UGANDA: Bishops declare full communion with Anglican Church in North America

June 24, 2009

The bishops of the Anglican Church of Uganda have said they support the formation of the Anglican Church in North America, and stand in full communion with the dissident conservative entity that has been meeting in Bedford, Texas this past week.

ACNA's membership is largely composed of disaffected Anglicans and those who have broken away from the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada over disputes about theology and biblical authority, especially concerning the ordination of homosexual persons and same-sex blessings. The group met to approve a constitution and canons (church laws) and to install deposed Episcopal Church Bishop Robert Duncan as its archbishop.

The Ugandan bishops met June 23 and made several resolutions concerning the state of the Anglican Communion and what a provincial news release called "the future of global Anglicanism."

Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi of Uganda, one of the communion's leading critics of the Episcopal Church and its recent actions, said: "This really is the moment we have been waiting for. We have been longing to be able to repatriate our clergy and congregations to a Biblical and viable ecclesiastical structure in North America, and that day has now come. To God be the glory."

In recent years, Orombi has consecrated several former Episcopal priests as bishops to serve congregations in the U.S. that have broken away from the Episcopal Church, actions known as cross-provincial interventions that have been sharply criticized by all the councils of the Anglican Communion.

According to the provincial news release, the Ugandan bishops expressed concern that the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), the communion's main policy-making body, refused to seat former Episcopal Church priest Philip Ashey as the Church of Uganda's clerical representative at its recent meeting in Kingston, Jamaica.

At the time, the ACC Standing Committee said that Ashey, who was accepted into the Church of Uganda in 2005, was denied participation in the meeting because his relationship with the East African province is "a result of a cross-provincial intervention."

"The instruments of communion have each in different ways stated that Anglicans should not exercise ministry in another jurisdiction without the permission of the bishop in that place," the Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon, Anglican Communion secretary general, said at a news briefing during the ACC meeting. "That's meant that interventions that have recently developed in North America have never been recognized by the instruments of communion. The Joint Standing Committee therefore felt that it was not possible to recognize an American priest resident and ministering in the United States as a duly qualified representative of an African province."

The Ugandan bishops said at their recent meeting that it was the Church of Uganda's "prerogative to choose who should represent us" and described Ashey's denial as "a profound violation of our rights by the Joint Standing Committee and the ACC."

The bishops also "reaffirmed its commitment to not receive funds from the Episcopal Church (TEC) and the Anglican Church of Canada, revisionist TEC and Canadian dioceses and parishes, and funding organs associated with them. The bishops also chastised and called to account those bishops among them who have violated this collective and long-standing decision."

Before Orombi was enthroned as archbishop of Uganda in January 2004, the Episcopal Church had enjoyed long-standing partnerships with the province that included missionary placements and funding for relief and development programs.