March 18, 2020

 

An Urgent Directive to the Clergy and Congregations of the Anglican Diocese of the West:

Mandatory Suspension of Church Gatherings

-- From: The Rt Rev’d Dr Felix Orji, OSB ECCK

 

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 4:6-7

 

Dear Friends,

 

Effective immediately, I am directing all parishes within our Diocese to suspend all church-related public gatherings for the next two weeks.  This includes all church services and social gatherings related to your church and congregations. If for some reason you feel you must continue to gather for worship, the Rector must inform me in writing and include the consent of the Vestry of the parish. Be aware that your decisions and actions may have legal implications for the church if mishandled. 

 

Please note this directive is for the next two weeks or more, depending on your local authorities, city ordinance, or state. This is a critical period in curtailing the spread of the Coronavirus as stated recently by the Centers for Disease Control. I will alert you of future changes to this directive.

 

This action will demand a significant sacrifice for all of us. However, we must act now in the best interest of the common good so that our ministry and mission are not hindered in the future.  

 

I recommend the following actions to keep our congregations connected and engaged with the Church:  use your Internet and Social Media directors to set up a Live Stream every Sunday to allow parishioners to virtually attend services.  This can be done via your Church’s Facebook page or Instagram account.  You might also consider using another phone or digital camcorder to video your services and uploading those videos to your Church’s YouTube page for viewing at any time.

God will guide us in how to take advantage of digital applications to ensure that our congregations receive His word, pastoral care, and fellowship. 

 

The financial viability of parishes and our diocese is a legitimate concern for many clergy and vestries, so I strongly urge you to continue to give to your churches during this time.  

 

As we look unto Jesus, who is the author and finisher of our Faith, I ask each of you to do whatever it takes within the bounds of faith and reason to support and encourage one another, especially the elderly and the vulnerable within and outside the church. He remains sovereign over us and our present circumstances. He is with us and will see us through. 

 

Let us continue steadfastly in prayer, trusting the Lord for his gracious and powerful intervention in protecting us, healing the sick, and glorifying his name in this time of crises. 

 

Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. -Joshua 1:9 

 

Yours in Christ,

 

The Right Reverend Dr Felix Orji, OSB. 

Diocesan Bishop | Anglican Diocese of the West

Missionary Bishop | USA & Canada

Church of Nigeria(Anglican Communion). 

 

 
 

MASS SHOOTINGS & RACISM

10 August 2019

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:34-35

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. 

Our Diocese is a racially and ethnically diverse diocese. As a result we cannot avoid addressing the issue of race relations in our diocese. God who made us all in His image and with such diversity is desirous that we live and act with love and harmony with one another. This is the first reason why you are receiving this special message. 

The second reason has to do with the recent shootings in El Paso, Texas. Appropriately this tragedy has caused us to look at our culture and contributory causes to the mass shootings around the world. We are once again confronted with the fact that our beliefs, ideas, and words regarding persons of other races and tribes lead to certain actions and behaviors toward them. When a person believes that he is superior or better than people of other races and tribes because of his race or ethnicity that person is racist. If a person resents, hates, looks down on a person or group of people or think they are worse or inferior because of their race or tribe, that person is a racist or a tribalist. 

This is a problem each of us must combat in our lives together as brothers and sisters in Christ in this diocese and in North America. 

Sometimes we try to rationalize and excuse our racism by using expressions such as cultural differences, nationalism, or patriotism. We can be very subtle in our sinning. Jeremiah the prophet was right when he wrote that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? "I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds." Jeremiah 17:9-10

The Lord sees our hearts and knows our thoughts. 

Nationalism or patriotism is not a bad thing but nationalism or patriotism that is based on race or ethnicity and that undermines the well-being of other racial/ethnic people is ungodly and contrary to the gospel of Christ.  When people who call themselves Christians, ignore or rationalize racial arrogance, hate, prejudice and racism in the church, our gospel witness and integrity are seriously undermined and compromised. We must speak up against such behaviors in our Churches, communities, and in our countries. In recent months I have seen subtle forms of racism justified by Christians in the Church and in our society. It makes me sick in my heart. 

In light our present unfortunate circumstances, I urge you to take the following actions:

First, honestly examine your own heart to see if there are vestiges of racism and prejudice that you justify or rationalize by calling it “cultural differences”. If you find such, I ask you to admit it sincerely to yourself and to God; repent of it because it is sinful. 

Second, when you hear and see friends, family, members of your church or community acting in racist ways and trying to justify it using political or cultural language, please correct them. To say nothing is to unintentionally contribute to possible problems in the future. 

Third, stop blaming the Republican or Democratic Party for racism in the United States. Nobody, no political party, and no video games are responsible for anyone’s racist behavior. A racist is responsible for his or her racism, and God will hold him or her accountable on the day of judgment.  

Fourth, Christians as well as political and religious leaders must learn to say and do things that promote love, kindness, compassion, repentance, reconciliation and godliness in both church and country especially in times like this. We should learn to be salt and light rather than incendiary elements who insinuate and ignite bigoted and prejudiced actions against people who are different from us. 

Fifth, take time to read these two articles for your own edification and ministry to others. 

“White Nationalist Terrorism and the Gospel “ 
by Dr Russell Moore

This is a significant article from Russell Moore on the evil presence of white nationalism in our country. (https://www.christianpost.com/voice/white-nationalist-terrorism-and-the-gospel.html)  

And 

“Preaching Against Racism Is Not a Distraction from the Gospel”
By Dr. Esau Mccaulley  

Please read this article as well. https://www.christianitytoday.com/pastors/2019/august-web-exclusives/racism-preaching-against-not-distraction-from-gospel.html 

Finally, every race seems to have their own form of ungodly nationalism of which we must all repent and turn away from as Christians. We must lead the way by loving and seeking the wellbeing of people who are like us as well as of those who are different from us.

As the Bible says, “We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.” 1John 4:19-21 

"God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth"
Acts 17:26

We need to honor that. To that end the Lord calls and enables us through the gospel to love others with agape love. Agape love transcends tribe, culture and race. It forgives, cares about the well-being of others, and welcomes into fellowship those on the outside. A life of genuine Love for others is the primary evidence that we are born again and true disciples of Christ. 

May the Lord fill our hearts with patience and genuine love for one another for his glory through Christ our Lord. Amen. 

Warm regards,

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Felix Orji, OSB. 

Diocesan Bishop | Anglican Diocese of the West

Missionary Bishop | CANA 

Church of Nigeria(Anglican Communion)

Holy Trinity Cathedral Church

www.dioceseofthewest.org

www.canaconvocation.org

 

"We are justified by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone. True faith always yields the fruit of obedience to one degree or another." -

Dr. R. C. Sproul