Many conservative Anglicans would agree with Nigerian lay minister Davis Mac-Iyalla that the summer of 2003””when the Episcopal Church approved the first openly gay bishop””left a gaping hole and wrenching pain in their hearts. But not for the same reasons.
For Mac-Iyalla, that summer was when the Anglican Church of Nigeria, in which he was born, baptized and became faithful turned its back on him because he is gay.
“God created me a gay man and put me in the womb of my mother. I was born into the church, baptized and sang in the choir,” Mac-Iyalla told parishioners Sunday at Trinity Church in Highland Park. “Now, the church rises against me when I speak who I am. The church is supposed to be a house of joy, a house of peace. It has become a place of fire.”
As the worldwide Anglican Communion of 77 million faithful spirals toward schism over issues of homosexuality, the leading Nigerian voice has been that of Archbishop Peter Akinola, who believes tolerating gays and lesbians violates Scripture. Akinola and other conservatives in the global communion have severed ties with the U.S. church. Last month, against the wishes of U.S. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Akinola consecrated a new bishop to oversee conservative dissidents on American soil.