The Anglican Church in Kenya and Uganda is to officially sever ties with its US counterpart over the consecration of a homosexual bishop.
The US Episcopal Church consecrated Gene Robinson, 56, at the weekend, overriding objections from dissenting clergy and laying bare deep divisions among the Anglican faith's 70 million adherents worldwide.
Head of the Kenyan Anglican Church, Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi said they would sever ties with not only Robinson, but all bishops involved in his consecration.
"For us they will not be looked upon as we have been doing, as our fellow Anglicans. It means that our understanding of the bible is different from them. We are two different churches," he said.
Nzimbi said cutting ties mean the Kenyan Anglican church would not accept any support from the US church, including missionaries.
Another spokesman for the Kenyan establishment said: "We are not going to support homosexuality in the church, primarily because it is a sin.”
Eldoret Diocese Bishop Thomas Kogo said the decision had already been made, that Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams – the worldwide head of the Anglican church – had been informed and that the move would be formalised at a meeting of Kenyan Anglican bishops in two weeks.
Homosexual acts are crimes in Kenya and Uganda.
Spokesman for the Anglican Church of Uganda, Reverend Jackson Turyagenda said: “We have already made a resolution that the church will break fellowship with any diocese that takes steps to consecrate a gay clergy (member) or blesses marriages of gays or lesbians.”
“We are not the ones breaking ties with the Diocese of New Hampshire, it is the one that has opted out of the fellowship," he added.
The spokesman said there was no chance of a split within Uganda’s Anglican church because none of its members advocated homosexuality or lesbianism.
The head of the Nigerian Anglican Church said it was appalled by the consecration, but stopped short of breaking all ties.
"We deplore the act of those bishops who have taken part in the consecration which has now divided the Church"
Most Rev Peter Akinola
Head, Nigerian Anglican Church
“We deplore the act of those bishops who have taken part in the consecration which has now divided the Church”, Most Reverend Peter Akinola said in a statement issued on behalf of the Primates of the Global South.
The Anglican Church in Nigeria says it has a membership of 15 million, making it the world’s second-largest Anglican community after Britain, which has 26 million nominal members.
About 4000 people, including 55 US Episcopalian bishops, attended the three-hour ceremony on Sunday afternoon amid tight security at a sports arena in the small New Hampshire university town of Durham.
Most were supporters of Robinson, a divorced father of two, who becomes the first bishop of a major Christian denomination to openly live with a same-sex partner.
In the run-up to the ceremony, many bishops heading Anglican churches in parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America announced that a gay bishop would not be recognised in their churches and would prompt them to break ties with their American affiliate.