Don't be deceived by the so-what-else-is-new headline on our friend Julia Duin's report in The Washington Times. "African bishops reject aid," as the Times' headline puts it, has been a story since the latter months of 2003, when many African bishops announced their intentions to protest the Episcopal Church's decision to consecrate Gene Robinson as an openly gay bishop. What sets Duin's story apart is how much she reveals about the horrible cost being paid by these bishops' people as conservative Episcopalians fail to make up for what the bishops have rejected.
Here are some of the distressing facts Duin reports:
Africa, which has 12 Anglican provinces each containing numerous dioceses, is the fastest-growing portion of the 70-million-member Anglican Communion, which includes the U.S. Episcopal Church. The 2003 election of New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson, who is divorced and living in a homosexual relationship, split the Anglican Communion.
Since then, the archbishops of Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda, overseeing 30.5 million Anglicans, announced they will not accept grants from the Episcopal Church. Some Rwandan and Tanzanian bishops are following suit.
Edwina Thomas, national director of Sharing of Ministries Abroad, a Virginia-based international Anglican group, said African prelates debated the matter in Nigeria last year.
"The archbishop of Congo stood in front of the bishops and said, 'My people are starving. They are having as little as one meal every other day,'" she said. "I remember the archbishop of Nigeria saying, 'We need to help you.'"
So do more Americans, [the Rev. Canon Bill] Atwood [general secretary of the conservative Ekklesia Society] said.
"Say there are 1,000 conservative Episcopal churches that spend $1,000 a month for air-conditioning," he said. "That's $12 million a year. The amount of money they are spending on air-conditioning each year is what is being sent to run all the Anglican provinces in Africa."
I think I'll remember those details the next time I read about fellow conservative Episcopalians calling themselves persecuted and oppressed.