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KENYA: Anglican Synod Pushes for Women Bishops

KENYA: Anglican Synod Pushes for Women Bishops

By David W. Virtue, DD
www.virtueonline.org
October 4, 2019

The Anglican Church of Kenya could see women bishops in their future.

"On the stubborn question of women bishops, the church is also effecting a deliberate push to encourage senior female priests to vie whenever a vacancy arises," said a report delivered at the 24th meeting of the Anglican Church of Kenya's General Synod which also adopted the first reading of amendments to its constitution governing the election of bishops and the creation of new dioceses.

Clergy and lay delegates from the 40 Kenyan dioceses along with members of the House of Bishops meeting Sept 25-26 at All Saints cathedral in Nairobi, adopted proposals to reform the episcopal election process and to clarify language allowing and encouraging women priests to stand for election to the episcopate. The resolutions will now be sent to the dioceses for review. They will be reviewed at the next meeting of Synod in 2021 for action.

"Right now, the Constitution just talks of priests of good standing being allowed to run in bishopric elections. We want to take this a notch further and affirm the consecration of women to become bishops in the revised document," said Bishop David Kodia of the Diocese of Bondo.

While the constitution and canons permit the election of female bishops in Kenya, the current Archbishop of Kenya, the Most Rev. Jackson Ole Sapit, has endorsed the GAFCON moratorium on electing new female bishops in the GAFCON provinces. South Sudan has a female assisting bishop, but the GAFCON archbishops have pledged to oppose the election of new women bishop at this time.

In other news the ACK bishops elected a new Dean in a bid to change the constitution. Bishop Charles Mwendwa will be the new Provincial Dean for the Anglican Church of Kenya. The post is the second most powerful after that of the ACK Archbishop.

A second proposal would raise the minimum age of episcopal election from 35 to 45 -- permitting a maximum term of 20 years in office as bishops must retire on reaching the age of 65. The delegates believed it was not healthy for a diocese to freeze its leaders in place for up to 30 years, given the rapid growth of the church and the changing religious environment in Kenya.

"In order to respond to the ever-changing needs and operational environment and remain true to our mandate in a holistic manner, we commit to re-examine our constitution, processes and the way we do business guided by ACK Decade Strategy 2018-2027. In this regard, this session resolved that where Dioceses have in place Human Resources Policies and Procedure Manuals, such documents should be harmonized with the Provincial Human Resource Manual within a grace period of one year," Archbishop Jackson Ole Sapit said in a communication.

GAFCON has placed a moratorium on electing new female bishops in GAFCON provinces of which Kenya is one. The constitution and canons permit the election of female bishops in Kenya, even though the current Archbishop of Kenya, the Most Rev. Jackson Ole Sapit, has endorsed the moratorium. South Sudan recently elected a female assisting bishop, but GAFCON archbishops have pledged to oppose the election of new women bishop at this time.

END

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