Nigerian bishop to be Anglican Communion’s next secretary general

By ACNS staff
Posted Apr 2, 2015
Bishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon (center) with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby (left) and Bishop James Tengatenga, chair of the Anglican Consultative Council. Photo: ACNS

Bishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon (center) with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby (left) and Bishop James Tengatenga (right), chair of the Anglican Consultative Council. Photo: ACNS

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Most Rev. Josiah Atkins Idowu-Fearon has been appointed to be the next secretary general of the Anglican Communion.

Idowu-Fearon currently serves as bishop of Kaduna in the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) where he has earned a global reputation for his expertise in Christian-Muslim relations.

He was selected out of an initial field of applicants from Oceania, Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas.

Since 1998, Idowu-Fearon has been bishop of Kaduna, and he is the current director of the Kaduna Anglican Study Centre. Before that he served as bishop of Sokoto, warden at St. Francis of Assisi Theological College in Wusasa, and provost of St. Michael’s Cathedral in Kaduna.

Responding to his appointment, Idowu-Fearon said, “I am excited to take up the post of secretary general of the Anglican Communion, and to continue the fine work undertaken by my predecessors in this office.

“It is a privilege to be so honored and recognized by the Communion for this leadership position. I look forward to serving the Anglican family with my future colleagues at the Anglican Communion Office and the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury.”

Bishop James Tengatenga, chair of the Anglican Consultative Council, warmly welcomed the appointment: “I am delighted that Bishop Josiah has accepted the position. He will bring a vital new perspective on the Anglican Communion, its life and ministry. His experience and expertise in Christian-Muslim relations is particularly welcome at this time.”

Welby said, “I warmly welcome the appointment of Bishop Josiah and look forward to working closely with him in the renewal of the Anglican Communion amidst the global challenges facing us today.”

The Most Revd Josiah Idowu-Fearon

The Most Rev. Josiah Idowu-Fearon

Idowu-Fearon has a Ph.D. (Sociology) and Postgraduate Diploma in Education from Nigeria’s Ahmadu Bello University, an M.A. in Islamic Theology from the U.K.’s Birmingham University, and a B.A. in Theology from Durham University in the U.K.

He has lectured and been published widely on the subject of Christian-Muslim relations. He serves on a variety of national interreligious bodies and has previously worked with the Anglican Communion Office and Lambeth Palace on several projects.

Idowu-Fearon has been awarded the Officer of the Order of the Niger, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Cross of St. Augustine’s Award, and is a Canterbury Six Preacher.

The person specification for the role of secretary general indicated that the next incumbent should “assist the Communion to become even more faithful to, and engaged in, God’s mission of reconciliation. The successful candidate will be a committed Christian, a person of deep faith and prayer, a visionary ambassador for Christ and his Church, a bridge-builder to effect healing amongst the churches of the Anglican Communion, a creative and imaginative thinker, and an inspirational leader who will help to renew the witness and effectiveness of the Communion, its structures, and its programs.”

Lay and clergy individuals from member churches of the Anglican Communion were encouraged to apply.

Idowu-Fearon, who is married to Comfort and has two children, Ibrahim and Ninma, is expected to take up the role in July 2015.


Comments (9)

  1. Doug Desper says:

    The selection of Bishop Idowu-Fearon may be seeking to enliven better unity within the majority of the 80 + million member Anglican Communion which is not white, European, or North American. Since our Province has an impaired relationship with most of the Communion (and quite a few others in the Christian world) we need all the understanding that we can possibly get, as well as accept the council given to us as a partner in this thing called a Church. Our next move should not be as the mouse which tells the elephant to move over because “I am here”. Our stats and reality in the pews shows that we are an ever shrinking mouse on the stage of catholic Christianity. If we intend to continue stating that we do indeed believe in a “holy catholic Church” we have work to do by not specializing in fringe politics, producing too many clergy who can’t serve a parish, revisionist theology, and the reawakening of the losing side of the Council of Nicea. We have spent a lot of good will to follow fringe voices, aggrieved voices, and impetuous voices and we, frankly, need to get a better hold on ourselves and be less willing to follow what is Loud and Now. The entire V. Gene Robinson saga took a mere crack in our Communion and turned it into a breach. The details of that saga now teach us better than to listen to what is loud and now. To be kind, I’ll let memories serve.
    Maybe with the rest of the Communion, and with most of catholic Christianity, we can have a long season of specializing in “Christ and Him crucified” and act like SOMEthing of ancient Christianity was gotten right for us to receive besides the colors of vestments and the nuances of Communion spoons.
    We can learn much from our Communion partners as represented in he Most Rev. Josiah Idowu-Fearon and others.

  2. Leslie Gregory says:

    …that we all may be one…

  3. Josh Thomas says:

    The former Nigerian oilman now installed in Lambeth Palace has reached back to Britain’s former colony for a man on record as praising the criminalization of homosexuality – though he now disclaims that he ever supported it.

    Justin Welby may succeed in keeping some semblance of African participation in the Anglican Communion, but I don’t see why The Episcopal Church in the Americas should remain involved while England and its Church maintain Victorian fantasies of empire. And I’m reminded that in a recent interview Welby once again praised the schismatics of ACNA while being “unsure” that The Episcopal Church will survive. There are limits to how much of this guff we should take.

    Welby should worry about attendance in his churches, not in ours.

    1. Doug Desper says:

      So, Josh, are we not forming our own pseudo-Communion here in the West, of mainly dependent or nearly unsustainable church outgrowths? The Protestant Episcopal Church in the USA (still our name) has a diocese in Taiwan?! When the bishops went there I believe that there was something like 1 bishop for every 6 Anglicans in Taiwan. Our machinations to form another Anglican Communion aren’t hard to detect —
      As a conservative traditionalist who still holds out that the Episcopal Church is grand and worth claiming as a true Via Media I wonder how things have been working out for us for the past 40 years. Every canonically illegal trick has been and is being pulled by progressives – many of whom want the entire Church to sit up and take notice of their private revelations as a Holy Spirit-led prophetic word to the Church. We’ve aligned with abortion on demand and made a seminary dean who even said it is a blessing. One bishop was even the chapter president of Planned Parenthood and raised his hands to bless the ground where an abortion clinic would be built. We’ve come over the years to elevate such private truth into prophecy and have slapped the larger counsels of the Communion aside to follow those voices– even so now to think nothing of re-defining the Sacrament of Marriage for the first time since Christ walked the earth. Yes, every Church since Jerusalem has erred and so has ours – and it will likely continue to do so as long as we seek to make an alternate Communion of single-minded people who are either overly self-assured to speak what God has never revealed or those who are utterly financially dependent.
      We are returning to a time much as after the Revolution when a remnant of Anglicanism had to rebuild itself. Our 40+ years of sowing the wind has reaped a whirlwind. We haven’t even seen guff yet.

  4. Cynthia Katsarelis says:

    I think, Doug, that it’s really hard to simultaneously follow Christ AND human rights abusers. We didn’t cause the rift when we followed our conscience. Rowan and the arch conservatives reactionaries caused it. Oh horrors, TEC chose to follow the radical and loving Risen Christ rather than the Law of the Pharisees.

    The fruits of homophobia are things like teen suicide, hate crimes, state sponsored brutality, depression, etc. Ugly fruits. People have a right to be concerned about whether this bishop was/is a human rights abuser. If he’s moved, let’s hear about the journey. If he’s being misquoted, than please, let’s see something from Nigeria where in Nigeria he opposed the laws and spoke compassionately for the victims.

    If he is now really a moderate, then he should speak to his journey from extreme conservative to moderate. (Moderate in the global sense, certainly not TEC sense).

  5. Alda Morgan says:

    To the members of both partres in this ongoing family quarrel: Can we talk about something besides homosexuality? Must one’s response to it be the only yardstick or the litmus test of “true” Christianity? I did not know of Bp. Idowu-Fearon’s previous statements about the subject…and the people the “subject” involves. He says he has moved or changed. If so, he is in a movement toward moderate views that includes many, as we’re experiencing here in the States. I’m a so-called liberal on the issue. I know that the two parties have radically different ideas about it. Can we take a page out of our Saviour’s life and see that he accepted all kinds of “sinners”–however that’s defined– and loves us all? There is more to the Gospel than this subject…which Jesus never mentioned. Please, friends, can’t we move on?

  6. Cynthia Katsarelis says:


    I am a Witness to human rights abuse and I take very seriously the obligation to speak out on human rights abuses. What’s going on in Africa to LGBTQ sisters and brothers are human rights abuses at the hands of the state and largely supported by the Anglican Churches. This bishop has a long history of harsh anti-gay statements, and no one can tell whether his recent remarks of opposing criminalizing gays is an about face for the sake of PR, or genuine.

    Oh how I wish that the Anglican Communion leadership would get with the work of the Gospel and the Five Marks of Mission. But they are the ones isolating and punishing TEC for our internal affairs of conscience. They are the ones cynically trying to set up a strong central authority to enforce theological unity rather than tolerate difference.

    So the answer is “no.” I will not stop speaking to human rights abuse and questioning ACC leadership on this issue of conscience. Why should I stop speaking when people are being imprisoned and killed for who they are, and the church has an iffy record, to say the very least.

    I’m glad that you mentioned that Jesus never mentioned gays. It points out that the justification for this madness is lacking.

  7. Alda Morgan says:


    I’ve read your e-mail carefully and appreciate the information you offer and I admire the work you’re doing. For the record, I never said that you and others deeply committed to this cause should stop, There is more to the Gospel than this issue and to narrow our response to others on the basis of where they land on this issue is to inject… it seems to me…a temptation to self-righteousness that deforms our faith. This doesn’t mean that TEC shouldn’t press for more clarity about where this man stands. I, for one, would like to know, too. I’m not talking so much about the rights and wrongs of this struggle, but more about the spirit of our struggles. That may sound naive or simply silly in light of what homosexuals suffer in Nigeria or other African countries. The need for the fight remains. But how we do it and the spirit with which we do it remains the question for me.

  8. Stewart David Wigdor says:

    The Church is the Head, Body and Bride of Jesus Christ. this means
    God seeks the Church to be Enlightened. Love has itself a Perfect Master who reveals the Knowledge of God within the individual heart. To understand this identity to the
    Church celebrates romance more than even Hollywood can imagine. Is Jesus not the Son of
    God? Is Jesus not the Lord of all The Heavens and all Heaven can be?

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