- The Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Uganda is enjoying a rapidly increasing membership, in Southern California, USA, after an exceptional "border war" fought on US Church territory. Conservative Californian Church leaders are now swearing loyalty to the Church of Uganda as the North American Church has turned liberal on issues concerning homosexuality.
Letters of protest are crossing the Atlantic as the Californian church war is turning bitterer. Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America (ECUSA), Frank Griswold, today sent a "letter of concern" to the Anglican Archbishop of the Church of the Province of Uganda, Henry Luke Orombi, after a third Southern California congregation yesterday aligned with the Ugandan Diocese of Luweero.
For ECUSA, the alignment is an infringement of its recognised borders. "I have written to the Archbishop of the Church of the Province of Uganda expressing my concern that he claims jurisdiction within the boundaries of the Episcopal Church," Bishop Griswold told the press. The bishops of the Anglican Communion last October had made it clear that "bishops are to respect the boundaries of one another's dioceses and provinces," he added.
Bishop Griswold reminded his Ugandan counterpart that, "living in communion with one another involves not only the sharing of a common faith ... but how we treat and respect one another in the Body of Christ."
The Bishop of Los Angeles, Jon Bruno, went even further in his criticism of the Ugandan Church. "Our diocesan boundaries have been violated by the Primate of Uganda," Bishop Bruno said in a statement. The Los Angeles Bishop is central to ECUSA's fight with the Ugandans after he affirmed the full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the life of the church, including the consecration last year of Gene Robinson as the Bishop of New Hampshire.
These actions are opposed by the three congregations which have aligned with the Ugandan diocese. The Church of Uganda has been among the harshest critics of ECUSA's new pro-gay profile and has broken communion with the American church. Not being in communion and consequently not sharing the same faith, hold the Ugandans, they may recruit congregations and other members within the borders of ECUSA.
Ugandan Archbishop Orombi thus earlier this week issued a statement giving his "full blessing and support" to the Bishop of Luweero Diocese for his recruitment of congregations in California. The Church of Uganda had only recently affirmed the stance of broken communion with the ECUSA.
He had no intentions of backing down from further recruitment attempts within ECUSA's boundaries, Archbishop Orombi made clear. He would welcome any Anglican parish in the USA "who seeks to uphold biblical orthodoxy" regarding on human sexuality.
Further, the Ugandan Church leader threatened ECUSA not "to depose our clergy" serving at the congregations now aligned with Uganda. Los Angeles Bishop Bruno "has no jurisdiction over them, and we will not recognise his actions," Archbishop Orombi said in his statement. Finally, he warned all other Anglican Church provinces that align with ECUSA's liberal teaching on homosexuality that they would face broken communion and equal actions.
The Church of Uganda has lately taken the lead in a union of conservative southern churches condemning any attempt to integrate gays and lesbians in the Anglican Church. Archbishop Orombi was only enthroned in January this year and immediately made headlines by stating that representatives from ECUSA were "not welcome for the enthronement" ceremony.
While ECUSA has gone on with its autonomous liberal reforms, it is believed that similar reforms were stopped in the Church of England out of fear of a full split in the worldwide Anglican Communion. In England, an open homosexual accepted as Bishop was pressured to withdraw his assignment.
In Africa, most Anglican Church provinces have broken communion with ECUSA or ECUSA's most liberal parishes. The Anglican Church Province of Southern Africa, however, has become the most vocal critic of Archbishop Orombi. Desmond Tutu, the ex-Archbishop of the Province, earlier this year said he was "pained" by the Ugandan Church, referring to the not-invitation of ECUSA to Archbishop Orombi's enthronement.
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