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American Woman Priest Lands Top Post In Province Of Uganda


Exclusive Report

By David Virtue

LONG BEACH, CA--A biblically-orthodox American woman priest from the Diocese of Kansas has landed a top diplomatic and missiology post in the second largest Province in the Anglican Communion, in what is viewed as a major breakthrough in East-West Anglican relations.

The Rev. Canon Dr. Allison L. Barfoot, 44, of Christ Church, Overland Park, KS will become the Assistant to the Archbishop of Uganda for international relations, a post created especially for her by the new Primate Henry Orombi.

Her appointment comes at a time when relations between the Episcopal Church and the eight million-strong Province of Uganda is seriously strained, with the African Primate declaring himself to be in broken communion with ECUSA's presiding bishop Frank T. Griswold because he participated in the consecration of an openly homoerotic bishop to the Diocese of New Hampshire.

Barfoot holds theological degrees from Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry and Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary where she earned her D. Min degree in mission studies.

In an interview at Plano-West conference in Long Beach, California this week, Barfoot said she first met Henry Orombi in 1995 at GCode 2000 in Kanuga, NC an Anglican Communion conference when Cyril Orotchi was the ACC's evangelism communications director. "I was an observer evaluating the Decade of Evangelism," she told Virtuosity.

"I met Bishop Henry for 1 or 2 years when he was the new bishop of the Diocese of Nebbi. He invited me to come and visit. I said yes. My going solidified our relationship as friends. I was vicar of a church plant in the Diocese of Virginia at the time."

"I invited him to come and preach and a mutual partnership was developed. In 1997 I took a position at Christ Church in Overland Park, Kansas as Associate rector and then I went to Uganda, and to the Diocese of Nebbi."

Christ Church has 2,000 members and is the largest parish in the Diocese of Kansas .The rector is the Rev. Ron McCreary.

(The new liberal Bishop of Kansas the Rt. Rev. Dean Wolfe describes himself as "leading from the center". He is on record as saying he would have voted for Robinson's consecration.)

"I invited then Bishop Henry to come to Christ Church in Lent of 2000 and do a Lenten
parish mission for two weeks. During that visit Christ Church parish formed a partnership relationship with the Diocese of Nebbi."

Barfoot said that each year the bishop would send a team for a preaching mission, and we sent 2 or 3 team mission teams usually relating to medical work, schools and women's groups. We also held a clergy conference and a men's retreat. "It was usually more relationally oriented with a strong focus on discipleship and leadership development."

"A strong ministry partnership developed and I became the person responsible for missions. Archbishop Henry was visiting Christ Church last fall (he was in the USA when Robinson was consecrated). He had just been elected archbishop but he had not been enthroned. He asked me to come to Uganda to work with him and he created this new position called the assistant to the Archbishop for international relations. I immediately accepted. I raised my own support with the vestry and church making a pledge of financial support."

Barfoot said she will be based in Kampala where she will have an office next to Archbishop Orombi who is also the Bishop of Kampala.

Barfoot said her duties include being an assistant to the archbishop in his duties in the Anglican Communion as a Primate. She will also help the Church of Uganda develop an outreach ministry and be a bridge to the ex-patriot community in Kampala, especially the diplomatic community. She will also help mobilize Ugandans go out as missionaries to help reclaim Uganda, re-evangelize both established and unreached peoples.

She will go out from the US under the auspices of Global Teams, an organization that also supports the Nolls who work at the Uganda Christian University (UCU).

"In August I will attend two conferences in Nairobi for Kenyans, Ugandans, Rwandans, Ethiopians, Tanzanians and Sudanese. We hope to have 50 East Africans experience a call to cross cultural mission through the Horizon Mission Training conference. A second Nehemiah leadership conference has a goal to have 150 from the same 6 countries to strengthen pastors and leaders." Barfoot said she will be at the Provincial Assembly meeting in Mokono at UCU.

Barfoot said the relationship between Christ Church, Overland Park and the Diocese of Nebbi had grown enormously over the past two years. "We have sent some 40 people out to Uganda and the archbishop has expressly said that he wants other dioceses to have a partner relationship with congregations and diocese in the West."

Barfoot said she was extremely excited by the overall prospects for East West open doors. "I went to Uganda in 1994 having already been to Uganda 10 times for 2-3 week visits. I saw a church that has tremendous spiritual resources to offer the Anglican Communion and beyond. It was a no brainer when Archbishop Henry he asked me to come, it was easy to say yes."

Asked what the response had been from ECUSA's national headquarters in NY about her appointment, Barfoot said she had not received any response at all, nor had Episcopal Life shown any interest in her appointment as the first woman appointee to such a high position on African soil. "I suspect they don't like my orthodox stands on issues."

Barfoot said she sees her move as a "profoundly historic event" coming as it does from the world's second largest Anglican province.

Asked what her expectations were as the first woman priest to rise to such a senior level in the Anglican Communion, Barfoot could only smile. "I start my job on July, on my 45th birthday. It's a gift from the Lord."

Barfoot said she felt honored that she already had some relationship with the clergy in Uganda. "I will be doing some work with Provincial Mission coordinator Johnson Ebong."

Asked if she expected to experience any jealousy because of her appointment as a white Western woman, especially as the Anglican communion is overwhelming Black, African, female and under 30. Barfoot said no. Uganda believes in women's ordination The archbishop planned on creating this new position and he seemed to think I fitted well. I have signed up for a three year term, but for me it is "indefinite" and I would be happy to stay for the archbishop's full 10-year term of office.

"I would like to re-emphasize that the Church of Uganda has a tremendous gift to offer and a depth of commitment to Christ, the gospel and mission which has been forged in persecution most notably with the Ugandan Martyrs right up to the murder in 1977 of Janani Luwun Archbishop of Uganda who was slaughtered by Idi Amin. The Ugandan Church has been invigorated through the East African revival started in the 1930s and it continues to this day."


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