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Monday, June 30, 2008

Anglican church splits over homosexuals

JERUSALEM - The Anglican provinces in Africa, South America and Australia have formed a new movement and broken ties with the authority of Canterbury.

The Archbishops of Uganda, Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Rwanda, Tanzania, South America and Sydney, together with evangelical Anglican bishops from the UK and the US made the declaration at the end of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) in Jerusalem, Israel yesterday. “While acknowledging the nature of Canterbury as an historic see, we do not accept that the Anglican identity is determined necessarily through recognition by the Archbishop of Canterbury,” Christian leaders and the laity declared during the meeting. The new group will be led by a Primates Council that will administer and offer orthodox oversight to Anglican jurisdictions, the clergy and congregations that are opposed to the recognition of gay clergy.

The Christian leaders declared that they would remain in the Anglican Communion, but be independent of Canterbury, the seat of Anglicanism currently under the leadership of Dr. Rowan Williams. “Our fellowship is not breaking away from the Anglican Communion. We, together with many other faithful Anglicans throughout the world, believe in the doctrinal foundation of Anglicanism. We intend to remain faithful to this standard and we call on others in the Communion to reaffirm and return to it,” they declared.

The conference, which ended yesterday, was aimed at deliberating on the crisis that had divided the Anglican Communion. It brought together over 1,140 lay and clergy, including 291 bishops representing millions of faithful Anglican Christians, mainly from developing nations. A total of 107 delegates represented Uganda. The Conference adopted the 14-point Jerusalem Declaration to offer future guidance to the movement. The meeting called for the formation of another Anglican Province in North America. This would include the 44 churches in the US, which are now part of the Church of Uganda.

Last September in Mbarara, the Church of Uganda consecrated the Rt. Rev. John Guernsey, an American, to serve these churches in the US. “We believe that the Anglican Communion should be reformed around the biblical Gospel,” concluded Orombi as delegates cheered and sang songs of worship, including the Luganda hymn Tukutendereza Yesu.

After the meeting the Most Reverend Henry Luke Orombi, the Bishop of Kampala, sent a message to Uganda: “GAFCON is not just a moment, but a movement. The Church of Uganda will move forward with GAFCON because it is the faith we have always known. Jesus is Lord of His Church and woe to us if we stand in the way of the movement of His Holy Spirit.” The conference criticised Dr. Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, for failing to discipline the errant Episcopal Church of the US and the Anglican Church of Canada, which promote same-sex marriages. The two churches supported the consecration of a homosexual, Gene Robinson, as bishop in 2003.

GAFCON noted that there were false interpretations of the Bible that undermine the authority of God’s Gospel and promote homosexuality and immoral behaviour as a human right. “We acknowledge God’s creation of humankind as male and female and the unchangeable standard of Christian marriage between one man and one woman as the proper place for sexual intimacy and the basis of the family. “We repent our failures to maintain this standard and call for a renewed commitment to lifelong fidelity in marriage and abstinence for those who are not married.”

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