“Change begins here, with us bishops”
Being salt and light comes at a cost and is a critical role for the church, according to the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion.
A former Nigerian bishop and Archbishop, Josiah Idowu-Fearon, is the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion. His role, which he has held for the past six years, gives him the opportunity to visit various parts of the Communion gathering a broad picture of life in the Anglican Communion around the world.
Josiah talked to the Lambeth Conference team about how the church can make a difference when it stands up to issues like corruption.
“Salt is salt, whether it is in England, or in Finland or wherever, salt is salt, light is light. If one lives in a predominantly religious society, which is most of the global south, very many people take their religions very seriously. To be salt means you’ve got to stand out… You’re called to challenge your society and to prevent your society from getting corrupted and that is not easy.”
Josiah believes the church doesn’t speak out enough against issues like corruption.
“Why don’t we talk about corruption? Why don’t we talk about high handedness, misuse of power? Why do we oppress the poor people in the church? Why don’t we speak against that? You cannot be salt in one place, and then you sort of cease being who you are, what you are called to be, in another situation.”
“If we are the light of the world, Jesus is the light of the world and has called us, has given us that responsibility that we should reflect him. Why don’t we do that? Why is it that when you get to a place where there is corruption, nobody sees any difference? So, it’s a challenge. And it is very humbling,” Josiah said.
“If we really want to be representatives of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, we cannot choose and pick if it is wrong, as salt or light, people should know. If you look at the church, is there a difference between what is going on in the church and what is going on outside the church? Do our members make any difference in politics, in the business world…. We have a lot to ask the Lord to change in us. And it’s got to begin with us as bishops.”
“When I was in Nigeria, just before I retired, we had an election in 2014 and a young bishop, who had just been elected, shared an experience with us at the Episcopal meeting. He said the treasurer of his diocese ran for an elective post in his home state. And he won. The person in the other party challenged this in court. And the case was taken to the capital Abuja. They had footage to show that there were no elections in most of the places. And yet this Anglican Christian member won the election. So, the case got to the bishop, he was a young Bishop, and he saw all the evidence and then he called this person and said,
‘Look, Brother, you have no case.’ ‘You know’, he said to the bishop, ‘Bishop, church is church, and politics is politics.’ The bishop said, ‘In that case, I’m sorry, you have to resign as treasurer.’ That is the salt of the earth.”