19th March, 2012
Primate, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) has described the resignation of Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury as not “good news”, as he is leaving behind a “communion in tatters.”
Williams, 61, announced last Friday that he is stepping down as head of the global Anglican Communion by the end of 2012, a decade after taking over the post.
His tenure was marked with bitter disputes among provinces of the Anglican Communion over biblical interpretation on the issue of homosexuality.
In a statement in Abuja on Monday, Okoh said: “For us, the announcement does not present any opportunity for excitement.
“It is not good news here, until whoever comes as the next leader pulls back the Communion from the edge of total destruction.”
The Nigeria primate said that the Church of Nigeria would commit itself to “serious fasting and prayers” for God to “do a new thing” in choosing Williams’ successor.
Okoh added that the Church of Nigeria would continue to pray for “Williams and his family for a more fruitful endeavour in their post – Canterbury life.”
Williams, who was appointed the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury at the age of 52, will take up a teaching position at the University of Cambridge from January 2013.
The statement by the Church of Nigeria reads in part: “Archbishop of Canterbury, the Rowan Williams took over the leadership of the Anglican Communion in 2002 when it was a happy family.
“Unfortunately, he is leaving behind a Communion in tatters; highly polarised, bitterly factionalised.
“With issues of revisionist interpretation of the Holy Scriptures and human sexuality as stumbling blocks to oneness, evangelism and mission all around the Anglican world.
“Since Dr. Rowan Williams did not resign in 2008, over the split Lambeth Conference, one would have expected him to stay on in office, and work assiduously to ‘mend the net’ or repair the breach, before bowing out of office.
“The only attempt, the covenant proposal, was doomed to fail from the start, as “two cannot walk together unless they have agreed.”
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Church of Nigeria, with an estimated 19 million worshippers, is the largest concentration of Anglicans in the world .
In 2008, the House of Bishops of the Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion boycotted the once-a-decade meeting of the Anglican Bishops-Lambeth Conference-because of divisions in the Church.
The dispute was sparked by the ordination of a self confessed homosexual, Gene Robinson, as the Bishop of New Hampshire by the Episcopal Church of United States of America in 2003.
The Church of Nigeria severed relations with the U.S arm of the Church same year (2003) and subsequently with the Anglican Church in Canada for approving the rites for blessing of same-sex unions.
After his election as primate of Church of Nigeria in March 2010, Okoh made his first visit to Lambeth Palace in February 2011.
According to officials in the Nigeria Primate’s office in Abuja the visit provided an opportunity for the Nigeria delegation to address some mutual issues facing the future of the Church with Canterbury.