As I write this article, I am traveling across North America with the Primate of all Nigeria, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh and his 10 member entourage, visiting CANA congregations, worshipping with the faithful and strengthening the ties that bind faithful Christians together across nationality and continent.
North of the U.S. border in Canada, I have met with small groups of faithful believers in remote towns and cities. In Dallas, Texas it was a joy to be received by a congregation in CANA West diocese and then to worship in Indianapolis in a congregation of the Anglican Diocese of the Trinity.
During this tour, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh met with Archbishop Foley Beach, signaling the close ties between the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) and the Anglican Church in North America. Both archbishops serve the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, both are members of the GAFCON Primates Council and both are committed followers of Jesus Christ.
Participating in the relationships and observing them first hand has reminded me of the biblical concepts of interdependence and mutuality. Christians need other Christians!
Writing to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul says, [we need each other] to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. [Eph 4:12]
Paul’s word for equipping is interesting. It is the same word used in Matthew 4:21 where torn fishing nets are being repaired, again the same word is used in 1 Thessalonians 3:10 where it refers to supplying something which is lacking, Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may restore [prepare / equip] whatever is lacking in your faith. This is significant because those who belong to Jesus are all personally gifted by Him with different grace and yet, we are not so perfectly gifted that we do not need fixing up and restoring and preparing and equipping.
Christians need other Christians, and this is one of the great strengths of the Anglican Church and it is reflected in the local congregation [parish], the local diocese [CANA East] and the wider Anglican Church [GAFCON].
The fundamental declarations of CANA East underscore our mutual belief and relationship with one another in CANA East and with other faithful Anglicans around the world:
1.We are united by a common faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and a commitment to the trustworthiness of the Holy Scriptures.
2.We believe and confess Jesus Christ to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life and that no one comes to the Father but by Him.
3.We receive the doctrine of the Jerusalem Statement and the Jerusalem Declaration issued June 29, 2008.
4.We acknowledge the doctrine of Reformational Anglicanism expressed in the Thirty Nine articles of religion and the 1662 Book of Common Prayer as faithful expressions of the teaching of Scripture providing the standard for Anglican theology and practice.
These statements unite us with millions of faithful Anglicans around the world (over 20 million in the Church of Nigeria alone). But we need each other and God’s gifts in all of our lives to enable the Church to fulfill her mission to proclaim the gospel to all the world.
How wonderful it has been over the two weeks of this North American tour to experience Canadian Anglicans, American Anglicans and Nigerian Anglicans worshipping Jesus together in the renewed unity of biblical Anglicanism in the 21st century.
Christians need other Christians!
Solvitur ambulando cum deo [it is solved by walking with God].
Bishop Julian Dobbs