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No break in Africa’s united front on the Episcopal Church: The Church of England Newspaper, Sept 17, 2010 p 8. September 17, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, CAPA, Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of Central Africa.
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First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

A letter alleging the Anglican Church of Southern Africa and the Church of the Province of Central Africa have dissented from the final communiqué of last month’s All African Bishops Meeting in Entebbe, does not have the official backing of the two provinces The Church of England Newspaper has learned.

Leaders of the two provinces tell CEN that while parts of the dissenting letter reflect the views held by some Southern and Central Africa bishops, neither province’s House of Bishops have discussed nor endorsed the letter purportedly issued on their behalf.

“The purpose of the gathering of CAPA Bishops in Entebbe, Uganda, was to deal with matters on the agenda which focused on developmental issues facing Africa and how the Anglican church in Africa should rise to these challenges. The introduction of extraneous views of the North American Schismatics should not deflect from the agenda of CAPA,” Bishop Trevor Mwamba of Botswana told CEN.

He hoped the “wider church” would not “fall into the error of thinking that Africa is one country. CAPA is made of 12 Provinces, holding different views. The frenzy of those chomping at the bit should not make the wider church assume that they are speaking for us all.”

Released at the close of the close of the Aug 23-29 Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA) meeting in Entebbe, Uganda, the dissenting letter concurred with the objections raised by the majority over the consecration of of a partnered lesbian priest as suffragan bishop of Los Angeles.  The American church displayed a “gross insensitivity to the feelings of the rest of the Communion” when it consecrated Mary Glasspool, the dissenting letter said.

However,  the letter distinguished Southern and Central Africa’s response to the Episcopal Church from that of the rest of Africa as “provinces differ in their relationships with [the Episcopal Church] in light of their actions.

The majority communique committed Africa to “network with orthodox Anglicans around the world, including Communion Partners in the USA and the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), in holistic mission and evangelism.” The dissenting letter, however, said Southern and Central Africa did not “support ACNA’s position for legitimacy through the elimination” of the Episcopal Church.

A network of dioceses, congregations, and clergy within the Episcopal Church, the Communion Partners are home to the remaining conservatives in the Episcopal Church, while the ACNA is the province-in-waiting comprised of traditionalists who have withdrawn from the Episcopal Church.

The letter also attacked the managers of the All African meeting, saying the “majority” of provinces were being “ambushed by an agenda that is contrary to the beliefs and practices of our various Provinces” and voiced objections to CAPA being used as “pawn in battles it is not party to” within the Anglican Communion.

Of the 396 bishops present, 11 of the 29 Southern African bishops and 12 of the 15 Central African bishops were present, Archbishop Henry Orombi reported, while the chairman of CAPA, Archbishop Ian Ernest told CEN that ten of the 12 African primates endorsed their communiqué.  The Archbishop of Capetown did not attend the meeting, he noted, while the acting primate of Central Africa, Bishop Albert Chama of Northern Zambia was forced to leave the meeting early due to a scheduling conflict.

Senior bishops attending the Entebbe meeting tell CEN that they were not aware of any move to issue a dissenting statement during the conference, and stated that the only significant change to the agenda was made in the final business session.  ACC General Secretary Canon Kenneth Kearon’s invitation to attend the meeting was withdrawn, and presentations by staffers from the Anglican Consultative Council and by Bishop Trevor Mwamba of Botswana were dropped.

One South African bishop, who said he was unaware of the statement, said it was not possible for the church’s House of Bishops to have endorsed the unsigned dissenting statement, as the bishops would not meet as a group until shortly before the state of the Sept 29 – Oct 3 meeting of General Synod.

A spokesman for Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Capetown said the “formal position” of the South African church “in relation to the common life of the Anglican Communion remains as set out in the Statement by the Synod of Bishops’ meeting of September 2009.”

In 2009 the Southern African bishops stated “our worldwide Anglican Communion has for a number of years been struggling with the issue of human sexuality without, as yet, having reached any significant consensus.  There are, indeed, broken and damaged relationships within the Communion, but there is still a deep desire among the bishops throughout the world to maintain the bonds of unity in obedience to the High Priestly prayer of our Lord that ‘they may be one as we are one’.”

It backed the Archbishop of Canterbury’s call for the “exploration of an Anglican Covenant, as a means of providing a basic statement of the common faith and mission that holds the Anglican Churches together in visible community.”

The statement also stated that “maintaining as we do, that Christian marriage is a lifelong union between one man and one woman, we hold that clergy unable to commit to another in a Christian marriage partnership are called to a life of celibacy.”

The Southern African church had not moved from these principles, the spokesman said, and agreed with the dissenting letter so far as these sentiments were “reflected in broad terms within the letter.”  However the dissenting letter “is not a formal or official position of this Province.”

One Central African bishop stated he was not aware of the letter, while a second stated that no meeting of their House of Bishops has taken place since the Entebbe gathering.  While the dissenting letter may reflect the views of its authors, who include some of the Central African bishops, as far as he knew it did not express the formal stance of the province.

Comments

1. Anna Barnes - September 21, 2010

It seems, by the fact that the Africans (and ACNA) communed with the head of the CoE, Rowan Williams, that has ‘gay’ priests with spousal benefits for same-sex parthers, but are unwilling to commune with The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada leaders. This reveals that Africa and the ACNA have, by default, agreed to the (current) CoE standard for the Anglican Communion which is the same standard that is stated in all the Anglican agreements from Lambeth 98/Res 1.10, Windsor and the moratoria which is, Homosexual priests-YES/homosexual bishops-NO .

This is an unbiblical standard that will not stand before Holy God and that will continue the spiritual, relational and fiscal decline and dissolution of the Anglican Communion.

2. Samuel - September 21, 2010

I concur with Barnes on this matter. It has taken almost a decade now to discuss over this horrendous thing concerning the ordination/consecration of the persons involved in the same sex union in the Church of Christ. The funny thing about it is the way Canterbury watches the whole thing without any action taken to put it to an end. Cultural practices are not supplementary to the teaching of the Holy Word of God. If one does not feel like not lining up with it then let him/her stop from accending to be either priest or bishop.

In Africa where polygamous or polygynous and levirate marriages are culturally practiced, none of African priest or bishop is entangled with any of that kind of marriages, because each made a choice to go God’s way and not other way round.


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