In one of the most significant Primate gatherings in recent years, more than a dozen leaders of the GSFA (Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches) are advancing plans to ‘reset’ the Anglican Communion.
The group met in Cairo on October 17-19 and promised to continue meeting annually.
The meeting was in response to the recent decision of the Church of England's General Synod to legitimise and incorporate the blessing of same sex unions into the liturgy of the English church. The GSFA had earlier promised to consult with other orthodox primates on how to re-set the Communion on its biblical foundation.
This meeting agreed to:
- 'take the gospel out urgently' recognising the roots of the global Communion in the faithful and costly proclamation of the gospel;
- 'work on re-setting the Communion according to its biblical and historical roots. We all know and lament that our Communion has entered into a deep darkness of rebellion to the truth of God's word.'
- meet annually as ‘Anglican orthodox leaders’ to continue this link to one another, to be refreshed by Spirit-filled fellowship, to take counsel together on Communion matters, and to collaborate on mission and ministry.
The primates agreed to work together to 'firewall' the spread of false teaching. A GFSA statement said it would "give fresh hope and a strong identity to orthodox Anglicans throughout our historic communion and affirmed the GSFA Covenantal Structure as a locus of structural unity for the orthodox of the whole Communion."
Read the communique here.
The gathering also noted that the English action, which goes against biblical teaching, has galvanised orthodox Anglicans in the UK.
“Despite all that is happening, we as orthodox leaders are very encouraged to see orthodox groupings within the Church of England beginning to collectively stand against this revisionism in their Church,” the communique said. “We applaud the 12 bishops in the Church of England who have indicated that they are unable to support the decision by their House of Bishops, and we will uphold them in our prayers. We will stand with orthodox Anglicans in England both now and going forward.”
We were profoundly disturbed by the destruction of lives and property of our Anglican Hospital in Gaza which happened during the days of our meeting.
The Primates attending included Archbishop Justin Badi of South Sudan, Archbishop Tito Zavala of Chile, Archbishop Titre Ande of Congo, Archbishop Foley Beach of the Anglican Church of North America and the leader of the world’s most populous Anglican Church, Nigerian Archbishop Henry Ndukuba.
Observers included English Alpha leader, the Rev Nicky Gumbel and Moderator Azad Marshall of the Church of Pakistan.
Meeting in Cairo, the Primates made special mention of the crisi in the Middle East and the persecution of the church.
From the Communique:
- We gathered in Cairo in close proximity to the conflict between Israel and Hamas. We were profoundly disturbed by the destruction of lives and property of our Anglican Hospital in Gaza which happened during the days of our meeting. We pray for the Archbishop of Jerusalem and the Middle East, the Most Rev. Dr. Hosam Naoum and all those who are caught up in this tragedy. It caused us to empathise with the immense suffering of the bereaved, the homeless, the hostages, and the refugees.
- We also stand in solidarity with the Most Revd Azad Marshall and persecuted Christians in Pakistan, as well as with the Most Revd Stephen Than and the hard-pressed people of the Province of Myanmar. We also remember in our prayers Christians in many parts of Nigeria who are persecuted.
- We are deeply concerned that if the Church of England presses ahead with the proposed changes, this will increase persecution of Christians in many parts of the Global South.
- In the case of the recent outbreak of war between Israel and Hamas, our sympathy lies with all who have suffered from the violent conflict. We pray for a ceasefire and serious dialogue to find a just peace.
"to work on re-setting the Communion according to its biblical and historical roots…"
Sydney’s Bishop for International Relations, Malcolm Richards, (above) attended the meeting as an observer.
"It was a very significant gathering and timely for a number of reasons," Bishop Richards said afterwards. “As we gathered we were very conscious of the Israel-Hamas conflict close by and the pain and suffering being experienced by the innocent on both sides.
“However, what brought us together was the commitment made at the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) in Kigali in April that a broad coalition of orthodox Anglican leaders representing the Global South, GAFCON and others should meet to discuss the resetting of the Anglican Communion.”
Bishop Richards said the resetting was needed after the Archbishop of Canterbury oversaw the departure of his Church of England from the historic teaching of the church and from biblical teaching.
“The meeting in Cairo confirmed that, as a consequence, orthodox parts of the Anglican Church can no longer recognise the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury, nor the organs of the Anglican Communion that he oversees,” Bishop Richards said.
“The leaders there were adamant that they were not leaving the Communion, but that the governing structures of the Communion were no longer trusted nor Christ-honouring. The meeting also made a commitment to meet yearly, to continue to strengthen this orthodox coalition and together to seek God’s wisdom to reshape the church in a way that honours our Lord and his word.”
The November meeting of the Primates of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) welcomed the statement of the Global South primates, reaffirming they were not leaving the Anglican Communion but working in partnership to reset it to a Biblical agenda.
GAFCON also welcomed Presiding Bishop Glenn Lyons to take his seat on the Primates Council, having endorsed the Reformed Evangelical Anglican Church of Southern Africa (REACH-SA) as an authentic Anglican Province, after a 150-year history. It was previously known as the Church of England in South Africa (CESA).
Archbishop Ben Kwashi of Nigeria resigned as general secretary of GAFCON after five years. He will be replaced by the Very Reverend Paul Donison, Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, Plano, Texas.