Momentous shifts are happening in the Anglican Communion, as testified by what Archbishop Foley Beach says “may be one of the most important church gatherings in our time.”
Archbishop Beach, the Primate of the Anglican Church of North America and chairman of the GAFCON Primates Council, outlined the changes with a stirring address to the largest gathering of Anglicans since GAFCON III in Jerusalem in 2018. It comes after the decision of the Church of England Synod, presided over by the Archbishop of Canterbury, to set aside the Bible in order to bless same-sex couples.
“As God shows us our sin, you and I must repent and return,” Archbishop Beach told the conference. “We're called to be a repenting church. In recent days, we've seen the Church of England, led by the Archbishop of Canterbury and their bishops, walk away from the plain teaching of Scripture. We call on them to repent – to return to the teaching of the word of God.”
“Sadly, and with broken hearts, we must say that until the Archbishop of Canterbury repents, we can no longer recognise him as the first among equals and the spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion. It's time for the whole Anglican establishment to be reformed anyway. I mean, why does the secular government of only one of the nations represented in the Anglican Communion still get to pick the spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion? This makes no sense in today's post-colonial world.”
As well as a shift away from Canterbury, the largest biblically orthodox groups – GAFCON and the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (GSFA) – have signalled they will move closer together.
One of the leaders of the GSFA, the Primate of the Indian Ocean, Archbishop James Wong, described the groups as “the real Anglican Communion”.
“The primates of GAFCON and Global South came together, and we agreed now that we have to start thinking about love and unity within the steering committee of Global South and the primate councils of the GAFCON movement,” Archbishop Wong told the Heart of GAFCON telecast.
Above: Archbishop Wong speaks to Dominic Steele on the Heart of GAFCON telecast
“This is why in my sermon this morning I also preached about the need of coming together in love, especially the need of coming together to confirm the knowledge of the Bible, the place of the Bible in us. It is the Bible which will bind us together. I thank God for the wisdom he has bestowed [on] the primates of GAFCON and Global South to come together, to start a journey of sharing, and we are looking forward to the future with great hope.”
GAFCON IV opened on Monday, Rwandan time, and will finish with a conference statement on Friday.
Despite the actions of the Church of England, speaker after speaker in Kigali this week has emphasised the task of mission, led by GAFCON and the GSFA.
As Archbishop Beach put it, “We could go on playing church, being religious, and even making bold statements and make no spiritual impact in our world. What a tragedy this would be! No, we want to see true revival break out and spread to every part of the world.”
Main photo: Archbishop Beach (centre) prays with GAFCON delegates (Photos courtesy GAFCON)