The Gafcon Primates have written a letter to the Archbishop of Burundi, Bernard Ntahoturi, Chairman of CAPA (the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa). They accuse him of betraying the faith by attending a “Transformation Through Friendship” meeting organised by The Episcopal Church at the General Theological Seminary in New York City from October 8-10, 2014. The conversations grew out of the Fifth Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue, May 22-25, 2014, at Coventry, England.
A Consultation of Gafcon Primates and Bishops of Africa was held in Nairobi in early December 2014, to consider a response to the “Transformation Through Friendship”communique. The Gafcon Primates of Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Congo, and Sudan wrote: “The New York Communique does not speak for the Anglican Provinces of Africa and it is a matter of very great regret that the ‘Continuing Indaba’ strategy has led to the division of African Anglicans”. The public rebuke of Archbishop Ntahoturi by the Gafcon primates is unprecedented in African church history.
The other bishops attending the “Transformation Through Friendship” meeting were the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States, Katharine Jefferts Schori; The Most Rev. Albert Chama, Archbishop of Central Africa; The Most Rev. Thabo Makgoba, Archbishop of Southern Africa; The Most Rev. Jacob Chimeledya, Archbishop of Tanzania, The Most Rev. Daniel Sarfo, Archbishop of West Africa, The Rt. Rev. Stacy F. Sauls, Chief Operating Officer, TEC, The Rt. Rev. Mary Gray-Reeves, Bishop of El Camino Real; The Rt. Rev. Ogé Beauvoir, Bishop Suffragan of Haiti; The Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel, III, Bishop Provisional of Pennsylvania.
The Gafcon leaders stated they believed Archbishop Ntahoturi had been misled. “We know that this agenda does not represent the faith of your Province, Diocese, or even your own heart. We call you to repentance and restoration to join with us in fellowship that is founded on Christ’s truth and is faithful to His Word.” The Primates claim they were horrified by what they saw as a betrayal of all they have worked for in maintaining orthodoxy in the Anglican Communion.
The text of the Nairobi Consultation letter
The Most Rev. Bernard Ntahoturi
Archbishop of Burundi
4th December 2014
Dear Archbishop Bernard,
Please receive our greetings in the name of the Lord Jesus.
We write with a profound sense of distress about your actions in regard to the “Transformation Through Friendship” gathering. We take strong exception with numerous points.
First, the document itself is a manipulation. It is in fact, not principally about “Friendship” but is in fact an attempt to further advance the unbiblical and false teaching of The Episcopal Church.
Second, we reject the characterisation that the communique represents “African Primates and Bishops.” Given that there is absolutely no acknowledgement that there are other African Primates and Bishops who do not agree, the document, of which you were a collaborator and signatory, presents itself falsely. It does not represent the faith of the overwhelming majority of African Christians. This is particularly offensive given your position as Chairman of CAPA. If you are to be able to continue in your position with integrity, we would need both an explanation and an apology. If you are not able to do so, we would ask you to step down as Chairman.
We are particularly grieved because “it is not an enemy that reproaches… but it was you.” (Psalm 55:12-13) Given the fact that you are the Chairman of CAPA, and are supposed to represent the agreed positions of African Primates, your actions have created a tremendous obstacle to our participation in any CAPA gatherings until this can be properly sorted out.
Third, the theologically superficial approach of the “Friendship Communique” attempts to effect reconciliation without repentance. Not only did your presence validate unbiblical teaching and practice of The Episcopal Church (USA), but seeks to give momentum to a process which does not solve issues of salvific import. This is an example of teaching that is socially grounded rather than Biblically substantiated. By your presence, you validate unrepentant, unbiblical teaching and practice.
Fourth, we reject the process of “Indaba” as it is being implemented. Rather than seeking true resolution, it has been consistently manipulated only to recruit people to unbiblical positions. “Indaba” as currently practiced, is a fiction advancing human desires that are not informed by Gospel truth.
Fifth, the meeting uncritically proposes “Mission,” without recognising that there must be theological agreement about what purpose the mission pursues, as opposed to Biblical Mission which furthers the redemptive love of Christ through repentance and conversion.
Sixth, while we are certainly aware of the problem of poverty in Africa, we reject alliances that seek to capitalise on economic vulnerability to advance an agenda.
Dear Brother, we know that this agenda does not represent the faith of your Province, Diocese, or even your own heart. We call you to repentance and restoration to join with us in fellowship that is founded on Christ’s truth and is faithful to His Word. In keeping with our East African Revival heritage of repentance and confession, we long to have this resolved. Please know this letter comes not from malice but from a desire for godly fellowship to be restored.
The Most Rev’d Eliud Wabukala
Primate, the Anglican Church of Kenya,
Chairman GAFCON Primates Council
The Most Rev’d Nicholas D Okoh
Primate Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion),
Vice Chairman GAFCON Primates Council
The Most Rev’d Henri Isingoma
Primate, The Anglican Church of Congo
The Most Rev’d Stanley Ntagali
Primate, Church of Uganda
Bishop Isaac Ater
For the Most Rev’d Daniel Deng Bul
Primate, the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan
CC : The Most Rev. Albert Chama,
Archbishop of Central Africa; The Most Rev. Thabo Makgoba, Archbishop of Southern Africa; The Most Rev. Jacob Chimeledya, Archbishop of Tanzania, The Most Rev. Daniel Sarfo, Archbishop of West Africa; Rev Canon Grace Kaiso.
The ungracious terms in which Archbishops of the GAFCON Provinces have addressed their Letter to Burundi Archbishop, The Rt. Revd. Bernard Ntahoturi, accusing him of disloyalty to them in his connection with the recent U.S. Conference “Transformation Through Friendship” meeting hosted by The Episcopal Church at the General Theological Seminary in New York City from October 8-10, 2014 (The conversations grew out of the Fifth Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue, May 22-25, 2014, at Coventry, England) have marked a historic first in GAFCON’s rebuke of one of their fellow African Anglican Archbishops – for consorting with ‘the enemy’.
This should not be too surprising, as the GAFCON sodality is feeling more side-lined in the world-wide Anglican Communion, by events taking place within the life of the non-GAFCON-aligned Provinces. Today’s ordination of Bishop Libby Lane in the Church of England has already been a thorn in the side for at least one GAFCON Archbishop.
Archbishop Bernard was not the only African at the T.E.C.-sponsored gathering. Others included: The Most Rev. Albert Chama, Archbishop of Central Africa; The Most Rev. Thabo Makgoba, Archbishop of Southern Africa; The Most Rev. Jacob Chimeledya, Archbishop of Tanzania, The Most Rev. Daniel Sarfo, Archbishop of West Africa, whose presence gives clear evidence of their non-alignment with the tactics of Communion separatism being practised by other African Primates who are members of the GAFCON organisation. One wonders why these latter African Leaders were not specifically accused of ‘disloyalty’ to the African Church’ by the GAFCON leadership. However, one notes that they have received copies of the Letter.
While some African Provinces are still willing to co-exist with the non-Gafcon Provinces of the Anglican Communion, there is hope that the Gafcon movement will not become what they have hoped for – a Pan-African separatist organisation claiming sole rights to proclaim what Gafcon has determined to be ‘Anglican Orthodoxy’. Whether they like it or not, the secessionist Gafcon Provinces cannot claim sole rights to the title ‘Anglican’, nor should they expect to replace the provenance of those Provinces of the Anglican Communion that choose to remain in koinonia fellowship with the Church of England – the original Anglican Church.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand