After a five-day meeting in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, the 1300 clergy and lay delegates to the fourth Global Anglican Future Conference have agreed on a statement calling for an ‘urgent resetting’ of the Anglican communion.
The largest gathering of Anglicans since GAFCON III in Jerusalem five years ago had to grapple with the fallout from the Church of England’s decision to bless same-sex couples.
“Public statements by the Archbishop of Canterbury and other leaders of the Church of England in support of same-sex blessings are a betrayal of their ordination and consecration vows to banish error and to uphold and defend the truth taught in Scripture,” the statement said.
“We have no confidence that the Archbishop of Canterbury nor the other Instruments of Communion led by him (the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ Meetings) are able to provide a godly way forward that will be acceptable to those who are committed to the truthfulness, clarity, sufficiency and authority of Scripture. The Instruments of Communion have failed to maintain true communion based on the Word of God and shared faith in Christ.”
Pastoral affirmation from Kigali
We affirm that every person is loved by God and we are determined to love as God loves. As Resolution I.10 affirms, we oppose the vilification or demeaning of any person including those who do not follow God’s ways, since all human beings are created in God’s image.
We are thankful to God for all those who seek to live a life of faithfulness to God’s Word in the face of all forms of sexual temptation.
We pledge ourselves afresh to support and care for one another in a loving and pastorally sensitive way as members of Christ’s body, building one another up in the Word and in the Spirit, and encouraging each other to experience God’s transforming power as we walk by faith in the path of repentance and obedience that leads to fullness of life.
The five-page statement signals a stepping away from the Archbishop of Canterbury as ‘first among equals’ but makes it clear that GAFCON members are not the instigators of disunity. “The current divisions in the Anglican Communion have been caused by radical departures from the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ,” the Kigali statement says.
Above: Lay and clergy delegates from various countries pray together
“All four Instruments propose that the way ahead for the Anglican Communion is to learn to walk together in ‘good disagreement’. However, we reject the claim that two contradictory positions can both be valid in matters affecting salvation. We cannot ‘walk together’ in good disagreement with those who have deliberately chosen to walk away from the ‘faith once for all delivered to the saints’ (Jude 3).”
- We will engage in a decade of discipleship, evangelism and mission (2023-2033).
- We will devote ourselves to raising up the next generation of leaders in Gafcon through Bible-based theological education that will equip them to be Christ-centred and servant-hearted.
- We will prioritise youth and children’s ministry that instructs them in the Word of the Lord, disciples them to maturity in Christ and equips them for a lifetime of Christian service.
- We will affirm and encourage the vital and diverse ministries, including leadership roles, of Gafcon women in family, church and society, both as individuals and as groups.
- We will demonstrate the compassion of Christ through the many Gafcon mercy ministries.
- We will resource and support bishops’ training that produces faithful, courageous, servant leaders.
- We will build the bonds of fellowship and mutual edification through interprovincial visits of our Primates.
The conference’s final statement was formulated by the delegates themselves, in line with the tradition of previous conferences that statements should arise from the participants rather than being pre-determined.
Leaders of the two major biblically-orthodox groupings in the Anglican Communion, GAFCON and the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (GFSA) held a combined meeting in Kigali. Together, these Primates represent the overwhelming majority (estimated at 85%) of Anglicans worldwide.
“The leadership of both groups affirmed and celebrated their complementary roles in the Anglican Communion. Gafcon is a movement focused on evangelism and mission, church planting and providing support and a home for faithful Anglicans who are pressured by or alienated from revisionist dioceses and provinces. GSFA, on the other hand, is focused on establishing doctrinally based structures within the Communion,” said the five page Kigali Commitment. “We rejoice in the united commitment of both groups on three fundamentals: the lordship of Jesus Christ; the authority and clarity of the Word of God; and the priority of the church’s mission to the world.”
The conference welcomed a call by the GSFA in February calling for a resetting and reordering of the Communion.
“Resetting the Communion is an urgent matter. It needs an adequate and robust foundation that addresses the legal and constitutional complexities in various Provinces. The goal is that orthodox Anglicans worldwide will have a clear identity, a global ‘spiritual home’ of which they can be proud, and a strong leadership structure that gives them stability and direction as Global Anglicans. We therefore commit to pray that God will guide this process of resetting and that Gafcon and GSFA will keep in step with the Spirit.”
Above: See Archbishop Kanishka Raffel, who has been elected a vice chair of GAFCON, interviewed on the implications of the Kigali meeting.
Read the full statement here.
See video interviews from the Heart of GAFCON here.