Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Uganda and all that.

Well, I dutifully observed the said commemoration today and here's why. 2 years ago, I was lucky enough to go to Uganda with a group from Falkirk to visit our linked parish near the Rwandan-Congolese-Ugandan border. The people there are lovely and very warmly Christian. It was one of those life transforming experiences which deepened my commitment to issues like fair trade and trade justice and left me with an abiding love of Africa. I now understand why the old missionaries spent their lives there. The contentious issue of same sex relationships was discussed with the Parish Council. Our group made it clear that it wasn't an issue which exactly dominated the thoughts of ordinary Episcopalians on the ground and that even the most evangelical of us did not want to leave the SEC even if it was a bit liberal on this particular issue. I added my tuppence worth, which was to say that even if you thought it was a sinful activity, surely the response to it ought to be pastoral 1st and foremost and not about bashing folks over the head with a Bible or worse. We were listened to and respected and it was mutual.

Here are some photos which might explain why it made such an impact.

An African version of Church bells

Mad Dogs and Scottish men!

A wee bit of Scotland on the Equator.

Dougal in Africa.

Uganda is a wonderful country which has come on leaps and bounds. And the Church there is one which needs help. Dialogue is difficult because of the huge cultural and theological differences, but it is better surely to talk (and I mean talk, not chuck slogans at each other) than to separate and divide. I want to keep the conversation going with the rest of the Anglican world and will vote accordingly at General Synod. I said that to the Edinburgh Synod a while ago and the late and lovely Nigel Pounde (RIP) said "Yes, keep on saying that to the Church". He had done inter-faith dialogue in Malaysia and great work in reconciling the Church to the HIV +ve community. No one says dialogue and reconciliation is easy - but we shouldn't be the ones to cease to strive to make it happen.

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