Bishop Tengatenga “saddened” by college decision to withdraw job offer
By ACNS staff
Bishop Tengatenga, who is also Chair of the Anglican Consultative Council, announced last month that after 15 years as bishop of Southern Malawi he was tendering his resignation to become the Virginia Rice Kelsey Dean of the William Jewett Tucker Foundation at Dartmouth College.
He was due to begin in January 2014 but pressure from some of the college’s students and faculty, who were concerned about the bishop’s views on homosexuality, caused Mr Hanlon to withdraw the job offer.
Bp Tengatenga told the Episcopal News Service (ENS) that, while he is yet to get official confirmation from the college, the decision has “saddened” him.
“They have chosen to trust bigotry over truth and justice,” he said.
Bishop Tengatenga will not be withdrawing his resignation as bishop of Southern Malawi and told ENS that his future plans are “in the Lord’s hands”.
Does this not have echoes of a back-flip in the Anglican Church on the occasion when a certain cleric in the Church of England, having been offered a suffragan bishopric, was then turned down because of a minority reactive opposition to his appointment on the ground of his innate sexuality?
It is situations like this that redound ill for the integrity of the Church – portraying the alacrity with which Church bodies will bend over backwards to listen to the minority of people who still believe that anyone who sympathises with the LGBT community – either in the Church or the world – is automatically an enemy of Christ and The Church.
Sadly, the sin of bigotry is still in danger of preventing the process of enlightenment needed to clear away the dark clouds of institutional hypocrisy and sheer ignorance on matters of gender and sexuality – issues that presently threaten to split the Anglican Communion – along lines of conservative obscurantism versus those provinces of the Church that desire only to free us all from homophobia and misogyny.
That this particular appointment reversal has occurred in the USA should not be too surprising – given the fact that the GAFCON Provinces have been pro-active in their cultivation of reactionary links with schismatic Episcopalians in North America, who have moved out of TEC because of its innovatory polity of full and open acceptance of the Gay community. The U.S. still has its share of conservative, anti-gay, ‘christian’ communities; whose support – both financial and political – for anti-gay activists in the GAFCON Provinces of the Anglican Communion, has been a core enablement policy of far-Right conservatives hell-bent on driving LGBT people out of the Churches of the Communion.
But, one might ask, is not Bishop Tengatenga himself an African? The answer is Yes! But he is one of that rare breed of African Anglican Leaders (like Bishop Desmond Tutu) who actually believes that Gay people are fully human like everyone else – made in God’s Image and Likeness, deserving of respect and welcomed to share in the life and ministry of our Communion Churches. I doubt he would change his inclusive beliefs in order to secure this particular appointment.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand