Responses from our Leaders
to the Archbishop of Canterbury's recent invitation to Lambeth
The normal mechanisms for conversation and mutual support between Anglican provinces (autonomous national churches) around the world, the so-called "Instruments of Unity," either barely function or do not function at all. The first and perhaps most important of these "Instruments" is the decennial Lambeth Conference. This conference has been convened regularly since 1867 with only two interruptions, one for World War I, and the other for World War II. Now, it seems, the next scheduled Lambeth Conference in 2018 will be cancelled as well, this time not because of world war, but because the Archbishop of Canterbury has finally recognized the complete breakdown of familial communion within global Anglicanism. This is a momentous admission of schism within the Communion from Canterbury, which has hitherto refrained in typical British fashion from frankly acknowledging the seriousness of the crisis. Despite attempts by the offending churches to pretend that the Communion and their place within it continues apace like normal, this breakdown has become increasingly obvious to all.
The era of pushing our disagreements--which stem from the complete apostasy of most of North American Anglicanism--under the rug is over. The era of issuing Communiques, Reports, and Recommendations which are subsequently ignored by the Western provinces without any consequence has finally proven its bankruptcy, This is not how Christ intended his church to operate in the world.
All of this has long been articulated by our GAFCON partners, especially in the 2008 Jerusalem Declaration. A fine and very recent summation of the issue can also be found here and here and here.
With the breakdown of the Instruments of Unity, the Archbishop of Canterbury has called a special meeting of all the Anglican primates (heads of national churches) together at Lambeth Palace in London in January of next year. They will discuss the future of the Anglican Communion. This meeting is noteworthy for a number of reasons:
- It is not a regularly scheduled meeting of one of the Instruments of Unity. It is a special meeting called as a result of special circumstances, not least the certain boycott of any convening of the normal Instruments by the GAFCON provinces of the Communion, with whom we share fellowship at Christ Church and who represent the majority of global Anglicanism.
- The outcome of this meeting is by no means certain, but the Archbishop of Canterbury has already indicated that a probable outcome would be a significant "loosening" of the bonds of fellowship within the Communion, an effective dissolution of the Communion as currently constituted.
- Our own Archbishop, Foley Beach of the Anglican Church in North America, has been invited. While our church was called into existence and is fully recognized by the GAFCON provinces, we are not formally recognized by any of the official Instruments of Unity. Under normal circumstances, Archbishop Beach would not be invited to any such gathering. His invitation, if even for only part of the meeting, is significant.
The Archbishop's invitation represents the most significant development within the life of the global Anglican Communion in over a decade. Naturally, his invitation has been met with a few official responses from our global leaders:
- Archbishop Beach's pastoral letter to our province about the invitation.
- The GAFCON Primates initial letter of response to the invitation.
- The most recent Pastoral Letter of the GAFCON Primates, written by Archbishop Eliud Wabukala of the Anglican Church of Kenya (and chair of the GAFCON Primates Council, of which Archbishop Beach is a member) and published last Monday, the Feast of St. Matthew the Evangelist.
These important communiques from our leaders are posted below for your convenience.
Please be in prayer for our leaders and for our beloved Communion.
Lord have mercy; to you be all Glory.
published September 16, 2015
I did indeed receive a personal call from Archbishop Justin Welby inviting me to attend and participate.
If my fellow GAFCON Primates accept the invitation, and I am expecting that they will, then I have also pledged to attend. The challenges facing the Anglican Communion over the last couple of decades are no secret, and it is time to face them. Previous meetings of the Communion, from the 1998 Lambeth Conference to the 2007 Primates Meeting in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, gave clear direction for maintaining and restoring order within the Communion. Unfortunately, these resolutions were not followed which further divided the Communion. The resulting situation is one in which the fabric of the Communion continues to be torn.
I am thankful for the way in which GAFCON has proclaimed the Good News of Jesus Christ, and has been seeking the renewal and restoration of the Communion.
I ask your prayers for myself, as well as the other GAFCON and Global South Primates, as we continue to seek to evangelize, proclaim the Gospel, and work for the restoration of the Anglican Communion’s life and witness.
The Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach
Media Response of the GAFCON Primates published September 18, 2015
GAFCON began with the first Global Anglican Future Conference in 2008 as an initiative to restore the integrity of Anglican faith and order as the Communion descended into deepening crisis.
We are now a global family standing together to restore the Bible to the heart of the Anglican Communion with a strength and unity that comes from our common confession of the Lord Jesus Christ, not merely from historic institutional structures.
It is on this basis that the GAFCON Primates will prayerfully consider their response to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s letter. They recognize that the crisis in the Communion is not primarily a problem of relationships and cultural context, but of false teaching which continues without repentance or discipline.
Consistent with this position, they have previously advised the Archbishop of Canterbury that they would not attend any meeting at which The Episcopal Church of the United States or the Anglican Church of Canada were represented, nor would they attend any meeting from which the Anglican Church in North America was excluded.
It is therefore of some encouragement that the Archbishop of Canterbury has opened the door of this meeting to the Primate of the Anglican Church in North America, Archbishop Foley Beach. He has already been recognized as a fellow primate of the Anglican Communion by Primates representing GAFCON and the Anglican Global South at his installation in Atlanta last October and he is a full member of the GAFCON Primates Council.
In the end, our confidence is not in any structural reorganisation, useful though it may be, but in the saving grace of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and in the abiding truth of the Bible. That is what empowers us and this is the assurance we bring to our broken world.
Published on the Feast of St. Matthew the Evangelist, September 21, 2015
from Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Primate of Kenya
and Chairman of the GAFCON Primates’ Council
‘As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.’ -Matthew 9:9
My dear brothers and sisters,
Grace and peace to you in the name of our precious Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
I continue to thank God for the global family of the GAFCON movement and as we stand together to restore the Bible to the heart of the Anglican Communion, I believe that we are recovering what it truly means to be disciples of Jesus Christ. Today, we give thanks for St Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist for whom discipleship was costly. The call of Jesus was the point where he abandoned his love of money because he knew God had not abandoned him. Matthew, the despised tax collector, experienced the grace of God as he was given a new purpose in life and a new community to be part of.
Real discipleship will be marked by sacrifice and by love for Jesus Christ, and if we truly love Jesus Christ, we will love another and we will work together love the lost. It is therefore very sad that the Archbishop of Canterbury is calling a meeting of Primates to see if the Communion can be saved by making relationships between its Churches more distant rather than closer.
A statement in response to the Archbishop’s invitation can found on the GAFCON website. Let me simply say here that a global Communion embracing widely different cultures should strengthen its member Churches by mutual wisdom to see where adaptation becomes compromise, each Church being submitted to the revelation of Jesus Christ as we have it in Scripture as our final authority in all times and in all places. Instead, it has become clear over the last twenty years that the Communion is becoming a source of weakness as Churches which have rejected the truth as Anglicans have received it spread false teaching, yet continue to enjoy full communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Our GAFCON movement believes in a much richer vision. We seek to unite. We recognise and embrace those who sacrifice for the sake of the gospel, not only those who persevere in the face of violent persecution but also those who persevere despite being marginalised and even forced out of their traditional spiritual homes by the rise of false teaching in the Church. To them we say ‘You are not alone’ as we join together to make Christ known.
I am very encouraged to see this commitment to true discipleship bearing fruit in various ways as our movement matures and I want to highlight a recent initiative.
When the GAFCON Primates Council met earlier this year, we agreed to a request from the Anglican Church in North America’s Caminemos Juntos movement for Bishop Miguel Uchoa of the Diocese of Recife to provide episcopal covering for orthodox Anglican Churches in central and northern South America who are unable to continue within their dioceses. Speaking at the annual Caminemos Juntos conference last month, GAFCON Primate Archbishop Tito Zavala said “It’s time for biblical and missionary Anglicanism” and welcomed this initiative to bring isolated churches into fellowship and make possible a united Anglican church planting movement to reach Latinos throughout the Americas. In his plenary address, Archbishop Foley Beach emphasised the vital link between mission and discipleship, telling the delegates that “To plant churches and raise up workers we need to re-learn how to make disciples.”
I hope soon to announce various capacity building steps we are taking to fulfil the commitment we made in the Nairobi Communiqué of 2013 ‘to find new ways of supporting each other in mission and discipleship’. However, what will really assure the future of our movement, and of the Anglican Communion as a whole, is the recognition that our strength and unity does not depend upon institutional structures, new or historic, but upon an unshakeable commitment to obey the call of Jesus Christ and follow him.