Page last updated at 14:21 GMT, Sunday, 2 September 2007 15:21 UK

Uganda church anoints US bishop

Rowan Williams
The appointment goes against Anglican leaders' pleas for unity

Uganda's Anglican Church has appointed a bishop to serve in the US, against the wishes of the Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church's US arm.

It is the latest in a series of interventions by African Churches following the US decision to appoint an openly gay bishop in 2003.

Correspondents say the move is expected to bring closer the fragmentation of the worldwide Anglican communion.

It ignores pleas from Anglican leaders to preserve unity.

But the thriving Ugandan Church says it is defending orthodox Christianity.

Open air service

The BBC's Christopher Landau says the consecration of a new local bishop in south-western Uganda would normally pass without comment.

William Leo Murdoch holds the bible at All Saints Cathedral, Nairobi, Kenya, during the Service of Consecration and Installation

But the church is also appointing a white American priest, John Guernsey, to lead a new branch of the Ugandan Church in the US, serving parishes in the state of Virginia that no longer feel able to tolerate the American Church's liberal stance on homosexuality.

The ceremony took place in the open air because the local cathedral was not large enough to accommodate the thousands due to attend.

It follows the consecration of two US bishops in Kenya on Thursday.

Bill Murdoch of Massachusetts and Bill Atwood of Texas will be answerable to the Kenyan Church.

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.

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