Wednesday, 13th June 2007. 2:02pm
By: Nick Mackenzie.
THE ANGLICAN Communion moved closer to a split today when the Anglican Church of Kenya announced plans to consecrate an American priest to look after congregations in the USA.
New blow for Anglican Communion unity hopes
The move will create a third ‘missionary’ group of disaffected Anglicans in the US and was made without reference to Lambeth Palace.
But observers are speculating that the decision by Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi is part of a wider move to create an alternative Anglican worldwide structure.
So far there are two networks operating in America, the Anglican Mission in America, with their bishop Chuck Murphy, and CANA (Convocation of Anglicans in North America), with their bishop Martyn Minns. The new group, to be known as the North American Anglican Coalition, with their bishop Bill Atwood, would lead to a grouping with the oversight of over 200 congregations.
The latest development follows increasing anger in conservative circles over the liberal direction of the Episcopal Church. The executive council of the Church, which is its governing body between meetings of General Convention, is meeting this week in New Jersey to consider its response to the Primates’ communiqué in Tanzania earlier this year. That gave the Episcopal Church a deadline of September 30 to comply.
However, the latest news from Kenya may only serve to strengthen the US leadership in their stance. Earlier this week the bishop at the centre of the row, Gene Robinson, announced plans to allow his clergy to carry out same-sex blessings. And the Executive Council heard from Nigerian gay rights activist Davis Mac-Illya, who heads up his country’s branch of Changing Attitude deliver an attack on Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola for backing anti-gay legislation there.
The new front in the battle has come, however, from Kenya. Archbishop Nzimbi said that developments in North America had left him with no other options. But he hinted that more was going on behind the scenes.
The Nairobi consecration would be “part of a broader and co-ordinated plan with other provinces” Archbishop Nzimbi said. This would “support the international interests of the Anglican Church of Kenya, including support of Kenyan clergy and congregations in North America.”
The creation of a third Anglican structure, the North American Anglican Coalition, is understood to have received the approval of the leaders of the Global South. Archbishop Rowan Williams was not included in the deliberations, sources tell Religious Intelligence.
Archbishop Nzimbi stated The Episcopal Church had torn the fabric of the Anglican Communion and the House of Bishops had “exacerbated” the damage by failing to provide adequate pastoral care for the “faithful” and for rejecting the Pastoral Council “offered through the Primates in their Communiqué from Dar es Salaam.”