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Kenyan bishops will attend Conference without Archbishop

31 January 2020

Anglican Church in Kenya

The Archbishop of Kenya, the Rt Revd Jackson Ole Sapit

The Archbishop of Kenya, the Rt Revd Jackson Ole Sapit

BISHOPS in the Anglican Church of Kenya will be permitted to attend this year’s Lambeth Conference, but will not be accompanied by their Archbishop and will carry with them the Church’s memorandum setting out its position on sexuality, it was confirmed this week.

The Archbishop of Kenya, the Rt Revd Jackson Ole Sapit, told the newspaper Daily Nation that the Church’s House of Bishops had had “very fruitful discussions” with the Archbishop of Canterbury, who visited the country this month after being asked to address a meeting of the House. “That is how we arrived at the point that those who will be going will be doing so in their own capacities, since bishops are invited individually, but they will take with them our memorandum.”

Archbishop Sapit, who was first reported as boycotting the Conference last year (News, 28 June 2019), said that the invitation to bishops who were married to same-sex spouses was “taking us away from the Anglican tradition — 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10 — that states that marriage is between a male and female for life. . . If some Anglican Provinces took a wrong turn, we should not all follow them.”

The Kenyan bishops who choose to come to the Lambeth Conference “will be doing so because of the historic nature of the gathering, and some have not been to that kind of a gathering”.

In addition to meeting the House of Bishops, Archbishop Welby preached at St Stephen’s Cathedral, Nairobi, and visited Kiburu Boys Secondary School, where he taught pupils 46 years ago. In a recorded message online, he said that it was at the school that he had first learned “that Jesus Christ was my saviour, and that he loved me”. He was joined on the trip by the Bishop of Penrith, Dr Emma Ineson.

His itinerary included meetings with the Kenyan Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, the Deputy President, William Ruto, and Kenya’s Special Envoy to South Sudan, Kalonzo Musyoka. Commenting on the Building Bridges Initiative, launched by Mr Odinga and the President, Uhuru Kenyatta, to address sectarian tensions, he said: “Allow everyone to be heard in the process. It should not be mostly leaders bringing up an idea. This is a problem we face throughout the world. I find it easier to allow all shades of opinions.”

The next General Election is due to take place in 2022. After the 2017 election, dozens of people were killed in clashes between protesters, and the National Council of Churches of Kenya called on people to “take back their country from the grip of ethnic-, grievance-, and fear-driven politicians” (News, 14 September 2018).

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