Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Kenyan Bishop's Conservative Message
Richard Dujardin, The Providence Journal

ATTLEBORO — The leader of the 4-million member Anglican Church of Kenya, who is seeking to evict the U.S. Episcopal Church from the Anglican Communion because of its acceptance of homosexual clergy, visited one of his fledgling churches yesterday.

At the St. James African Anglican Church, which meets at the Good News Bible Chapel and has about 80 members, Archbishop Benjamin M. Nzimbi, the primate of Kenya, said that the Bible makes clear that marriage is between a man and a woman.

He recently met with churches in Tennessee and Florida that want to leave or have left the Episcopal Church and join the church of Kenya over the Episcopal Church’s decision three years ago to ordain a gay man as bishop.

Also attending yesterday Communion service were members of All Saints Church in Attleboro which is negotiating with Episcopal Bishop Thomas Shaw of Massachusetts over the ownership of its building after voting to leave the diocese and join an organization tied to an Anglican bishop in Rwanda. Three other area churches, all Kenyan-affiliated churches, also attended the service yesterday.

Nzimbi, who has taken 25 parishes in the United States under his wing, characterized his visit as pastoral.

“We are here to be with you. We are here to support you. We are here to encourage you. And we are here to stand with you and tell you that Jesus has not changed. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.”

Nzimbi and other prelates have been calling on leaders of the worldwide Anglican Communion to discipline the U.S. Episcopal Church for embracing positions that they say are contrary to the Bible. Africans inherited a faith that was handed to them by missionaries, often at great personal risk and death, he said.

“But now you hear the children of the missionaries trying to offer a different version of the work of God, different from the one they received, a word that has been doctored and modified.”

The issue comes down to “obeying the Lord,” including passages of Scripture that touch on sexuality.

“When God formed man, He said it is not good for man to be alone, is that not so? He put man to sleep and out of his rib he made the woman, and the man gave a testimony, ‘This is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called woman.’ And the Lord blessed them and told them to go forth and to increase.”

Nzimbi has clearly sparked controversy. Last week, Bishop James L. Jelineck of Minnesota announced that he will not allow the Kenyan archbishop to speak in his diocese when he visits the state today, saying he does “harm to the Episcopal Church.”

Nzimbi said he will probably speak at another church, perhaps at another Protestant church. Asked what he would tell people in Episcopal parishes, he said the Bible is “very clear” on such issues as homosexuality and “my advice is that we need to take the faith the way we have received it. Having faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and taking the Scriptures seriously will guide us.”

Church officials from around the world will meet next month in Tanzania, where the U.S. Episcopal Church’s status in the Anglican Communion is expected to be a major issue.

“The problem is that with the structures that we have and the kind of leadership we have, maintaining the Anglican Communion as one is a big question. But if people today repent of their sins, repent of their pride and follow the Scriptures the way they are, then we can have a very sweet Anglican Communion.”

Nzimbi was joined at yesterday’s service of the year-old St. James African Anglican Church by Bishop Timothy Ranji of the Diocese of Mt. Kenya South and later by the Right Rev. Gideon G. Githiga of the diocese of Thika.

[Editor: His comment about the children of the missionaries is striking. He assumes the missionaries were right but their children are wrong. The reverse could be true, or both groups could be wrong. Or right. Note what he assumes.

Archbishop Nzimbi: from one Global South Christian to another, you never learned to read the Bible for yourself. You blindly accepted what human missionaries told you as the Word of God. Now the whole Anglican Communion is paying the price.]

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