Backlash over appointment of Virginia bishop in Liverpool

The Church of Nigeria’s Diocese of Akure has ended its companion relationship with the Diocese of Liverpool, citing their disappointment with the diocese over the appointment of the suffragan bishop of Virginia 

The Church of Nigeria’s Diocese of Akure has ended its companion relationship with the Diocese of Liverpool, citing their disappointment with the diocese over the appointment of the suffragan bishop of Virginia by the Rt. Rev. Paul Bayes as a non-residential honorary assisting bishop. In a statement released on 2 June 2016, the Rt. Rev. Simeon Borokoni wrote he had learned Bishop Bayes “made the assisting Bishop of Virginia, Susan Goff, an assisting Bishop in Liverpool. Susan Goff is in favour of blessing same sex unions and this has been a part of the litigation against the orthodox in Virginia. Therefore, in view of the above and being aware of the fact that Nigeria does not support same sex marriage, we in Akure Diocese cannot have any link with Liverpool Diocese.” Last week the conservative evangelical group, Reform, raised concerns over Bishop Goff’s appointment noting she had voted at the 2015 General Convention to change the “definition and purpose of marriage according to in Canons of The Episcopal Church.”  Susie Leafe, Director of Reform said, “The Bishop of Liverpool has chosen to bring the conflicts that have torn the fabric of the Anglican Communion in to the heart of this diocese.  The long standing link with Akure Diocese, in Nigeria, has been severed for the sake of closer ties with The Episcopal Church.” She said Bishop Goff’s appointment was a “provocative and divisive step which is obviously unacceptable from someone who holds themselves out as a focus of unity.” In a letter to his diocese, Bishop Bayes wrote Liverpool had been looking to replace the Nigerian diocese with another African diocese five years ago and would now be in relationship with the Diocese of Kumasi of the Church of the Province of West Africa. “I have not yet received formal notification directly from the Bishop of Akure, but as and when I do I shall write to him expressing this regret. If our partners choose to close this door, this is a matter of sorrow for us but of course we respect their decision as free partners in a free relationship,” he said. “At one time this link was three-way and provided wonderful opportunities for sharing and mutual learning, though my colleagues tell me that five years ago, in 2011, the then Bishop of Akure formally indicated that his Diocese did not feel able to remain in such a three-way relationship. As a result, in Bishop James’ [Jones] time our Diocese was also in conversation with the Ghanaian Diocese of Kumasi, with a view to establishing a similar link with Liverpool and Virginia, built around the idea of a “triangle of hope” to counter the slave triangle of despair and darkness. While in Ghana I had further good conversations about this with the Archbishop of West Africa (who is also Bishop of Kumasi) and with the Bishop of Virginia, and I have prayerful hopes that this relationship too will bear fruit into the future.

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