[Kenyan] Archbishop Nzimbi said yesterday: "Those who speak differently from what we adhere to, we are sorry but we cannot continue our companionship with you."
Kenyan hosts abandon bishop due to his liberal views on gays
By Jonathan Petre, Religion Correspondent,
The Daily Telegraph
The Archbishop of Canterbury's official envoy will fly into Kenya today in an attempt to resolve an embarrassing impasse that has left a Church of England bishop and 20 clergy abandoned by their hosts during a visit to Africa. The Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Rev John Gladwin (pictured here) has been told that their official programme has been cancelled because the Archbishop of Kenya, the Most Rev Benjamin Nzimbi, has learned of his liberal views on homosexuality.
The bishop, his wife Lydia and 20 curates are halfway through a fortnight's visit to Kenya aimed at strengthening the 20-year links between the dioceses of Embu, Mbeere, Kirinyaga and Meru in Kenya and Chelmsford.
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 at which he will try to smooth sensitivities.
The Rev Christopher Newlands, the chaplain to Bishop Gladwin, said that Mr Peck would use the opportunity to stress that Bishop Gladwin had the full support of Dr Rowan Williams and was "not some sort of maverick".
Bishop Gladwin's trip has been planned for more than a year and began well, with the clergy being warmly received, including at a courtesy meeting with Archbishop Nzimbi. But the archbishop abruptly changed his stance after being informed that Bishop Gladwin last month became one of four patrons of Changing Attitude, a pressure group campaigning for homosexual rights.
Evangelicals in the Chelmsford diocese put out a statement decrying Bishop Gladwin's decision to back the group, which aims at the "full inclusion" of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual people in the Church of England. The Anglican Church in Kenya is part of the conservative "Global South" group that is implacably opposed to any relaxation of the Anglican Church's traditional teaching about homosexuality.
Archbishop Nzimbi said yesterday: "Those who speak differently from what we adhere to, we are sorry but we cannot continue our companionship with you." The Church of England group was staying yesterday in a hotel in Embu, a diocese to the north-east of Nairobi, and have to stay a further week in the country before they can return to Britain.
They are hoping to continue with those parts of their tour that do not officially involve the diocese of Kenya. Bishop Gladwin is also planning to meet workers from the charity Christian Aid, of which he is chairman. Mr Newlands said that the Bishop had been "shocked" by the episode, especially as Africans are famed for their hospitality. But the dispute is one of the clearest examples yet of the growing rift over homosexuality between conservatives in Africa and Asia and liberals in the West, especially north America, that could end in schism.
Mr Newlands denied that Bishop Gladwin's views on homosexuality were exceptionally liberal, but said that he was keen to listen to the experiences of homosexuals, something called for by the 1998 Lambeth Conference.
He said that difficulties arose because African countries were not so far advanced in this "listening process".