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By David W. Virtue, DD
January 27, 2021

Six lay synod members in the Diocese of Bondo have filed a petition with the Kenyan Church's Archbishop, the Most Rev. Jackson Ole Sapit, objecting to the appointment of the Rev. Canon Emily Onyango's consecration. They allege that the appointment process "was unprocedural and in complete disregard" of canon and civil law, and that Bishop of Bondo David Kodia used "blackmail, threats, and intimidation" to secure Onyango's approval.

They said, "due process" was not followed and was a "violation of Article 12". Even though the bishop was told of the illegality of the event, he said there was no harm in rushing everything in one sitting.

The petitioners also claim that parishes in the dioceses could not afford to pay the new bishop, as contributions to the diocese by parishes are in arrears by 13 million Kenyan shillings (about $120,000), and some parish vicars have received no salaries in over a year.

They criticized the decision and said Bishop Onyango should go back to her teaching post at St. Paul's University. "If they can appoint someone then send her back where she came from then they do not need her services."

The petitioners urged Primate Ole Sapit to intervene and to withhold his consent to Onyango's appointment. They also said that some diocesan clergy agreed with them, but "would not dare talk,"

On 12 January 2021, the Bondo synod affirmed the appointment of Dr. Onyango as assistant bishop. A senior lecturer and dean of students at St. Paul's University in Limuru, Dr. Onyango earned a PhD from the University of Wollongong in New South Wales and was one of the first women ordained to the priesthood in Kenya in 1984. You can the story here: https://virtueonline.org/kenyan-anglicans-appoint-first-woman-bishop

The appointment would become the fourth African female bishop, following the Rt. Rev. Ellinah Wamukoya of Swaziland (who died last week of COVID -19), the Rt. Rev. Margaret Vertue of False Bay and the Rt. Rev. Elizabeth Awut Ngor, assistant bishop of Rumbek.

This action, if allowed to continue will not sit well with GAFCON primates. In 2014, these orthodox primates adopted a moratorium on the ordination of women to the episcopate in their provinces. The move came after women priests unsuccessfully stood for election in the Anglican Church of Kenya in 2012 and 2014. After the moratorium was introduced, the GAFCON primates created a Task Force on Women in the Episcopate chaired by the Rt. Rev. Sampson Mwaluda of Kenya. Their 2017 report recommended a moratorium be placed on ordaining further women bishops, "as the issue poses a threat to the unity we prize", former GAFCON chairman Archbishop Peter Jensen of Sydney said.

Archbishop Ole Sapit reminded synod, however, that he had agreed to honor the GAFCON moratorium and noted the Kenyan House of Bishops in 2015 had voluntarily entered into a five-year moratorium also.


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