Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Anglican archbishop of Uganda has appointed a Dale City priest to head up 26 former Episcopal congregations in the United States.

The Rev. John Guernsey, 54, rector of All Saints Anglican Church, said he was notified only recently of the possibility of his new post by Ugandan Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi.

His consecration is set for Sept. 2 in Mbarara, Uganda, a four-hour drive southwest of the capital, Kampala.

“I am very humbled and overwhelmed by the whole thing,” Mr. Guernsey said yesterday. “I have the deepest respect for Archbishop Orombi and the rest of the church of Uganda, and I’ll do my best to pray and study Scripture and prepare for this ministry.”

Mr. Guernsey is the latest of several American clergy who have been appointed bishops in African Anglican dioceses to oversee portions of the U.S. Episcopal Church that have left the denomination since the 2003 consecration of the openly homosexual New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson.

Jim Naughton, spokesman for the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, said he was “not surprised” by the news, considering that the African archbishop’s strategy was outlined in a March 3, 2004, memo.

Written by the Rev. Alison Barfoot, a former Virginia diocesan priest now working under Archbishop Orombi, the memo described a “protocol” for departing Episcopal parishes to be brought under the Anglican umbrella until the “re-establishment of biblical orthodox faith as normative in North American Anglicanism.”

Last June, the Rev. Martyn Minns, rector of Truro Church in Fairfax, was appointed bishop over what is now 37 congregations under the Anglican Province of Nigeria. Last week, Kenyan Anglicans selected a Dallas clergyman, the Rev. Bill Atwood, to oversee more than 30 Kenyan-affiliated churches.

Before leaving the Episcopal Church, Mr. Guernsey was heavily involved in national Episcopal politics, serving as chairman of two committees on evangelism and attending six of the denomination’s national conventions as a deputy.

The 26 churches he will oversee as an Anglican bishop include several local congregations: Eternity Anglican Church in Richmond, Christ Our Lord Church in Lakeridge, South Riding Church and Church of the Holy Spirit. The latter two are in eastern Loudoun County.

These parishes have been overseen by 10 Ugandan bishops, who will transfer their authority to Mr. Guernsey. He is well known to the Ugandan House of Bishops because he has visited the country five times since 1989, usually to teach and train clergy and lay leaders.

He will continue as rector of the 800-member All Saints Anglican Church in Dale City, which escaped being sued by the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia when it announced last fall it was leaving the denomination. Instead, All Saints worked out an arrangement whereby the diocese gets its Dale City property as soon as All Saints completes a new church building near the Potomac Mills shopping center.

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