Bishop Michael Jackson attends meeting in Nigeria

Church of Nigeria, Diocese of Kaduna, welcomes Anglican Communion Inter Faith Concerns Meeting chaired by Bishop of Clogher

Due to the generosity of Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon and the people of the Anglican Diocese of Kaduna, Nigeria, the Anglican Communion Network for Inter Faith Concerns (NIFCON) recently (3rd-7th February) held a regional consultation in Kaduna focusing on the theme of Faith and Citizenship in Christian-Muslim contexts.

Questions relating to the rights and responsibilities of citizenship are a particular focus at the present time, and the context of Africa offers unique perspectives on this issue, because of the interplay between religious, tribal, ethnic and national identities in many African countries.

Participants from Ghana, Liberia, Kenya, Sudan, Egypt/Jordan, Zambia, Pakistan/US, Germany, Ireland and England were present at the meeting, as well as a number of representatives from various parts of Nigeria itself, including the Church of Nigeria's ecumenical and inter faith officer, Ven Sola Igbari. The Archbishop of Canterbury sent his greetings, via his inter faith adviser Canon Guy Wilkinson. The meeting was also enriched by the presence at several sessions of a number of Muslim leaders who are colleagues of Archbishop Josiah in the 'Bridge Builders' project, which enables Christians and Muslims to work co-operatively together for harmony and reconciliation in the Kaduna region.

Undergirded by prayer and worship, the consultation worked at the theme through Bible study, regional reports on their countries presented by the delegates, a presentation by the General Adviser of Procmura (the project for Christian Muslim relations in Africa), briefing on the situation in Nigeria and Kaduna offered by Archbishop Josiah, and visits to local churches and Jacaranda Farm, which is being developed by the Diocese of Kaduna as a project to enable the youth of Kaduna, both Christian and Muslim to learn marketable skills, and to foster interaction and harmony between adherents of the two religions.

Dr John Azumah a participant in the consultation from Ghana commented, 'It's been very beneficial for me. It's provided a Forum for Africans to talk and connect with each other, different to that we would otherwise have. I have learnt about the complexity but also the thread of community that stretches across Africa, and the challenges that face us all as people of faith around citizenship and identity.'

Rev Johnson Malo, of St Mark's Kaduna added, 'It's been an eye-opener for me, because it's widened my understanding of Christianity and its relation to other faiths, particularly Islam. It has really helped me.'

Chair of the consultation, and also of the NIFCON Management Committee Bishop Michael Jackson from Clogher,Ireland summed up the experience of the participants, 'I am delighted with the outcome of our Kaduna 2007 consultation on Faith and Citizenship. We were warmly welcomed by the Church of Nigeria and our discussion, as members of an Anglican Communion Network, were greatly enriched by the presence of many participants from different parts of Africa.'

The consultation has produced a report on its findings and recommendations which will be circulated shortly.

6 February 2007