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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day, Mr. Akinola

Well, in the Episcopal Blogosphere, it's "All Primates, All the Time." Perhaps the best round up can be found at epiSCOPE

A blog to watch, however, is Inclusive Church Blog.

Of all the news coming from Tanzania, I think this story is my absolute favorite.

It's the report from the Rev'd Colin Coward, director of CHANGING ATTITUDES, a UK based organization dedicated to, well, changing attitudes about LGBT Christians.

Coward writes about the meeting between Mr. Peter Jasper Akinola, Archbishop of All Nigeria, and Mr. Davis Mac-Iyalla, a Nigerian man who identifies himself as gay. Davis is the director of Changing Attitudes, Nigeria.

Davis has, in the past few months, endured persecution and death threats because of his honesty. So, this meeting with "Big Pete" was quite remarkable.

According to this report, Mr. Akinola did not "jump back" as he himself described his initial reaction to to having met a gay man at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City.

"Hearts open slowly," it is sung, and it is, after all, St. Valentine's Day.

As Christians who are Anglicans, "we live in sure and certain hope." (But, I'm not holding my breath waiting for the conversion of the Archbishop of All Nigeria.)

Date: 14 February 2007 13:12:24 GMT

Changing Attitude Nigeria Press Release

Davis Mac-Iyalla meets Archbishop Peter Akinola

This afternoon, following the first press briefing prior to the official beginning of the Primates meeting on Thursday 15 February, Davis Mac-Iyalla, Director of Changing Attitude Nigeria and Archbishop Peter Akinola, Primate of All Nigeria, met for the first time. As Davis left the hotel lobby with Carol Denton Hall, he found the Archbishop in the company of Bishop Martyn Minns and his wife, and Canon Chris Sugden from Anglican Mainstream.

Davis went straight to the Archbishop to introduce himself and Caro. The Archbishop didn’t immediately recognise Davis, but asked him what he was doing in Tanzania. Davis explained that he has come to greet him and other Primates.

Peter Akinola asked Davis if they had met before and Davis said yes, they had met several times, when Peter Akinola came to inaugurate the Province of Jos. Davis told the Archbishop the story of the late bishop Ugede, when they had met at the bishop’s funeral.

Davis also told Peter Akinola how he had spent the night at his house following Bishop Ugede’s death in Abuja. Davis went on to describe the formation of Changing Attitude Nigeria.

Peter Akinola then remembered who Davis was and thanked him. The Archbishop jokingly asked Davis if he was officially invited to the meeting, and Davis replied that no, he is not a Primate.

They were joined by Colin Coward from Changing Attitude England who had met Archbishop Akinola at the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Nottingham. We exchanged handshakes and greetings with the Archbishop, who was friendly and open.

After the meeting, Davis Mac-Iyalla said:

“I came to Tanzania hoping I would be given the opportunity to meet my own Primate and I am very happy now to have met him and been warmly greeted by him. My Archbishop is now aware that I am here, representing Nigerian lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered Anglicans.”

I care about our Anglican Communion of which we are both members. I would hope for the opportunity of meeting him again so that I can bring before him the issues affecting gays and lesbians in Nigeria as a result of the Government bill and of church attitudes towards LGBT people.”

“I am happy now that the truth that I have always told about myself, that I am a gay Nigerian Anglican has been witnessed by my own Primate. I hope Archbishop Peter Akinola will know that I am not a person who has deceived or cheated the church. I have always told the truth about my time with Bishop Ugede in Otukpo and my commitment to the diocese and the whole church.”

The Reverend Colin Coward
Director of Changing Attitude England

6 Norney Bridge
Mill Road
SN10 5SF

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