What have I been up to in Britain this year?
In March 2006 I had agreed with Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi at a personal meeting a plan (never agreed on paper) to hold a discussion with some of the Anglican Church of Kenya bishops on Same-gender Relations and Biblical Interpretation, accompanied by others from the Church of England. I was looking forward to going back to Kenya in 2007, possibly in the spring, to carry out the plan. Three people volunteered to come, of whom two seemed to me eminently well qualified, and a further person was prepared to consider it in the future.
Among many people who expressed interest in the plan were Philip Groves, the Anglican Communion Officer for the Listening Process, and Colin Coward, the Director of Changing
Attitude England. I’ve had a lot of encouragement from them.
I was put in touch with an American pro-gay Christian group which was going to spend part of summer 2007 in Nairobi, working with an existing Kenyan group of MSM (men who have sex with men), to have fellowship with them and their families and friends and to affirm them as children of God. They asked me to go with them. It was an attractive offer, but I decided instead to go to the parts of rural Western Kenya where I’m already known, and build on the contacts I’d already made. I learnt that the group was enthusiastically welcomed by large numbers in Nairobi, and also made contacts with church leaders and the general public.
In July I accompanied Colin and others from Changing Attitude to the meeting of the Church of England General Synod in York, to introduce members to Davis Mac Iyalla, a gay member of the Anglican Church of Nigeria and leader of changing Attitude Nigeria.
On August Bank Holiday weekend each year there’s a big festival for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people here called Manchester Pride. It includes a parade through the city centre. This year there was an ecumenical Christian contingent in the parade for the first time, and I was among them. The crowds lining the streets for the most part were happy to cheer us on.
The meeting of the Anglican primates of the world in February 2007 had brought into sharp focus the deep divisions in the Anglican Communion over homosexuality. I waited for a long time to get a sign that anyone in the Anglican Church of Kenya would want to hold a discussion with me on that topic. Eventually a reply came from Kokise, welcoming me there in October. There is also a chance of a discussion at another Kenyan college in November. Now it turns out that the people I hoped would come with me are not available during that period, so I’m going alone!
Henry Mayor, 15 Sept 2007