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Kenya's Anglican Church Ordains American Bishops


The Anglican Church of Kenya Thursday ordained two American bishops who are to be sent back to the United States to minister to congregations that have broken relations with the Episcopal Church. As Cathy Majtenyi reports for VOA from Nairobi, the growing split in the worldwide Anglican Church is primarily over the issue of gay ordination.

Representatives from Anglican churches in Africa, Asia, Australia, the United States and other areas were on hand to witness the consecration of Will Atwood and William Murdoch at Nairobi's All Saints Cathedral.

They two men left the U.S. branch of the Anglican Church, the Episcopal Church, after it consecrated an openly gay bishop.

The newly-consecrated bishops are to minister to 32 American congregations under the authority of the Anglican Church of Kenya, which opposes the ordination of gays into the church.

Archbishop Greg Venables, representing the Southern Cone of America, told journalists that Anglicans in many American churches think that the ordination of homosexual clergy is wrong and feel increasingly distant and isolated from their local church leadership.

He says the Anglican Church of Kenya is offering those people alternative leadership and ministry until the issue of gay ordination is ironed out worldwide.

"And therefore the consecrations today in a sense, in part, meet that pastoral need, to actually be there to oversee those people while the situation is being worked out," he said.

The Anglican Church worldwide has been grappling with the issue of whether or not homosexuals should be ordained to the clergy following the 2004 ordination of Gene Robinson, an openly gay clergyman in the Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church in the United States.

The Anglican Church in Africa, under Nigeria's leadership, vigorously opposes gay ordination.

Kenyan Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi says the position of his church is that homosexual activity contravenes the Bible and tradition.

"The unchanging word of God has been our standard and a light to us," he said. "Our Anglican heritage has been a source of great joy to all of us. But now, the fabric of the Anglican communion has been torn by the actions of the Episcopal Church."

Last year, two U.S. churches opposing gay ordination decided to put themselves under the authority of the Anglican Archbishop of Nigeria.

Earlier this year, at an international meeting of Anglican bishops, the Episcopal Church was given a September deadline to stop the appointment of homosexual clergy and the blessing of same-sex unions.