George Conger reported on 3 February: First woman bishop for GAFCON province
The Episcopal Church of South Sudan has consecrated its first female bishop. Anglican Ink has learned that on 31 December 2016, the Most Rev Daniel Deng Bul, primate of South Sudan and Archbishop of Juba consecrated the Rt. Rev. Elizabeth Awut Ngor as assistant bishop of the Diocese of Rumbek.
Archbishop Deng, who retired last month, upon the election of his successor, the Most Rev. Justin told Radio Good News: “It was in my dream to ordain a woman as bishop in the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan before I leave”.
Rumors of a female bishop in South Sudan arose early last year, but queries to the provincial secretary and Archbishop Deng were not answered. The website of the Anglican Consultative Council does not show an assistant bishop for Rumbek and no mention of Bishop Awut’s consecration has been made on the Anglican Communion News Service. However, group photos taken at last month’s meeting of the South Sudan House of Bishops showed one bishop in a skirt holding a handbag. Subsequent queries identified her as Bishop Elizabeth.
Bishop Elizabeth becomes the third African female bishop, following the Rt. Rev. Ellinah Ntombi Wamukoya, who was elected bishop of the Diocese of Swaziland on 18 July 2012 and ordained and installed on 10 November 2012. Her appointment was closely followed by the election, on 12 October 2012 of Margaret Vertue as bishop of the Diocese of False Bay. She was consecrated and installed on 19 January 2013.
Bishop Elizabeth also becomes the first female GAFCON bishop. The GAFCON primates had asked the Churches of Uganda and Kenya to hold back from electing women bishops until GAFCON was of one mind on the issue. With the election of Bishop Elizabeth, pressure will mount for the East African churches to follow suit
GAFCON has issued: A Statement on the Consecration of a Female Bishop in South Sudan
From the beginning of the Gafcon movement there have been a variety of understandings among our members on the question of consecrating women to the episcopate. Recognising that this issue poses a threat to the unity we prize, the Primates agreed in 2014 to do what was within their power to affect a voluntary moratorium on the consecration of women to the episcopate. They then set up the Task Force on Women in the Episcopate, chaired by Bishop Samson Mwaluda which presented a report to the 2017 Gafcon Primates Council.
In discussion at this Council, the Primate of South Sudan, Archbishop Deng Bul (who had not been present when the moratorium was agreed) shared with us that his personal decision to consecrate a female bishop was an extraordinary action taken in the midst of civil unrest in a part of his country where most of the men were engaged in armed conflict.
The Gafcon Primates chose to not allow this anomaly to change the course followed since 2014. The Task Force was asked to continue to provide theological resources, and the Provinces were urged to continue the study of Scripture, to consult with one another and to pray that God will lead us to a common mind. The voluntary moratorium remained in place.
In accordance with these decisions, the Task Forces’ Report, which can be read here, is now being discussed at the regional level in advance of the April Gafcon Primates Council and the Global Anglican Future Conference in Jerusalem this June. Our hope is that the newly elected Primate of South Sudan will join us in these discussions as we seek to find a common mind, looking to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Peter Jensen, General Secretary