The GAFCON Primates have met this week in Nairobi and have issued their closing communiqué which focuses on a number of programs to grow the movement; the announcement of plans for GAFCON 2018, training for bishops, an increase in permanent staff, a new chair and vice-chair and a response to the events of the Lusaka meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council.
Primates’ Council Communiqué
April 22, 2016 – Nairobi, Kenya
We the Primates of the Global Anglican Future Conference met in Nairobi, Kenya from April 18-21, 2016. We give thanks for the gracious hospitality of the Anglican Church of Kenya, their Primate, the Most Rev. Eliud Wabukala, and All Saints Cathedral Diocese. As the location for GAFCON 2013, All Saints holds a special place in our history and in our hearts, and we have been encouraged to be here again.
We began our meeting with prayer and a Bible study that focused on Mark 2:1-12. In this passage, the Scriptures retell the story of a man who could not walk, but was assisted by friends who helped bring him to Jesus. Unable to get their friend through the front door, they loved him enough to find another way.
It is a story about the grace of God at work both in the power of fellowship and the merciful love of Jesus. We ourselves have received His forgiveness, and because He first loved us, we are passionate about doing all that we can to bring others into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. We met this week to find practical ways of removing obstacles so that all those who need healing can be brought close to Jesus, be forgiven of their sins, and walk again.
Mission and Discipleship
GAFCON works to guard and proclaim the unchanging, transforming Gospel through biblically faithful preaching, teaching, and programs which free our churches to make disciples by clear and certain witness to Jesus Christ in all the world.
This week we made progress on a wide variety of initiatives to build up the body of Christ. We planned for GAFCON 2018, approved a program that will facilitate bishops’ training, received good news from our provinces and branches, added staff to further the ministry, and made a transition in Primatial leadership. We have also paid careful attention to the facts that have arisen from the Anglican Consultative Council’s meeting in Lusaka.
As a global family we are continuing to make preparations for GAFCON 2018. This will be the third conference since our founding, and the ten-year anniversary of the Jerusalem Declaration. The GAFCON movement uniquely draws together the majority of the world’s Anglicans, both clergy and laity, into one proportional and representative body.
We are excited to gather for worship that represents the breadth of the Anglican Communion, as we come together under the authority of the Bible. The conference will provide teaching from God’s Word, fellowship that spans continents, break-out sessions that teach on the themes of mission, discipleship, and evangelism, especially in places where persecution is rife.
It is our hope and prayer that disciples will be so inspired by the vision of the glory of God among the nations, that the Church will be revived and joyously released to spread the love of Jesus.
A coordinator has been appointed to take this work forward, a planning team is being formed, and more will be shared in the coming months.
The Bishops’ Training Institute, launching in September 2016, will equip bishops to be men of prayer, diligent in Bible study and godliness. The inaugural class will bring together twenty new bishops from across the world. Its vision and mission is to equip today’s bishops for effective ministry by seeking the wisdom of the whole church, and especially senior bishops. It will gather, train, mentor, challenge, and sustain episcopal leadership so that today’s bishops will be empowered to live for Christ and make Him known.
We give thanks for the continued growth of GAFCON. Our meeting included representatives from ten provinces (Congo, Kenya, Myanmar, Nigeria, North America, Rwanda, South America, South Sudan & Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda) and two branches (Australia and the United Kingdom).
We also celebrated the newest branch of the movement that has been founded in New Zealand. While we were meeting in Nairobi, 500 people came together in Auckland and Christ Church, New Zealand to stand together for the truth of the Gospel. They have our full support, and we are excited to see what God will do in and through them in the years to come.
Staffing the Movement
GAFCON has demonstrated that it is a growing movement that now requires more staff to undergird its development. Mr. James Stileman has been appointed as our Operations Manager to work with the General Secretary, the Most Rev. Peter Jensen, in growing GAFCON’s capacity to serve the movement. The Rev. Canon Charles Raven is heading a new office of Membership Development, and will be working to increase and strengthen GAFCON’s branches and provinces. Ms. Tina de Souza has joined us to head our Communications Department, and she has overseen the development of our website and overall communications strategy. We welcome this team, and give thanks for their dedication to the cause of Christ.
We also give thanks for the wise and faithful leadership of the Most Rev. Eliud Wabukala, as his term as our Chairman comes to an end. His six years of service came at a critical time in the life of our movement, and he has put us on a good footing as we enter this next chapter of our life together.
We are excited to announce that the new chairman of the Primates’ Council is the Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, Primate of the Anglican Church of All Nigeria. He is joined in leadership by the new vice-chair, the Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali, Primate of the Anglican Church of Uganda. Archbishops Okoh and Ntagali have been deeply committed to the GAFCON movement since its founding, and are well prepared to lead.
Canterbury to Lusaka
We went to Canterbury out of a desire for unity. In our hearts we desire to see the tear in the fabric of the communion mended. The sanctions passed at that meeting were the mildest possible rebuke to only the worst of the offenders, but they were one step in the right direction. Regrettably, these sanctions have not been upheld. This is disappointing, but sadly not surprising. A more comprehensive statement appears in the appendix to this document.
This is an important time in the life of our churches. The grassroots outpouring of messages of support has shown the strength of our movement, and we are deeply thankful for the prayers of our laity and clergy over the last few months. We are a global family of authentic Anglicans standing together to retain and restore the Bible to the heart of the Anglican Communion. Please continue to pray for our global Anglican future.
Members of the Primates’ Council Present
The Anglican Church of Kenya The Most Rev. Eliud Wabukala
Anglican Church of All Nigeria The Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh
Anglican Church in North America The Most Rev. Foley Beach
Province de L’Eglise Anglicane au Rwanda The Most Rev. Onesphore Rwaje
The Anglican Church of Tanzania The Most Rev. Jacob Chimeledya
The Church of the Province of Uganda The Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali
Appendix: From Canterbury to Lusaka
Last January, we spent time together at the Primates Gathering contending for a restoration of godly order within the Anglican Communion. The sanctions passed at that meeting were not in themselves capable of restoring order, but they were a potential first step.
At that meeting, we acknowledged the reality of the “significant distance” between us and “expressed a desire to walk together” if possible. This distance was created when The Episcopal Church walked away from the Anglican Communion’s doctrine on sexuality and the plain teaching of Scripture.
Within hours of the meeting’s end the public responses from many bishops, clergy, and lay people of The Episcopal Church made it clear that they did not desire to share the same journey. The biblical call to repentance is a call to make a 180 degree turn. It grieves us that many in The Episcopal Church have again rejected this call. While we desire to walk together, until there is true repentance, the reality is that they are deliberately walking away from the Anglican Communion and the authority of Scripture at a distance that continues to increase.
The recent meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Lusaka, Zambia has again highlighted the inability of the current instruments to uphold godly order within the Communion. Delegates from the Episcopal Church, by their own admission, voted on matters that pertained to polity and doctrine, in defiance of the Primates. This action has damaged the standing of the Anglican Consultative Council as an instrument of unity, increased levels of distrust, and further torn the fabric of the Communion.
Nonetheless, we give thanks that these events have brought further clarity, and drawn GAFCON closer together in the mission of the Gospel. We are of one mind that the future of the Anglican Communion does not lie with manipulations, compromises, legal loopholes, or the presentation of half-truths; the future of our Communion lies in humble obedience to the truth of the Word of God written. What others have failed to do, GAFCON is doing: enabling global fellowship and godly order, united by biblical faithfulness. This unity has provided us with great energy to continue to work for the renewal of the Anglican Communion.
It would seem that GAFCON now has a Branch in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Here is the evidence, taken directly from this Gafcon Communique:
” We also celebrated the newest branch of the movement that has been founded in New Zealand. While we were meeting in Nairobi, 500 people came together in Auckland and Christ Church, New Zealand to stand together for the truth of the Gospel. They have our full support, and we are excited to see what God will do in and through them in the years to come.”
NEWS TO ME – and many others in ACANZP. Are our Bishops aware of this?
This communique, issued by the Gafcon Primates who met in Nairobi after the recent ACC16 pan-Anglican Meeting in Lusaka, issues a challenge to the rest of us in the world-wide Anglican Communion, purely on the basis of their own understanding of what constitutes authentic Anglicanism, while rejecting the authority of the Anglican Consultative Council. Here is their message:
“The recent meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Lusaka, Zambia has again highlighted the inability of the current instruments to uphold godly order within the Communion.”
By stating this, the 6 Primates gathered in Nairobi (including so-called ‘Archbishop’ Foley of ACNA – the secessionist ‘province’ in North America) are totally dismissing the authority of the only ‘Instrument of Unity’ that represents not only bishops and clergy but also the faithful laity of the majority of Provinces of the Anglican Communion – most of whom are not part of their conservative ‘sola Scriptura’ ethos.
However, what these Gafcon provincial church leaders are forgetting is that they do not represent the majority of Anglican Provinces around the world. Even if they include the schismatic ACNA ‘province’ in North America, they only represent 7 Provincial Churches amongst the 38 Provinces of the Communion. So theirs is by no means the majority view of the world-wide Communion Provinces. The fact that they may, numerically, represent the majority of individuals claimed as members of their local, mostly African, Churches does not mean that the Primates themselves could be called truly ‘representative’ of the rank and file religious views of their church membership.
The majority of Western-based Anglicans (looking to the See of Canterbury as their spiritual inspiration) are not ‘sola-Scriptura’ in ethos, and are resistant to the closing down of Biblical hermeneutic research to the limits imposed by the Church of the Victorian era on matters of gender and sexuality. The sexist, homophobic outlook of the Gafcon Provinces has already been criticised by the members of the Primates’ Meeting at Canterbury recently, a sure indication of the unwillingness of the majority of the Primates to go along with Gafcon’s conservative agenda.
The way things are going – in the wake of this Gafcon Primates’ post-ACC16 Statement, here – would seem to be quite clearly in the direction of a radical schismatic split from the Anglican Communion proper, on the basis of a puritanical world-view of what constitutes Anglican Orthodoxy.
However, despite their claim to represent ‘authentic Anglicanism’, the Gafcon sodality are forgetting the fact that really authentic Anglicanism requires an openness to ‘Unity in Diversity’, which is not present in the polity of Gafcon, based on their exclusive ‘Jerusalem Statement of Faith’, which runs counter to the traditional ‘Lambeth Quadrilateral’.
N.B. Interesting for Australian and New Zealand readers is the inclusion of the former Sydney Archbishop, Peter Jensen, amongst the luminaries included in the administrative team for Gafcon. He was involved right from the beginning. Under his leadership of the Sydney diocese, they have resisted the ordination of women and have actively promoted the idea of utilising the oddity of ‘Lay-Presidency’ at the Eucharist. Obviously, the Gafcon leadership is quite happy with this sort of leadership – which cannot be called ‘Authentically Anglican’.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand