St Sebastian church community opens in Uganda

Daily Monitor, Uganda and Afrol News

The church community of St Sebastian, known for its outreach to homosexuals, has announced the establishment of religious fellowships in East Africa, the online news agency Afrol News reported on Monday 12 April.

The Rev Paul Gibson, the leader of the Gran Canaria-based community of St Sebastian said: “In recent weeks we have been blessed with the opportunity to extend our ministry throughout Africa and especially in Kenya and Uganda.” He revealed that preparations to offer religious services in the two East African countries are now at an advanced stage. According to Gibson, the establishment of fellowships in Kenya and Uganda “is only the beginning of a new fully inclusive church that will grow in strength and stature, whilst also becoming a voice for Christians who have been marginalised by an out of date system of administration”.

Following an unsuccessful attempt to establish a fellowship in Britain, Gibson decided to “re-structure” St Sebastian and focus on Africa and Asia. “With the increasing interest amongst marginalised people in Africa and Asia, as well in parts of Europe, it has been decided to concentrate on these areas of need primarily. In essence this means that the development of fellowships in the UK will cease,” he was quoted as saying. He reportedly refused to give details on the church community’s expansion into East Africa, saying he needed to consult with colleagues in Uganda and Kenya to avoid handing out information that could jeopardise the security of those linked to the pro-gay fellowship.

In Uganda, Gibson reportedly said, the fellowships would be run by either deacons or priests who had already expressed interest in becoming part of the Sebastian Community. “These will be fully trained by our vocations team. At the current time there are several people training for these roles across Kenya and Uganda.” “We are an Independent Christian fellowship and people of all faiths are welcome to join us,” he said, adding that both Catholics and Protestants were welcome.

The church community of St Sebastian is relatively new and has so far mostly concentrated its services in the Spanish island of Gran Canaria, off the southern Moroccan coast. The community condemns the exclusion of gays, lesbians and transsexuals by most mainstream churches.

It has secretly established its first fellowships in Africa, with Uganda and Kenya as the conduits for what is reported to be an Africa-wide mission. It is not yet clear where the fellowships would be based.

Although the St Sebastian Community says it has independent status, new reports of Christian fellowships that appeal to gay culture brings a new challenge for both the Anglican and Catholic churches, which condemn homosexuality in the strongest terms.

The development is reported to worry the local Anglican Church because it comes less than a month after an impasse over the expulsion of a bishop for his liberal views on how the Church should relate with homosexuals. Anglican Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi defrocked Dr Christopher Senyonjo for consecrating a bishop loyal to a church with shadowy ideals. In a communiqué issued on 24 March which announced the expulsion of Senyonjo, Archbishop Orombi said the former overseer of the West Buganda Diocese had since 2002 consistently “misrepresented the scriptures” on human sexuality.

A government spokesperson, Dr James Nsaba Buturo, sais that the State was aware of the group’s activities. “That’s their business. We already know about them,” he said. “Investigations are underway and the police will be taking action.” Dr Buturo said the government would not ignore the church’s activities. “We don’t intend to ignore them. They may think that we don’t know, but the truth is that we know about all their tricks,” he said. He declined to divulge more information, saying it would jeopardise the ongoing investigations.

In Uganda, homosexuality is illegal and most lesbian and gay people have secret lifestyles.

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