Changing Attitude England has received reports from various members of Changing Attitude Nigeria (CAN) which shed light on the dynamics of the Church of Nigeria and their plans for the Lambeth Conference in 2008.
The reports indicate that there are mixed feelings and a degree of confusion in Archbishop Akinola’s retinue. He was apparently planning to come to Lambeth 2008 with 5 delegates from each diocese, the delegates to include the diocesan bishop and his wife, one priest, one lay person and one youth leader. There are now almost 100 dioceses in Nigeria, resulting in a delegation numbering nearly 500 people. This number were expected to join in a mass protest against western tolerance of LGBT people in the Anglican Communion.
Archbishop Akinola is well aware of the financial implications of his proposal and has made plans to raise enough money. Each member of the Church of Nigeria has paid 5,000 naira (approximately £21 or $39) in advance to create an endowment fund which has been invested in banks and savings accounts. The interest on these deposits is considerable and Archbishop Akinola is reportedly boasting that the churches of Nigeria will not be paying any assessment in five year’s time because the huge profits on this endowment will finance church expenditure.
If the proposal to bring close to 500 delegates to Canterbury fails, the second plan (and this will come as no surprise to people who have been reading recent reports) is to host a separate, alternative Lambeth conference – if the Nigerians can persuade a majority of Provinces to support the idea. What isn’t being generally reported is that the Nigerian leadership is now worried and confused because they no longer trust most of the supposedly anti-gay coalition of Global South Provinces and bishops.
The money donated in support of this movement from the Nigerian church is being invested in a number of different banks. Archbishop Akinola is begging CAPA and the Global South bishops not to accept any financial support from the west and promising that Nigeria will sponsor any bishop from Africa who is not able to meet the expenses of attending the Lambeth Conference. It is no surprise to learn that money is also coming from America to support the Archbishop’s plans.
From the point of view of Changing Attitude Nigeria, the good news is that Archbishop Peter Akinola is worried whether he will in reality be able to hold his own, independent Lambeth conference. If this doesn’t succeed and he indeed attends Lambeth 2008 in Canterbury, he is not 100% confident that the majority of bishops would vote in his favour, were the gay issue to be put to a vote.