Current Affairs

Anglican dissidents plan ‘parallel’ church

Tony Grew June 13, 2007
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Powerful conservative primates in the worldwide Anglican church plan to consecrate their own bishop to oversee American churches who oppose gay ordination.

The move is in direct defiance of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who wants to try to reconcile the differences in the feuding Anglican communion.

Last month Archbishop Williams took the symbolic step of excluding Gene Robinson, the openly gay Bishop of New Hampshire, from the Lambeth conference, a meeting of church leaders held every ten years.

The 2003 ordination of Bishop Robinson and the decision of some US Anglican churches to bless same-sex relationships has caused huge division and dissent both in American and across the Anglican communion worldwide.

The Daily Telegraph reports that the Primate of Kenya, Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi, is co-ordinating the ordination of a dissident bishop.

The creation of a new bishop challenges the authority of the leader of the American church, and will also cause problems in England.

Next month the Church’s General Synod in York will see more attempts by conservative English Anglicans to push for a tough stance against gay priests.

The revelation of new plans to defy Archbishop Williams adds to the fears that the whole Anglican church could schism over gay issues.

Last month an outspoken African primate defied the Archbishop and established a breakaway branch of the church opposed to gay priests.

Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria accused the Anglican leadership of being “insulting and condescending” to the rest of the church.

He performed a ceremony to establish American bishop Martyn Minns as head of a new church branch under his control in Nigeria.

It is intended to gather American Anglicans who oppose current gay policies.

45 US parishes have broken away and placed themselves under the jurisdiction of African bishops.

In February a conference of Anglican primates in Tanzania demanded that the American church stop ordaining gay bishops and give a commitment not to bless same sex partnerships.

The five-day meeting exposed the divisions within the Anglican communion over gay issues, with liberals arguing that church teaching on tolerance should take precedence over biblical interpretation.

The Americans have been given until 30th September to make a statement pledging they will comply with the instructions of the primates.

The diocese of Fort Worth, Texas, decided earlier this year to reject the spiritual authority of the US Anglican church and seek alternative oversight.

That announcement marked a further disintegration in the unity of the Anglican communion and the authority of US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.

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