From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
AANA BULLETIN No. 30/03 August 4, 2003 (b)
Worldwide Faith News <email@example.com>
Mon, 04 Aug 2003 20:05:03 -0700
ALL AFRICA NEWS AGENCY
P. O Box, 66878, 00800 Westlands, NAIROBI, Kenya. Tel: 254-2-4442215,
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AANA Bulletin Editor -Elly Wamari
Bulletin APTA Editor - Silvie Alemba
AANA BULLETIN No. 30/03 August 4, 2003 (b)
Why Gay Ordination Would Raise So Much Dust
When the Head of the Anglican Church in England recently came out in
support of gay ordination, he probably was not aware of the repercussions
this would generate. It did cause widespread reaction, especially in
Africa, where gay practice is defined as an absurd, weird behaviour, and a
total aberration from the norm, which even the Scripture rebukes. AANA
writer Joseph K'Amolo reports.
Jennifer Moloa, 70, an ardent Anglican since her childhood, almost jumped
out of her skin on learning that her mother Church was advocating for the
ordination of gays into priesthood.
First, she had a problem understanding what being gay was all about. It
took some effort to make her come to terms with the issue, then suddenly,
she gasped, exclaiming: "God created man and wife for procreation, my
child. How would the same happen between man and man or woman and woman?"
Moloa's attitude is shared across many African communities over the issue
of homosexuality and ordination of gay people as church ministers,
currently causing tides in the Church.
The latest debate on the matter got ignited in May, when the Diocese of New
Westminster in Canada, under the Rt Rev. M. C. Ingham, ratified the liturgy
for same sex union. On the same day, St. Margaret's Church in Vancouver
presided over the first same-sex marriage in the diocese.
The action cost the diocese its union with some Anglican affiliates, one of
them being the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion).
But only weeks later, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, chose
to close his eyes on the repercussions the action by the Canadian church
had elicited, and came out in support of the ordination of Canon Jeffrey
John, a self-confessed gay, as a bishop in England.
Archbishop Williams went on to implore the Anglican Communion world over to
be sensitive to gays and show sympathy.
The resenting reaction was quick. Canon Jeffrey bowed to pressure and
stepped down, but the damage had been done. The event brought to the
spotlight, the mother of the Anglican Communion, with its seat in England.
Threats of severing ties came from concerned African Anglicans, bold enough
to tell off their mother Church.
Alarmed by the secession threats coming from disgruntled Anglican
fraternity, a group of clergies from England attending an international
meeting in Kenya, seized the opportunity to ascertain the thinking of
Kenyan Anglican fraternity.
The message they went back with at the end of their mission must have been
a demoralising one to their boss. Kenyans, led by Anglican Archbishop
Benjamin Nzimbi, were very categorical on their stand - no room for gays in
Five years back (1998), at the Lambeth Conference, 750 bishops from 37
Provinces of the Anglican Communion deliberated on human sexuality, and
came up with a resolution that sexuality was God's gift, which found its
full expression between a man and a woman in the covenant of marriage.
The conference also noted that the New Testament and Christian history
identified singleness and celibacy as Christ-like ways of living.
As the debate progressed towards homosexuality, a sharp split between
delegates proved that the issue was a bomb in waiting to explode. The main
split was between African bishops, who generally took a hard-line stance
against gay practice, and mostly bishops from the West, who displayed
sympathetic attitude towards homosexuals.
After a long debate, it was passed that abstinence was right for those not
called to marriage.
Nevertheless, homosexuals were assured that they would not be
excommunicated from the Church, but that was as far as it could go.
The conference rejected gay practice, noting that it was incompatible with
the Scripture, and that they would not advise blessing of same sex unions,
or ordaining those involved in it.
Indeed, the Books of Genesis 19:5-6, Leviticus 18:22, Judges 19:22-23, and
Romans 1:26-27 are explicit in the Bible's stand against union of same
sexes, describing the practice with terms like "wicked evil" and calling
the practitioners "perverts".
This explains why, in the eyes of many, mostly Africans, the Church of
England has lost direction and is propagating an abnormality that is a
social evil, whose root cause should be investigated.
It is no wonder therefore that Archbishop Williams' pronouncements in
support of Canon Jeffrey drew murmurs in Africa that he could himself be
secretly involved in the practice, for him to show such concern.
When Nigerian Archbishop, Peter Akinola of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican
Communion) alongside other Anglican bishops, condemned the May blessing of
the same sex union in the Diocese of New Westminster in Canada, they were
sending signals that gays had no role in the Church.
In a circular to the Nigerian Anglican fraternity, they said: "The Church
of Nigeria unequivocally condemns the action of Bishop Ingham and the
Diocese of Westminster, Canada, which constitutes a violation of Scripture
and breaking faith with the popular resolutions of the 1998 Lambeth
The statement continued: "Our Primate, on behalf of the Archbishops,
Bishops and the entire membership of the Church of Nigeria, severed
relationships with the Bishop and his Diocese on 30th May, 2003."
To this, the Episcopal Secretary and Bishop of Lagos, Rt Rev Peter A.
Adebiyi, added: "We hope that this action will serve as a deterrent to
other dioceses that propose to follow the action of the Bishop of the
Diocese of New Westminster."
But according to acclaimed South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the issue
of sexuality is a complicated matter.
He contends that sexual orientation is a biological eventuality, which the
individual has no control over, and therefore "not a matter of mere
academic or theological debate".
Sharing this view is Amy Gopp of the Christian Church (Disciples of
Christ), from the United States.
According to Amy, who is currently in Nairobi, even gays are created in the
image of God, and in God's eyes, they are beautiful.
To her, the most important thing is what comes from the heart in form of
love, which she says, many homosexuals have demonstrated, and therefore
should not be shut out from serving God simply because of an orientation
they did not make choice of.
DRC's Transition Needs To Be Closely Monitored
The recent power-sharing agreement for the Democratic Republic of Congo
(DRC), after a long-huddled peace process, marked the beginning of a
transitional government last month. But given the background of the
five-year conflict in the country, the new-found peace needs to be closely
monitored by the international community and the Church.
By AACC Special Correspondent
ed by the incumbent President, Joseph Kabila, DRC's transitional government
has four vice-presidents.
Two of them are leaders of the main rebel groups - Azarias Ruberwa, for the
Rassemblement Congolais pour la Dimocratie, or Rally for Congolese
Democracy (RCD-Goma), and Jean-Pierre Bemba for the Mouvement pour la
Libiration du Congo, or Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC).
The others are Abdoulaye Ndombasi and Arthur Z'ahidi Ngoma, representing
the government and political opposition parties respectively. They were all
inaugurated on July 17.
The transitional administration is intended to pave the way for the
country's first democratic and multi-party elections in due course, and
bring an end to the five years' civil war, which wiped out three million
United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, and the All Africa
Conference of Churches (AACC), welcomed the swearing-in of the
Mr. Annan called on the Congolese leaders to "fulfil their responsibilities
in meeting the daunting challenges of the transition, and steering their
country onto the path of reconciliation, recovery, as well as free and fair
He added that the UN "stood ready to play its part in assisting the
Congolese consolidate the hard-won gains in the peace process."
AACC acknowledged the contribution of DRC churches, which first brought
together representatives of all the divided regions of DRC for the
Inter-Congolese Dialogue process.
The organisation's acting General Secretary, Mr. Bright Mawudor, noted that
although the peace process had been challenging, the road ahead would
equally have difficult contours. According to him, what was required was
political tolerance and "a collective commitment to a better DRC", to
manage any difficult terrain.
All regional stakeholders in the Congolese peace process have expressed
their support for the outcome of the 18-month long Inter-Congolese
Dialogue, which came to a conclusion this April in Sun City, South Africa.
The formation of the power-sharing government has raised hopes for an end
to one of Africa's bloodiest wars. However, the transitional government
will be faced with the uphill task of reunifying a country torn by three
intertwined conflicts - regional, national and ethnic - and the adverse
impact of decades of destructive politics.
Mr. Mawudor notes that reconciliation, trauma healing and forgiveness,
should be at the top of the agenda. He gives assurance of AACC's support
in the endeavours.
At its peak, the conflicts in the Congo had drawn in two opposing regional
blocs, that is, a Great Lakes coalition of Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi in
support of the Congolese rebellion, against Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia,
backing the Kinshasa government.
Moreover, a number of unfinished wars, including those of Rwanda, Uganda,
Burundi and Angola, were also being battled out in the Congo, while the
country's own local violence escalated, leading to renewed ethnic clashes
in the eastern part.
The DRC crisis led to complete collapse of state authority across the
country, the destruction of the economic infrastructure, and generated
predatory behaviour from occupying armies and factions dealing with
regional and international corporations.
As a result, the Congolese people have suffered from not only violence, but
also from looting and all sorts of abuses committed by multiple armed groups.
The communal division of the country's territory has produced warlords
involved in illegal trade networks of valuable minerals and arms, as
documented in the UN Panel of Experts report on illegal exploitation of the
DRC natural resources.
Human rights abuses and extra-judicial executions were done in order to
control the country's immense natural wealth.
These abuses were reported, not only in the diamond or gold fields, but
also near abundant reserves of coltan (a component for electronic chips in
cell-phones and laptop computers), cobalt, copper, timber, uranium and
water, according to Amnesty International reports. UN investigators also
uncovered evidence of links between trafficking in natural resources and
The DRC peace process needs to be monitored by the international community,
including the ecumenical family.
Separatist political forces and ethnic warlords have posed one of the major
obstacles for implementation of the peace process.
It is now a matter of urgency that a UN mission for peace, should be in
place to protect civilians, undertake the disarmament of armed groups, and
support the formation of a newly restructured and integrated national army.
Disarming combatant Congolese in the country will be a complex challenge,
yet crucial to the smooth implementation of the peace process. The goodwill
of Uganda and Rwanda will be significant, following their military
involvement in the country.
In addition, the churches of Africa will need to increase their involvement
by working together with local churches, civil society and the
international community, notably through the following action points:
o Conducting regional ecumenical visits to meet with government leaders
churches of DRC, Rwanda and Uganda, to urge them support the peace process.
o Playing an advocacy role (through World Council of Churches)
United Nations, the European Union and the Western members of International
Follow-up Committee, namely, United States, United Kingdom, France and
Belgium, for their unswerving commitment to the DRC peace process.
o AACC and Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in the Great
and Horn of Africa (FECCLAHA) to lobby African Union and the African member
countries of the International Follow-up Committee (South Africa and
Angola) to ensure that the DRC peace process is at the top of their agenda.
Theatre Emerging As Salt To Taste In Church Sermons
Churches in Kenya are witnessing a rise in theatre, a kind that promises to
make the halls livelier. Even though some conservative church elders still
view staging of theatrical acts in church with suspicion, many are
beginning to see it as an essential tool in ministry, reports Muuna Wamuli.
When church theatre premiered in Kenyan church halls as part of the worship
programme, it sparked some controversial reactions among the faithful.
With time however, the acceptance level rose, and Christians are now
witnessing a gain in theatrical performances during worship.
The plays, preceding or concluding the sermons, are being viewed as a sure
way of making churches livelier, against a backdrop of lacklustre lengthy
Behind this entertainment are youth, who after convincing church ministers,
are now being viewed as an essential part of liturgy.
The youth say they are seeking to entertain and teach the faithful in the
way they understand and enjoy. Like others in secular circles, Christian
youth are increasingly turning to theatre to express themselves to their
peers, as well as elders.
"As Christian youth, we are called to be happy in the presence of the Lord.
Our aim in drama is to give something back to the community as we had
received as young people. We often tell the leaders to bring the Church so
that we can entertain them, as they see their challenges and solutions on
stage," says Maria Wanza, an active member of Church theatre.
Scanty records indicate that church drama in Kenya started some 12 years
ago. In 1991, Bob Nyanja, a theatre expert, together with three actors,
started the first Christian drama group, and named it Mavuno, a Kiswahili
word for harvest.
In an interview with AANA recently, Nyanja explained that the aim of the
group was to stage Christian plays with the same quality as those in
commercial theatre houses, but which would seek to make a difference among
Christians of all ages.
"The actors don't leave the church theatre the way they come in," explains
Wanza, pointing out: "It improves their faiths and discipline through the
repeated learning of lines."
Nyanja's Mavuno vision has today evolved into a Christian youth drama
festival, with a membership of 30 church groups. "We have a vision, in
which Christian youth from different churches will work with us," says Ms.
The richness of Christian drama has been captured in outstanding
productions such as, Wedding Best, Untouchable, Pambazuka Afrika (Dawn
Africa), Subira (Patience), which deliver strong Christian massages.
Pambazuka Afrika ran for months at the Kenya National Theatre, only for
Subira to follow suit, due to their popularity. The former was also
celebrated at an All African Conference of Churches' general assembly in
Ethiopia in 1997, before delegates from across Africa.
The production is voted one of the best ever performed by Christian groups
due to its unique treatment of the social, political and economic problems
of Africa. It was based on a popular Christian theme, Troubled But Not
A youth pastor of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA), Edward
Furi, says some of the most recurrent themes of Christian plays touch on
the HIV/AIDS scourge and morality. Furi believes that Church drama is set
to grow as it takes shape each day. "They are enthusiastic. The audience
response is equally inspiring," he says.
Furi is not alone in seeing the enthusiasm in church drama. While in Kenya
recently, David Steel, a visiting youth pastor attached to the same Church,
observed that there was resurgence of drama in African Churches, the kind
that is out to address morals.
"The plays are being scripted against evil and immorality, while setting
out hope for the congregations who are heirs of all sorts of challenges. We
are finding this tool extremely effective, and are seeing the
transformation of those who take part in or watch these productions," he
The plays also depict Africa in the race for God's mercy. They condemn bad
regimes and advocate for positive change. Above all, the supremacy of God
in people's lives is always asserted. Of late, the HIV/AIDS scourge is
taking a large share of these presentations.
The impact of the Mavuno festival is being felt among the Christian youth.
Since she took part in the shows one year ago, Beth Kituku, 24, has
remained convinced that church drama will build her career as a
communicator. She is however concerned that the some churches are yet to
accept the drama.
"The problem is that the Church is yet to recognise drama as an important
tool of ministry," says Kituku, named among the best actresses last year.
Peris Njeri, a member of Life Ministry, Kenya, describes Church theatre as
a stepping-stone to great careers in the lives of the actors. "One may not
get a role in the commercial productions, but church drama gives a chance
for the upcoming artists," she says.
"I cannot imagine how I would preach to youth without having to borrow from
these plays," says Mercy Omwaka, 19, noting: "It is more effective than
sitting and hearing Scripture after Scripture being read out."
Despite the run-away success some Christian plays have enjoyed, church
theatre has also had its share of challenges. Some Church leaders here are
critical of the entertainment aspect. Many of them still feel it is
unnecessary, and may lead to eroding the seriousness of sacred teachings.
In the meantime, congregations are feeling entertained, and embracing the
concept as an alternative to laborious church sermons.
George Chege, an active participant, says many people in Kenya have a
biased belief that professionalism and Christianity do not go
together. Says he: "Many Kenyans still assume that when professional
actors join Christian drama, they do not do well as others in the secular
theatre, but this is an assumption."
The youths complain that some elderly Church leaders sometimes challenge
the grounds for Church drama. "We are suspects, even though our activities
are in good faith," said Ken Kioko, an active dramatist for the Church.
Chege adds: "We feel that this is a way of evangelising, but the old
conservative leaders are not sure about our activities. They think we are
turning against biblical teachings."
Kioko admits though, that not all church leaders are against the activity.
"Some leaders are very supportive and encourage us to keep on," he notes.
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