Friday, August 17, 2007

African archbishop to worship with Walnut Creek, California, Episcopalians

From the ContraCosta Times (Bay area):

The archbishop of South Africa will teach, pray and talk with parishioners in Walnut Creek -- and, it is hoped, return home with a renewed appreciation of diverse views.

He will visit St. Paul's Episcopal Church Oct. 15 for a meditative Taizé service, a meal, a teaching, "and I hope, some dialogue," said the Rev. Sylvia Vasquez, spiritual leader of St. Paul's.

The archbishop, the Most Rev. Njongonkulu Ndungane, will be in the Bay Area to participate in the Oct. 14 to 20 annual convention of the California diocese. Bishop Marc Andrus, head of the diocese, invited Ndungane while in Africa as part of a peace mission last March. . .

Disagreements over the ordination of women and gays have strained relations between some dioceses, primarily in Uganda, and the west. The solution is dialogue, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said in a February address. The divide has been worsened "by one group forging ahead with change in discipline and practice, and the other insistently treating the question as the sole definitive marker of orthodoxy," he said at that time. . .

Vasquez said less than 5 percent of worshippers take a hard line on such matters, and the media has focused undue attention on the fractious dispute. By partaking in an open discussion with American congregations, Ndungane will see "the diversity of thought in who we are," Vasquez said. "There is room for everybody in the church."

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