The Primate of Uganda, the Most Rev. Henry Luke Orombi, has written to this people. The letter is beneath the “continue reading” button. He says, in part:
“I am writing with a heavy heart to share with you sad news about our beloved Anglican Communion. On Saturday, 4th November, the Episcopal Church in the United States of America (ECUSA) enthroned as their Presiding Bishop a leader who has permitted the blessing of same-sex unions and who also denies that Jesus is the only way to the Father. Her name is the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori.” (Emphasis mine.)
I am grateful that in the first paragraph of his lengthy missive, the archbishop relieves us of the burden of considering him either a fair or serious person. In the furthest reaches of the right wing blogopshere they have been trying for weeks to manufacture proof of Bishop Jefferts Schori’s alleged heresies based almost entirely on a few sentences open to varying interpretations in a couple of newspaper reports.
In my view, those sentences prove nothing more than that Bishop Jefferts Schori’s views on salvation are similar to those of the noted heretics John Paul II and Benedict XVI. But whether my view is correct or not, there is simply no way that a fair and serious person could make a definitive judgment on someone’s theological views based on such paltry evidence. Bishop Orombi who has never met Bishop Jefferts Schori and never discussed her views with her has swallowed the allegations against her whole, and has made a number of momentous decisions (outlined in the letter) based on this paltry and disputed evidence.
“I have been in consultation with the other Primates and Archbishops of Africa and the Global South about this crisis in our beloved Anglican Communion,” Orombi writes. “We have written to the Archbishop of Canterbury and informed him that we cannot sit together with Katharine Jefferts Schori at the upcoming Primates Meeting in February. We have also asked the Archbishop of Canterbury to invite an orthodox Bishop from the Anglican Communion Network in America to attend the Primates Meeting and represent the orthodox believers. We await his decision on these matters.”
Readers of part two of “Following the Money” will recall that Archbishop Orombi and several likeminded Primates had originally vowed to make the above demands in 2003, when Frank Griswold was the presiding bishop. Bishop Robert Duncan’s notes from that meeting surfaced in a court case, and are online here.
There’s nothing new here, but as commenters on several other blogs have suggested, the release of Orombi’s letter, coupled with the statement of the Tanzanian bishops, the release of Reform’s new covenant in England and the impending seccession of seven or eight parishes from the Diocese of Virginia suggest that anti-gay forces in the Communion have decided that the time to make their long awaited move has come.
I will be interested to see what they will do if Rowan Williams calls their bluff. And I hope we get to find out.
There is good conversation on this issue at Thinking Anglicans and Preludium. Meanwhile, Father Jake asks whether it is time for liberals “to throw off the defensive isolationism that many within the Communion have attempted to use as cover, and respond with a united front”.
Dear Christians of the Church of Uganda,
Greetings in the name of our risen and reigning Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ!
I am writing with a heavy heart to share with you sad news about our beloved Anglican Communion. On Saturday, 4th November, the Episcopal Church in the United States of America (ECUSA) enthroned as their Presiding Bishop a leader who has permitted the blessing of same-sex unions and who also denies that Jesus is the only way to the Father. Her name is the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori.
Our problem with ECUSA is not that they have enthroned a woman as their Presiding Bishop. We in the Church of Uganda do support the ordination of women and women in all levels of leadership in our church. In fact, I am very pleased to report that the House of Laity elected Dr. Sarah Ndyanabangi to serve as the next Chairperson of the Provincial House of Laity.
Our problem with the new Presiding Bishop of ECUSA is that she has publicly denied what the Bible teaches about faith and morality. And now she is in the position of Archbishop of one of the most influential and wealthiest Provinces in the Anglican Communion, even though it is one of the smallest in number.
There is a proverb that says, “When America sneezes, the rest of the world catches a cold.” So, I am writing to warn you to be careful that you don’t catch a cold! I also want to update you on decisions and actions of the Provincial Assembly and the House of Bishops to guard the Church of Uganda from falling sick with the sickness that is coming from America.
1. In 2003, the House of Bishops officially broke communion with ECUSA, and in 2004 the Provincial Assembly affirmed that decision. These decisions were taken because ECUSA elected and consecrated as a Bishop a divorced man who has a homosexual partner. This is contrary to the Word of God! We also determined that we would no longer receive funds from ECUSA, including American dioceses, churches, and organizations that support the gay agenda.
2. At the same time, the Church of Uganda has declared that it is in communion with those Bishops, Dioceses, clergy, and congregations who did not support the consecration as bishop of a man who is in an active same-sex relationship, and who now make up what is called in America the Anglican Communion Network.
3. Practically, the implications of these decisions are the following:
a. We have broken or need to break once and for all the companion diocese relationships with ECUSA dioceses that support the gay agenda.
b. We will no longer apply for grants from the Trinity Grants program of Trinity Wall Street, UTO (United Thank Offering), Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD), or scholarships through the Episcopal Church Center (815). No Bishop or Diocesan Secretary should sign grant applications to these organizations.
c. We will no longer send students to ECUSA theological colleges, except Trinity School for Ministry and Nashotah House. For example, we will no longer send students to Virginia Theological Seminary, Sewanee, Episcopal Divinity School, Seminary of the Southwest, or Church Divinity School of the Pacific.
d. We will not invite Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to visit Uganda, and we did not send any official Ugandan representative to her enthronement.
e. We will not automatically accept an ECUSA priest or lay missionary in the Church of Uganda, unless it can be determined that the person upholds the authority of Scripture and the historic and biblical faith and morality of the Church of Uganda.
f. We do consider ourselves to be in communion with those bishops, clergy, people, dioceses, and congregations that are part of the Anglican Communion Network. Clergy and lay missionaries can be easily exchanged between the Church of Uganda and the Anglican Communion Network.
g. We will send clergy abroad to study only at Trinity School for Ministry and Nashotah House.
h. Grant requests must be directed to the Anglican Relief and Development Fund and other non-Anglican, Bible-believing donors.
i. We need to pray for new international and orthodox partners to become part of our life, including other ecumenical partners who uphold historic and Biblical faith.
Finally, one of the most significant decisions we have made to support Biblically faithful Anglicans in America is to provide a diocesan home for American congregations who could no longer be submitted to a revisionist Bishop and the national church leadership of ECUSA. Ten of our dioceses in the Church of Uganda are now providing spiritual oversight to twenty congregations in America. These are congregations of Americans in America, but they are officially part of the Church of Uganda.
I have been in consultation with the other Primates and Archbishops of Africa and the Global South about this crisis in our beloved Anglican Communion. We have written to the Archbishop of Canterbury and informed him that we cannot sit together with Katharine Jefferts Schori at the upcoming Primates Meeting in February. We have also asked the Archbishop of Canterbury to invite an orthodox Bishop from the Anglican Communion Network in America to attend the Primates Meeting and represent the orthodox believers. We await his decision on these matters.
We are also praying about whether our House of Bishops should attend and participate in the Lambeth Conference of Bishops in 2008. Every ten years, the Archbishop of Canterbury invites all the bishops of the Anglican Communion together for prayer and mutual consultation on matters of mission and our common life together as Anglicans throughout the world. The next conference is planned for 2008. However, the Archbishops of Africa and the Global South have received a report and a recommendation that we not participate in the next Lambeth Conference if ECUSA, and especially their gay bishop, are also invited to the conference. The House of Bishops of the Church of Uganda has not yet made a decision about this, but I wanted you to know that we are praying and asking the Lord to give us the mind of Christ on this matter.
Since ECUSA officially approved of homosexual relationships in 2003 we have earnestly prayed they would repent and return to the Word of God. But, their General Convention in June 2006 made it clear that they are not intent on repentance. In fact, they seem even more committed to their erring ways and the revision of the Biblical and historic faith that brought life to us and that we gratefully proclaim.
Therefore, and in light of all these developments, the House of Bishops and the Provincial Assembly in its meeting in August reaffirmed our position of broken communion with ECUSA and our decision to support in practical ways those churches, dioceses, and leaders in America who uphold and promote the Biblical and historic faith of Anglicanism for which our own Ugandan martyrs died.
In the meantime, as we work and pray for unity in the Anglican Communion that is grounded in the truth of the Word of God, we are rejoicing in the upcoming consecration of the new Bishop of North Mbale Diocese, and the recent breakthrough in Muhabura Diocese. I urge you to keep praying for complete and lasting peace in northern Uganda. May I also ask you to explore ways your diocese and parishes can actively support the restoration of the families and communities of our brothers and sisters in the greater North.
Yours, in Christ,
The Most Rev. Henry Luke Orombi
Archbishop of Church of Uganda