An African perspective

Malawi bishop reflects on Windsor Report at Executive Council meeting
November 30, 2004

An African Bishop presented his perspective on the Windsor Report, which addressed the need for greater communion among the world’s Anglican churches, to Executive Council during its November meeting in Boise.

Bishop James Tengatenga of the Diocese Southern Malawi, who is teaching and studying at General Theological Seminary in New York this semester, compared his African country with the United States. “I come from a continent that is more community-based. The ‘I’ is not ‘I’ unless it is in ‘we,’” he said.

Tengatenga is a member of the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council. The archbishop of Canterbury recently appointed him to the group that will monitor the reception of the Windsor Report.

“When the gospel came to us, it came in the cloak of Victorian England,” he said. “When the gospel comes in contact with African, our culture and Africanness help us interpret and understand.”

“We Africans say we don’t agree with what you have done,” he said, referring to the election and consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson. “That is simply a statement of where we are."

The U.S. church says that it interprets Scripture in a cultural context that supports the action, he noted. “What makes your culture that important and mine not? “A position that is different is simply different, not necessarily better.

“The challenge now,” he added, “is to work this thing out. How do you respond -- by dialogue or by breaking relationships? “My reading is that there are a lot of possibilities for dialogue to grow” and “to see as possible what we can move into.”

Dick Snyder of Brigham City, Utah, is a senior correspondent for Episcopal Life.