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More Anglican Communion leaders pay tribute to the West Africa Primate

Posted on: January 23, 2014 2:13 PM
Photo Credit: Diocese of Gambia

[Updated 12:30am GMT, 24th January, 2014] 

By ACNS staff

The news of the sudden death of Primate of the Church of the Province of West Africa, Dr Solomon Tilewa Johnson, have prompted more tributes from Communion leaders.  

Senior bishops from around the world have written to the Archbishop of the Internal province of Ghana and Bishop of Kumasi the The Most Revd Dr Daniel Sarfo and the Province Secretary Canon the Revd Canon Anthony Eiwuley to express their shock and sympathy.

The Most Revd Dr Eliud Wabukala, Archbishop of Kenya and Bishop, All Saints Cathedral Diocese, Nairobi said, "It was with shock and great sadness that we heard about the sudden death of our brother Primate, S. Tilewa Johnson, earlier this week. 

"In October last year we shared fellowship at GAFCON 2013 here in Nairobi and we thank God for his commitment to our Lord Jesus Christ whom he served with a robust faith and cheerful energy throughout his ministry. He was a man of global vision and his death, so untimely from our human perspective, has deprived not only the Church of the Province of West Africa, but the whole Anglican Communion of a talented leader.

"We assure Mama Priscilla, his family and the Church he served of our prayers in their loss, that they may know the presence of the Prince of Peace who has conquered death and from whose love nothing can separate us."

Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church the Most Revd Katharine Jefferts Schori said, "The bishops and people of The Episcopal Church are grieving the death of the Primate of West Africa.  The province and his family are in our prayers."

Primate of the Church of the Province of the Indian Ocean, the Most Revd Ian Ernest, wrote he was "deeply shocked" by the news, "I have known the late Archbishop Tilewa Johnson since 1990 when we met at the All African Council of Churches annual assembly in Lesotho. Last year I had the joy to welcome him amongst other primates in Mauritius when they attended the CAPA orientation programme for newly elected archbishops. I also met him in New Delhi, India, last October when we both were present at an International consultation organised by Us.

"He is indeed for me a dear brother in Christ who has been a friend and a colleague of my ministry as Primate. His intuitive skills and his spirit of frankness as a Church leader have enabled him to emerge as a unique and strong witness of Jesus Christ in regions where religious extremism and violence prevail. His untimely death comes as a great blow to all those who have had the joy and privilege to know him."

The Primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba wrote, "Archbishop Johnson and I met daily at the Assembly of the World Council of Churches, sharing both light moments, deep theological discussions and the challenges of leading an Anglican province. My wife, Lungi, also worked with him at a recent meeting of the mission society, Us (formerly USPG).

"We are both immensely saddened at his passing and send our condolences to the Diocese of The Gambia and the Province of West Africa."

Primate of the Church of Uganda the Most Revd Stanley Ntagali wrote to the , "The news of the sudden and tragic passing of Archbishop Tilewa Johnson has been a shock and has brought sadness to all of us. On behalf of Mama Beatrice, all the Bishops of the Church of Uganda, and the Provincial Secretariat, we extend to you – all the family members of Archbishop Tilewa – and all the Christians of the Church of the Province of West Africa our heartfelt condolences and assure you of our steadfast prayers for you.

"It was such a blessing to have fellowship with Archbishop Tilewa at the recent GAFCON 2 conference in Nairobi last October, and now we are in shock that he is no longer with us. Yet, we know that our fellowship in Christ transcends time – we are one with those who have departed and we shall be re-united with them face to face. Only God knows the number of our days on this earth, and we believe now that Archbishop Tilewa has moved into the nearer presence of our Lord and is advancing from glory to glory. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his Saints.” (Ps 116.15)"

Chairman of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA) and Primate of the Anglican Church of Burundi, Bernard Ntahoturi said, "It was with great consternation and sadness that we received the passing away of Archbishop Dr Tilewa Johnson. A great man of God. Archbishop Tilewa stood tall within the Anglican Communion as well as within the ecumenical movement.

"We shall miss his open mind and his spirit of true Pan-Africanist.
We give thanks to God for all the work accomplished through his servant not only in his own country and church but throughout the whole world as well. At this time of mourning, we do so as children of God, keeping Hope and assurance in God that we shall meet again with this giant of Faith."

The Most Revd Nicholas D. Okoh, Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria, wrote, "As we sympathize with you, we reflect over his days on earth and thank God for his invaluable contribution to the growth and development of the Anglican Church of the Province of West Africa and the spread of the gospel in the continent of Africa and beyond. We, therefore, wish to admonish you to take solace in the Lord, because Archbishop Solomon Tilewa Johnson has faithfully served the Lord Jesus Christ and fought the good fight."

The Most Rev'd Anis Mouneer Primate Anglican Province of Jerusalem and Middle East & Bishop Diocese of Egypt wrote, "I am writing today to extend my condolences after the death of His Grace, Archbishop Solomon Tilewa Johnson of West Africa.  Please accept our heartfelt condolences from the Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa, as well as the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East. Please be assured of our prayers for his family and the Province of West Africa. "

Archbishop Dr Solomon Tilewa Johnson, 59, was also Metropolitan Archbishop of the internal province of West Africa, and Bishop of Gambia. A popular figure both home and abroad, he died in Fajara on 21 January while playing tennis - one of his favourite pastimes.