By Hilary White
NAIROBI, August 31, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Two American Bishops of the Episcopal Church in the U.S. were re-ordained for service in the Anglican Church in Kenya on Thursday. The Times’ Ruth Gledhill reports that the ordination, while seen as “valid,” will likely be condemned as a further step towards a complete separation of what many now perceive as two Anglican Churches.
The Right Rev. William Murdoch and the Right Rev. Bill Atwood, formerly of Massachusetts and Texas, respectively, were consecrated at All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi by Kenya’s Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi. They will serve the needs of the Anglican community in Africa and those of the congregations in North America that have joined the ecclesial structures set up for those who have rejected the secularized leadership in the U.S. and Canada.
“The gospel … must take precedence over culture,” said Archbishop Drexel Gomez of the West Indies, who attended the ceremony. “Homosexual practice violates the order of life given by God in Holy Scripture.”
The response to the ordinations has followed the now-usual pattern with “conservatives” welcoming the move. Gledhill reports that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, will now be under pressure from both sides to invite or bar the new bishops from the next Lambeth conference. Williams has asked African archbishops not to consecrate U.S. priests to help avoid a schism.
More than 30 members of the Church of England’s General Synod sent a message of welcome to the two new bishops while acknowledging the move is “out of the ordinary”. The letter said, “You will represent vibrant and growing Churches in Africa in their love and care for those in the United States who are suffering for their commitment to the faith once delivered to the saints, in the face of a determined capitulation by The Episcopal Church to the forces of contemporary North American culture.”
In most of the developed west, the Anglican Communion has been characterized by two main streams of development; on the one hand, increasing secularization and embracing of the post-Christian sexual morality; and on the other, plummeting attendance and aging membership. In the meantime, the largest, youngest and most active sections of the Worldwide Anglican Communion are also the most fervently orthodox and are found largely in the developing world, whose leadership is called the Global South bloc.
This schism is growing in the U.S. and Canada with some groups determined to retain Christian teaching. This week, the Anglican news service Virtue Online reports that the pastor and leadership of the Church of the Holy Comforter in Broomfield, Colorado resigned en masse and informed the diocese that the “theological innovations” of the Episcopal Church had made it impossible for them to continue to serve in it.
Rev. Dr. Charles Reeder, his staff and most of the 200-member congregation will form a new Anglican parish as of October 1. “We are saddened by the current state of The Episcopal Church in the U.S. which we believe has strayed from the orthodox, scriptural beliefs of the worldwide Anglican Communion,” said Reeder.
The parish’s senior warden, John E. Basio told Virtue Online that the parishioners had voiced their opposition by withholding financial contributions. “No one has left the church,” he said. “The people are withholding their financial support because of national church issues. We can no longer support the diocese and the national Episcopal Church with our monies.”