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African bishops shun conference in Canterbury
afrol News, 17 July - At least four African Anglican bishops are amongst top clergy boycotting 10-yearly Lambert conference in Canterbury, UK, that aims to avoid split in Church over consecration of gay bishops.
The four are Anglican leaders of Nigeria, Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda who have joined a group of others in protest.
They form part of some 250 bishops who are shunning the conference over the issue, taking traditional view that Bible rules out active homosexuality.
Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, told media that by supporting homosexual clergy, leaders of global Church had broken away from Anglican family.
The conference is attended by 650 Anglican bishops from 150 countries who are having three days of prayer and reflection led by Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams before conference business starts.
Debate about homosexuality in Anglican Church follows consecration in United States of openly gay Bishop of New Hampshire, Right Reverend Gene Robinson who is reportedly not invited at conference. Controversy over his appointment is believed to be reason that led Dr Williams not to invite him.
Reports show that some of topics on conference agenda include Church's mission and evangelisation, human sexuality, social justice, environment and violence against women.
Head of Kenya's 2.5 million Anglicans, Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi told media that although he regarded Dr Williams as head of Anglican Church, he was however not necessarily the one to define Anglicans.
"When we are together with him he should be our spiritual leader, but when he is not following what is right, he isn't," Archbishop Nzimbi had said in BBC interview.
The most senior Church of England figure not attending is the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali.
His non-attendance is said to be in protest at presence of those who have supported Bishop Robinson.
In a statement in June, he was quoted saying, "those who have gone against Church teaching should not attend representative Anglican gatherings."
Openly gay US bishop Gene Robinson was reportedly forced to halt a sermon at a west London church after being heckled by a member of the congregation.
As Bishop Robinson began his sermon a member of congregation repeatedly called him a "heretic" and saying "repent, repent, and repent".
He is said to have began his sermon by saying how sad it was that Anglican Communion was tearing itself apart.
Reports show that he was stopped when the man in congregation shouted that schism was bishop's fault.
The man's protest was reportedly followed by slow hand-clapping by members of congregation, and Bishop Robinson halted his sermon while a hymn was sung and protester was escorted from church in Putney, south west London.
Bishop Robinson resumed speaking shortly after interruption, asking church members to "pray for that man".
Bishop Robinson went on to say, "this discussion of homosexuality we are having in Church is not so significant because of what it says about homosexuality, but of what it says about God.
"When someone stands up and says homosexuality is an abomination, does that make you want to get to know God?" the Bishop was quoted as saying.
He added, "You know, whatever you think makes you unworthy, I don't think God wants to hear it any more. All you have to do is turn up and open up your heart."
The end of the sermon was met with warm applause. Bishop Robinson's address comes as the Anglican Communion gather for their 10-yearly Lambeth Conference in Canterbury.
Anglican conservatives are said to have set up a splinter movement earlier this month, in rejection of acceptance of gay bishops, and last week General Synod, Church of England's ruling body, voted in favour of legislation aimed at introducing women bishops, a move which also generated acrimony.
Some 1,300 clergy opposed to it had threatened to leave the Church if safeguards they wanted were not agreed.
Bishop Robinson went public with his sexuality in 1980 and has since been in a 20-year relationship with a partner.
By staff writer
© afrol News
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