Thursday, February 01, 2007

Mwamba Speaks

Well, it seems light is now starting to shine through the rhetoric coming out of some quarters of Anglican Africa, according to this striking article from the Church Times. Bishop Mwamba of Botswana offers an overview of the very human and very Christian complexities of African Anglicanism, including a cutting indictment of the connections between intercontinental financing, playing the numbers game, and the anti-gay, anti-"Episcopal Church in the United States & Co." rhetoric that has so dominated the discourse of the Anglican Communion the past few years. He speaks also of reconciliation and the generous breadth of spiritual, theological, and ecclesiastical understanding that is a constituent part of our Anglican heritage.

+Mwamba's words, combined with other statements of late (such as those of +Mhogolo Mdimi) demonstrate an emerging dis-ease amongst the provinces of Africa with the leadership of the Church of Nigeria, the House of Bishops of Tanzania, and the Archbishop of Uganda and the hard-line stances they and others on the African continent have endeavored to take. There are signs as we approach the Primates Meeting, slated to begin in 11 days, that they have, for better or worse, pushed too hard with inflammatory rhetoric, resolutions, and posturing, and that connections through the "Global South Primates" with well-monied schismatic efforts from a handful of leaders in The Episcopal Church have been raising considerable doubt about where they are wanting to take the Communion. . . and why.

We also see here growing signs that Jenny Plane Te Paa's hoped-for coalition to battle oppression in the name of Christ, a coalition preparing to bring the Gospel to bear on what we as a Communion really are called to address . . . that this coalition is being birthed, by God's grace, and this we can now see more clearly in a number of African bishops and archbishops -- and likely even more in the struggling people they serve.

The Archbishop of Canterbury remarked in a letter recently that The Episcopal Church is not a "monochrome" body. Indeed. Nor, it seems, are the provinces of Africa, either taken singly or together. I shouldn't be surprised, of course, but it gives me hope that more reasonable voices are speaking out with increasing clarity, and the roar of the "lion" is losing its dominance, in the Western media at least.

Jim Naughton offers further commentary, and thanks to John Kirkley for bringing this to my attention.

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