VOL recently interviewed CANA East Bishop Julian Dobbs following a visit to North America by Nigerian Primate Nicholas Okoh
By David W. Virtue DD
VOL: I understand that Nigerian Archbishop Nicholas Okoh was in the US visiting THREE CANA dioceses and the Chaplain’s Deanery. Overall, how did that go?
DOBBS: It was wonderful to have Archbishop Okoh in the United States and Canada. The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) has been a vocal and strong supporter of evangelical Anglican ministry across North America. CANA is now 11 years old and remains extremely grateful for the faithful Christian witness of the Church of Nigeria. Archbishop Okoh shared his powerful personal testimony in many places about accepting the call of Christ and serving the Lord in the fellowship of the local church. I am thankful for the Archbishop and his leadership.
VOL: Did he visit the US and Canada?
DOBBS: Yes, he visited Colorado, Canada, Connecticut, New York, Virginia and Atlanta.
VOL: Was he pleased at the growth of these dioceses?
DOBBS: Archbishop Okoh commented how encouraging it was to see congregations such as St. George’s, Colorado Springs, CO and Bishop Seabury, Gales Ferry, CT, who both lost their property in litigation with the Episcopal Church, are now alive and strong and rebuilding their lives and Christian mission. In New York City, the Archbishop and his team worshipped at Christ Church, NYC, a CANA East congregation under the leadership of the Rev. Keith Paulus. This congregation meets in the city on the Upper East Side, and Archbishop Okoh experienced the vitality of this inner city Anglican congregation which impacts the life of New York City with the gospel.
VOL: Does he feel more should be done to push evangelism in North America?
OKOH:In a recent statement in Nigeria, Archbishop Okoh said that the faithful proclamation of the gospel, even in Nigeria’s northern states which are predominantly Muslim, is a priority of Christian mission. This is because he believes that Jesus Christ is the only way to God the Father. So, whether it be in Nigeria or in the United States and Canada, the good news of Jesus must be proclaimed.
VOL: How are relations between him and Archbishop Foley Beach?
DOBBS: Excellent. Archbishop Okoh and Archbishop Beach are both Primates of GAFCON. They are both faithful leaders in God’s holy church. Archbishop Okoh and the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) are committed to the Anglican Church in North America and its mission to see North America transformed with the love of Christ. It was wonderful to see these men together in Atlanta recently.
VOL: Does Archbishop Okoh hold out any hope of reconciliation between the Episcopal Church and the Global South?
DOBBS: Archbishop Okoh has said on numerous occasions that the only way for there to be any reconciliation is through genuine repentance, and for the Episcopal Church to return to the faith once for all entrusted to the saints.
VOL: As the new chairman of GAFCON, will he push back on Welby not to compromise with TEC and the ACoC?
DOBBS: On numerous occasions, Archbishop Okoh and other GAFCON Primates have stated firmly that the Anglican Communion must hold to the faith of the Bible as expressed in the historic formularies and the Jerusalem Declaration. Surely, this is the standard for Anglican theology and practice. There can be no compromise on the gospel.
VOL: Did he have anything to say about the Anglican Church of Canada’s recent change in its canons to include gay marriage?
DOBBS: The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) has repeatedly stated and affirmed Our Lord’s teaching that Holy Matrimony is in its nature a covenantal union, permanent and lifelong, between one man and one woman. Any departure from this teaching is a departure from the Christian faith.
VOL: What are his hopes for the Anglican Communion in the 21st Century and beyond, and how realistically can his hopes and dreams be achieved?
DOBBS: As I have listened to Archbishop Okoh speak about the Anglican Communion, it is clearly evident to me that his own hopes and dreams are reflected in the will and purpose of Jesus Christ for the Church. This is a church that remains faithful to the Bible, no matter what the cost; a church that is active in discipleship and evangelism on the local, national and global level and a church (that) influences society, serving the poor and needy, while at the same time influencing leadership with gospel principles through which people will come to know Christ personally in their lives. The Anglican Communion has been used by God in the past and it can be used by God again if she remains faithful to Christ and the word of God written.
Bishop Julian Dobbs is the Missionary Bishop of CANA and Bishop of CANA East