By Mark Michael
The Anglican Communion secretary general has denounced accusations of interference in whether Church of Kenya would send a delegation to the 16th Anglican Consultative Council.
The Most. Rev. Josiah Idowu-Fearon called the accusations, reported by George Conger in Anglican Ink, “scurrilous” and “made in a manner against all biblical principles of appropriate behavior.”
The Most Rev. Eliud Wabukala, primate of the Anglican Church of Kenya, had announced that his province would boycott the ACC Meeting because of concern that ACC leaders would not sufficiently enforce the consequences requested by the January Primates’ Meeting. A letter appeared briefly on the Anglican Church of Kenya’s website that said Archbishop Wabukala had reversed his position.
The delegates elected by Kenya’s provincial synod have attended and participated in the ACC meeting. They are lay canon Peter Gachuhi, chancellor of All Saints Cathedral Diocese; the Ven. Canon Philip Obwogi, vicar general of the Diocese of Nakuru; and the Rt. Rev. Joel Waweru, Bishop of Nairobi. Waweru is one of six candidates standing for election to replace Archbishop Wabukala in provincial elections scheduled for May 20.
One of the Kenyan delegates reported that they had come at Archbishop Wabakula’s direction, after receiving notice in writing. They understood their mandate, in part, to be watchful that the decisions made at the Primates’ Meeting were respected.
Archbishop Idowu-Fearon’s statement said that tickets and accommodation for delegates had been arranged by the Anglican Communion Office well in advance, as is the practice for all delegates to ACC meetings. “To imply that on this occasion this established practice is corrupt is disingenuous,” he said.
The Rt. Rev. James Tengatenga, chairman of the Anglican Consultative Council, said the selection of delegates and the decision about whether to attend ACC meetings rests entirely with member provinces of the Anglican Communion.
Archbishop Idowu-Fearon’s statement also criticized responses by the leaders of provinces that have chosen not to send delegates: the Churches of Nigeria, Uganda, and Rwanda.
“Statements circulating about a failure to follow up on the decisions of the January 2016 Primates’ Meeting at best give a false impression. The terms of the primates’ decision about the Episcopal Church have been followed through as far as is possible and legal. To say otherwise is misleading and wrong.”
Idowu-Fearon said the Archbishop of Canterbury had asked two members of the Episcopal Church who serve on ecumenical bodies to resign. These two persons, the Rev. Amy Richter and the Rev. Katherine Grieb, have done so. He said that the Rt. Rev. Ian Douglas’s service on the ACC’s standing committee this month does not breach the decision of the Primates’ Meeting because under the English law by which the ACC is chartered, members of the standing committee cannot be removed without legal cause.
The ACC’s Constitution, Fearon said, does not prevent the nomination to the standing committee of anyone who is a delegate from a member province. “However, during their first day in session, Archbishop Justin presented a report to the ACC of the Primates’ Meeting. As promised, he requested the ACC to work with the primates for the welfare of the whole Communion.”
Fearon added that Archbishop Welby had explained to the delegates that he shared with the primates a “desire, hope, and prayer that the Anglican Consultative Council should also share in working through the consequences of our impaired relationships.”
A decision on whether to elect delegates from the Episcopal Church to the ACC’s standing committee will be one test of whether the ACC will work cooperatively with the primates.