Africa We Want

ANGLICAN: As Chasm Widens, Traditional Anglicans Plot Faithful Future

Faithful Anglicans from around the world gather this April in Kigali, Rwanda for the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), a renewal movement within the family of churches descended from the missionary activities of the Church of England. By Jeffrey Walton

I will participate as both a delegate from the Anglican Church in North America Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic and as media on behalf of the IRD, authoring reports that you’ll be able to read on this blog and in IRD’s publications. Find my coverage at IRD’s GAFCON archives here.

Big decisions are ahead for Anglicans seeking to plot out a faithful future: now is an especially urgent time.

A recent Church of England (CoE) General Synod decision to bless persons in same-sex unions places that church’s leadership outside of biblical orthodoxy, as revisionist U.S. Episcopal Church officials acted in 2003 – necessitating the creation of GAFCON as a faithful alternative.

The February vote for the bishops’ proposal widens a chasm between theologically orthodox Global South Anglicans and the CoE, which now jeopardizes the latter’s centrality within the Anglican Communion.

Global South churches in Africa are growing fast. Emphasis on evangelism, discipleship, and contending for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints has grown the Anglican Communion to its greatest size ever – the third largest family of churches worldwide.

Revisionist churches in America, Britain, Canada and elsewhere are surrendering to militant secularization and are fast shrinking.

But, faithful Christians persevere in ministering even in those places. This past month, Anglican Church in North America Archbishop and GAFCON Chair Foley Beach visited Wales to consecrate a new GAFCON-aligned bishop to serve congregations there. Similar efforts have been inaugurated among faithful Anglicans in Brazil, New Zealand, Europe, and parts of Australia where old church bodies compromised with the spirit of the age.

Anglican battles around sex evince a deeper rift between two competing gospels: historic Christianity versus indiscriminate affirmation.

The same-sex blessing decision by the CoE, with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby’s strong support, has prompted Global South leaders to declare that Welby has effectively abdicated his position as “first among equals” among Anglican bishops. Large English congregations, including St. Helen’s Bishopsgate, not only oppose these new blessings, but also seek connections with overseas Anglicans who uphold biblical teaching.

“We believe this failure of the House of Bishops to uphold God’s teaching on marriage and sexuality requires a clear and public distinction between ourselves and those who by their words and actions deny the authority of God’s Word and walk away from the teaching of The Lord Jesus,” St. Helen’s Rector William Taylor announced in February to his parish.

“Although the Church of England argues that it is not a marriage but only a blessing, the essence is the same and it does not change,” the Bishops of the Anglican Province of Chile (one of the newest Anglican provinces) wrote in March. “Saying this is belittling or diminishing the true effect of a blessing bestowed in the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”

Longtime readers of this blog will not be surprised when some churches fall into error. Our job is to continue faithful proclamation of God’s Word.

Where liberalizing churches equivocate, GAFCON-aligned Anglicans seek to plant churches, filling the vacuum left by the Episcopal Church, Anglican Church in Canada, or Church of England.

Later this week, I’ll travel to Rwanda to report from GAFCON about faithful Anglicans upholding biblical authority.

Some of the GAFCON seminars will include:

Australian Bishop Glenn Davies speaking on our Christian sisters and brothers throughout the world suffering persecution for the gospel.
Ugandan Bishop Alfred Olwa will teach on effective Biblical ministry in African cultural settings – including the challenges of syncretism and a false prosperity gospel, as well as opportunities for the church to step into the gap with a vibrant witness.

Anglican Canon Sam Allberry will teach on how we glorify God in our bodies – what does God’s Word have to say about human value, identity and sexuality?

As IRD’s Anglican program director, I’m genuinely excited to join more than 1,300 Anglican Christians including bishops, clergy, and laity in proclaiming God’s Word to a desperately needy world.

As we seek to equip God’s Church, please join me in prayer April 17-21 for all those at GAFCON.

Author: MANZI
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