African bishops reject aid

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“We are not to mortgage our faith,” he said. “We do not regret the money lost, but we rejoice on our stand for the Gospel and the truth.”

Conservative churches are trying to match lost funding through the Anglican Relief & Development Fund (ARDF), founded by the Pittsburgh-based Anglican Communion Network, a group of 800 Episcopal parishes. The ARDF has doled out $823,812 in grants since its founding last summer.

However, that amount pales when compared with a $10 million U.S. Agency for International Development grant for AIDS prevention given last fall to the Anglican Province of South Africa. The Episcopal Diocese of Washington, which has many parishes and schools that give liberally to Africa, brokered that deal.

“We’ve not seen anyone turning down money from a parish,” Washington diocesan spokesman Jim Naughton said. “Those contributions seem to fly under the radar.”

Moreover, the Anglican Diocese of Renk in Sudan has accepted more than $200,000 from the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. Both the Washington and Virginia dioceses supported the Robinson consecration.

Still, the Anglican Province of Uganda is refusing grants from any pro-Robinson diocese and the New York-based ERD. Although it accepted $30,000 from Trinity Episcopal in February for a women’s credit union, it turned down assistance from the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan for school fees for 60 girls.

In March, Bishop Jackson Nzerebende of Uganda’s South Rwenzori Diocese cut ties with the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania, which had donated more than $65,000 for school fees, transportation, college tuition and an AIDS program. Then, last month, the Ugandan province rejected a $27,000 donation from the New Hampshire Diocese to improve local schools.

Central Pennsylvania Bishop Michael F. Creighton called Bishop Nzerebende’s decision “a Good Friday nail in the compassion of Christ.”

“Our consent to the election of a bishop in New Hampshire appears to be more important than the compassionate ministry we have shown with his own people,” he said, “who are struggling with and dying of AIDS.”

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