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KENYA: Bishop pulls back from fete linked to ECUSA pro-gay bishop

Kenyan Bishop pulls back from fete linked to US Episcopal Pro gay bishop

By MIKE MWANIKI
Daily Nation

2/10/2004

Cash-for-prayers bishop Peter Njoka has narrowly escaped a new storm – he was stopped at the last minute from attending the ordination of a Kenyan deacon by clergymen allied to the controversial American gay bishop.

Bishop Njoka, who is at the centre of a Nairobi City Council payments scandal, was reportedly scheduled to attend the elevation in Los Angeles, United States, of a Kenyan deacon by churchmen linked to the first openly homosexual cleric to become a bishop.

A message from Anglican archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi forced him to cancel plans to attend the ordination of Mr. Johnson Muchira by churchmen in California blacklisted by the Kenyan Church for supporting the ordination of Bishop Gene Robinson. The ordination last year split the Anglican Church worldwide.

A stiff letter also went to Mr. Muchira, who later cancelled the ceremony, after being reminded of the Kenyan Church's opposition to homosexuality and its decision to break links with bishop Robinson's diocese and priests who had backed his ordination.

Bishop Njoka is in the United States seeking assistance for various projects in his diocese.

He has been accused by auditors of receiving payments from the financially-strapped Nairobi city council for serving as the Mayor's Chaplain.

Bishop Njoka was reported by a special inspection team appointed by minister Karisa Maitha of receiving a monthly pay for giving spiritual services to the council, while workers went without pay allegedly for lack of cash.

He was ordered by the team to repay the Sh1.7 million he had received over the years or face an investigation by the Kenya Anti-corruption Commission.

Kenya's Anglican Church broke links with American Episcopalians in the diocese of the openly gay bishop Robinson and vowed not to have any dealings with clergymen who supported his ordination. Archbishop Nzimbi said those who backed Bishop Robinson's ordination would be seen to have removed themselves from the Anglican community.

On Thursday, the Anglican Church will hold a synod meeting to discuss the accusations against Bishop Njoka in the cash-for-prayers affair.

The issue would then be referred to the House of Bishops, the highest decision-making organ of the church.

The bishop was asked to repay the money early last month by an Extraordinary inspection team led by Mr. Erastus Rweria, which is investigating council finances.

Media reports yesterday said deacon Muchira, who has been studying in California, cancelled the ordination after learning that he risked being excommunicated by Kenyan Anglicans if the ceremony was handled by Bishop Robinson's allies.

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Gays spoil party for priest

By Evelyn Kwamboka
NEWS FOCUS

February 10, 2004

The move by the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) to block the ordination of one of their own by a bishop from the pro-homosexual church in the US has again brought to the fore the sharp split in the church.

The Kenyan deacon was stopped from graduating to priesthood by the ACK — simply because the ceremony was to be presided over by a bishop from the United States’ pro-gay Episcopal Church. The church is well known for backing gay bishops like Gene Robinson.

The latest controversy started in Los Angeles, US, when an ACK deacon cleared the first phase of his theological studies.

The deacon is said to have called Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi to get the Kenyan church’s blessings, which the prelate promptly gave. The deacon then prepared himself for the Feb. 1 ceremony. But it was not to be.

According to the ACK provincial secretary, Bishop William Waqo, Primate Nzimbi decided to investigate the matter.

"The archbishop gave the go-ahead simply because he did not know that it was the pro-gay bishop who was to preside over the ceremony," he said.

When Nzimbi discovered that a bishop from Robinson’s church was to ordain the Kenyan, it took him a minute to cancel the ceremony at the 11th hour.

"The archbishop called the deacon and asked him to call off the ceremony immediately," said Waqo.

Sources told the East African Standard that the cash-for-prayer bishop Peter Njoka travelled to the US to represent the archbishop, only to find that it was to be presided over by one in Robinson’s camp.

Njoka is said to have called the archbishop immediately to cancel the ceremony.

Waqo said the church’s stand was very clear: Had it been a church that is not in support of the gays, Nzimbi would have approved.

"The archbishop refused because we are not in fellowship with those in support of gay bishops," he added.

Waqo declined to give the deacon and bishop’s names, saying "he had forgotten".

He said of the deacon: "He agreed to step down and continue with phase two of his theology studies, then he will come back home to be ordained," he said.

Since the gay issue brought a sharp division in Anglicanism, deacons, priests or bishops studying in the US or Britain have to inform the Kenyan church of who is to ordain them.

Anglican members, bishops, deacons or priests visiting the two countries are allowed to go only to churches recognised by the Kenyan House of Bishops.

"For them to be ordained, they have to choose from the list of Anglican Churches we have given them (anti-gay)," he said.

And Waqo did not mince his words. Had the ceremony taken place as earlier planned, the deacon would not have been allowed to serve as a priest in Kenya.

All Saints Cathedral provost, the Rev Peter Karanja, said it was difficult for the church to give the deacon’s identity as he would be associated with the gay bishop.

Last year, Robinson — a divorced father of two who has since lived with his male partner since 1989 — openly became the first gay bishop, a move that brought a sharp division in the world of Anglicanism.

Robinson was quoted in a section of the international media saying he knew a good number of gay bishops, both in the US and abroad.

"There are enormously gifted Episcopal priests around this church who are gay and lesbians who would make wonderful bishops and they are going to be nominated," he said.

However, sources at the All Saints Cathedral, Nairobi, said the House of Bishops decided to treat the matter confidentially.

END

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