March 5th, 2007
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Below is a letter I recently received from Bishop Bena. At his request, I am forwarding it to you. As you will read in the letter, Bishop Bena, in faithful obedience to his understanding of God’s call, has transferred to the House of Bishops of Nigeria, where he has been received by Archbishop Peter Akinola. He will be working with the Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns, as a Missionary Bishop of CANA.
We are grateful to Bishop Bena for his many years of faithful service to our Lord and His Church, as Bishop Suffragan of the Diocese of Albany. We were richly blessed by him. We now wish Bishop Bena all God’s blessing as he answers this new call.
Faithfully Yours in Christ,
+William H. Love
Message from Bishop Bena:
These are difficult days for the Anglican Communion. There is much disagreement among members on just how the Scriptures are “The Word of God, containing all things necessary for salvation.” There is much disagreement among members on just how to relate Scripture and the historic teachings of the Church to the Sacrament of Matrimony and sexual behavior in general. These disagreements are causing deep division in the Episcopal Church, with ramifications throughout the Anglican Communion.
The recent Primates Communiqué from Dar Es Salaam speaks of the need to “provide robust pastoral oversight to individuals and congregations alienated from the Episcopal Church with adequate space to flourish within the life of that church in the period leading up to the conclusion of the Covenant Process.” Recently I was asked that, upon my retirement, to assist with oversight in this context outside the Diocese of Albany.
It is against such a backdrop that I have taken the following actions:
1. In January I requested Bishop Herzog to grant me a Letter Dimissory to the Province of Nigeria. This he did, and the Letter was formally received by Archbishop Peter Akinola, Primate, to become effective after my retirement
2. Since I have now been transferred from one Province in Communion with the See of Canterbury to another Province in Communion with the See of Canterbury, I am neither renouncing my Orders as a Bishop, nor am I abandoning the Communion of the Church.
I take these actions with no prejudice against the Diocese of Albany. This diocese is strong in following the Scriptures and the historic teachings of the Church, and it has chosen you, an outstanding man of God, to be its new bishop. This diocese is doing well in following the orthodox teachings of the Church. Many parishes in the Anglican Communion are not, however, in such a safe environment as is found in the Diocese of Albany. It is to these entities that I have been asked to minister. There is much disenfranchisement in the land today, with a consequent need for strong pastoral oversight. As God gives me strength, I will offer such leadership. Meanwhile, I pray that the “Foundations” Document unanimously endorsed by all Primates, including the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, will pave the way for a healing in this country, as well as a return to the historic teachings of the Church.
There may be media attention regarding the actions surrounding my transfer to the Church of Nigeria, and so I consent to your sharing this letter with the leaders of the diocese through the Update in order that they get the information straight from me.
As we continue to stand for the Way, the Truth, and the Life that only Jesus can bring, let us continue to pray for one another, as we ought.