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Page last updated at 14:46 GMT, Thursday, 30 August 2007 15:46 UK

US Anglicans join Kenyan Church

Bishop Bill Atwood, left, and Bishop William Murdoch in All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi
The two men are the latest in a string of defections

Kenya's Anglican Church has consecrated two US bishops in a move likely to deepen a bitter row over homosexuality.

Bill Murdoch, of Massachusetts, and Bill Atwood, of Texas, will be answerable to the Kenyan Church, although they will serve in the US.

They left the US branch of the Anglican Church - the Episcopal Church - after it consecrated an openly gay bishop.

There are growing tensions within the Anglican denomination around the world, mainly over the issue of homosexuality.

Strong opposition

The two Americans were consecrated at a service at All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi by Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi.

They vowed to "serve the international interests of the Anglican Church of Kenya, to serve clergy and congregations in North America under the Kenyan jurisdiction".

The ceremony was watched by a huge congregation of Kenyans, by archbishops and bishops from across Africa, and by the men's friends and supporters from the US.

We need to love them [gay people], we need to preach to them, but not to make them lay readers, pastors, bishops
Archbishop Nzimbi

Earlier, Archbishop Nzimbi said the consecration was not intended to widen the gulf in the church, but was a Christian response to a plea for help and pastoral care from Anglicans in the United States.

Gay people, he said, did not have a place as leaders in the Anglican communion.

"We need to love them, we need to preach to them, but not to make them lay readers, pastors, bishops," he said.

African authority

Last year two US churches, unhappy with the Episcopal Church's stance on homosexuality, voted to place themselves under the authority of the Anglican Archbishop of Nigeria.

Much of the Anglican Church in Africa is conservative and deeply opposed to the ordination of gay priests.

In February, Anglican bishops meeting in Tanzania issued an ultimatum to the American church, demanding an end to the appointment of gay clergy and the blessing of same-sex couples.

US bishops have until 30 September to respond.

Meanwhile, the Episcopal diocese of Chicago on Tuesday included a lesbian priest among five nominees for bishop.

video and audio news
Highlights of the consecration ceremony



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