The Council of the Lutheran World Federation terminated the tenure of a controversial Kenyan Bishop who consecrated a pastor of the Church of Sweden as a bishop without the consent of the Swedish church earlier this year.
Todays decision to expel Bishop Walter E. Obare Omwanza confirms an earlier recommendation by the LWF Executive Committee, which on late February called for Obares termination upon receiving news that he consecrated Rev. Arne Olsson as bishop of the Mission Province in Sweden on Feb. 5, 2005.
Obares actions and the call for his termination stirred widespread debate regarding the geographical boundaries of bishops as well as the role of women and homosexuals in the Lutheran church; Obare consecrated Olsson to lead a breakaway Lutheran group in Sweden that opposed women priests and same-sex marriages.
According to an LWF news release, the Council found that Obares action has negative consequences for the unity of the LWF as a communion of churches and is inconsistent with his role as one of the 22 advisers to the Council.
By interfering in the affairs of the Church of Sweden, Bishop Obare has undermined his role as adviser to the Council. In view of his role as adviser to the Program Committee for Theology and Studies, the Council can no longer receive his advice with confidence, said Rev. Dr Ishmael Noko, LWF general secretary.
The African bishops and presidents met with Bishop Obare in September 2004 at the LWF Council meeting, listened to his concerns, and then advised him against going to Sweden in order to consecrate a bishop, said Bishop Dr Zephania Kameeta, LWF Vice-President for the Africa region and a member of the LWF Executive Committee, during the Council meeting in Jerusalem.
In the press release, the Lutheran Church Council, which meets annually to conduct the 66-million-member organizations business, emphasized that Obares discharge does not affect the membership status of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya in the LWF.
My concern is that we uphold the unity of the LWF while always respecting diversity among our member churches. The actions of Bishop Obare threaten that unity, said LWF President Bishop Mark S. Hanson, during the Council meeting in Jerusalem.