our Communion do exist and that they are to be treated pastorally, we deny not. However, that they be given official recognition and acceptance by the Church of God as a standard form of life is quite another stand which we cannot and dare not accept. 

3. We reiterate that while we remain members of the Communion, we shall continue to abhor such practices and, therefore, appeal to those members to reconsider their actions in the light of Biblical Teachings and Christian Principles.

4. We wish to commend the Leadership of the Anglican Communion for all the efforts being made in the face of many challenges to keep the Communion intact just as our forebears did down the ages in the midst of numerous controversies.

5. We further urge all members of the Communion to tread very cautiously in these trying and challenging moments of our existence even as we each try hard to uphold the beliefs and practices of the Anglican Communion especially as have been espoused by various Gatherings and recognized Organs which symbolize instruments of Unity within the Communion, and we do urge all to ‘make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.’ (Eph. 4:3)

6. In a debate, name-calling should be avoided. Reducing the conversation to Liberals versus Conservatives is not helpful; it only adds fuel to an already inflamed situation.

The statement is posted on ACNS here.

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