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Silent Holy Saturday Vigil Protest

April 3, 2015

UPDATE: 3-Apr-15 21:34

According to the following correspondence Bishop Idowu-Fearon has clarified his position.  I have yet been unable to locate links to support the correspondence but in an effort to be fair to him I include this information.

From Thinking Anglicans: “Josiah Idowu-Fearon has indicated that, despite media reports, he does not support the criminalisation of LGBT people. Julie Gittens contacted him and shared the following response with the Episcopal Women’s Caucus: Julie Gittens Episcopal Women’s Caucus Friends, Yesterday, I emailed Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon. I congratulated him on his new appointment. I asked him to work on his LGBT relations. This was his reply. Dear Julie, I believe it is right for me to take up your offer and contact you. Firstly, permit me to thank you for your mail and congratulatory message, I feel encouraged and hopeful. I have been very frightened of this opportunity to serve our Communion, your letter is a part of the Lord assuring me that He will provide for my enablement. Julie, I do not support the law in my country that criminalises homosexuality as a Christian, that has been my position and it has not changed. The church must always critique any government policy that is discriminatory, that is why the church is there! When any government enacts or passes any law that is wrong, the church must and should provide an alternative. I hope my clear and unapologetic position will make it possible for us of the same Anglican Family to talk with rather than at each other. I have spent over 40 years working on the culture of respect for differences among Christians and Muslims in Nigeria and Africa, this is what I believe the Lord has called me to spend the rest of my life and ministry doing now within our own Family: the Communion. I look forward to our learning from each other and using our differences to work for the Lord. Blessings. Josiah”

A Silent Vigil in Solidarity with all LGBT people, especially those affected by the Nigerian legislation, is no less important, especially on Holy Saturday.

Given the great sensitivities around the media reports it is regrettable that the Anglican Communion did not offer clarification and reassurance in its announcement of the General Secretary’s appointment.

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  • By the appointment of its new Secretary General the Anglican Communion now gives the impression that it endorses the criminalisation of homosexuality.
  • The Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church is “delighted” at the appointment of the Communion’s new General Secretary.
  • Members of the Scottish Episcopal Church wish to dissociate themselves from the Primus’s delight and plan a silent Holy Saturday vigil of protest in Edinburgh – outside the General Synod Office 10-11am.

Appointing a vocal supporter of the Nigerian government’s criminalisation of homosexuality to a senior position in the Communion, at a time when sexual identity is a highly charged issue, is nothing short of inflammatory.

The Most Rev Dr Josiah Atkins Idowu-Fearon has been appointed to be the next Secretary General of the Anglican Communion despite, or perhaps for some, because of his extreme views – reported here.

Bishop Idowu-Fearon’s seemingly literalistic approach to interpreting the Bible is deeply concerning given that it appears wedded to political engagement that negates the human rights of gay and lesbian Nigerians.

Whether it so intended or not, the Anglican Consultative Council is sending the message that it backs the criminalisation of homosexuality. Of course, the ACC will likely assert that appointing a person does not mean endorsing each and every one of his views. That is indeed the case but, when his public comments are on an issue of deep contention, great care is required. Failure to distance itself from the extreme views of an appointee readily convey an impression of, at least tacit, support.

I, and others, are angered and dismayed that our Primus welcomes Bishop Idowu-Fearon’s appointment without reservation. Whilst the Primus may echo the views of some in the SEC, he would have been better advised to acknowledge the contentious nature of the appointment. Pastoral sensitivity would suggest that due recognition be made to the strong feelings aroused amongst SEC clergy and lay members who support equal rights and dignity for all people.

With both anger and regret some of us will hold a silent Holy Saturday vigil of protest against the Primus’s ‘delight’ at this appointment. The General Synod Office, 21 Grosvenor Terrace, Edinburgh is a venue symbolic of the SEC for which the Primus is elected to speak. In our silent vigil, with our backs to the building, we will express our dissociation from the Primus’s comments.

With no banners, and no speeches, our silent vigil will be from 10am until 11am on Saturday, 4th April. Anyone is welcome to join for all or part of the hour.

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