UGANDA: Archbishop Orombi to consecrate American bishop

June 22, 2007

Ugandan Anglican Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi has announced he will consecrate former Episcopalian John A. M. Guernsey as a bishop in the Church of Uganda to provide oversight to conservative congregations in the United States.

Guernsey, 53, is rector of All Saints Church in Dale City, Virginia, one of 12 disaffected parishes in the Diocese of Virginia in which a majority of members voted to disaffiliate with the Episcopal Church and realign with Anglican Provinces in Africa. All Saints’ voted on December 10 to affiliate with the Diocese of North Kigezi in Uganda and claims North Kigezi Bishop Edward Muhima as its bishop. The Church of Uganda describes Guernsey as "an American priest canonically resident in North Kigezi Diocese."

Uganda's announcement came following consent from Uganda's House of Bishops, which was first given in December 2006 and reaffirmed June 22, 2007, a news release from the Anglican Province said. Guernsey's consecration is planned for September 2 in Mbarara.

Virginia Bishop Peter Lee, the diocese's Standing Committee and Executive Board, and the vestry of All Saints' Church announced November 9, 2006 that they had reached an agreement on the disposition of real and personal property in the event that the congregation voted to end its affiliation with the Episcopal Church and the diocese. Lee inhibited Guernsey from the Episcopal priesthood in mid-January 2007.

According to the Church of Uganda's announcement, Guernsey "will provide local episcopal oversight to the 26 congregations in the United States that are part of the Church of Uganda, on behalf of the ten Ugandan Bishops currently providing episcopal care to Biblically orthodox American congregations."

The news follows a similar move by Kenyan Primate Benjamin Nzimbi, who announced June 13 he will consecrate former U.S. Episcopalian Bill Atwood as a suffragan bishop to "support the international interests of the Anglican Church of Kenya, including support of Kenyan clergy and congregations in North America."

Last year, Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola consecrated Martyn Minns, former rector of Truro Church in Fairfax, Virginia, to lead the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), a conservative missionary effort in the U.S. sponsored by the Anglican Church of Nigeria. Akinola rejected requests from both Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori by proceeding with Minns' controversial installation on May 5, 2007.

Such events have been described as "interventions" or "boundary crossings" by official councils or representatives of the Anglican Communion. Despite calls by the Instruments of Communion, including the Primates themselves, for such interventions to cease, some Anglican leaders have continued to cross provincial boundaries and minister to congregations in the U.S. without necessary consultation with or consent from the leadership of the Episcopal Church.

Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan, moderator of the conservative Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes, has voiced support for Guernsey's election and consecration.

"John Guernsey's consecration is an answer to our prayers that we would be able to provide a domestic bishop for the Ugandan churches that are part of the Network's International Conference," he said, according to the Church of Uganda's news release.

Guernsey, who has been rector of All Saints since 1988, also serves as dean of NACDP's Mid-Atlantic Convocation.

Of the Episcopal Church's more than 7,600 congregations, approximately 45 are known by the Episcopal News Service to be those in which a majority of members have voted to align with an overseas diocese with the Anglican Communion. In many of these cases there is a corresponding congregation continuing in good standing within the Episcopal Church. Other tabulations of congregations calculated by Global South Anglican leaders may include congregations that have never been part of the Episcopal Church -- such as those organized separately and apart from the Episcopal Church and within other independent groups, such as the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA).