A homosexual Nigerian activist, who says he has received threats from the leaders of the Anglican Province of Nigeria, appears here tomorrow night at the end of a triumphal seven-week U.S. tour.
Davis Mac-Iyalla, 35, founder of Changing Attitude Nigeria, a homosexual rights group, speaks at a 7 p.m. vespers service at St. Thomas Episcopal Church near Dupont Circle.
Episcopal officials have honored his 20-city U.S. tour. California Bishop Mark Andrus seated Mr. Mac-Iyalla next to him in an open convertible for San Francisco's June 24 homosexual rights parade and, during a "Pride Day Eucharist" later that day, commissioned Mr. Mac-Iyalla as a minister to homosexual Nigerians.
The activist has dined with Arizona Bishop Kirk Smith, chatted with Chicago Episcopal Bishop William Persell and spoken before some of the denomination's highest officials at their June 11 executive council meeting in Parsippany, N.J.
There, he accused Nigerian Anglican Archbishop Peter Akinola of lying about the numbers of homosexuals in Nigeria and of backing a bill against homosexual rights before Nigeria's federal assembly. The bill is pending. Homosexual activity carries a 14-year jail sentence in largely Christian southern Nigeria and is punishable by death by stoning in the country's Muslim north.
"The Anglican Church is the only church in Nigeria that has gay-lesbian issues on its agenda," he said, according to Episcopal News Service. He said death threats have forced him to take refuge in neighboring Togo.
"Our hope is in the Episcopal Church," he added. "If you don't speak out for us, we don't know where we will take our voice."
Episcopal officials have clashed with Archbishop Akinola, the leader of 18.5 million Anglicans. Last year, he consecrated an American cleric to serve as a missionary bishop for conservative Episcopalians who bolted the denomination after the 2003 consecration of the openly homosexual New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson.
Archbishop Akinola flew to the United States in early May to install Bishop Martyn Minns, rector of Truro Church in Fairfax, as the head of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America. Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori condemned the visit.
An Anglicans United reporter at the executive council meeting said Mr. Mac-Iyalla called the archbishop a "puppet" of Bishop Minns because Bishop Minns drafts many of the archbishop's press releases.
Jim Oakes, former senior warden at Truro, called the accusation "absurd."
The bishop and archbishop "are two very strong men who share the same beliefs and have a lot of admiration for each other," Mr. Oakes said. "He does not lean on Martyn but strong men know how to take counsel from others. Peter Akinola is a strong individual in every sense of the word."
Mr. Mac-Iyalla traveled to Tanzania in February to try to confront Archbishop Akinola at a gathering of the world's Anglican bishops, but he got only a brief meeting with the archbishop on Feb. 14. Canon Akin Tunde Popoola, the archbishop's spokesman, said the activist tries to "defraud unsuspecting foreigners."
"His livelihood now depends on his projection as being hated or in grave danger," he said.