The Rt Revd Benjamin Nzimbi, Archbishop of Kenya has unilaterally cancelled further engagements by the Rt Revd John Gladwin, Bishop of Chelmsford, following the revelation that he is a patron of Changing Attitude.
This has led to extensive media coverage in the UK by the BBC and the four broadsheet newspapers. It has also been widely reported by the Kenyan press. Changing Attitude is saddened that we have become the reason for curtailing the programme of a long-planned and valuable visit both for Bishop John, for the curates from Chelmsford Diocese who have accompanied him and for the diocese of Mt Kenya.
Changing Attitude always looks for the positive in apparently negative stories and events. The revelation that Bishop John accepted an invitation several months ago to become a patron has created a storm in Kenya. The resulting publicity in Kenya brings information to Kenyan lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Anglican Church members, and to the heterosexual majority.
It informs them about the abusive and ill-informed attitudes held by senior church members.
The widely-published news will have alerted people to the debate taking place in the Anglican Communion and the commitment made by Archbishop Nzimbi to uphold in full Lambeth 1.10 and the Windsor Report.
It reveals to LGBT Kenyan Anglican that there are groups like Changing Attitude working to argue for our full inclusion in the church, where they are almost certainly feeling isolated and un-cared for.
Another positive sign is the article by the Revd Tim Wambunya published by Fulcrum. Tim is vicar of Emmanuel Church, Hornsey Road, London and Chair of the Kenya Church Association UK. He writes: “The Kenya Church Association (KCA) hopes the Chelmsford Mt Kenya link will survive the current crisis even if Bishop John Gladwin’s personal views are being challenged. Any diocesan link is surely bigger and more important than the Bishops or even the person who has helped establish it. We do not think current disagreements with Bishop John Gladwin should be allowed to kill the enthusiasm Chelmsford Christians have for this long established link. We believe this kind of partnership encourages churches in the UK to learn from the Church in Kenya. A genuine partnership can bring mutual encouragement and stimulus to local mission – Chelmsford Mt Kenya link is a genuine partnership.” Changing Attitude sincerely hopes the link will survive this week’s crisis.
Jonathan Petre reported in the Daily Telegraph that the Archbishop of Canterbury’s official envoy will fly into Kenya today, Thursday, in an attempt to resolve the impasse. The Rev David Peak, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Secretary for International Development, is travelling from Sudan for a meeting with Archbishop Nzimbi in Nairobi.
Meanwhile, the Daily Nation, Kenya, reported that a request by bishop John Gladwin to address worshippers this Sunday has been turned down. A source at Nairobi’s All Saints Cathedral, where the bishop wanted to speak, said: “Following the position taken by His Grace and the church, the decision to have Bishop Gladwin speak has been reversed.” A staff member at Archbishop Nzimbi’s office told the Nation that Bishop Gladwin had requested an opportunity to deliver sermons at the church but had been refused “because by the time they requested, our programme was full.”
Moses Njue, the Bishop of Embu, explaining on Wednesday what had happened last Sunday, said “The press arrived and started questions. That was when we first learned that he [Bishop Gladwin] was part of a gay club (sic). It was shocking to us.” He said he hoped Bishop Gladwin and the archbishop could “sort things out”.