KENYA: Anglican primate rejects call to stop 'intervention' in U.S.
By Fredrick Nzwili
Ecumenical News International
July 30, 2008
Nairobi---Anglican Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya has said churches in Africa and the Global South will not stop setting up parallel church structures in the United States, despite a call at a gathering of Anglican bishops from all over the world for a halt to such "cross border interventions."
"We won't stop going to America to preach the Gospel. We are going to preach the Gospel. We are going to tell the good news to the people," Nzimbi said in Nairobi on July 30 while addressing journalists before being installed as the president of Church Army Africa, a society of Anglican evangelists.
Nzimbi leads one of several churches from the Global South that say they are providing pastoral care to U.S. parishes that broke away from the U.S. Episcopal (Anglican) Church after it consecrated an openly gay cleric as a bishop in 2003.
The Kenyan archbishop made his remarks as 650 Anglican bishops in Canterbury, England, are attending the 2008 Lambeth Conference. Nzimbi is one of a reported 250 bishops who are boycotting the two-and-a-half-week gathering in Britain because of the presence there of leaders of the U.S. church.
A document presented to the Lambeth Conference by a working group set up by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams called for the "complete cessation" of "cross border interventions" by Anglican churches. It also called for a moratorium on rites of blessing for same-gender unions, and a halt to the consecration of bishops living in openly gay relationships.
Still, Nzimbi suggested that any promise to halt such consecrations could be a "play of words." He noted that the last Lambeth Conference in 1998 had declared "homosexual practice" to be "incompatible with Scripture."
"I know one of the things they [the Lambeth Conference] have said, that they are going to stop ordaining gay bishops. This is not new; this has been said before even in the previous Lambeth [Conferences]," said Nzimbi. "We talked about marriage and said no marriage of the same sex but still they went ahead and consecrated somebody who was gay."
The Kenyan prelate said that Anglican leaders boycotting the conference needed to hear repentance from the churches that had contravened the 1998 Lambeth decision.
"We need to hear, 'We are turning to God and turning away from sin.' This is the most important thing," he said. Nzimbi explained that his comments did not mean that Kenya did not have gay people. "We have them but we talk to them," the Kenyan archbishop said. "We give them pastoral care so that they can change, to know that the Lord loves them but not their lifestyle."
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