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Oscars for the Orthodox

Oscars for the Orthodox

by David Banting and Chris Sugden
for Anglican Mainstream

NEW YORK, NY (Sept. 14, 2005)--North Americans do award ceremonies and do them well. Last week in New York were held what some dubbed “Oscars for the Orthodox”.

On Thursday, September 8, 2005, four Anglican archbishops were presented with the first Kairos Journal Award: Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, Archbishop Henry Orombi of the Province of Uganda, Presiding Bishop Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone of South America; and Archbishop Datuk Yong Ping Chung, of the Province of South East Asia.

“The Kairos Journal Award is given to individuals who demonstrate exemplary fidelity to the authority of Scripture and exceptional pastoral courage in their efforts to restore the prophetic voice of the Church,” said Emmanuel A. Kampouris, publisher of the Journal and a lay member of the Orthodox church from Egypt. The Kairos Journal is not an Anglican entity so it is highly significant that it honoured Anglican leaders from the Global South for its first award,

Honorees were also chosen based upon their discernment of, and response to, what the Journal calls the “kairos moment”—a moment of cultural crisis demanding timely action from the Church. The awards were presented at the Metropolitan Club in New York City. Rev Dr James Packer and Dr Os Guinness introduced recipients to a gathering of 200 invited clergy and Christian leaders from many denominations including Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Baptist and Anglican. Each archbishop offered a “word to the church” calling pastors to seize the kairos moment.

Archbishops Akinola, Orombi, Venables and Yong and their provinces have declared broken or impaired communion with the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada and urged the two churches to repent, sometimes at significant cost to the grants available to their churches, or their reputation among many other Anglicans.

Lay confidence

The ceremony and awards, an entirely lay initiative outside the formal structures of the churches, represents the confidence that lay people who form the churches have in leadership that is biblically faithful from any race or culture.

“What affects one part of the Christian Church affects us all,” said Mr. Kampouris. “We hope this award will offer encouragement and support not only of our four honorees and others within the Anglican Communion fighting for orthodoxy but also for clergy across denominational lines who are striving to transform the moral conscience of our culture.”

The Kairos Journal (www.kairosjournal.org) was established as an on-line resource provided for pastors and Christian leaders. Its founder believes that history shows that the people who have changed the world are those who have had faithful and effective Christian pastors. So the journal seeks to equip pastors and church leaders as they strive to transform the moral conscience of the culture and restore the prophetic voice of the Church.

Upcoming events this autumn

At the press conference preceding the ceremony, the Archbishops outlined upcoming meetings in the Communion in the next few weeks.

The General Synod of the Church of Nigeria meets once every three years and was due to meet this last weekend. “We will be looking at the issues concerning the views held in relation to the larger church, especially with reference with what it means to be an Anglican so that our people will not be in ignorance or doubt” , said Archbishop Peter Akinola. Archbishop Yong Ping Chung of South East Asia will be addressing the Nigerian Synod on the Anglican Communion.

The Primates of Africa will be meeting in Dar Es Salaam in September “to empower each province to be self reliant. The Church in Africa has grown up cap in hand. But God has given us all we need to live on”, said Archbishop Akinola.

Archbishop Akinola explained that in October the Anglicans of the Global South will be meeting in Cairo to look at the identity of the church as the one holy, catholic and apostolic church. The meeting in Egypt, the third in a series of Anglican Encounters in the South ( the second was in Kuala Lumpur in 1988) “is not called to deal with any negative matters”. It is strictly by invitation, and each province will be represented by six people, including a bishop, a layman and a laywoman, and a youth. So far twenty four provinces have registered.

Civil Partnership Act in England

Archbishop Akinola explained that he had made his call to the bishops in England about their Pastoral Letter on the Civil Partnership Act and “what they do with it is entirely up to them. At this point in our life, no one can choose for me who my friend is supposed to be. If England adopts a new faith then I reserve the right to let them walk alone. We did warn ECUSA and Canada several times that if they continued to do what they are doing, then the Communion will break. If England does the same, then what is good for the goose must be good for the gander.”

He was supported by Archbishop Venables of the Southern Cone. “What has happened across the Anglican Communion is what we expected. The Anglican Communion is not a Communion, but a group of people who believe different things but call themselves Anglican.” He insisted that this was not a North-South divide, since many in the North can and are standing together with them.

Archbishop Orombi of Uganda confirmed that “In the Anglican Communion we are not unified in our faith and the practice of our faith; if what we hear will materialise as seems to be intended – in England – then a different direction is being taken. Where we are did not start yesterday. The only conclusion is that it will take us further away from each other.”

Archbishop Orombi emphasised that Archbishop Akinola “speaks for all the primates in Africa.” He also announced when the Archbishop-elect of York, was on a private visit to Uganda last month, he had invited Bishop Sentamu, a gospel preacher, to come back and have a city wide mission with him in Kampala since the Anglican Communion is called for mission, and the main issue is to make Christ known through preaching the word.

When questioned about the chapter of Integrity in Uganda, he said that it had come through foreign intervention and “people can see it is a threat to our people”. So exposing it is helpful.

On behalf of their people

Archbishop Henry Orombi emphasised that he received the award not in an individual capacity but representing his people, on behalf of the many who want to remain faithful, and in the name of the Ugandan martyrs. He told the CEN “The Kairos journal award I received with three other primates is a very special gift to our Church back in Uganda. On Sunday 11th September I will be dedicating the award to the memory of the martyrs in our church who have fired our faith, the Uganda martyrs, Bishop James Hannington, Archbishop Janani Luwum, the three categories of people who gave their lives in sacrifice to the cause of the gospel in Uganda. We would like to remember the sacrifice and the gift they have given to the church. The award is going to be dedicated to the renovation of the provincial office and we would like to start a fund through that to raise sufficient money to rebuild the provincial office. We want the testimony of our church to be an obvious landmark within the city of Kampala.”

Given that the award this year was given to senior Churchmen at the heart of the debates in the Anglican Communion on the nature of faithful Christian witness, this year’s award will be a hard act for future awards from the Kairos Journal to follow.

Present by invitation at the award ceremony from the UK were Rev Charles and Tricia Marnham (St Michael’s Chester Square) on the editorial board of the Kairos Journal, Bishop Wallace and Mrs Lindsay Benn (Bishop of Lewes and president of CEEC); Rev David Banting (St Peter’s Harold Wood and National Chair of Reform), Rev Martin Perris (lately Chair of Crosslinks), Canon John Sutton (Chair of the South American Missionary Society) and Canon Dr Chris Sugden (Executive Secretary of Anglican Mainstream).

Published in the Church of England Newspaper of 15 September 2005.

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