KENYA: Archbishop Eliud Wabukala Writes on State of Anglican Communion
July 4, 2013
Eliud Wabukala To the Faithful of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans and friends from Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Primate of Kenya and Chairman of the GAFCON Primates’ Council
My dear Brothers and Sisters,
Greetings in the precious name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Here in Nairobi we are preparing with great anticipation for our second Global Anglican Future Conference, GAFCON 2013, and this is the first of what I intend to be monthly pastoral messages as we move forward together in the unfolding purposes of God.
I am confident that this great gathering of over 1,300 delegates will touch the lives of you all, whether or not you are able to be present, and will be a decisive moment in a movement which will shape the future of the Anglican Communion for generations to come.
The reason I have such confidence is not simply because of the commitment and energy that is going into the planning of this great occasion, but above all because God is faithful. At the heart of our gathering will be the Lord Jesus’ Great Commission to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19) and as we commit ourselves wholeheartedly to that purpose, we can trust in the promise that comes with the command, the promise of his presence ‘to the end of the age’ (v20).
Here in Kenya, we know the reality of this promise because we are a nation which has benefited profoundly from the East African Revival. The fires of revival spread spontaneously through East Africa in the 1930’s at a time when many of the churches were cold and formal, deeply shaping what it means to be a Christian and an Anglican here today.
Out of this revival came a huge upsurge in spontaneous mission by ordinary church members throughout East Africa, some of whom were tested by violent persecution in subsequent decades. Despite the challenges of nominalism and tribalism, its legacy of evangelistic drive and resilient discipleship continues.
At a meeting of Church Army Africa here in Nairobi last month, the GAFCON vision was strongly affirmed by its leaders as they rededicated themselves to reaching this continent for Christ. Indeed, revival has been described as ‘a reforming of the Church’s battle line’ in its work of claiming the world for Christ and so we have experienced it in Africa. But sadly, in some parts of the Anglican Communion we are seeing the process in reverse – the Church of Christ is being claimed by the world through compromise and false teaching.
The need to take action to establish a clear and undiluted biblical witness to Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit is very great. We will gather to proclaim the gospel with clarity and confidence and set in place structures that will facilitate rather than frustrate that great aim. The Jerusalem Statement and Declaration of 2008 gave us our biblical basis and in the Jerusalem Statement we spoke prophetically of three ‘undeniable facts’:
1. ‘The acceptance and promotion within the provinces of the Anglican Communion of a different ‘gospel’.’
2. ‘The declaration by provincial bodies in the Global South that they are out of communion with bishops and churches that promote this false gospel.’
3. ‘The manifest failure of the Communion Instruments (its international institutions) to exercise discipline in the face of overt heterodoxy.’
While we give thanks for much that has been achieved, especially in the emergence of the Anglican Church of North America and our Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, we are painfully aware that the Episcopal Church of the United States and the Anglican Church of Canada continue to promote a false gospel and yet both are still received as in good standing by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Furthermore, the Church of England itself, the historic mother church of the Communion, seems to be advancing along the same path. While defending marriage, both the Archbishops of York and Canterbury appeared at the same time to approve of same-sex Civil Partnerships during parliamentary debates on the UK’s ‘gay marriage’ legislation, in contradiction to the historic biblical teaching on human sexuality reaffirmed by the 1998 Lambeth Conference.
In these circumstances, attempts to achieve unity based merely on common humanitarianism and dialogue, without repentance, sacrifice the transforming power of the gospel. The seeds of the East African revival were planted through years of faithful bible teaching and were brought to life by the Spirit of God, with deep conviction of sin and the irrepressible joy of sins forgiven. This is the core of the transforming power of the gospel and in this we delight. Let me conclude by quoting Clause 9 of the Jerusalem Declaration:
“We gladly accept the Great Commission of the risen Lord to make disciples of all nations, to seek those who do not know Christ and to baptise, teach and bring new believers to maturity.”
May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.
The Most Rev Dr Eliud Wabukala Primate of Kenya and Chairman of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans
This ‘pastoral letter’ to ‘the Faithful of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans and friends’, written on the 4th of July 2013 to like-minded conservative ‘orthodox Anglicans’ throughout the world-wide Anglican Communion, appeared on international Church websites while my wife, Diana, and I were enjoying a holiday in Britain and Europe. The publication of this letter in England went largely un-noticed – except, perhaps, by the local membership of a curiously named fraternity proclaiming themselves to be ‘Confessing Anglicans’, an elite group of conservative Anglicans around the world, ‘The Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, who profess to be the sole exponents of ‘orthodox Anglicanism’.
Among the people attached to this nomenclature, FOCA, in our part of the world in the South Pacific, are some Sydney Anglicans – like their current leader, Archbishop Peter Jensen, who has led his diocese into a stand-off from TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada, on the matter of their inclusion of Women and Gay people in the ministry of their Churches. The Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans was born in England, in the aftermath of TEC’s (The Episcopal Church in the U.S.A.) decision to ordain a Gay Bishop, and The Anglican Church of Canada’s decision to Bless Same-Sex Unions. The movement swiftly spread to certain African countries – including Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya – and to the ultra-conservative Sydney Diocese in Australia.
An avalanche of protest against the ordination of Gays caused the formation of yet another protest group – mainly African – who called the first GAFCON meeting for the express purpose of forming a select group of Anglican Provinces opposed to what they saw as the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality within the Anglican Communion – largely by Western Churches that felt called to include both Gays and Women into the ministry and leadership of their Churches. GAFCON has even articulated its own particular credo, under the title of ‘The Jerusalem Statement’, which can be found on their web-site. The irony here is that those provinces that were originally converted to Christianity by Western Anglican missionaries are now fighting against the leadership of the Churches that first brought the Gospel to their people.
What is at stake here is the culture of ‘sola Scriptura’ – a conservative view of the teaching of the Bible – that does not allow for any departure from preferred scriptural edicts against allowing women to take roles of leadership in the Church (despite N.T. references to their importance for the Early Church mission); and against what many conservative Christians understand as Scripture’s definitive condemnation of homosexuality (despite the fact that modern science and social research has questioned the authenticity of biblical claims that homosexuals are perverts and outcasts from society. In certain African countries, this is exemplified by the local Anglican Church’s partnership with the civil authorities in condemning, persecuting, and even executing gays in their area.
Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, the author of this article above-mentioned, has taken the place of the current Archbishop of Sydney as leader of the GAFCON and FOCA communities; and is actively opposing the leadership of the Church of England in their attempts to overcome homophobia and misogyny in that Church. He has virtually accused TEC, the Anglican Church of Canada, and more recently the Church of England, of apostacy. His claim to represent the only truly ‘orthodox’ stream of world-wide Anglicanism might, at best, be considered misguided, and maybe even schismatic – bearing in mind that most Anglican Provinces would not share GAFCON’s view on the subordination of Women and the condemnation of homosexuals in their Churches of the Anglican Communion. Ironically, this idea of faith supremacy for the GAFCON provinces, may be the beginning of further division between hard-line Anglican conservatives and and a more eirenically-inclusive Anglican Communion.
It is expected that, at the next GAFCON Conference in Archbishop Wabukala’s Province of Kenya (attended, no doubt by conservatives from the Diocese of Sydney, and perhaps one conservative bishop from New Zealand)there will be some sort of ultimatum addressed to the Archbishop of Canterbury and other provincial Archbishops, by Archbishop Wabukala, to the effect that, unless their provinces renounce any future Gay Ordinations, GAFCON will no longer consider themselves part of the Anglican Communion – or. more quixotically – may even declare non-GAFCON Provinces to be no longer orthodox as Anglicans. From the pointed communication in the above-mentioned article by the Primate of Kenya, there can be little doubt that the sad culture of schism, already encouraged by GAFCON in their promotion of oversea colonies of their provinces in North America and the U.K., will be further extended, and GAFCON declared to be the only truly Anglican Orthodox Church.
How conservatives from non-GAFCON-related Churches will respond to Archbishop Wabukala’s call to exit from the Canterbury connection is hard to predict. However, the Sydney Diocese, and possibly the N.Z. Diocese of Nelson (both of which dioceses will have their representatives at the GAFCON meeting), could quite easily be contenders for separation from the rest of us – on the grounds of incompatibility with the polity of their parent Churches. What the Provincial Churches of Australia and New Zealand might do about this is yet to be seen. With Churches that cannot live at peace together – in spite of theological differences on the scale of the present impasses – an orderly separation could be the best result, so that each part of the Body of Christ could be set free to pursue their own particular vision of the demands of the Gospel in situ. This hardly fits in with Christ’s longing for the Unity of the Body of Christ. But, sadly, human pride, and the need to be always ‘right’ can often thwart even the inclusive message of the Gospel.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand