I received a gift in the long queue leading into the Departure Lounge at the Airport in Kingston, Jamaica as I began my journey home. I found myself standing next to Canon Phil Groves and in front of Bishop Nwosu from Nigeria with whom I’d had the unpleasant encounter. We had smiled at each other in passing when we met in the hotel and I had wondered about opening a conversation with him. Now I was given the opportunity as we queued for 20 minutes.
I told him that I would like to visit Nigeria and if he was agreeable, to come and meet him and talk with him. His response was a very positive yes. We didn’t talk about our encounter about the photograph, but about Nigeria and his diocese and indirectly about ‘the gay issue’. He seemed to be a very different person from the angry man who had confronted me two days ago.
He told me the Nigerian House of Bishops meet for 5 days next week. He will be joining them and reporting back on ACC-14. Canon Groves offered to visit Nigeria in his role as Coordinator of the Listening Process. The Bishop was concerned that he should come when the rainy season has finished, in November.
Whatever has happened in our previous encounters, we always have to be prepared to walk the extra mile and to repair relationships, without necessarily revisiting previous unpleasantness.
In the plane on the way home I regretted that I hadn’t initiated a conversation with him earlier when we could have sat and talked in the hotel. But I didn’t, and we can’t live our regrets. We had a good conversation in the Airport and I believe and trust that it will be possible to visit Jamaica one day and continue the conversation on his territory, which might be much more comfortable for him (and a tad uncomfortable for me, but what’s new?).
One of the questions I will have to discuss carefully with Davis Mac-Iyalla and other Changing Attitude Nigeria leaders is whether it might be possible to set up a safe meeting between a small number of LGBT Anglicans in Nigeria and the bishop.
Meanwhile, it’s good to be home safely after what has been a very good week for the Anglican Communion and for the work of Changing Attitude in reminding the ACC that we LGBT people are faithful and committed, firstly to God, and also to a vision of Communion transformed in its welcome to LGBT people.