In a further sign of the deterioration of the Anglican communion, Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi will consecrate two American clergy as assistant bishops in his province of Kenya at the end of the month.
The crisis in the Anglican church worldwide over gay issues began in 2003 with the ordination in New Hampshire of the first openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson.
Evengelical and conservative American Anglicans have rejected the authority of gay-friendly bishops in their country and are seeking religous leadership from a range of African leaders.
The Anglican church in Rwanda, Nigeria and Uganda have all taken control of parishes in the US who dissent from the view that there is a place for gay people in the church.
Archbishop Nzimbi told Reuters that he was not breaking church rules.
“We are not undermining anybody’s authority. We are saving a situation of people who so much need us,” he said.
A Ugandan Archbishop plans to consecrate an American priest at the beginning of September.
116 US Anglican churches are already under the jurisdiction of the Church of Rwanda alone.
Last month the Global South group of Anglican church leaders, who oppose gay ordination and the blessing of same-sex relationships, decided they will boycott next year’s Lambeth conference.
As many as 120 bishops will not attend unless the American Anglican church repudiates its current accepting attitude towards gay clergy and relationships.
“It is their rejection of the clear teaching of the church and their continuing intransigence that have divided the church and has brought our beloved communion to the breaking point,” the Global South bishops’ committee said.
In May the leader of the group, Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, performed a ceremony to establish American bishop Martyn Minns as head of a new church branch under his control in Nigeria.
The Church of England Newspaper last week reported that the Nigerian Archbishop will ordain a bishop for an English jurisdiction before the Lambeth Conference.
A source describing himself as a ‘worker in the Nigerian diocese’ said Archbishop Akinola’s plans were common knowledge.
“It is possible that Akinola will have somebody appointed by the next Lambeth Conference in July 2008,” he told the paper.
The conference is a meeting of Anglican leaders from across the world held once every ten years.
The Archbishop of Canterbury indicated last year that he did not want to discuss human sexuality issues at the conference, emphasising training matters instead.
July’s General Synod of the Church of England in York resolved to create a disciplinary covenant that might see some gay-friendly clergy and bishops thrown out of the Church.
The decision to consider a mechanism by which those who dissent from the majority opinion could be forced out of the Church was a significant win for the conservative and evangelical elements in Anglicanism.
The 14th Lambeth Conference will take place between 16th July and 4th August 2008 in Canterbury.
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