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Tanzania reaffirms its impaired communion with the Episcopal Church

“From now onward be informed that we are not having any church partnership,” Archbishop Chimeledy tells the Episcopal Church.

The primate of Tanzania, the Most Rev. Jacob Chimeledya, has affirmed his province’s break with the Episcopal Church of the USA. In September 2017 the Task Force on the Study of Marriage formed by the 78th General Convention which met in Salt Lake City in 2015, wrote to the primates of the Anglican Communion and other pan-Anglican bodies asking for their views on proposals to change the church’s teaching on holy matrimony.

In an undated letter released by the Task Force, Archbishop Chimeledya stated: “From now onward be informed that we are not having any church partnership. Please do not write me back on this matter.”

The 78th General Convention endorsed new liturgies for same-sex couples wishing to marry in church. It also approved changing the church’s canons governing marriage, making them gender neutral by substituting the terms “man and woman” with “couple.” However, clergy were also given the right to refuse to perform a same-sex marriage, with the promise they would incur no penalty, while bishops were given the right to refuse to allow the services to take place in their diocese.

The compromise meant that same-sex weddings are permitted with the full blessing of the church in places like Washington, Los Angeles and New York, but are forbidden in more conservative parts of the church, like Dallas, Albany and Orlando.

One of the tasks given to the Task Force was to ascertain the response to the innovation from the Episcopal Church’s partners in the Anglican Communion. In his response, Archbishop Chimeledya wrote: “From now onward be informed    that we     are not having any church partnership. Please do not write me back on    this matter.”

The Anglican Church of Tanzania under its then primate Archbishop Donald Mtetemela broke with the Episcopal Church following the consecration of the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire in 2003. The ACT’s House of Bishops endorsed a resolution affirming that they were in a state of impaired communion with the Episcopal Church. At the 2008 Jerusalem Conference, the new primate of Tanzania, Archbishop Valentino Mokiwa reaffirmed his church’s stance and pledged his province’s support to the GAFCON movement.

While he is metropolitan of Tanzania, the church’s archbishop is not able to to act on half of all his dioceses, and some retained their financial links and partnerships with the Episcopal Church. After Archbishop Chimeledya was elected primate in 2013 Tanzania softened its stance towards the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada, with some of its bishops participating in Canadian-led dialogues to restore relations.

However at the 2016 primates meeting in Canterbury, Archbishop Chimeledya joined the GAFCON bloc and has toughened his church’s stance towards relations with the Episcopal Church.

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