July 23, 2008
Sudanese Anglicans reject homosexual practice
At Lambeth, new archbishop calls for end to ordination of any homosexuals as priests or bishops.
The careful choregraphy of Lambeth, set out for the Anglican Communion's 600 plus bishops in attendance, is not going according to the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams' original plan. One of the first to step out of line and off script is Daniel Deng Bul, the newly elected archbishop of Sudan.
Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul
The growth and spread of the Episcopal Church of Sudan is miracle to behold in light of the national bloody conflict. Sudan's bishops decided to attend Lambeth, unlike their conservative colleagues in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Nigeria, among others.
Yesterday, the Sudanese bishops issued the following joint statement:
In view of the present tensions and divisions within the Anglican Communion, and out of deep concern for the unity of the Church, we consider it important to express clearly the position of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan (ECS) concerning human sexuality.
We believe that God created humankind in his own image; male and female he created them for the continuation of humankind on earth. Women and men were created as God??Ts agents and stewards on earth. We believe that human sexuality is God??Ts gift to human beings which is rightly ordered only when expressed within the life-long commitment of marriage between one man and one woman. We require all those in the ministry of the Church to live according to this standard and cannot accept church leaders whose practice is contrary to this.
We reject homosexual practice as contrary to biblical teaching and can accept no place for it within ECS. We strongly oppose developments within the Anglican Church in the USA and Canada in consecrating a practicing homosexual as bishop and in approving a rite for the blessing of same-sex relationships. This has not only caused deep divisions within the Anglican Communion but it has seriously harmed the Church??Ts witness in Africa and elsewhere, opening the church to ridicule and damaging its credibility in a multi-religious environment.
The unity of the Anglican Communion is of profound significance to us as an expression of our unity within the Body of Christ. It is not something we can treat lightly or allow to be fractured easily. Our unity expresses the essential truth of the Gospel that in Christ we are united across different tribes, cultures and nationalities. We have come to attend the Lambeth Conference, despite the decision of others to stay away, to appeal to the whole Anglican Communion to uphold our unity and to take the necessary steps to safeguard the precious unity of the Church.
Out of love for our brothers and sisters in Christ, we appeal to the Anglican Church in the USA and Canada, to demonstrate real commitment to the requests arising from the Windsor process. In particular:
* To refrain from ordaining practicing homosexuals as bishops or priests
* To refrain from approving rites of blessing for same-sex relationships
* To cease court actions with immediate effect;
* To comply with Resolution 1:10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference
* To respect the authority of the Bible.
We believe that such steps are essential for bridging the divisions which have opened up within the Communion.
We affirm our commitment to uphold the four instruments of communion of the Anglican Communion: the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Primates??T Meeting and the Anglican Consultative Council; and call upon all Provinces of the Communion to respect these for the sake of the unity and well-being of the Church.
We appeal to this Lambeth Conference to rescue the Anglican Communion from being divided. We pray that God will heal us from the spirit of division. We pray for God??Ts strength and wisdom so that we might be built up in unity as the Body of Christ.
The Most Revd Dr Daniel Deng Bul
Archbishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan and Bishop of Juba
Later on, the archbishop showed up in the press room to answer questions. But it was unscheduled and unofficial. Here's one report that gives one conservative's take on his time with the news media:
We have just had a briefing with the Archbishop of the Sudan, the Most Reverend Dr. Daniel Deng Bul. He informed the press room this morning that he would come and speak with us, since the Anglican Communion News Bureau running this conference, would not schedule a time for him to address the press. The archbishop is young ? I would guess that he is in his 40's. He is very articulate and has an earned Ph.D.
"Let the Anglican world be united and be a normal, respected Christian body. We have not punished the American church yet. We are asking them to repent. I am talking about the institutional church in America, no specific bishops. I am here to speak within the House of Bishops. I cannot be silent on this issue; I must speak to the House for the reality I know with my people. I should not hesitate to be here since I have been an Anglican since I was a child.
When asked what would happen to the Communion if Robinson did not resign, the archbishop continued, "I cannot predict what will happen if he will not resign."
Ruth Gledhill of the Times of London asked the archbishop who would pay for this conference, reportedly 2.6 million pounds in debt at this minute, and not able to pay for this by the parishes in the Church of England, if the American church was not invited. He replied very gently, "Issues of faith cannot be mixed with materialism."
The archbishop, known as an expert in the field of reconciliation said, "I am here talking to my brothers and sisters in America. We have experienced offense by their actions. I am not trying to offend them in return but tell them that I love them. We have had a painful experience and they must ask for forgiveness so we can go on together.
"If there is a cultural problem in America, it should be kept in America and not allowed to come into the Anglican world. I am not saying the Americans should all be excluded, but keep Gene Robinson away and we will find a way to help them. (Imagine the American Episcopal Church actually acknowledging that they need the help of the Sudan!)
"This issue of homosexuality in the Anglican Communion has a very serious effect in my country. We are called ?infidels' by the Moslems. That means that they will do whatever they can against us to keep us from damaging the people of our country. They challenge our people to convert to Islam and leave the infidel Anglican Church. When our people refuse, sometimes they are killed. These people are very evil and mutilate and harm our people. I am begging the Communion on this issue so no more of my people will be killed.
"My people have been suffering for 21 years of war. Their only hope is in the Church. It is the center of life of my people. No matter what problem we have, no material goods, no health supplies or medicine; no jobs or income; no availability of food. The inflation rate makes our money almost worthless and we have done this for 21 years. The Church is the center of our life together.
"The culture does not change the Bible; the Bible changes the culture. Cultures that do not approve of the Bible are left out of the Church's life; people who do not believe in the Bible are left out of our churches. The American church is saying that God made a mistake. He made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Adam.
"We will not talk to Gene Robinson or listen to him or his testimony. He has to confess, receive forgiveness and leave. Then we will talk. You cannot bring the listening to gay people to our Communion. People who do not believe in the Bible are left out of our churches, not invited in to tell us why they don't believe.... The Authority of the Bible is always the same. You cannot pull a line out or add a line to it. That brings you a curse. We are saying no. You are wrong.
"I have just come from a meeting of the African and Global South bishops who are here. There were almost 200 bishops there. They support the statement my Church made yesterday. That's 17 provinces."