Saturday, February 17, 2007

Primates explain on website their absence from the Holy Eucharist at Primates’ Meeting in Tanzania

From the website of the ANGLICAN Church of Nigeria, we learn that a number of the Global South Primates did not share in the Holy Eucharist on Friday, February 16, with their fellow Primates. They include Abp. Peter Akinola of Nigeria, Abp John Chew of Singapore, Abp Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya, Abp Justice Akrofi of West Africa, Abp Henry Orombi of Uganda, Presiding Bishop. Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone, and Abp Emmanuel Kolini of Rwanda. They claim to represent more than 30 million faithful Anglicans, which is at least 40 per cent of the Anglican Family. They have released this statement:

"We each take the celebration of the Holy Eucharist very seriously. This deliberate action is a poignant reminder of the brokenness of the Anglican Communion. It makes clear that the torn fabric of the Church has been torn further. It is a consequence of the decision taken by our provinces to declare that our relationship with The Episcopal Church is either broken or severely impaired.

Scripture teaches that before coming to sit with one another at the Lord's Table we must be reconciled. (Matthew 5:23-26 and 1 Corinthians 11:27-29) We have made repeated calls for repentance by The Episcopal Church and its leadership with no success. We continue to pray for a change of heart.

We are unable to come to the Holy Table with the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church because to do so would be a violation of Scriptural teaching and the traditional Anglican understanding, "Ye that do truly and earnestly repent you of your sins, and are in love and charity with your neighbours, and intend to lead a new life, following the commandments of God, and walking from henceforth in his holy ways; Draw near with faith" (Book of Common Prayer, 1662)

This is a painful decision for us and also for our host and brother, the Most Rev'd Donald Mtetemela. He understands our painful dilemma and accepts our decision. Pray for the Church."

[The full text of the statement is available at]

One archbishop, Drexel Gomez of the West Indies, who has identified in general with the Global South Primates over the matter of same-sex unions, responded to questions on Friday evening from the media, Gomez insisted hopefully that the "difficulty of broken communion is more perceived than real," and identified three groups of provinces in terms of responses to the innovative actions of the Episcopal Church.

"The first group of provinces has made no formal statement and that is probably the largest group," he said.

"The second is made up of provinces that have declared themselves to be in ‘impaired' communion," the group with which he identified his own province of the West Indies."

The third group, he said, "has received the most attention in the last three years – the group that has declared it is in broken communion and it is those primates who have chosen not to attend Eucharist” with the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church at the last two Primates’ Meetings (Northern Ireland 2005 and Tanzania 2007).


Not partaking of the Lord’s Supper at the Lord’s Table with fellow believers is a serious decision to take.

It may be because one is not spiritually and morally prepared; or it may be that one has other personal reasons which make taking Communion seem inappropriate. After all we are called by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 10-11 only to attend the Table of the Lord when we are truly prepared so to do –and of course this is underlined in the Exhortations in The Book of Common Prayer (1662).

It may also be because of an informed conscience which tells one categorically that it would be wrong to partake or even share in the Service itself.

For example, one may believe that a woman, however excellent her character, cannot be a priest and thus a woman as celebrant is a huge mistake and thus one cannot take part. Or the celebrant may be a bishop who actually ordains women and is not ready to cease, and so here again it is as though he were a female priest himself and so one cannot partake.

In the case of sharing the Table of the Lord with the lady Primate of The Episcopal Church, there are probably several matters of conscience which forbid certain Primates from doing so. First of all, she is a female Priest and thus for some is not a priest at all; secondly, as an Episcopal Church leader, she supports and encourages the blessing of same-sex couples and the ordination of persons in such partnerships, and further she is proud of all these things and the last thing in the world she intends to do is to repent of them, or of the innovative agenda of The Episcopal Church.

One thing is, however, in place. As far as we know all the Provinces and Dioceses of the Anglican Communion still baptize “In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” and thus there is still a basic Baptismal Unity and Fellowship which is a basis for cooperation and working together, if not for coming to the Table of the Lord together. Feb 17 2007

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.
[2 Thessalonians 3:6]

I think those who withdrew from participating in the communion service courageously followed a standing command.

Mark of Kentucky