Monday, October 25, 2010

Bishop Christopher, under threat, returns to the USA

From Albert Ogle, Integrity VP of International Affairs...............

When Bishop Christopher Senyonjo’s picture showed up on the front page of a Ugandan paper under the headline, “100 Top Homos - hang them,” Integrity supporters of the bishop and his work  became ever more concerned about the growing climate of homophobia in Uganda.

Other LGBT leaders were also targeted and Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) has been providing emergency counseling and shelter for some of the victims of this latest wave of public violence.

The inflammatory story in “Rolling Stone” (no connection to the USA version) was published just as I returned from a visit to Uganda with Pastor Joseph Tolton of The Fellowship in New York. I quickly made contact with the bishop and his staff.  So far, they are all safe and are asking for our prayers. I now try to communicate with him on a daily basis.

Our trip to Uganda was very productive and informative.  Organizers in Uganda, including Integrity Uganda,  have formed a Civil Society Coalition of 34 partner organizations..  This coalition successfully challenged the “Rolling Stone” in Ugandan courts and it was mandated to close its doors.  The coalition will also consider additional legal strategies and will make all legal resources available to stop this latest phase of the anti-gay witch hunt which appears to have support from some American based churches.

Earlier this week the Rt. Rev, Mark Sisk, Bishop of New York, wrote a private letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury expressing his concern that Bishop Senyonjo had been so publically targeted in the newspaper. Sadly, the Archbishop has remained silent on this.  Instead, he voiced his concern about the election and consecration of Mary Douglas Glasspool as Bishop Suffragan in the Dioxese of Los Angeles. Here's what he had to say:

“The decision of the American Church to go forward, as it has, with the ordination of a lesbian bishop has, I think, set us back. At the moment I'm not certain how we will approach the next primates' meeting, but regrettably some of the progress that I believe we had made has not remained steady. Alongside that, and I think this is important, while the institutions of the Communion struggle, in many ways the mutual life of the Communion, the life of exchange and co-operation between different parts of our Anglican family, is quite strong and perhaps getting stronger. It's a paradox”. 

Yes, well, here's what I find as a paradox:  that a photograph of heterosexual bishop of the Anglican Church of Uganda appears on the front cover of a magazine with the headline: "Hang Them" without any outrage from his fellow bishops. This story made international news, was reported on CNN, in the UK and in the Washington Post, yet,  no-one within Anglican Church leadership circles rose to his defense, except Bishop Sisk.

Regardless of his lack of church support, Bishop Christopher continues to preach an inclusive gospel of a loving God to everyone, including his enemies. Please keep him and his persecuted community in your prayers. Write to the Archbishop of Canterbury. Let him know of your support for Bishop Christopher and ask him to join all of us in respecting the dignity of every human being.

You will also have another opportunity to support the brave bishop and his work. Bishop Christopher will soon  return to the United States along with his wife Mary (an equally brave and courageous leader who has watched their beloved Church of Uganda’s behavior towards her family). They will arrive in  California on November
14th and will be visiting New Orleans (December 5th at St. Anne’s) Atlanta (St. Bartholomew’s on December 12th) and will have two consultative meetings in New York and Washington DC around immigration and asylum issues for the USA around LGBT people. For more information on his visit and an update on the difficult legal situation he and his friends are facing, stay posted or join his Facebook page.

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