Twelve leaders of the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches are no longer in fellowship with the Church of England and will not recognise the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby as “first among equals” in the leadership of the global Anglican communion. 

The leaders issued a seven-point statement in response to the vote by the Church of England Synod this month to approve prayers of blessing for same-sex couples. The vote came after a report from the House of Bishops recommended such a move. 

"The GSFA is no longer able to recognise the present Archbishop of Canterbury, the Rt Hon and Most Rev Justin Welby, as the ‘first among equals’ leader of the global Communion," the statement said. 

"He has sadly led his House of Bishops to make the recommendations that undergirded the General Synod motion on ‘Living in Love and Faith’, knowing that they run contrary to the faith and order of the orthodox provinces in the Communion whose people constitute the majority in the global flock. We pray that our withdrawal of support for him to lead the whole Communion is received by him as an admonishment in love."

The statement also said: "[as] the Church of England has departed from the historic faith passed down from the Apostles by this innovation in the liturgies of the Church and her pastoral practice [contravening her own Canon A5iv], she has disqualified herself from leading the Communion as the historic ‘Mother’ Church.

"Indeed, the Church of England has chosen to break communion with those provinces who remain faithful to the historic biblical faith... As much as the GSFA Primates also want to keep the unity of the visible Church and the fabric of the Anglican Communion, our calling to be ‘a holy remnant’ does not allow us be ‘in communion’ with those provinces that have departed from the historic faith and taken the path of false teaching. This breaks our hearts and we pray for the revisionist provinces to return to ‘the faith once delivered’ [Jude 3] and to us."

The leaders signing the statement include the chairman of the Global South, Archbishop Justin Badi of South Sudan, and the Provincial archbishops from Chile, the Indian Ocean, Congo, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Uganda, Sudan, Alexandria and Melanesia. Together with the leaders of GAFCON (Global Anglican Future Conference) the GSFA represents the majority of the Anglican Communion.  

Earlier this month, the Archbishop of Sydney Kanishka Raffel said in a statement in response that the vote rejected the clear teaching of Scripture. 

"It is the opposite of loving care for people to deny, distort or downplay the life-giving truth of Scripture on matters of vital importance to understanding ourselves and God’s good plans for our lives, including matters of human sexuality and marriage. We must lament the decision of the Church of England General Synod.” Archbishop Raffel said. 

Watch GSFA Chairman Justin Badi speak about the decision here.

Main photo: Archbishops Justin Badi and James Wong at a news conference in 2022