A Rift in Liverpool

By John Martin

The Diocese of Liverpool’s commissioning of the Rt. Rev. Susan Goff as an honorary assistant has prompted the Diocese of Akure, Nigeria, to withdraw as a companion diocese with Liverpool.

Goff is Suffragan Bishop of Virginia, which remains a companion diocese with Liverpool.

The Diocese of Akure objected that the appointment was divisive because of the Episcopal Church’s decision to celebrate weddings for same-sex couples.

“The false teaching of the American Episcopal Church has been normalized in England, and this divisive act has meant that the Church of Nigeria’s Akure Diocese has had no alternative but to end its partnership link with Liverpool Diocese,” wrote the Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, Primate of Nigeria.

Susie Leafe, director of Reform, voiced a similar concern: “The Bishop of Liverpool has chosen to bring the conflicts that have torn the fabric of the Anglican Communion into the heart of this diocese.”

Bishop Goff will minister in Liverpool for up to two weeks per year and will supplement her visits through social media. As an overseas bishop, she will not conduct ordinations. The arrangement has the approval of the Archbishop of York and Presiding Bishop Michael Curry.

The Rt. Rev. Simeon Borokini, Bishop of Akure, said he learned of the arrangement between Liverpool and Akure from the Primate of Nigeria and as yet had no direct communication about Bishop Goff’s appointment from Liverpool.

The Rt. Rev. Paul Bayes, Bishop of Liverpool, expressed regret that Akure plans to cut its ties with Liverpool.

“I would prefer to walk together with Akure as well as with Virginia, within the one Communion whose life we share,” he said.

Bayes said he was awaiting formal notification from the Bishop of Akure and would respond to any such notification.

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