CNN repeats the story that African bishops challenged the Archbishop of Canterbury to get tougher on Anglican churches that ordain or welcome gay people. The Church Times says that Archbishop Williams focused on development and urged the church to minister to all of humanity, it all it’s diversity, which the Times says the BIshops took to mean gay people.
Bishops from Singapore, Southeast Asia and Africa told Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams in closed-door sessions Tuesday and Wednesday that there should be no more diplomacy on homosexuality, an issue that has split the Anglican communion.
Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi, head of Uganda’s Anglican church and the host of the week-long All Africa Bishops Conference, said the Archbishop of Canterbury (pictured administering communion at the conference) faces a complicated task in trying to reunite the church.
“He (Williams) spoke what was on his mind and we also spoke. We impressed it on him that he had totally gone in a different direction and he has to sort it out,” Orombi told journalists after their closed-door meeting on Wednesday.
The Church Times reports:
The chairman of CAPA, the Archbishop of the Indian Ocean, the Most Revd Ian Ernest, told a press conference: “Today, the West is lacking obedience to the word of God. It is for us to redress the situation.” He said that he had severed all ties with the Anglican Churches in the United States and Canada because of their homosexual clergy.
Dr Williams also spoke of Jesus’s sharing the dangers faced by his flock: “We cannot refuse to take risks alongside our people and to take risks for them.” He went on to link this with “personal integrity in Christian leadership”, as a witness against corruption in political leaders. “We must go on seeking to model a leadership that is self-giving, humble, and yet clear and authoritative.”
Dr Williams also mentioned the African Churches’ “energy and growth and vision”, but warned: “If the Churches of Africa are going to be for this time a city set on a hill, how very important it will be for the health and growth of all God’s churches throughout the world that this witness continues at its best and highest.”
More than 400 bishops are attending the conference, a quarter of the delegates from Uganda itself.
The country’s proposed Bill against homosexuality has met with widespread criticism in the West. It proposes the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality”.
Delegates heard many speeches critical of homosexuality. While most bishops stood to applaud, the Archbishop of Canterbury and his two aides stayed seated throughout, it was reported by the New Vision news website in Uganda.
Titus Presler, blogging at Titus on Mission, cautions about the word development and the sub-text that often lies beneath that word.
As used by Westerners and by some elites in Africa, Asia and Latin America, the term “development” often smuggles in assumptions that a right-ordered society is one organized along the lines of the industrial and post-industrial economies of Europe and North America. Given the dehumanizing and environmentally catastrophic effects of a good deal of that so-called “development,” we need to be a good deal more careful in our use of terms.
Human flourishing is a more helpful concept. Human flourishing needs to be promoted in concert with a society’s own infrastructure of relationships and visions that set for what it is to flourish. Just as the reign of God cannot be equated with any particular political system or party, so also it cannot be equated with any particular economic system or with any community ideal imported by a “development agency.”
Justice, compassion and reconciliation are key in God’s reign. How those are expressed must issue from listening companionship with one another as God works incarnationally through the the thought worlds of the peoples God created in those worlds.
In another post, Presler muses on some things coming out of the CAPA conference. Among his observations:
• CAPA President Abp. Ian Earnest of the Indian Ocean is reported to have “stressed that the time had passed when Christian mission went from east to west, but that the church was now in a time when mission could go from anywhere to anywhere.” This by now well worn truism continues to be true, of course. The stress of this assembly seems to be on African churches mobilizing to address Africa’s problems. In terms of mission beyond Africa – from the anywhere of Africa to the anywhere of other parts of the world – several observations can be made:
– For many African Anglican jurisdictions, such mission will require a major shift in mentality from seeing themselves as perennially input from global mission partners to seeing themselves as actors in God’s global mission.
– Unfortunately, African Anglicanism mobilizing for mission in, say, the USA got off to a poor start, with such efforts as the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA) being organized specifically to support dissension within ECUSA.
– African Anglicans would do well to study the efforts of Pentecostals and African-Initiated Churches in the West, not in terms of setting up competing jurisdictions but for the open witness that such Christians have offered in Europe and North America.