24th October 2014
‘The Lord builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel. He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds.’ Psalm 147:2,3
Greetings in the precious name of our Risen Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ!
It is my great joy to be writing to you twelve months after GAFCON 2 here in Nairobi! Please join with me in giving thanks to God for the great blessing of that wonderful time of fellowship, teaching and renewal. Despite many challenges, we brought together 1358 delegates, including 331 bishops, from 39 countries – and we paid all the bills! We eagerly look forward to GAFCON 3, but in the meantime there is much work for us to do.
The recent news that Lambeth 2018 has been postponed, perhaps indefinitely, is the latest sign that the old institutions of the Communion no longer command confidence. We must remember that the fundamental reason for this is doctrinal. We are divided because the Faith is threatened by unbiblical teaching.
In contrast, GAFCON 2 demonstrated that we were emerging as a new and effective ‘instrument of unity’ for the Anglican Communion. Nearly twelve months later, that reality was underlined at the investiture of Archbishop Foley Beach as the second Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America by the Primates gathered in Atlanta, representing GAFCON and the Anglican Global South, receiving him as a Primate of the Anglican Communion.
Speaking shortly after that historic service I said ‘It is a sign of great hope for the Gospel in the world. It is not a small thing that has happened’. There was no need for us to be reminded of the reasons why GAFCON had called the Anglican Church in North America into being five years ago because the investiture demonstrated that the realignment of the Anglican Communion is now established and unstoppable.
Anglicans around the globe are now affirming this fact. Last month the Provincial Synod of the Anglican Church of Kenya unanimously approved a resolution to be in formal partnership with the GAFCON movement. Then just before the investiture, the Synod of the Diocese of North West Australia passed a resolution recognizing ‘the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) as a member church of the Anglican Communion, in full communion with Diocese of North West Australia’. Shortly afterwards, the Synod of the Diocese of Sydney passed a resolution which recognized ‘that GAFCON is an emerging instrument of communion when others have failed to provide the well needed leadership’ and stated ‘recognizing Synod’s desire to be in full communion with the ACNA.….Synod congratulates the Most Reverend Foley Beach on his consecration as Archbishop to the ACNA.’
The task before us now therefore is that of rebuilding, developing institutions and networks which help rather than hinder the proclamation of the gospel and reflect the new thing God in his mercy is doing in the Anglican Communion. Recognizing this need, the Primates Council earlier this year authorized the establishment of a strengthened Secretariat, tasked with organizing the means by which the movement can grow in effectiveness as a worldwide fellowship.
I am therefore very pleased to be able to tell you that an important step forward has been taken by the appointment of Mr Philip Robinson as GAFCON Operations Manager with effect from 1st October following a career at senior level in major City of London financial institutions. He will be based in the UK and his initial focus will be the mobilization and growth of our global fellowship, including the launch of a contact programme to widen understanding of GAFCON’s leading role in the renewal and reform of the Anglican Communion.
Finally, let us be faithful in continuing to pray for those who are facing great hardships. The Ebola disease has already killed over 3,000 people, mainly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and poses a global threat. Pray for the bereaved, the sick and those who care for them and those working to find effective drugs and a vaccine. We must also pray steadfastly for Christian communities and other minorities suffering so terribly at the hands of militant Islamic movements, especially in Mosul and northern Iraq. It is estimated that so far this year the Islamic State has forced some 500,000 from their homes and taken the lives of over 12,000 civilians. Yet we are seeing a remarkably strong witness to Jesus Christ from Christians who have been through such loss and pain. As we thank God for their faithfulness, let us stand with them in prayer, in practical support, and by letting our voices be heard so that their plight is not forgotten.