What’s that about context?

The Church of Uganda released a statement today stating categorically that the American churches that were formerly aligned with them are no longer part of their Church and are wholly a part of the new denomination called the Anglican Church in North America. At the same time, they show that they are willing to cut ACNA slack that they are not willing to extend to the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in Canada.

The context for the statement is the anti-homosexuality bill now before the Ugandan legislature. Earlier this week, the Church of Uganda issued its position on the bill, saying essentially that they wish the jail sentences to be “proportional” for homosexual persons and they don’t want representatives of the church who know about gay people to be subject to any sanction.

Today, they want to remind the rest of the Anglican Communion and the world that the American churches that they have supported by way of episcopal oversight, ordinations etc. are no longer a part of the Church of Uganda.

Here is the statement, thanks to Thinking Anglicans:

For Immediate Release

12th February 2010

Anglican Churches in America Not Part of Church of Uganda’s Position on Anti-Homosexuality Bill

The Church of Uganda does not have oversight of any Anglican churches in the United States. Member churches of the Anglican Church in North America that have been in partnership with the Church of Uganda in the past were not in any way involved in the Church of Uganda’s position on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. They were not consulted, nor was their support enlisted. The Ugandan context is different from the American context and it is likely that our American friends will have a different position from that of the Church of Uganda.

Part of the purpose of the statement is isolate ACNA from the negative reaction to the proposed legislation in the US and Canada. In effect, they are telling us that we ought not to blame ACNA for legislation that they probably wish had never been introduced.

Another purpose is to say that Americans did not guide the Ugandans in their thinking about this bill. In other words, the Church of Uganda came to their own conclusions about the ‘kill-the-gays’ bill without any outside help.

The admission that “the Church of Uganda does not have oversight of any Anglican churches in the United States” means that the Church in Uganda has forsaken border-crossings and sees no further need to undertake them. ACNA is on its own.

Finally, it’s terrific that the Church of Uganda grants ACNA the freedom to disagree with them about their attitude towards human sexuality because ACNA ministers in a different “context.” Yet they are not willing to extend that freedom to the Episcopal Church or to the Anglican Church of Canada on the issue of gay ordination. There was a time when they considered “context” to be a dirty word.

Here is the Church of Uganda’s most recent statement on the bill and here is an earlier one.

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