The first General Meeting of the Changing Attitude Network in Nigeria is being held November 25 to 27. Over 1,000 delegates are expected to gather at the National Art Council in Abuja including 100 lesbian and 900 gay members of Anglican churches from every part of Nigeria. This will be the largest gathering of lesbian and gay people ever held in Nigeria and the first gathering of Anglican LGBT members...These are brave Anglicans. Being gay or lesbian is a criminal offense in Nigeria. In parts of the country, the sentence is death.
The General Meeting will also begin to plan how the group can make an input to the process of listening to lesbian and gay people to which the Archbishop of Nigeria, the Most Revd Peter Akinola, committed himself with the other Primates in February 2005 and in the Windsor Report. In the longer term, the Meeting will think about the Lambeth Conference 2008 and the need to advise the bishops of the Anglican Church in Nigeria about lesbian and gay Christian experience.
The theme of the meeting is ‘Coming out of our closet’. Davis MacIyalla, convenor of the CA network in Nigeria, said “We want to use the meeting to encourage our members to go back and begin to tell their families about their sexuality. If we let our families know about our sexuality our parents will begin to influence their local churches. We also want our message about the place of lesbian and gay people in the Anglican Church to be carried to our bishops and other church leaders. One of our goals is to encourage some of the delegates to start new groups in their own location after the meeting"...
I suspect their hope for a "listening process" will be fraught with frustration. Archbishop Akinola may have committed himself to listening to gays and lesbians on paper, but his personal views make it clear that he has no interest in dialogue:
...Peter Akinola, leader of the 17.5 million-strong church in Nigeria, hit out at the recent election in America of the first openly gay bishop.Archbishop, these are not decadent North Americans wanting to sit down and talk with you. These are Nigerian Anglican Christians. These are the people God has placed under your pastoral care. Listen to them. Hear their stories. Open your heart to the possibility that they may just be bringing you a word from God. Such a thing may not seem possible to you, but with God, all things are possible.
"This is an attack on the Church of God - a Satanic attack on God's church," he told the Lagos-based Guardian newspaper.
"I cannot think of how a man in his senses would be having a sexual relationship with another man. Even in the world of animals, dogs, cows, lions, we don't hear of such things."
"When we sit down globally as a communion, I am going to sit in a meeting with a man who is marrying a fellow man," he added. "I mean it's just not possible. I cannot see myself doing it."
I ask that you keep the courageous members of Changing Attitude Nigeria in your prayers. Pray also for the Nigerian Church and Archbishop Peter Akinola.