Anglicans in the Gambella district of Ethiopia have expressed a desire that their next bishop be local. Within the Anglican Communion, Ethiopia is part of the Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa in the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East.
The Church in the Gambella region is possibly the fastest-growing part of the Anglican Communion, much of it sparked by the arrival of refugees from South Sudan. The first Area Bishop for the Horn of Africa was Andrew Proud, who served from 2007 before being appointed Area Bishop of Reading in the Church of England’s Diocese of Oxford. His successor, Bishop Grant Grant LeMarquand, an American, served the area with his wife Wendy, a medical doctor. He retired last year to support his wife, who had been advised to stay in the US for medical reasons.
The Bishop of Egypt, Mouneer Anis, visited Gambella last week and met with clergy who discussed the qualities they wanted in the next area bishop, who – in addition to Ethiopia, will also be responsible for Eritrea, Djibouti, Somaliland and Somalia.
“They began with worship and time of prayer,” the Diocese of Egypt said. “Then the clergy shared the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the region. Bishop Mouneer was impressed by their clear thinking and their vision for the future.
“The clergy also discussed their hopes and dreams, and provided a detailed description of the qualifications for and qualities of the new bishop.
“‘We want a bishop, not a visitor,’ they said. The members of the clergy have a strong desire for a local bishop, not someone from Egypt or the West.”
Bishop Mouneer and the diocese are currently evaluating the best course of action for the future in an area where there has been incredible growth. They ask that people “continue to pray for the Horn of Africa region during this time of selecting a new area bishop.”