The Anglican bishops from across Southern Africa have come to resolution that any lesbian or gay partners who enter same-sex civil unions under South African law should be welcomed into congregations as full members of the church.
Agreeing to this, the Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba said new guidelines from bishops which oppose gay congregants being stigmatized are “an important first step” towards acceptance of the lesbian‚ gay and transsexual community in Southern Africa. However‚ they stopped short of agreeing to conduct same-sex weddings in church.
The Archbishop further stated in his pastoral jetter sent to all Anglican churches in South Africa, that a document relating how members living in same-sex unions would be sent to the church’s Provincial Synod‚ its ruling body‚ which meets later this year.
Makgoba explained the implications of the guidelines by saying that members would be unable to refuse to baptize children of same-sex couples‚ nor should either they or their parents be stigmatized.
“I believe that its adoption by Provincial Synod would be an important first step in signalling to the LGBT community that we in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa‚ through our top deliberative and legislative body‚ see them as welcome members of our body as sisters and brothers in Christ,” he wrote.
Taking his quote from the the bishops’ guidelines‚Makgoba said‚ “We are of one mind that gay‚ lesbian and trans gendered members of our church share in full membership as baptized members of the Body of Christ…”
Moreover, the Archbishop said he is determined to ensure that the church would not split. He revealed that the bishops had agreed not to involve church-dividing issue” in their differences.
He said he observed that the differences among the bishops were both over the theology of marriage and a result of realities on the ground in different dioceses
“We overcame deep differences over the imposition of sanctions against apartheid and over the ordination of women‚ and we can do the same over human sexuality.”