The Anglican Church of Rwanda has spoken out on the recent move by the Church of England to vote in favour of priests blessing same-sex unions, pointing out that it was disappointed by the decision.
Rwanda joined many other Anglicans across the globe who have denounced the decision which has left the Anglican church divided.
In a statement, the Archbishop and Primate of the Anglican Church in Rwanda, Dr. Laurent Mbanda said that the decision which was passed this week is the final nail in the coffin in the already divided legacy of the church.
“The Anglican Church of Rwanda is deeply saddened by the decision of the Church of England to bless same-sex unions. Our stand had already brought an impaired relationship with the Church of England, whose current move drives the last nail into the coffin,”
“Let me take take this opportunity to welcome over 1,100 participants to GAFCON IV. As the Chair of GAFCON says, “in Kigali, Rwanda this April and in collaboration with the GSFA, we will have more to say,” Archbishop Mbanda said.
Dr. Mbanda said that the Anglican Church of Rwanda is a full member of both GAFCON (Global Anglican Future Conference) and the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (GSFA), the two bodies which have threatened to breakaway over the crisis which has engulfed the Anglican church.
After an impassioned debate lasting more than eight hours on Thursday, the Church of England national assembly, the General Synod, voted by 250 votes to 181 to back a proposal by bishops intended to end years of painful divisions and disagreement over sexuality.
The vote followed disagreements between the two sides, one supporting the full rights of the LGBTQ in church and those who are against it.
The synod also agreed that the church will apologise for the harm it has caused to LGBTQ+ people. It welcomed a forthcoming review of a ban on clergy entering into same-sex civil marriages and a celibacy rule for clergy in same-sex relationships.
Conservatives narrowly succeeded in amending the motion to state that the church’s doctrine of marriage – that it is between a man and a woman – was unchanged. Although progressives were dismayed by the amendment, it may have encouraged some traditionalists to cast their votes in favour of the main motion.
Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, and Stephen Cottrell, the archbishop of York, said they hoped the decision marked a “new beginning” for the Church of England, saying: “It has been a long road to get us to this point.”
The head of GAFCON Primates, Dr. Foley Beach, in a separate statement, said the meeting in Kigali will determine the way forward.
“The decision taken today by the General Synod of the Church of England and the explanations given are clear indications that the Church of England is moving a step at a time to fully accept the practice of homosexuality as part of the life and practice of the English Church,”
“To some of us who have been hoping that the Church would remain with her distinctive identity from those who don’t believe the teaching of Scripture, this hope is diminishing,” Dr. Beach said.