Lukewarm response from Nigeria to the appointment of new ACC general secretary

The Church of Nigeria has distanced itself from the appointment of the Rt. Rev. Josiah Idowu-Fearon as general secretary of the Anglican Consultative Council.

The Church of Nigeria has distanced itself from the appointment of the Rt. Rev. Josiah Idowu-Fearon as general secretary of the Anglican Consultative Council. While it wishes him well in his new post, a letter endorsed by the Church’s registrar, general secretary and episcopal secretary states the former Bishop of Kaduna does not speak for the Nigerian church, nor are his views in accord with the formal teaching of the largest province of the Anglican Communion.

On 2 April 2015 ACC chairman the Rt. Rev. James Tengatenga announced Dr. Idowu-Fearon, Bishop of Kaduna in Northwestern Nigeria, had been appointed to the London-based post in succession to the Rt. Rev. Kenneth Kearon, who had been elected Bishop of Limerick. Bishop Tengatenga stated he was “delighted that Bishop Josiah has accepted the position. He will bring a vital new perspective on the Anglican Communion, its life and ministry.” while Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said “I warmly welcome the appointment of Bishop Josiah and look forward to working closely with him in the renewal of the Anglican Communion amidst the global challenges facing us today.”

Dr Idowu-Fearon (65) had been named Bishop of Kaduna in 1998, and previously served as Bishop of Sokoto from 1990. Ordained in 1971 he served as Warden at St Francis of Assisi Theological College in Wusasa and Provost of St. Michael’s Cathedral in Kaduna. He received a doctorate in Sociology and Postgraduate Diploma in Education from Nigeria’s Ahmadu Bello University, an MA in Islamic Theology from the UK’s Birmingham University, and a BA in Theology from Durham University. In 2007 Archbishop Rowan Williams appointed him a Six Preacher at Canterbury Cathedral and Archbishop Welby awarded him the Cross of St Augustine in 2013.

In recent years, however, Dr. Idowu-Fearon has been at odds with the majority of his colleagues in the House of Bishops of the Church of Nigeria over what was seen as an accommodating stance towards the innovations of doctrine and discipline made by the Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada. Following his appointment as a Six Preacher the Nigerian House of Bishops declined to reelect him as Archbishop of the Province of Kaduna in 2007, a hitherto unprecedented snub.

Gay activists, however, reacted to his appointment as ACC secretary general with disapprobation, citing comments he had given to a Nigerian newspaper stating he endorsed his church’s stance on the morality of homosexual actions and that he supported the Nigerian government’s condemnation of gay political activism. Dr. Idowu-Fearon released a statement on 6 April 2015 that read in part:

I have never supported the law in Nigeria that criminalizes the gay community and I will never support it. The Church is called to love and protect everyone without discrimination, ‘love the person but hate the sin” whatever the sin may be, corruption, sexual sins of all kinds, misuse of power or anything else.

However, Dr. Idowu-Fearon’s statement of dissociation earned him the reproaches of his Nigerian colleagues, who stated he “clearly indicates that he is not in accord with the theological and doctrinal posture of the Church of Nigeria.”

The leaders of the Church of Nigeria said they learned of his appointment to the ACC from an article published on Anglican Ink and his appointment should not be interpreted as having the formal endorsement of the province. The letter stated:

His acceptance of the post of ACC General Secretary neither received the approval of the Church of Nigeria, nor does it in any way affect the Church of Nigeria’s theological posture on the issues of homosexuality and gay movement. Thus, the Most Rev’d Josiah Idowu-Fearon represents himself at the ACC, and not the Church of Nigeria.

He has taken an early retirement from his Episcopal responsibilities in the Church of Nigeria with effect from 01 July 2015. We wish him every blessing.

The ACC, the general public and the International Community of the Religious should please note the stand of the Church of Nigeria on the Most Rev’d Idowu-Fearon’s personal acceptance to serve as ACC General Secretary.

A spokesman for the Archbishop of Canterbury’s office declined to comment.

Church of Nigeria Letter on the Appointment of Josiah Idowu-Fearon as ACC General Secretary

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