Two Episcopal priests, who split from the Episcopal Church over its acceptance of homosexual bishops, have been consecrated bishops for several breakaway congregations by an Anglican archbishop who is renowned for his conservatism.
Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya consecrated Bill Atwood of Texas and Bill Murdoch of Massachusetts at a service in Nairobi on Thursday, reported the AFP. The two men vowed to serve the international interests of the Anglican Church of Kenya and of the congregations in North America "under Kenyan jurisdiction."
Bishops Atwood and Murdoch will have about 30 Anglican congregations under their charge. These congregations had previously approached the Kenyan province for leadership.
During the service, Archbishop Nzimbi urged congregations to pray for homosexuals, but renewed his opposition for their consecration.
After the consecration, Bishop Atwood reportedly said the ceremony was not a political statement, but rather an act rooted in the Gospel.
Ten primates from Asia, Africa and Latin America attended the service.
Archbishop Drexel Gomez from the West Indies told AFP that the Gospel has to take precedence over culture.
"The issue is not primarily one of sexuality,” he was quoted as saying. “But one which seeks to answer the following question: Which relationship corresponds to God's ordering of life? Homosexual practice violates the order of life given by God in Holy Scripture.”
These are not the first episcopal appointments for breakaway churches in the United States.
In May, Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria consecrated Martyn Minns of Virginia as bishop for an outreach program, called Convocation of Anglicans in North America.
Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda consecrated John Guernsey yesterday to oversee 26 congregations that have left the Episcopal Church in Virginia.