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Lambeth Conference
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Lambeth Conference
World News

Outgoing Anglican secretary general reflects on his seven-year term and the Lambeth Conference

by Kelly Valencia

The first ever African to hold the post as the secretary general of the Anglican Communion is stepping down from his role. 

As his seven-year term comes to an end, Most Rev Dr Josiah Atkins Idowu-Fearon said it had been a "privilege and honour" to serve in one of the most senior leadership roles of the Anglican Communion. 

Being able to witness the creation of four new provinces and developing personal relationships with bishops around the Communion, were among his personal highs during his time. 

But there's something he regrets: not being able to get some of the bishops from Rwanda, Uganda and Nigeria to attend the Lambeth conference.

"I regret that and more so, I regret the lack of openness to what we believe the Lord is doing within the Communion," he told Premier Christian News. 

The Archbishops of those countries rejected the invitation to attend the Lambeth Conference arguing they couldn't share communion with bishops from provinces who bless same-sex marriage. 

Not being able to help soften that relationship is something he is remorseful about. 

"This is my family and if you have a family, and there is misunderstanding which has made some members of the family to sort of abstain from family gatherings or family activities. There is that hiatus. It's a gap that cannot be filled by any other person. So I'm really hoping, I'm praying that there will be a breakthrough," he continued. 

When Archbishop Josiah took up the role in 2015, he shared his prayer was to become a "bridge-builder". When asked if that prayer had been answered, especially during the Lambeth Conference, he said: "It is being answered."

"Let me share: even amongst those who had made up their mind not to take communion. I can tell you that at least a bishop shared with me of his conversation with one of the bishops that chose to abstain from Eucharist and through their discussion, he changed his mind and partook of the Eucharist. Because it's the Eucharist, it is not what I gave you, it is the body out of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ by faith, is not what Josiah does.

"It is the giver, who is Christ and I felt that was a high point for me and this bishop shared it with me in the presence of another Archbishop. So my prayer is being answered." 

Archbishop Josiah will now take on a role in the Anglican Diocese of Texas - he will become an assistant bishop focussing on mission and evangelism, church growth and global partnership. 

He will be succeeded by Most Rev Anthony Poggo, the Archbishop of Canterbury's current adviser on Anglican Communion Affairs.

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