The Revd Michael Kimindu wears several hats! He is the Director of Other Sheep Africa and an MCC Minister as well as being an Anglican priest and the founder of Changing Attitude Kenya. Michael introduced me to Bishop Julius Kalu of Mombasa when I visited Kenya in March this year. Bishop Kalu was very welcoming and open in his desire to engage in positive ways in the Anglican Communion’s exploration of human sexuality. It was a surprise to both Michael and myself to read a report published in Kenya in which the bishop was said to have made deeply homophobic comments in a sermon. Michael phoned the bishop, and the outcome was the seminar held last Saturday, which Michael and Gideon report here:
Following an opening prayer offered by Joyshee Gideon, the Rev. Michael Kimindu opened the seminar by introducing Bishop Julius Kalu whom he described as a longtime friend.
He said that the seminar was organized as a result of media reports that had implicated the Bishop as having said in a sermon that homosexuals were worse than Al-Shabaab, an Islamic Terrorist group. Michael Kimindu sensitized the gathering on the dangers of homophobia, the characteristics of which he said are ignorance, intolerance, bigotry and fear.
Bishop Kalu fights back tears
Rev. Kimindu then read a moving narrative send to him by the CEO of Centre for Human Rights Promotion (CHRP) on the brutal killing of an LGBTI activist Mr. Morris Mjomba in Tanzania. Mjomba worked with CHRP. As Rev. Kimindu read the narrative, a sober mood engulfed everyone and emotions ran high. Those in attendance including the Bishop were overwhelmed with grief and tears of grief rolled freely from their eyes. It emerged that Mjomba was a Kenyan living and working in Tanzania (we hope the Kenyan Authorities will demand from their Tanzania counterpart to know who murdered Mjomba). His relatives live in Kenya and travelled all the way to Tanzania for the funeral and burial ceremonies as the decomposed body could not be lifted to Kenya.
Afterwards, Rev. Kimindu called upon the LGBTI persons present to introduce themselves to the Bishop stating their sexual orientation , gender identity and religious affiliation (most of whom were Christians except one Muslim converted from Christianity). She is an ally working with MSM (Men who have Sex with Men) at the Kenya Medical Research Institute in Mtwapa. One gay participant confessed to being an Anglican! Rev. Kimindu then invited the Bishop to respond and this was his address:
Bishop condemns the killing
The bishop, who appeared visibly disturbed, saddened and struck with grief on learning of the brutal death of Mr. Mjomba, stated that there was a need for human societies to live in love, care and harmony with one another without assigning indifferences. He termed the brutal killing of Mjomba a “heinous and cowardly” act and expressed the wish that someday soon LGBTI people will live in a free world without “violence and discrimination.”
“Praise God everyone! I want to begin by saying that your sexual orientation does not determine your spiritual orientation.” He went on to say, “I was born in Malindi and raised up in Ganze. My theological professor was a lesbian and my turning point was the Lambeth Conference in 1998. Resolution 1.10 gave room to listening to gay people. After the Conference I have continued to engage a lot in learning about LGBTI People. In 2010 I was invited, though without consultation to join a group of Anglican Bishops who are leading the Listening group.
This is a caucus (meeting) of Anglican Bishops taken from the most conservative countries and the most liberal countries. However, I confess that I am still learning. We have to preach the message of love regardless of one’s sexuality.
The sermon in reference to my having said that homosexuals are worse than Al-Shabaab was taken out of context. I was preaching from Eph: 6:10-18. “It was not me who said that gays are worse than terrorists. NEVER. However, all things work together for good to those who love God and I confess to you that, that article however disparaging and infamous has helped me know a lot about LGBTI people.
Because of it, I have been contacted by my fellow bishops in the listening group in the UK, Canada and individual LGBTI people in Kenya. Therefore, let me clear the air on this issue, I never said anything of that sort!
When Rev. Kimindu called me to ask about the report, he asked if I had met any homosexuals in Kenya and I asked him, “Where are they?” He asked me if I would be willing to meet some and I was excited. I told him to arrange and inform me in good time. This is my very first time to ever see or even meet with LGBTI people and especially from Kenya. It is indeed a “shame to me that I’ve been shepherding to LGBTI people in the Anglican Church when I even don’t know!” I’m interested in a verse in the Bible: Gal: 5:22-23. ”But the fruit of the Spirit is; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
If these qualities are found in all of us where is the difference then? In fact, you have not harmed anyone. In any case, it is you who are being hunted down like dogs by the society just as we have heard from the brutal murder of Mjomba in Tanzania. This must stop and stop now. You are a dignified people like any other person in the world. However, I ask you to abstain from drugs and keep the good qualities of Galatians 5 and God will have no problem with you and I will have no problem with you as a bishop! From what I’m gathering from you, I say homosexuality is not a choice but homophobia is.
In conclusion, Rev.Kimindu said to the Bishop, “If you tell your clergy that they should pastor to homosexuals, they will follow because they say they are waiting for your word. I also request that you also tell your colleagues the bishops that you are now supporting change. The clergy will change if you lead.
The Bishop asked many questions and the group gladly answered without any hesitation. He confessed that, “Out of the testimonies I have heard from you, I have learned a lot.” There are even Anglicans here! “Come to Church. The bishop officially closed the meeting with a word of prayer. He accepted that the report of our meeting with him be ‘circulated widely’.
Report compiled by Joyshee Gideon, recorder, and Rev (Maj. Rtd KN) Michael N. Kimindu (STM) USA, Convener, Neema MCC Minister and President OSA.