Anglicans Spurn Gay Church Cash

Nairobi, Kenya - The Anglican Church of Kenya has rejected funding from the American Episcopal Church, the Anglican Communion reported in London yesterday.

Kenya, like other leading Anglican communions in Africa, had in the past five months rejected millions of dollars in funding from the American communion to protest at the church's decision to elect gay bishops and allow same-sex relationships in the church.

Attempts by the head of the Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury, to heal the rift between the African and American churches were yet to bear fruit.

Lambeth Palace, the headquarters of the church, said in its website that Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi was willing "to do without the money" to remind the Episcopal Church of its mission "to preach the Great Commission".

"What kind of Gospel are they preaching now, saying there should be unions of people of the same sex?" the Archbishop asked.

According to a palace source, Anglican bishops in Africa who were refusing millions of dollars from the liberal American Episcopal Church, had said that the price of their protest had been higher than they had expected.

"There is not enough money for the needs we have in Rwanda after the (1994) genocide," said Bishop John Rucyahana of the Diocese of Shyira. "But if money is being used to disgrace the Gospel, then we don't need it".

The Rev Alison Barfoot, assistant to the Archbishop of Uganda, said the province had no working phones in its Kampala headquarters because it lacked the money to foot the bills.

Conservative American churches had not pitched in enough either. "Definitely not to the extent of what we have given up," she said.

Mr Bill Atwood, general-secretary of the Ekklesia Society, an international Anglican network, just returned from a tour of Tanzania, Malawi, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda and described the lack of money for Africans as "scandalous".

"I met with some archbishops a week ago and they were saying how painful it was, with people starving to death to make these choices," he said.

Africa, which has 12 Anglican provinces, each made of numerous dioceses, was the fastest-growing portion of the 70-million-member Anglican Communion, which includes the US Episcopal Church.

The 2003 election of New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson, who was divorced and was living in a homosexual relationship, split the Anglican Communion worldwide with Africans opposing the decision.

Since then, the archbishops of Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda, overseeing 30.5 million Anglicans, announced that they would not accept grants from the American Episcopal Church.

Some Rwandan and Tanzanian bishops followed suit.

Ms Edwina Thomas, the national director of Sharing of Ministries Abroad, a Virginia-based Anglican group, said African prelates debated the matter in Nigeria last year.

"The archbishop of Congo said: 'My people are starving. They are having as little as one meal every other day,'" Ms Thomas said said. "I remember the archbishop of Nigeria saying, 'We need to help you.'"

It was estimated that 70 per cent of all African funding came from the Episcopal Church, whose headquarters alone had a 2005 budget of Sh3.9 billion ($49.6 million).

A typical African diocesan budget ranges between Sh4 million ($50,000) and Sh8 million ($100,000).