For Henry Luke Orombi, Anglican archbishop of Uganda, the topic for his chapel sermon on Friday, February 16, was an obvious choice. That is the day when Anglicans worldwide remember Janani Luwum, honored as a modern martyr.
But this time, the commemoration of the Ugandan archbishop who confronted Idi Amin became the prelude to a fateful turning point for global Anglicanism.
Once every three years, the top leaders of the world's 78 million Anglicans, called primates, gather for consultation and study. In mid-February, 35 of the 38 primates assembled for the first time on African soil amid threat of Anglican schism over homosexuality. In 2003, an openly gay priest, V. Gene Robinson, became the Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire, throwing Anglicans into a historic struggle between left-leaning revisionists and conservatives.
In their Windsor report (issued October 2004), Anglican leaders demanded that the Episcopal Church (the American branch of Anglicanism) repent of the Robinson consecration, forbid any new gay bishops from taking office, and stop the blessing of same-sex unions. On the first of their five days of meetings in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, primates received a report from a panel that said the Episcopal Church had met two of the three Windsor demands. Yet there was "more work to be done" to end same-sex blessings. To conservatives, it seemed that the Episcopal Church had once again outmaneuvered them.
The next day, Orombi, a tall, charismatic figure, preached at the noonday chapel service. He described the importance of martyrdom in Ugandadoing what it takes to stay true to the gospel. In February 1977, Janani Luwum, the Anglican archbishop of Uganda and Rwanda, was arrested along with leading Christians by Idi ...