Tribal crises in Anglican Church worry leaders

Onitsha, Nigeria - Delegates to the synod of the Anglican Church, on Monday, in Onitsha, Anambra State, called for an end to tribal sentiments in treating issues affecting the nation.

The call on the heels of ethnic crises that had continued to rock some of the church’s dioceses.

In a sermon at the consecration of three bishops on Sunday, the Bishop of Calabar, Rt. Rev Tunde Adeleye, warned that '`it will be a comedy to hear that a church is closed down, not because members died, but because they do not agree on tribal lines.'' The admonition came as indications emerged that issues of tribalism had prevented some Anglican clergymen from assuming positions in areas outside their indigenous communities. Describing the trend as destructive, the Bishop maintained it was contrary to the purpose and meaning of the ministry of Jesus Christ, identified in the vision of the Church of Nigeria to include ``soul-winning, growth and development''. He, therefore, asked the capacity congregation at the Cathedral Church of Onitsha, comprising more than 70 bishops and senior government officials, `` are we building the body of Christ or the body of crisis?''

Primate of All Nigeria, the Most Rev Peter Akinola, in his sermon Monday at the Holy Communion service, called on delegates to the general synod to encourage ``integration and true unity to serve as a paradigm for the nation.

" I appeal to you by the mercies of God, let us unite to make this church great. The potentialities are enormous, If only we can catch the vision of a strong, united church ... the hope of Nigeria.

`` For the sake of God of the common good, let us bury our differences,'' he appealed.

The six-day triennial meeting, being attended by over 800 delegates, is deliberating on the theme: “The Body of Christ.”

The deliberations would also focus on the unity of the Anglican Communion. The Synod is likely to review the relationship of the Church of Nigeria and its sister churches in the West over the ratification of gay marriage by the Church of England.