According to the commentariat the General Synod of the Church of England is obsessing about women bishops today. The twitter sphere is buzzing with it. A bit disappointing, then, that the day begins with a ‘debate’ about the plight of Christians in Nigeria. Or… about time we got some proportion into the significance of what preoccupies us (the Synod as well as the commentators)?
The new Bishop of Durham reported from a recent visit tomNigeria on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury. He described the situation of the church in northern Nigeria as “systematically, deliberately and progressively being eliminated”. He explored political, economic and religious developments there and reminded us of the complexity of such realities. The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke of “the threatened disintegration of a society under pressure from Boko Haram, one of the most extreme organisations in the world”.
The importance of this debate this morning is that it exemplifies again the vital nature of the Anglican Communion. The Archbishop of York expressed the essential solidarity within the community – emphasising, as did others, that this is not just about us defending other Christians, but defending all people and minorities in Nigeria – by stating that whatever happens to ‘them’ happens to ‘us’. Hence, our prayers, support, advocacy and encouragement to politicians to use their weight in addressing this disastrous situation.
Several speakers in the debate related stories of how diocesan link relationships demonstrate their real value at times like this. Real people meet real people… on the ground… unalloyed by spin or selective reporting.
This is the heart of the Anglican Communion beating strongly: not about issues, but about fellowship in Christ, rooted in a common humanity under God, unafraid to speak truth to power.
Now back to women bishops…