NAIROBI: Archbishop Wabukala Says GAFCON II Will Reaffirm Place of Scriptures in Communion
GAFCON II will include ‘mini-conferences’ on gospel proclamation and culture, theological education, economic empowerment and the church, marriage, family and sexuality, and engaging with Islam
August 22, 2013
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 22nd August 2013
My dear brothers and sisters,
Greetings in the precious name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
As I write, we are now only two months away from GAFCON 2013. There is much still to do, but over the past month great strides have been made and I am confident that this will be another wonderful and historic occasion. Many of those who shared in the fellowship of our first gathering in Jerusalem remarked that it had been a once in a lifetime experience, but I believe that GAFCON 2013 will be equally memorable, yet in a different way. We remember the mighty acts of God in order to build faith for the present and, with thankful hearts for the foundation laid in Jerusalem, we look to the Lord to do a new thing as we gather in Nairobi.
Last week, my brother Archbishop Stanley of Uganda reminded us of why GAFCON 2013 is so necessary. It is now ten years since the Episcopal Church of the United States consecrated Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire, despite the fact that he had left his wife and family and then later entered into a sexual relationship with a man. This action opened the door to the fragmentation of an already fragile Communion. It was in deliberate defiance of the collegial mind of the bishops worldwide expressed at the 1998 Lambeth Conference and became a serious hindrance to those of us committed to biblical evangelism and discipleship.
Archbishop Stanley rightly speaks of a spiritual cancer in the Communion, but we need to see that the overthrow by some Churches of the creation order of male and female is just one symptom of the disease. The cause is spiritual, the overthrow of God’s Word as revealed and authoritative truth. So it is very appropriate that Archbishop Stanley also speaks of the need for confessing Anglicans to see themselves as a movement of revival, taking inspiration from the East African Revival. We need to learn from our history. Divisions about the Bible had spread to some missionary organisations in East Africa after the First World War, but the leaders of the East African Revival knew that there could be no true evangelism and no true revival unless the Scriptures are allowed to speak as what they really are, the inspired Word of God.
So we can see why our affirmation in 2008 of the Jerusalem Declaration was so very important. We described it as ‘a contemporary rule… to guide the movement for the future’. Anything less would have ‘healed the wound of my people lightly’ (Jeremiah 8:11) given the widespread confusion about the gospel and Christian discipleship which we sought to address. Let me remind you of the commitment we made in the Jerusalem Statement to restore Scripture to its rightful place in the life of the Communion:
‘We, together with many other faithful Anglicans throughout the world, believe the doctrinal foundation of Anglicanism, which defines our core identity as Anglicans, is expressed in these words: The doctrine of the Church is grounded in the Holy Scriptures and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures. In particular, such doctrine is to be found in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal.’
On this foundation we can address the challenges of the twenty-first century with faith and confidence. Work is well advanced on the programme for our time together and will include ‘mini-conferences’ on topics such as gospel proclamation and culture, theological education, economic empowerment and the church, marriage, family and sexuality, and engaging with Islam. It is intended that plans for action will be prepared on each theme and that we shall develop the necessary organisational structures to carry them out. Our work on these challenges will be a response to hearing God’s Word taught and preached in the power of the Holy Spirit, trusting that the word of the Lord will not return to him empty, but will indeed accomplish that which he purposes.
To conclude, let me ask you to do two things as members of our global fellowship. Firstly, please be in earnest prayer for GAFCON 2013 and use the prayer bulletins which are posted weekly on the GAFCON website. Many are working very hard, but we need the Lord’s overruling hand of blessing and protection, knowing that without his presence and mercy we can achieve nothing of lasting value. Secondly, please prayerfully consider your financial support. We have a number of brothers and sisters who would love to be with us from parts of the world where there is persecution and hardship and we do not want them to be excluded for lack of funding.
May the Lord who has called us to this gospel fellowship grant you fullness of joy and peace in his service.
The Most Rev Dr Eliud Wabukala is Primate of Kenya and Chairman of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans
This proclamation by Kenyan Archbishop Wabakula, indicating GAFCON’s intention to re-assert the former conservative ‘sola-scriptura’ ethos in Anglican theology – thereby, presumably, relegating the place of traditional Anglican co-dependence on the charisms of Tradition and Reason – would seem to further GAFCON’s distance from the non-gafcon provinces of the world-wide Anglican Communion in their liberalisation of the Church from homophobia and misogyny.
Citing the ordination of Bishop Gene Robinson in The Episcopal Church in the USA as the catalyst for separation from North American Anglicanism; Wabakula promises that there will likely be a repetition of the East African Revival, as African Churches seek to re-establish their sola-scriptura basis as the rock on which they will stand.
As head of both GAFCON and the ‘Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans’ – Archbishop Wabakula – together with his fellow Primates in Provinces of the Church in the Global South – is predicating the thrust of the up-coming meeting of GAFCON as a defining moment of ‘Orthodox Anglicanism’ – which he identifies with the stand of GAFCON and FCA as sole upholders of true Anglican tradition.
Whether, or not, GAFCON will choose to break away from Anglicanism, as defined by those in Communion with the historic See of Canterbury, remains to be seen. However, whatever comes out of the next GAFCON meeting, the rest of us will no doubt go ahead with our intention to proclaim Christ in the Gospel – not with any sectarian view of what that might imply, but with an openness to All for whom Christ died- regardless of gender or sexual-orientation.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand