Two opposing demonstrations last week focused on the Anglican Communion’s relationships to LGBTI people, presenting vastly different ideas about how that issue should be resolved.
In England, dozens of protesters gathered at Canterbury Cathedral to urge homophobic churches within the Anglican Communion to stop persecuting LGBTI people.
In Uganda, hundreds rallied to welcome the return of Archbishop Stanley Ntagali from the Canterbury meeting, which he left in protest over participation at that meeting by the U.S.-based Episcopal Church, which not only accepts LGBTI people as lay members, priests and bishops but also performs same-sex weddings.
Here are photos and descriptions of the two gatherings on two continents, each one intensely concerned about the 85-million-member group of Christian churches descended from the Church of England:
Dozens of protesters gathered on Jan. 15 to confront leaders of the Anglican Communion. Many of them were LGBTI Anglican Africans who had to flee from their native countries because of homophobic repression supported by the local Anglican churches there.
The protest was organized by the Out and Proud Diamond Group of LGBTI African refugees, who traveled to Canterbury to speak for fair treatment of LGBTI people.
“Listen to LGBTI people” was the theme of the protest. The protesters chanted “Shame on you” in the cathedral precincts, where 38 Anglican Primates met last week at the invitation of Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby to try to avoid a schism over exclusion and inclusion of LGBTI people.
Welby went out to meet the protesters, whom he said were a reminder of the “pain and suffering of many LGBTI people around the world.” He then apologized for the “hurt and pain” caused by the Anglican Church.
He did not suggest that the church would stop causing the pain that he was apologizing for.
ENTEBBE AND KAMPALA, UGANDA
The Church of Uganda reported on its Jan. 16 rallies welcoming the return of Archbishop Stanley Ntagali without mentioning the church’s repression of LGBTI people. The article, reprinted here, focused only on their delight in the Archbishop’s conservative interpretation of the Bible and his stand against the inclusive interpretations of the Bible that allow for same-sex marriage:
More than 300 people met Archbishop Stanley Ntagali on his return to Uganda [Jan. 16] in a show of solidarity and support for his actions and stand in Canterbury, England, during the recent gathering of Primates of the Anglican Communion.
Christians from Entebbe and Kampala received him at three different venues – Entebbe Airport, St. Mark’s Church in Entebbe, and Namirembe Hill [in Kampala], where there was a mass procession from St. Paul’s Cathedral, Namirembe, to the Archbishop’s Residence.
Members of the press were there to cover the enthusiastic welcome. Clergy were present in their robes; youth carried banners and signs, showing their support for the Archbishop and his leadership in the global community for Biblical faith and morality; and, members of Mother’s Union ululated in thanksgiving for the Archbishop’s stands to protect the integrity of the family.
[According to Church Times of the United Kingdom, “The departure of … Ntagali [from the Primates meeting] was accepted as a consequence of the canons passed by his provincial synod, which prevented his sitting in a meeting with the US Episcopal Church or the Church of Canada unless they repented.”]
At St. Mark’s Church, Entebbe, and the Archbishop’s Residence, Namirembe, Bishops’ wives prayed fervent prayers of thanksgiving for Archbishop Stanley and Uganda to stand firm on the Word of God. A cake had been baked to celebrate the Archbishop’s safe return and to encourage him in his leadership.
Archbishop Stanley made the following statement to the press immediately upon arrival at the airport.
Statement of the Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali, Archbishop of Church of Uganda, on Primates Gathering of the Anglican Communion in Canterbury
Thank you so much for welcoming me and receiving me here at the airport. It is a great blessing to see the support from the people of Uganda for what I have been doing in the UK.
We traveled last week for a gathering of all the Archbishops, called Primates, of the Anglican Communion. As you know, there has been a problem in the Anglican Communion since 2003 when the Episcopal Church USA [TEC] consecrated as a bishop a divorced father of two children then living in a same-sex relationship. This was a violation of the Bible and our Anglican tradition.
The Church of Uganda broke communion with the Episcopal Church USA at that time, along with many other Global South Provinces of the Anglican Communion.
Unfortunately, neither the Archbishop of Canterbury nor any of the other structures of the Anglican Communion were able to discipline the Episcopal Church USA. That meant that the Anglican Communion had become like the time in the Book of Judges when God’s judgment was upon the people of God because it says, “Everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” Even the Anglican Church of Canada has allowed the blessing of same-sex unions in their church.
We had hoped that the meeting this past week would restore godly order to the Anglican Communion and re-establish the Bible as the authority for our faith and morals.
On the second day of the meeting, I moved a resolution to ask the Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada to voluntarily withdraw from all Anglican Communion groups. It grieves me to say that the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was chairing the meeting, did not take my resolution seriously and simply moved on to another matter without ever allowing any discussion on it.
At that point in the meeting, I realized that the process that had been set up would not allow us to accomplish the purpose for which we had come.
Our commitment as the Church of Uganda is that we would not participate in any meetings of the Anglican Communion until godly order has been restored. Therefore, I felt it necessary to withdraw from the meeting and stand firm for the convictions of the Church of Uganda and the people of Uganda.
My fellow … Global South Primates stayed in the meeting and by Thursday lunchtime they had passed a resolution suspending TEC from representing the Anglican Communion in interfaith and ecumenical dialogues and not allowing them to vote in meetings where issues of doctrine and polity were being discussed. This would be for a period of three years.
This is a very important, symbolic vote. The mind of the Primates is to uphold the Bible’s understanding of marriage as between one man and one woman, and to declare that is the position of the Anglican Communion.
From our perspective, however, the vote did not go far enough to re-establish godly order in the Anglican Communion. The Episcopal Church USA will still attend meetings and continue to influence many others in their unbiblical positions. We need to wait and see if they demonstrate true repentance and whether or not the leadership of the Anglican Communion has the strength of convictions to uphold the decision of the Primates. Only time will tell.
In the meantime, I want to assure you and all Ugandans that the Church of Uganda is still a member of the Anglican Communion. I withdrew from the meeting, but we have not withdrawn from the Anglican Communion. We are the Anglican Communion.
I also want to assure you that the Church of Uganda is committed to living under the authority of the Word of God and proclaiming the God “who so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that all you believe in him may not perish but have everlasting life.”
- Archbishop of Canterbury to LGBTI community: Sorry! (Jan. 15, 2016, 76crimes.com)
- Justin Welby says sorry to LGBTI community for hurt and pain caused by Anglican church (Jan. 15, 2016, The Guardian)
- Canterbury rally to Anglican leaders: Listen to LGBTI people (Jan. 14, 2016, 76crimes.com)
- Anglicans discipline Episcopalians over same-sex marriage (Jan. 14, 2016, 76crimes.com)
- Stonewall CEO: A split in the Anglican Church could be dangerous for LGBT people – religious or not (Jan. 12, 2016, The Telegraph)
- Barbaric’ Anglican schism would not threaten LGBTI progress (Jan. 10, 2016, 76crimes.com)
- Anglicans’ LGBTI schism: Archbishop’s realism or bad idea? (September 2015, 76crimes.com)
- Church of England to blame for anti-gay Nigeria, Uganda? (September 2015, 76crimes.com)
- Petition to archbishops: End anti-gay purge in Kenya (September 2015, 76crimes.com)
- U.S. church plans support for LGBT-friendly Africans (June 2015, 76crimes.com)
- Anti-gay Anglicans blast archbishop for friendly chats in U.S. (January 2015, 76crimes.com)
- Eject anti-gay Anglicans or keep a poisoner at dinner? (March 2014, 76crimes.com)