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Group of Episcopalians safe in Nairobi after airport fire

[Episcopal News Service] Six Episcopalians who had been in Kenya since late July reported via Facebook on Aug. 7 that they were safe after their flight was disrupted by a massive fire at the Nairobi airport.

Rebecca Wilson wrote on her Facebook page at 12:40 p.m. EDT that she, her son Jacob Bilich, Jim Naughton, the Rev. Lowell Grisham, the Rev. Jon M. Richardson and Ellie Rolfes Rencher were “safe and sound in a lovely Nairobi guest house.”

“We are working on rebooking flights now and are keeping our phones open and charged for calls concerning that process,” she said.

Prayers were said for the group during the noon day Eucharist at the Episcopal Church Center in New York.

The group had been scheduled to leave Nairobi on Aug. 7, according to an earlier Facebook posting by the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, who said Wilson had contacted her from Kenya.

The six were part of a larger group of 16 Episcopalians who met July 29-Aug. 1 at the Jumuia Conference Centre in Limuru, Kenya, with Anglicans from nine African countries and ecumenical participants to explore issues of sexuality in dialogue with scripture. The Chicago Consultation and the Ujamaa Centre of the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, convened the conference with the Consultation.

The meeting continued conversations and relationships begun two years earlier at a similar consultation in Durban, South Africa, according to the Consultation.

Wilson told the New York Times that the group had spent a few days after the gathering in a village near the Masai Mara Game Reserve. They learned of the fire on their way to the airport, she said.

Wilson and her son live in Akron, Ohio; Naughton lives in Washington, D.C., They are partners inCanticle Communications. Rolfes Rencher, whose home is in Charlotte, North Carolina, is an associate of the firm.

Grisham is the rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Richardson is the rector of the Memorial Church of the Good Shepherd in Philadelphia.

Kenya authorities temporarily closed Jomo Kenyatta International Airport after the fire, which took firefighters four hours to extinguish. Later in the day, some domestic and cargo flights were allowed to operate, the New York Times reported. The airport is said to be East Africa’s busiest.

No one was killed in the blaze, the Times said.

Media reports noted that Aug. 7 was the anniversary of the 1998 coordinated bombings of American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, attacks that killed more than 200 people. However, Reuters quoted, Boniface Mwaniki, head of the Nairobi anti-terror police unit, as saying there was no connection with terrorism.

This was originally posted here by the Episcopal News Service.

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