Sunday, September 23, 2007

A Visit From the Archbishop of Nigeria

Well, the Midwest Anglican Awakening service this morning was an incredible joy to attend! Wheaton College's Edman Chapel was packed out. I've been there for numerous conferences and events since I graduated, but I've never seen it so full since my days of attending daily chapel there. The sheer numbers were exciting!

Papa Rooster and our clergy house guests were up and gone at the crack of dawn, and I somehow overslept. Even though we arrived twenty minutes early, by the time we got the two youngest checked in for childcare (and I waved hello to Lainey from Blog in My Eye), the older kids and I ended up way in the back.

So please forgive some blurriness, since I had no tripod and had to zoom a LONG way.

This shot was taken during the Eucharistic liturgy. The clergy there come from twenty different Midwest churches, including a couple Hispanic churches and several Nigerian churches. Isn't it a beautiful rainbow of vestments and headscarves and skin colors? (Click to enlarge all photos.)

This is during Archbishop Akinola's sermon. (See Father Rooster second from left?)

He spoke on unity, and how the only thing that can unify us, the only thing that can transform us, is the power of the word of God. You can't give what you don't have, he said: Have we ourselves been transformed by the Gospel? "There. Is. No. Alternative." he emphasized, to letting the Gospel take effect in your life. Are we in conformity to what God expects of us, or "are we very, very busy, even in the church, doing absolutely nothing?"

After Communion, we had a great time of worship and praise in several languages and traditions, and I slipped up front for these pictures. Note the Archbishop, seated, in the center (and Father Rooster there towards the right.)

Some Nigerian women led one of the praise songs. A lot of the kids and younger crowd started dancing during this one!

At the very end of the service, the Archbishop began to pray for those in need of healing--see the "three streams" evidenced here? :) --and interrupted himself to teach us a simple chorus the Nigerians all knew: "Let the Spirit of the Lord come down...Let the anointing of the Lord come down...Let the healing of the Lord come down from Heaven." It was incredibly beautiful and powerful.

Afterward, clergy and vestry representatives from all the churches were hosted for a luncheon provided by the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College. Its director, Lon Allison, echoed Philip Jenkins' perspective:

[A] global perspective should make us think carefully before asserting "what Christians believe" or "how the church is changing." All too often [such statements] refer only to what that ever-shrinking remnant of Western Christians and Catholics believe. Such assertions are outrageous today. … The era of Western Christianity has passed within our lifetimes, and the day of Southern Christianity is dawning.

The Global South, he said, is where Christianity is the most vibrant today, and we in the Global North need their partnership for evangelization and renewal here. (It certainly is interesting how conservative North American Anglicans have been forced, by the lack of orthodox leadership here, to look to the Third World for oversight. ~God at work?) He personally was so encouraged and excited by today's service and wondered if renewal in Western Christianity could begin here in the Midwest. His remarks captured the best of the global evangelistic "stream" and called to mind the ecumenical unity that characterized the crusades of Billy Graham. It was a fitting--and possibly prophetic--ending to the occasion.

The organizers are already talking about making it an annual event. We all hope so!


News coverage:

WBBM Radio

The Chicago Tribune
(This article also gives a some nice context of current events in the worldwide Anglican communion, especially the Archbishop of Canterbury's meetings with American bishops in New Orleans this week.)

The Chicago Tribune (a longer, more colorful version of the story)

Note to Wheaton alumni: All of the articles mention a descendant of poor Ed(man) of the highly-polished nose, who's certainly turning over in his grave about now....


elaine@bloginmyeye said...

I thought Akinola's sermon was very powerful. I truly see God at work in this situation. It is so powerful to have that global perspective, to see and hear what our culture looks like to Christians who are not in the West, to seek the heart of God for ourselves, our families, our communities, our country, our world. I confess I am not a part of this event and movement as much because of my own convictions, but because this is where God has placed me. I am humbled and grateful.

On a more personal note, I'm sorry I wasn't more chatty when we saw you. I have had a terrible sinus infection and was not feeling very well. Our family found a spot in the balcony, which was quite nice. Thanks for blogging about this. Again, I was camera-less.

At A Hen's Pace said...


I just figured that you, too, were hoping/hurrying to get a decent seat! I'm sorry you weren't feeling well. Hope you're better now!

Interesting comment about being not convicted so much as placed. I have felt that way too--though have begun to "own" it for myself along the way....


Anne Kennedy said...

Thank you so much! for the pictures and description. It looks like it would have been amazing. What a great opportunity.
I also am so grateful for the work of the Global South and their willingness to provide a witness to the gospel in this dark place. What an amazing guy!