GAFCON Primates Shun Meeting with ABC, after Enthronement

LONDON: Global South Primates are wary of Welby

by Ed Thornton
March 28, 2013

THE Primates of Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda did not attend a meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury last Friday, which was attended by other Primates from the Global South.

The Archbishop of Kenya, Dr Eliud Wabukala, the Archbishop of Nigeria, the Most Revd Nicholas Okoh, and the Archbishop of Uganda, the Most Revd Stanley Ntagali, had attended the inauguration service on the previous day. But they left before the Friday meetings between Archbishop Welby and Global South Primates.

A spokeswoman for Lambeth Palace said that the Primates had “commitments” in their various provinces, and had to leave Canterbury soon after the service to catch flights. The other Primates “spoke on behalf of the absent Primates” at the meeting with Archbishop Welby, she said.

However, Dr Wabukala, who is chairman of the conservative Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA) Primates’ Council, had a “very good private meeting” with Archbishop Welby before he left Canterbury.

In an interview last week ( Features, 22 March), Archbishop Welby said that he intended to adopt a “relationally based” approach to the FCA and the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON). “We’ve got to find good ways of listening to what they have to say, and them listening to what others have to say.”

The Primates of Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda signed a letter that was delivered to Archbishop Welby on the day of his inauguration. It was also signed by the Primates of Rwanda and of Sudan, and the Presiding Bishop of the Southern Cone of America.

The letter said in part: “We are grateful for this opportunity to worship in Canterbury Cathedral and be reminded of our historic faith that is grounded in the revealed Word of God. We encourage you to stay true to the ‘faith once delivered to the saints’, and as you do we will stand with you for the sake of Christ. We do look forward to a future opportunity to meet and discuss how we can work together.”

The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Peter Jensen, said in an interview last Friday with the Australian broadcaster SBS that Archbishop Welby would be “enormously welcomed” if he visited the Anglican Church of Australia.

“But he has no jurisdiction here. He is not a person who is going to lay down the law and say: ‘We must believe this; we must believe that.’ We will test him, as we do everyone in that position, in accordance with how we understand what the Bible teaches.”

Dr Jensen said that he disagreed with Archbishop Welby’s position on women bishops; “but it’s not an issue over which we’re going to go into a fight with each other.” He said that he understood that Archbishop Welby took “what I regard as the biblical view” on sexuality.


This little gem from the Church Times, about the refusal of three of the conservative GAFCON Prelates – Messrs: Eliud Wabukala (Kenya); Nicholas Okoh (Nigeria); and Stanley Ntagali (Uganda) – who had each attended the inauguration service on the previous day,but  left before the Friday meetings between Archbishop Welby and Global South Primates – has a great deal to say about their reluctance to enter into any discussion with the new Archbishop of Canterbury about their relationship to him and to the Anglican Communion as presently organised.

Presumably, one of the problems they would have encountered could have been any discussion, with the Archbishop of Canterbury, of their active support of the appalling record of the persecution, imprisonment and execution of homosexuals and their supporters in their home provinces. 

One wonders why they ever bothered to attend the Enthronement – except, perhaps, to be seen and to make a point by their snubbing of the ABC and the rest of the Anglican Primates in communion with him.

One has to smile at the impudence of Sydney’s Archbishop Peter Jensen (when is he due to retire, I wonder) who has the temerity to say that, if Archbishop Justin Welby visits Australia: “We (meaning Jensen, of course and not the Provincial Archbishop and the rest of the Australian Anglican Church)  will test him, as we do everyone in that position, in accordance with how we (the royal ‘We’ ?) understand what the Bible teaches.”

I think that ++Peter Jensen will find that the new Archbishop of Canterbury has moved on from the ‘Sola Scriptura’ school – especially on matters of gender and sexuality – believing, as he does, in the emancipation of women and the LGBT community in the Anglican Church.

Archbishop Justin’s experience of Africans is somewhat more extensive than that of Peter Jensen – the Secretary of GAFCON and a member of FCA – whose only contact with them is through the more vocal conservatives in the GAFCON diaspora.

I have little doubt that Archbishop Peter Aspinall, who actually IS The Primate of the Australian Anglican Church, and most Australian Anglicans, would be a little more welcoming of the new Archbishop of Canterbury than the  those who are followers of the conservative Archbishop of Sydney. 

A Happy and Blessed Easter from Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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