Skip to comments.Executive Council prepares for communiqué response
Posted on 06/11/2007 9:27:44 PM PDT by fgoodwin
Executive Council prepares for communiqué response
Two committees hear experience of gay Nigerian activist
By Mary Frances Schjonberg June 11, 2007
[Episcopal News Service] The Executive Council, the Episcopal Church's governing body between General Conventions, began its four-day meeting June 11 in New Jersey learning that a draft of a response to the Anglican Communion Primates' latest communiqué was ready for their consideration.
In a public plenary session, House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson said that Executive Council members would discuss during private conversation later in the day a draft report of the EC008 Task Group, requested by the Executive Council (via Resolution EC008) during its March 2-4 meeting in Portland, Oregon. (Council normally spends some time during each meeting in such private conversation.)
The EC008 Task Group document suggesting a Council response to the communiqué issued by Primates of the Anglican Communion at the end of their February meeting in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania will be discussed during an open plenary session on June 14.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Anderson appointed the EC008 Task Group. Resolution EC008 named Anderson, who is vice president of Council, to chair the work group. (Jefferts Schori is president of the Council.)
The Executive Council meeting, at the Sheraton hotel in Parsippany, New Jersey, began with three hours of committee meetings on the morning of June 11 and another two hours in the late afternoon with the plenary session in between. Council had dinner with representatives of the host Diocese of Newark.
During the plenary session, Jefferts Schori and Anderson reported on their activities since the March Council meeting.
Later in the afternoon, Nigerian Anglican Davis Mac-Iyalla, founder of his country's only gay-rights organization, Changing Attitude Nigeria, met with Council's International Concerns (INC) and National Concerns (NAC) committees.
During her remarks to the plenary session, Jefferts Schori told Council that recently she has been contemplating how language can be used to allow for "true conversation" -- what she called "non-violent language" -- or how "violent language" is used instead for "leaping to judgment."
The church, Jefferts Schori said, must consider how it interacts with the world. "How do we keep the space open so that we can truly learn from each other?" she asked.
Jefferts Schori also outlined her travel schedule and the various groups and people with whom she has met. Most recently she spent time with Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams while she was in Washington D.C. last week to testify on global warming before a U.S. Senate committee hearing. Williams is spending much of a three-month sabbatical at Georgetown University.
Anderson concentrated her report to Council on her experience of the Towards Effective Anglican Mission (TEAM) conference in South Africa in March and her subsequent travel to Livingstone, Zambia to participate in the rollout an Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) anti-malaria project (link to my Episcopal Life story if it has been posted).
The Episcopal Church's Chief Operating Officer Linda Watt also gave Council an overview of what she called "the richness of the work" done at the Episcopal Church Center in New York City. She urged Council members to visit the church's website to access the websites of individual mission and ministry website "where you can really feel the pulse of the work we are doing directly."
Nigerian activist tells his story
Mac-Iyalla told the joint INC_NAC that Anglican Church of Nigeria Archbishop and Primate Peter Akinola has been directly involved in Mac-Iyalla called a "deadly bill" pending before the Nigerian legislature that would make homosexuality punishable by five years in prison and would criminalize any association with gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. The bill, he said, "would make us outcasts in our own country."
Mac-Iyalla said Akinola has gone to legislators and government leaders, including Anglicans, and pressured them to write the bill as a way to prevent his organization from gaining any more strength. Changing Attitudes Nigeria has about 2,500 gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender members, according to Mac-Iyalla. He also suggested that Akinola worked for the bill so that the Listening Process called for by the Windsor Report would be stymied by the government's laws.
It is a lie, he said, for Akinola and others to claim that there are no homosexual people in Nigeria, explaining that many languages spoken in Nigeria had words to describe people in same-gender relationships long before white missionaries came to Africa. Such terms, he said, indicate that Africans have always acknowledged people who are attracted to members of their gender.
"It is wrong to say that homosexuality is a Western, imported culture," Mac-Iyalla said.
Saying that most Nigerians are more worried about eating than they are about homosexuality, Mac-Iyalla said, "the Anglican Church is the only church in Nigeria that has gay-lesbian issues on its agenda."
He asked the Episcopal Church to petition the Nigerian government to oppose the bill and to consult with the Archbishop of Canterbury about speaking against the bill. He also described his group's desire to hold a large meeting of GLBT people in Nigeria after Easter 2008 so that international pressure can be brought to bear on the Nigerian government.
"Our hope is in the Episcopal Church," said Mac-Iyalla, who also described a series of death threats that forced him to flee Nigeria. "If you don't speak out for us, we don't know where we will take our voice."
The rest of the meeting's agenda
On June 12, Council will travel by bus to spend the day at the recently renovated Church Center at 815 Second Avenue in New York City. While at the Church Center, Council hear various reports, meet with program staff and tour the building. The members will return to Parsippany that evening. Meetings of the Administration and Finance (A&F), Congregations in Ministry (CIM), INC and NAC committees of Executive Council will take up most of the day on June 13. Those committees, along with a number of task forces, will bring resolutions for the Council to consider during two plenary sessions on the meeting's last day, June 14.
The Executive Council carries out the programs and policies adopted by the General Convention, according to Canon I.4(1)(a). The council is comprised of 38 members, 20 of whom (four bishops, four priests or deacons and 12 lay people) are elected by General Convention and 18 (one clergy and one lay) by provincial synods, plus the Presiding Bishop and the president of the House of Deputies.
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