Davis Mac-Iyalla, Director of Changing Attitude Nigeria (CAN), arrived in England from Washington DC on Friday 6 July and has been present at the meeting of General Synod in York this weekend.
Davis attended a fringe meeting organised by Anglican Mainstream on Monday 9 July at which the speaker was the Rt Revd Benjamin Kwashie, Bishop of Jos in Nigeria. Bishop Kwashie presented a picture of the Church of Nigeria which Davis recognised as true to his own experience. The bishop said that homosexuality is not an issue for the Church of Nigeria and he acknowledged that there are many lesbian and gay people living in Nigeria.
When asked a question by Davis, Bishop Kwashie remembered him very well. They had met many times when Davis was the administrator of the Diocese of Otukpo, working with the bishop, the Rt Revd Prof. I Ugede. Davis visited the Bishop Kwashie’s house when the diocese of Jos hosted the meeting of the Province of in July 2003.
Bishop Kwashie revealed that he was totally unaware of the Disclaimer published on the Church of Nigeria web site in December 2005 by Canon Akintunde Popoola, Director of Communications for the Church. The Disclaimer contained a series of false allegations against Davis deliberately designed to destroy his reputation. The allegations resulted in at least one member of the Church of Nigeria issuing repeated threats to murder Davis.
Davis Mac-Iyalla, Director of Changing Attitude Nigeria, said following the meeting:
“The statements made by Bishop Kwashie at the Anglican Mainstream meeting are totally different from what Archbishop Akinola is saying about the effect of homosexuality on the Church of Nigeria. Bishops like Benjamin Kwashie know there are many lesbian and gay people in Nigerian society. The Church of Nigeria in parishes and deaneries is not worried about homosexuality. As Bishop Kwashie said, they are concerned about issues of poverty, societal corruption, political uncertainty, inherited colonial mindsets, evangelism and justice for the poor.
“Members of the Church of Nigeria have a deep respect for their bishops. I know how to respect my own bishops, and it was an honour to meet Bishop Kwashie here. Bishop Kwashie is the co-ordinating bishop of CANA, the Convocation of Anglicans in North America. He is a strong ally of Archbishop Akinola and will know Bishop Martyn Minns very well, of course. I am grateful for the opportunity to have met Bishop Kwashie here and Archbishop Akinola and Bishop Martyn Minns in Tanzania in the course of my work as Director of CAN. They know me as a faithful member of the Church of Nigeria who is a gay man committed to the listening process. I hope they will ensure the Church of Nigeria will stop trying to deny me and destroy my reputation.”
The Reverend Colin Coward, Director of Changing Attitude England, said:
“Subsequent statements by Canon Tunde asserted that he had contacted every bishop and parish in Nigeria, and none of them knew of Davis or had any record of his being a member of the church. Bishop Kwashie’s knowledge of and respect for Davis demonstrates again that the Disclaimer has no substance. The knowledge of Davis’s role in the church, confirmed by Archbishop Akinola and Bishop Kwashie proves that Canon Popoola deliberately published false information against Davis. He has reasserted the lies against Davis in a recent statement. Changing Attitude has asked Archbishop Peter Akinola and Bishop Martyn Minns to publicly withdraw the false allegations made against Davis in the Disclaimer and remind Nigerian Anglicans that to threaten murder or put Davis’s life at risk is a most serious offence against God. They have failed to respond to this simple request.”
On Sunday evening, 9 July, Davis Mac-Iyalla addressed a fringe meeting attended by 35 members of General Synod. Interviewed by Colin Coward, Davis talked about his Anglican family background, his Anglican roots in Port Harcourt and his role in the formation of Alliance Rights in 1989, the first lesbian and gay network in Nigeria. He went on to describe the formation of Changing Attitude Nigeria in July 2005 and the remarkable impact CAN has had in Nigeria and within the Anglican Communion, presenting an authentic African homosexual voice.
Davis Mac-Iyalla, Director of Changing Attitude Nigeria
Revd Colin Coward, Director of Changing Attitude England
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