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UGANDA: Orombi says he will not sit with Jefferts Schori at Primates Meeting


The Most Rev. Henry Luke Orombi, Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Uganda  

[Episcopal News Service]  The Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Uganda, the Most Rev. Henry Luke Orombi, has said that he and other Global South Primates have informed the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, that they "cannot sit together with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori at the upcoming Primates Meeting in February," citing her position on the Bible's teachings about "faith and morality."

In a pastoral letter to Christians of the Church of Uganda, Orombi said that some Primates have asked Williams to invite a bishop from the Anglican Communion Network "to attend the Primates Meeting and represent the orthodox believers."

Jefferts Schori will be the first woman among the leaders, or Primates, of the Anglican Communion when they next convene in Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania in February, but in his pastoral letter Orombi insisted that his "problem" with the Episcopal Church is "not that they have enthroned a woman as their Presiding Bishop."

The Kigali communiqué, issued after a meeting of Global South leaders in Rwanda in September, noted that "some of us will not be able to recognize Katharine Jefferts Schori as a Primate at the table with us."

Although the communiqué cited 20 signatories, a number of Anglican leaders later disavowed the statement. It is unclear to which Primates Orombi refers in his letter, the full text of which follows:

Dear Christians of the Church of Uganda,

Greetings in the name of our risen and reigning Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ!

I am writing with a heavy heart to share with you sad news about our beloved Anglican Communion. On Saturday, 4th November, the Episcopal Church in the United States of America (ECUSA) enthroned as their Presiding Bishop a leader who has permitted the blessing of same-sex unions and who also denies that Jesus is the only way to the Father. Her name is the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori.

Our problem with ECUSA is not that they have enthroned a woman as their Presiding Bishop. We in the Church of Uganda do support the ordination of women and women in all levels of leadership in our church. In fact, I am very pleased to report that the House of Laity elected Dr. Sarah Ndyanabangi to serve as the next Chairperson of the Provincial House of Laity.

Our problem with the new Presiding Bishop of ECUSA is that she has publicly denied what the Bible teaches about faith and morality. And now she is in the position of Archbishop of one of the most influential and wealthiest Provinces in the Anglican Communion, even though it is one of the smallest in number.

There is a proverb that says, "When America sneezes, the rest of the world catches a cold." So, I am writing to warn you to be careful that you don’t catch a cold! I also want to update you on decisions and actions of the Provincial Assembly and the House of Bishops to guard the Church of Uganda from falling sick with the sickness that is coming from America.

1. In 2003, the House of Bishops officially broke communion with ECUSA, and in 2004 the Provincial Assembly affirmed that decision. These decisions were taken because ECUSA elected and consecrated as a Bishop a divorced man who has a homosexual partner. This is contrary to the Word of God! We also determined that we would no longer receive funds from ECUSA, including American dioceses, churches, and organizations that support the gay agenda.

2. At the same time, the Church of Uganda has declared that it is in communion with those Bishops, Dioceses, clergy, and congregations who did not support the consecration as bishop of a man who is in an active same-sex relationship, and who now make up what is called in America the Anglican Communion Network.

3. Practically, the implications of these decisions are the following:

a. We have broken or need to break once and for all the companion diocese relationships with ECUSA dioceses that support the gay agenda.

b. We will no longer apply for grants from the Trinity Grants program of Trinity Wall Street, UTO (United Thank Offering), Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD), or scholarships through the Episcopal Church Center (815). No Bishop or Diocesan Secretary should sign grant applications to these organizations.

c. We will no longer send students to ECUSA theological colleges, except Trinity School for Ministry and Nashotah House. For example, we will no longer send students to Virginia Theological Seminary, Sewanee, Episcopal Divinity School, Seminary of the Southwest, or Church Divinity School of the Pacific.

d. We will not invite Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to visit Uganda, and we did not send any official Ugandan representative to her enthronement.

e. We will not automatically accept an ECUSA priest or lay missionary in the Church of Uganda, unless it can be determined that the person upholds the authority of Scripture and the historic and biblical faith and morality of the Church of Uganda.

f. We do consider ourselves to be in communion with those bishops, clergy, people, dioceses, and congregations that are part of the Anglican Communion Network. Clergy and lay missionaries can be easily exchanged between the Church of Uganda and the Anglican Communion Network.

g. We will send clergy abroad to study only at Trinity School for Ministry and Nashotah House.

h. Grant requests must be directed to the Anglican Relief and Development Fund and other non-Anglican, Bible-believing donors.

i. We need to pray for new international and orthodox partners to become part of our life, including other ecumenical partners who uphold historic and Biblical faith.

Finally, one of the most significant decisions we have made to support Biblically faithful Anglicans in America is to provide a diocesan home for American congregations who could no longer be submitted to a revisionist Bishop and the national church leadership of ECUSA. Ten of our dioceses in the Church of Uganda are now providing spiritual oversight to twenty congregations in America. These are congregations of Americans in America, but they are officially part of the Church of Uganda.

I have been in consultation with the other Primates and Archbishops of Africa and the Global South about this crisis in our beloved Anglican Communion. We have written to the Archbishop of Canterbury and informed him that we cannot sit together with Katharine Jefferts Schori at the upcoming Primates Meeting in February. We have also asked the Archbishop of Canterbury to invite an orthodox Bishop from the Anglican Communion Network in America to attend the Primates Meeting and represent the orthodox believers. We await his decision on these matters.

We are also praying about whether our House of Bishops should attend and participate in the Lambeth Conference of Bishops in 2008. Every ten years, the Archbishop of Canterbury invites all the bishops of the Anglican Communion together for prayer and mutual consultation on matters of mission and our common life together as Anglicans throughout the world. The next conference is planned for 2008. However, the Archbishops of Africa and the Global South have received a report and a recommendation that we not participate in the next Lambeth Conference if ECUSA, and especially their gay bishop, are also invited to the conference. The House of Bishops of the Church of Uganda has not yet made a decision about this, but I wanted you to know that we are praying and asking the Lord to give us the mind of Christ on this matter.

Since ECUSA officially approved of homosexual relationships in 2003 we have earnestly prayed they would repent and return to the Word of God. But, their General Convention in June 2006 made it clear that they are not intent on repentance. In fact, they seem even more committed to their erring ways and the revision of the Biblical and historic faith that brought life to us and that we gratefully proclaim.

Therefore, and in light of all these developments, the House of Bishops and the Provincial Assembly in its meeting in August reaffirmed our position of broken communion with ECUSA and our decision to support in practical ways those churches, dioceses, and leaders in America who uphold and promote the Biblical and historic faith of Anglicanism for which our own Ugandan martyrs died.

In the meantime, as we work and pray for unity in the Anglican Communion that is grounded in the truth of the Word of God, we are rejoicing in the upcoming consecration of the new Bishop of North Mbale Diocese, and the recent breakthrough in Muhabura Diocese. I urge you to keep praying for complete and lasting peace in northern Uganda. May I also ask you to explore ways your diocese and parishes can actively support the restoration of the families and communities of our brothers and sisters in the greater North.

Yours in Christ,

The Most Rev. Henry Luke Orombi