Woman bishop appointed in Kenya

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The Rev. Dr. Emily Onyango has been appointed Assistant Bishop of Bondo in the Anglican Church of Kenya, Kenyan televison reports.

If her 12 January 2021 appointment by the Bishop of Bondo, the Rt. Rev. David Hellington Kodia,   is affirmed by the Kenyan House of bishops, Dr. Onyango will become the second GAFCON-affiliated woman bishop, following in the footsteps of the Rt. Rev. Elizabeth Awut Ngor as assistant bishop of the Diocese of Rumbek who was consecrated on 31 Dec 2016 by the Most Daniel Deng Bol, Primate of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan.

Dr. Onyango is a priest in the Anglican Church of Kenya and serves as senior lecturer and dean of students at St. Paul’s University in Limuru, Kenya. She earned a PhD from the University of Wollongong in New South Wales, Australia, as well as a ThM from the Asian Center for Theological Studies and Mission in Seoul, South Korea, and a BD from St. Paul’s University in Limuru.

Bishop-elect Onyango will become the fourth African female bishop. The Rt. Rev. Ellinah Ntombi Wamukoya was elected bishop of the Diocese of Swaziland on 18 July 2012 and ordained and installed on 10 November 2012, the Rt. Rev. Margaret Vertue was elected on 12 Oct 2012 Bishop of False Bay, South Africa. She was consecrated and installed on 19 January 2013.

Bishop-elect Onyango’s election comes as a challenge to the GAFCON coalition of Anglican primates, who have asked its members to place a moratorium on the election of women bishops. Following the publication of the news of Bishop Awut Ngor’s consecration in 2018 by Anglican Ink, the Most Rev Peter Jensen, General Secretary of GAFCON issued a statement saying the moratorium on women bishops “remained in place”.

“From the beginning of the Gafcon movement there have been a variety of understandings among our members on the question of consecrating women to the episcopate. Recognising that this issue poses a threat to the unity we prize, the Primates agreed in 2014 to do what was within their power to affect a voluntary moratorium on the consecration of women to the episcopate. They then set up the Task Force on Women in the Episcopate, chaired by Bishop Samson Mwaluda which presented a report to the 2017 Gafcon Primates Council.”

“In discussion at this Council, the Primate of South Sudan, Archbishop Deng Bul (who had not been present when the moratorium was agreed) shared with us that his personal decision to consecrate a female bishop was an extraordinary action taken in the midst of civil unrest in a part of his country where most of the men were engaged in armed conflict.”

“The Gafcon Primates chose to not allow this anomaly to change the course followed since 2014. The Task Force was asked to continue to provide theological resources, and the Provinces were urged to continue the study of Scripture, to consult with one another and to pray that God will lead us to a common mind. The voluntary moratorium remained in place.”

“In accordance with these decisions, the Task Forces’ Report, which can be read here, is now being discussed at the regional level in advance of the April Gafcon Primates Council and the Global Anglican Future Conference in Jerusalem this June. Our hope is that the newly elected Primate of South Sudan will join us in these discussions as we seek to find a common mind, looking to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”