The Anglican Church of Kenya has announced plans to install an American priest to oversee its congregations in the United States.
The latest development is expected to reignite rumors of schism within the Anglican Communion, as the U.S.-based Episcopal Church becomes increasingly isolated due to its liberal stance on homosexuality within the worldwide church body. It will also result in a third "missionary" U.S. group made up of disillusioned American Anglicans hoping to be under the care of church leaders with a more traditional faith in Scripture.
The Aug. 30 consecration of Canon Bill Atwood as "Suffragan Bishop of All Saints' Cathedral Diocese, Nairobi" is "part of a broader and coordinated plan with other provinces … [to] support the international interests of the Anglican Church of Kenya, including support of Kenyan clergy and congregations in North America," Kenya Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi said in a statement released Tuesday.
The new coalition will "provide a safe haven for those who maintain historic Anglican faith and practice, and offer a way to live and work together in the furtherance of the gospel," Nzimbi added.
Until now, there have been two major separate Anglican missions operating in the United States - the Anglican Mission in America, whose bishop is Chuck Murphy, and CANA (Convocation of Anglicans in North America), whose bishop is Martyn Minns.
The new group, which will be called the North American Anglican Coalition, will install as its head Bishop Atwood, who will oversee more than 200 congregations throughout the United States.
Some commentators are suggesting that the decision by Nzimbi is part of a wider move to create an alternative Anglican worldwide structure, according to Religious Intelligence, a U.K.-based religious news agency.
Recent developments will do nothing to comfort Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the spiritual head of the Anglican Communion, who has tried to reconcile the warring parties since U.S. Bishop V. Gene Robinson was consecrated as the first openly gay bishop in 2003.
Earlier this week, Robinson further enraged his critics by announcing plans to allow his clergy to carry out same-sex blessings.
Consequently, Archbishop Nzimbi has said that developments in North America had left him with no other options.
The Kenya church leader stated that The Episcopal Church had torn the fabric of the Anglican Communion and the House of Bishops had "exacerbated" the damage by failing to provide adequate pastoral care for the "faithful" and for rejecting the Pastoral Council "offered through the Primates in their Communiqué from Dar es Salaam."
Also, much to the worry of the Anglican Communion, the Kenya church's new plans have excluded any comment or reference to Lambeth Palace, the Anglican equivalent to the White House – a move seen by many as further evidence of an increasingly dividing worldwide church body.
Christian Post reporter Eric Young contributed to this article.