LAMBETH: Ousted Ugandan Bishop at Pro-Gay Event
By Hans Zeiger in Canterbury
July 23, 2008
CANTERBURY-The Rt. Rev. Christopher Ssenyonjo, ousted as a bishop by the Church of the Province of Uganda because of his pro-gay activism, was among the panelists at a Lambeth Conference "fringe" event Wednesday to encourage gay inclusion. The event included the preview screening of a new documentary film called Voices of Witness, about homosexual Christians in Africa. Ssenyonjo was interviewed in the film, and after the screening he offered his reflections alongside three other African pro-gay activists.
Though Ugandan bishops were invited to Lambeth by the Archbishop of Canterbury and are boycotting the conference, Ssenyonjo, the former Bishop of West Buganda, was not officially invited and came anyway. He is in Canterbury at the invitation and expense of Integrity USA, the homosexual pressure group that sponsored the screening and panel discussion at the University of Kent.
Formerly Bishop of West Buganda, Ssenyonjo's pro-gay activism led to his defrocking in 2002 by then-Archbishop of Uganda Mpalanyi Nkoyoyo. Then in 2004, Ssenyonjo formed his own church called the Charismatic Church of Uganda, of which he became a bishop. Upon learning of Ssenyonjo's efforts to establish new ecclesiastical authorities in 2006, the Most Rev. Henry Luke Orombi, Archbishop of Uganda, denounced Ssenyonjo. "If you see him in a purple shirt and clerical collar, or the robes of a bishop, he is only pretending to be a bishop. But, he is no longer a bishop of the Church of Uganda."
Despite Ssenyonjo's separation from the Anglican Church in his country, he serves as Chairman of Integrity Uganda.
Since homosexuality occurs in every culture, Ssenyonjo told his audience in Canterbury, "We should welcome those people who are homosexual without discrimination ... We should not discriminate [sic] the homosexuals from having companionate unions." Ssenyonjo compared the issue of homosexual ordination to the ordination of women."In the same way, the homosexuals, if they are called by God, they should also be ordained to the highest order, including bishops."
Alongside Ssenyonjo on the Integrity panel were Davis Mac-Ayalla, a Nigerian gay activist who has opposed Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola; Mia Nikasimo, a transgender Nigerian living in England who transitioned from male to female; and Fr. Michael Kimundu, a Kenyan who left the priesthood after the Archbishop of Kenya told him to stop his pro-gay counseling. Louise Brooks of Integrity USA moderated the panel.
Mac-Ayalla responded to a Tuesday press conference by the Most Rev. Dr. Daniel Deng Bul, Archbishop of Uganda, saying his comments proved "that this archbishop is not ready for commitment to listen to the spirits of gays and lesbians" in accordance with the Call to Listen of the 1978 Lambeth Conference. "Keep to the promise that you have made to yourselves to listen to the spirit of gays and lesbians," Mac-Ayalla said when asked to state his message for bishops.
"What I have to say to the bishops is a bit more compassion and love will go a great distance," Mia Nikasimo added. "They are playing God," Fr. Kimundu said of the non-inclusive bishops. "Let them, if there are issues they don't understand, let them commission people to give answers."
All four of the panelists were involved in the documentary Voices of Witness. The film was produced by Rev. Katie Sherrod and Rev. Cynthia Black and advised by the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire, Integrity President Susan Russell, Integrity founder Louie Crew, and others. Funding for the film was made possible by the Rt. Rev. Marc Andrus, Bishop of California. The film's production was initiated by a donation of $17,500 that Andrus secured. Andrus was also present at the Intergrity event on Wednesday.
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