‘To Whom Shall We Go?’: Kigali hosted conference for 1,300 global conservative Anglican leaders
“With broken hearts, we must say that until the Archbishop of Canterbury repents we can no longer recognise him as the first among equals”, says the chairman of Gafcon.
GAFCON · KIGALI · 21 APRIL 2023 · 17:00 CET
Over 1,300 Anglican Church leaders gathered in Kigali (Rwanda) for the IV Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) Conference, under the theme ‘To Whom Shall We Go?’
They all rejected a motion passed by the General Synod that allows them to “bless” homosexual couples who are civilly married.
“We can no longer recognise him as the first among equals”
The chairman of GAFCON and Primate of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Foley Beach, said in his presidential address on Monday evening that “with broken hearts, we must say that until the Archbishop of Canterbury repents we can no longer recognise him as the first among equals”.
“Will you join us in praying for Justin Welby and the bishops he leads? You and I must repent and we become Christians again and we follow Jesus Christ”, added Beach.
The Anglican Archbishop of Rwanda, Laurent Mbanda, expressed “great sadness” about the support for same-sex marriage by some sectors of the Church of England, an emotion, he said, he shared with many religious leaders.
He was elected as the new GAFCON chairman, but had to leave the conference earlier because his son died unexpectedly at his home in Philadelphia, United States.
The general secretary of GAFCON, Archbishop Ben Kwashi of Nigeria, pointed out in a statement that the Church of England’s new stance on civil marriages is “troubling for many Anglicans. We do not seek division, but rather we want to move the mission of God in the world”.
Many also expressed their disapproval over the decision to appoint the Reverend David Monteith, who has a same-sex partner, as Dean of Canterbury.
God’s Word’s authority
The 3 days of the conference were summarised in the Kigali Commitment 2023.
GAFCON IV - THE KIGALI COMMITMENT— GAFCON (@gafconference) April 21, 2023
INTRODUCTION [Download the entire commitment using the link below]
[Christ] is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. Colossians 1:18… pic.twitter.com/wqYV1g0tTo
It starts stressing that “the current divisions in the Anglican Communion have been caused by radical departures from the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Some within the Communion have been taken captive by hollow and deceptive philosophies of this world”.
“Despite 25 years of persistent warnings by most Anglican Primates, repeated departures from the authority of God’s Word have torn the fabric of the Communion. These warnings were blatantly and deliberately disregarded and now without repentance this tear cannot be mended”, it adds.
A deep crisis of the Anglican Communion
According to the authors of the Commitment, “the latest of these departures is the majority vote by the General Synod of the Church of England in February 2023 to welcome proposals by the bishops to enable same-sex couples to receive God’s blessing”.
“Public statements by the Archbishop of Canterbury and other leaders 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”, it states.
Failure of the Archbishop of Canterbury and call for repentance
GAFCON members “have no confidence that the Archbishop of Canterbury nor the other Instruments of Communion led by him, 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”.
They “reject the claim that two contradictory positions can both be valid in matters affecting salvation”.
That is why “we call upon those provinces, dioceses and leaders who have departed from biblical orthodoxy to repent of their failure to uphold the Bible’s teaching”.
“We long for this repentance but until they repent, our communion with them remains broken”, stresses the Commitment.
Resetting the Anglican communion
For GAFCON,“resetting the Communion is an urgent matter. It needs an adequate and robust foundation. The goal is that orthodox Anglicans worldwide will have a clear identity, a global ‘spiritual home’, and a strong leadership structure that gives them stability and direction”.
In oder to achieve that, they invited the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (GSFA) to the conference to host a combined Gafcon-GSFA Primates meeting. Both “commit to pray that God will guide this process of resetting, and to keep in step with the Spirit”.
Support faithful Anglicans with appropriate pastoral care
The Kigali Commitment states that the Gafcon Primates need “to recognise new orthodox jurisdictions for faithful Anglicans, who are unable to remain in the Church of England because of the failure of its leadership”.
Furthermore, they “will continue to stand with and pray for those faithful Anglicans who remain within the Church of England. We support their efforts to uphold biblical orthodoxy”.
“Aware of our own sin and frailty, we commit ourselves to providing appropriate pastoral care to all people in our churches. This is all the more necessary in the current context of sexual and gender confusion”, it adds.
The GAFCON General Secretary, endorsed by the Gafcon Primates, established seven priorities for the future of the movement:
- Engage in a decade of discipleship, evangelism and mission (2023-2033).
- Devote themselves to raising up the next generation of leaders through bible-based theological education.
- Prioritise youth and children’s ministry.
- Affirm and encourage vital and diverse ministries, including leadership roles, of GAFCON women.
- Show the compassion of Christ through the GAFCON mercy ministries.
- Resource and support bishops’ training.
- Build bonds of fellowship and mutual edification through interprovincial visits of primates.
You can read the full final declaration at Gafcon 2023 here.
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