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Giving thanks for the first African Anglican bishop

Date: 04 July 2014
One hundred and fifty years after the first African Anglican Bishop was consecrated in Canterbury Cathedral, a party from the Diocese of Guildford attended a service of thanksgiving and repentance in the same place. Around 20 people including representatives from the diocese’s Nigeria Link Committee joined leaders from the Church of Nigeria and the Nigerian Government, to commemorate the life of Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther in a powerful and colourful service led by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Archbishop Justin described Bishop Crowther as a person of prayer who above all things loved Jesus Christ and held nothing back in his devotion and discipleship. Although he is widely believed to have led his vast missionary diocese brilliantly, he was in the end falsely accused and was forced to resign not long before his death. In a significant act of repentance the Archbishop knelt (on behalf of the Church of England) for the absolution given by the leader of the Church of Nigeria delegation, Bishop Duke Akamisoko, using the Archbishop of Canterbury’s crook. Archbishop Justin said: “We in the Church of England need to say sorry that someone was properly and rightly consecrated Bishop and then betrayed and let down and undermined. It was wrong. “The aim to dominate is sin. Our model is Christ, who washed feet when he could have ruled. The theme of Bishop Crowther's consecration reading was ‘do not dominate’, and it means just what it says. Each of us must lead by humility.” Guildford Diocese is this year celebrating 50 years of a link with the Church in Nigeria – the longest-standing such link of any diocese in the country – and chair of the diocese’s link committee, Keith Malcouronne, took greetings from Bishop Ian to the service. Keith said: “This was an historic occasion and a wonderful opportunity to stand in solidarity with our Nigerian sisters and brothers at this time of trial for their nation, under persecution from Boko Haram and facing an uncertain future. “Bishop Ian assured the Church of Nigeria of our prayers and a determination to support them through these worrying times.”

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