African bishops to boycott meeting of Anglican council over Episcopal Church attendance

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Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, left, the Primate of All Nigeria and Archbishop Eliud Wabukala of Kenya, speak at a  recent news conference in Nairobi. The two provinces are boycotting the meeting in Lusaka Zambia. Religion News Service photo by Fredrick Nzwili

Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, left, the Primate of All Nigeria and Archbishop Eliud Wabukala of Kenya, speak at a  recent news conference in Nairobi. The two provinces are boycotting the meeting in Lusaka Zambia. Religion News Service photo by Fredrick Nzwili

NAIROBI, Kenya (RNS) The Anglican Church in Kenya has become the latest province to announce it will boycott the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Zambia over the participation of the Episcopal Church.

The Episcopal Church was recently censured at a primates’ meeting in Canterbury, England, because of the American church’s willingness to ordain and marry LGBT people.

According to the sanctions, the Episcopal Church cannot represent the communion at the April meeting or vote on doctrine and polity.

Anglican Archbishop Eliud Wabukala of Kenya said the Episcopal Church’s presiding bishop, Michael Curry, had made it clear that his church would not reconsider its stance on same-sex marriage and that Curry expected his church to play a full part in next month’s meeting in Lusaka, Zambia’s capital.

Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, left, the Primate of All Nigeria and Archbishop Eliud Wabukala of Kenya, speak at a  recent news conference in Nairobi. The two provinces are boycotting the meeting in Lusaka Zambia. Religion News Service photo by Fredrick Nzwili

Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, left, of Nigeria and Archbishop Eliud Wabukala of Kenya speak at a recent news conference in Nairobi. The two provinces are boycotting the meeting in Lusaka, Zambia. Religion News Service photo by Fredrick Nzwili


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“There can be no true walking together with those who persistently refuse to walk in accordance with God’s word, and the Kenyan province will not participate in the forthcoming meeting,” Wabukala said.

Ugandan Anglicans announced a similar boycott in February. In a letter, Archbishop Stanley Ntagali said his church would not participate in any such conferences of the Anglican Consultative Council until “godly order is restored.”

“It is like we are back in 2003 where we continue to be betrayed by our leaders,” Ntagali said. “The primates voted to bring discipline to the Episcopal Church, and yet we now see that the leadership of the Anglican Communion does not have the will to follow through. This is another deep betrayal.”

Nigeria, too, has written to say its bishops will not attend, according to church officials.

“The bottom line … is that nothing has changed,” said Archbishop Nicholas Okoh of Nigeria.

The Anglican Church of Rwanda, which has often acted in concert with Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda, has yet to make a decision, according to Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje.

(Fredrick Nzwili is an RNS correspondent based in Nairobi)

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  • Tom Downs

    “The Episcopal Church was recently censured at a primates’ meeting in Canterbury, England.”
    It’s important to remember that some primates voted their disapproval, but that no primates or group of primates can sanction any member church of the Anglican Communion. Nor can they prevent any member church from participating in an official Anglican body. They can only absent themselves and refuse to cooperate with the rest of the Communion churches.

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  • Neil Payne

    what a pity we can,t agree to differ Anglican for 78 yrs Australia

  • Sheila

    We can always pick up our ball and go home.

  • Stephen

    These churches are not boycotting Episcopal Church dollars.

  • Thank you for pointing out these extremely important factors!

  • Raymond Griffith

    I find it pitiful that these Bishops and their people still hold tightly to fundamentalism.

    The Episcopal Church USA has helped me salvage my faith from the tatters fundamentalism had shredded it into. It is much more important to “do justly, love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” than it is to blast people who want to have a loving, committed relationship before God (just not exactly the way you see it!).

    Matthew 23:23 “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith.”

  • DougH

    I would say that the true nature of marriage is one of the weightier matters of the law.

  • It is a bit bizarre that we were barred from helping make decisions about doctrine and polity, because Anglicans have never really “decided” these things together.

    Anglican doctrine is determined (but locally interpreted) by those four broad traditions we agreed upon in the 1886 Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral as the basis for Anglican unity in our relations with other Christian bodies: the Scriptures, the historic creeds, the sacraments of baptism and Eucharist, and the historic episcopate. Since then, none of these traditions have been up for decision in Anglican meetings.

    Nor is polity decided or voted upon. We are, and forever will be, a federation of independent provinces with a common history and communion that is spiritual, liturgical, and missional. We do not structure ourselves otherwise.

    So it seems to me like the Primates have done something akin to saying that the baseball players on one particular team shall heretofore shall not tackle or punt when playing…

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  • Raymond Griffith

    Ahhh, then. Would a good example be David’s 50 wives and concubines?

    2 Samuel 12:6-8
    “And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul; And I gave thee thy master’s house, and thy master’s wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things.”

    God takes credit for giving David all those wives! Not, “one man, one woman,” but “one man, harem”!

    Yet we would condemn that as immoral today.

    God also approved of slavery in the Bible. Is it moral for people to own people? It was according to Scripture.

    I contend that Christians are supposed to “grow up,” not be held back by the Law, but to understand the essence of righteousness instead of cookie-cutter legalistic formality.

  • meredith

    As a life long Anglican/Episcopalian and clergy person I am believe our desire to be nice to everyone is not the Gospel at all. Jesus recognized dissent and disagreement, pointed it out and moved on. We seem to spend a lot of energy running in circles because we disagree. Are we so desperate to have everyone agree with each other that we are willing to lay aside the real issues the church is called to deal with as Christs followers. If there are folks who who not respect the life and ministry of the Episcopal Church that OK lets move on and do what we are supposed to be doing while allowing them their thoughts.

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  • Ioan Lightoller

    As far as I am able to see, the African prelates are the ones causing the dissension, not the Episcopal church.

  • Maurice Shinnick

    Why this obsession in Africa over homosexuality and gay-marriage when there is so much corruption, exploitation of the poor, injustice, child slave labour, child soldiers. Surely these are the BIG issues for the African Church to tackle. Take a leaf out of Pope Francis’ book. Learn respect, dialogue, mercy.

  • Martin

    You need to look at TEC’s past fifty year history to see who has dissented from whom.

  • Akiiki

    Stephen, the Church of Uganda has and does refuse to accept funds from TEC.

  • Ben in oakland

    Hi, Ioan. Long time no see.

    Ben in Oakland

  • Dambo Ayuba

    Not attending or fostering a dessension should be based on a fundaental doctrinal difference not on ethical errors that can be sincerely and scripturally dismantled by humble attendance than absconding.

  • Andrew Buelow

    “…the Kenyan province will not participate in the forthcoming meeting…
    Ugandan Anglicans announced a similar boycott in February… Nigeria, too, has written to say its bishops will not attend…”

    It may be un-Christian of me, but good riddance. If anyone should leave the Anglican communion, it is these men, who clearly do not understand what it means to be Anglican in the first place.

  • Rita

    My church in the Diocese of Long Island has been supporting a mission in Uganda for years. In fact the then Archbishop of Uganda was visiting our parish the weekend after the 2003 GC vote to go ahead and consecrate Gene Robinson. We haven’t heard the current Archbishop of Uganda tell us stop.

  • Susan

    Let’s look at how these countries feel about the LGBT community:

    Kenya: Homosexuality is “largely considered to be taboo and repugnant to [the] cultural values and morality” of Kenya,[2] and the state punishes same-sex sexual acts as crimes. (Wikipedia)

    Uganda: The Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2014 (previously called the “Kill the Gays bill” in the western mainstream media due to death penalty clauses proposed in the original version)[1][2][3][4][5] was passed by the Parliament of Uganda on 20 December 2013 with life in prison substituted for the death penalty.

    Nigeria: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Nigeria face unique legal and social challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Nigeria.

    I am proud that the Episcopal Church is so tolerant and accepting.

  • Kenneth Lamb

    I find it quite logical for these African Bishops to act this way, they are, after all, representative of a people divided by problematic race, creed, disease, and sexual orientation conflict. They often times find themselves in wars of genocide and hatred because of their caste societies and their religious/traditional values. They also have an entire generation of AIDS infected peoples that are treated worse than herd animals. They still persecute and execute LGBTQ peoples, and they still believe in magic and human sacrifice. They still have many years to go before they can embrace a truer sense of grace and find the dignity that so many people have found world wide in more gentrified and civilized societies. They are ignorant and possibly should not be included in certain more civilized communions that are currently not on level playing fields. Walking the same path isn’t possible and quite delusional.

  • David Patterson

    I don’t believe in the idea of hell after death, but I do believe in the idea of a living hell, and surely Christians who cannot conceptualize homosexuality as a good, wholesome, gift from God are creating a living hell on earth for millions and millions of LGBT+ people around the world. If you are one of these people, I say to you: you are a homophobe and you are my enemy. I’m commanded by my Savior to love you and to pray for you, but I will not make peace with you. I will not.

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  • DougH

    You’ll note that every one of those marriages were between one man, and one woman. There is no corresponding legal relationship between the various wives, upon the man’s death all the marriages are dissolved. And you seem to have left out Paul’s statement to Timothy that a church leader must be the husband of one wife. Going by the Bible, polygamy seems to be something that God permits in some situations, in others does not. So no, I would not say that polygamy is immoral in all cases. You cannot make a similar Biblical case for revisionist marriage — understandable seeing revisionist marriage mistakes a means for an end.

  • Florence

    I am so happy that I am now a part of the Anglican Church which (as I understand it) still knows what it believes. Thanks be to God.

  • Fred

    This is pure racism – how dare you describe these men of God, these Archbishops of some o the largest provinces in the Anglican communion, as ignorant (do you have more degrees than them?), believing in magic and human sacrifice (where’s your evidence?), and the disgraceful comments about AIDS sufferers, many millions of whom have been cared for with huge compassion by the church and of whom the VAST majority are not LBGTQWxyZwhatever but rather have contracted it through no fault of their own as children or as wives of HIV-positive men. Hang your head in shame brother/sister and repent of your own ignorance, prejudice and lack of simple human kindness.

  • Fred

    “I don’t believe in the idea of hell after death”
    Who cares what you believe? The Apostles’ creed is clear – “he descended into hell” – BCP Morning and Evening Prayer. If you don’t believe this, you can’t call yourself an Anglican or even a Bible-believing Christian so I don’t know why you are trolling on this site. I recommend you read your Bible, find a church that actually practices what it preaches and repent and believe the gospel. If you don’t have a Bible one of those churches will gladly give you one for nothing.