The Revd Michael Kimindu, Changing Attitude’s representative in Kenya, had a meeting with the Bishop of Mombassa, the Rt Revd Julius Kalu, yesterday. The Bishop began by giving Michael an account of what happened at the Consultation meeting of nineteen bishops held in Dar Es Salaam from February 24 to 27 2011. The meeting had its origins in the Lambeth Conference of 2008, at which some significant partnership relationships and commitment to further dialogue had been made.
The bishop said he had been instructed by the Archbishop not to speak on behalf of the Anglican Church of Kenya. However, the Bishop says the issue of human sexuality did not feature much, and he made his contribution on other topics.
On the matter of a seminar for clergy in the diocese, Bishop Julius said he has plans for clergy and their wives (100 in number) to take place on April 27-28th, to which he would invite Michael and two others. The bishop said some of the clergy need persuading because they are very afraid of the topic of homosexuality and human sexuality in general. He said he will talk to them and then decide if Michael should be present. Michael reflected that Bishop Julius Kalu was saying that sometimes a bishop may have an affirming spirit, wanting clergy to become involved, but may be compelled by his clergy to take a neutral position. There is need for patient understanding and waiting, says Michael.
Michael assured the Bishop that he would be able to navigate his talk away from controversy, providing the opportunity for the clergy and their spouses to ask questions.
The proposed seminar will cost Kshs 550,000.00 (about $6,600). The bishop said he would appreciate it if Michael’s partners could help him by meeting a portion of the cost. The partners are Changing Attitude, Other Sheep, and Metropolitan Community Church and RMN).
When they had met previously the bishop had read a statement which had incorrectly reported Michael’s 9 months of non-stipendiary service at All Saints Cathedral as 19 years of service in Mombasa Diocese. As a navy chaplain partly located in Mombasa, Michael had close ties with the diocese but was not a member of the stipendiary staff. Have sorted that out the Bishop was much more friendly and relaxed and they both looked forward to a good working relationship.
Misunderstandings such as this can plague attempts to engage in Africa with LGBT issues when there may already be a high level of anxiety and suspicion present, but Michael is creating very positive relationships in a number of dioceses.
Yesterday evening Michael was due to meet with a Muslim leader, Sheik Juma Ngao, to talk about Christian/Muslim advocacy and the proposed Mombasa Conference to take place in June. Michael plans to involve the Anglican Bishop following his discussion with the Sheik.