Archbishop French Chang-Him awarded OBE

The former Archbishop of the Indian Ocean and Bishop of the Seychelles, the Most. Rev. French Chang-Him, has been made an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. The British High Commissioner to the Seychelles, Lindsay Skoll, presented the OBE medal to Archbishop Chang-Him at a private ceremony in Victoria, capital of the Seychelles, last week.

The citation stated the archbishop was being honored for his “services to reconciliation, human rights, charity and democratic values, and also for his invaluable service to British nationals in Seychelles, past and present,” the High Commissioner said. Archbishop Chang-Him said he dedicated the award “to the almighty God, my family, the British community here but it’s also to all the organizations I represent because we work as a team, so finally that leads to Seychelles that this award is being dedicated to,”  

Archbishop Chang-Hin is only the second Seychelles national to be made a member of the Order, following the country’s first president, Sir James Mancham, who received his honor in 1976,

The High Commissioner told local reporters at the ceremony: “The reason why the Queen has awarded the Archbishop this way is that his service to Seychelles has been exceptional, as his service to the Anglican Church and that’s for over 50 years … the reason why we have given a very British Award to Bishop French is that he also for us and for Her Majesty the Queen encapsulates some very British Values and those in particular are the values of democracy, freedom of thought, community spirit, charitable works and most definitely national inclusion and I think this is really important,.”

“And for us what struck the queen most definitely was despite the bishop’s own pain and loss… .I think your sense of forgiveness, reconciliation and positive role modeling for people is really, really, impressive,” Ms. Skoll said.

Educated at Lichfield Theological College, the future archbishop was ordained a deacon in the Church of England in 1962 and to the priesthood at St Paul’s Cathedral in Port Victoria in1963—the first Seychellois to be ordained to the Anglican priesthood. He served as a parish priest in the Seychelles for 16 years and was elected bishop in 1979, and archbishop in 1984 and served for many years as leader of the Conference of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA). He retired in 2004.

During the 1998 Lambeth Conference, Archbishop Chang-Him was one of the key leaders in the traditionalist coalition that saw the Communion adopt its statement on human sexuality, Resolution 1:13 – and was a leader in the global reform movements that led up to the formation of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans.

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