The fourth GAFCON is now days away. My social media feeds are beginning to clog up with reports of people starting to make their way to Kigali, Rwanda, to join with over 1200 other delegates from all over the Anglican Communion.
This, the fourth such conference (after Jerusalem 2008, Nairobi 2013, Jerusalem 2018) is shaping up to be a very significant event with tensions across the Anglican Communion at an all-time high. What has brought us to this crisis point?
The answer is fairly simple; the Church of England’s proposals in January 2023 to effectively change their doctrine of marriage (while claiming that they’re doing no such thing) as a result of the Living in Love and Faith process. To compound the matter the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, announced that he welcomed these proposals. Why would this bring us to such a pivotal moment? After all, other Provinces have made these moves in the past. The difference now is down to the role that the Archbishop has – he is an Instrument of Unity in the Anglican Communion, effectively the global chair who holds things together. So it was significant that in their Ash Wednesday statement the Global South Anglican movement made it very clear that Welby’s involvement left them with no choice:
The GSFA is no longer able to recognise the present Archbishop of Canterbury, the Rt Hon & Most Revd Justin Welby, as the “first among equals” Leader of the global Communion. He has sadly led his House of Bishops to make the recommendations that undergirded the General Synod Motion on ‘Living in Love & Faith,’ knowing that they run contrary to the faith & order of the orthodox provinces in the Communion whose people constitute the majority in the global flock. We pray that our withdrawal of support for him to lead the whole Communion is received by him as an admonishment in love.
The Anglican Communion is held together by these “Instruments of Unity” – The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Primates’ Meeting and the Anglican Consultative Council. Piece by piece they have all failed to uphold orthodoxy and now with the failure of Welby himself to hold the line (more than that, to endorse heterodoxy) there is a clear sense that new structures will have to be found. The Global South have already suggested one path forwards.
The Global South movement had previously not been fully aligned with GAFCON. Many members attended last year’s Lambeth Conference in a last ditch attempt to see if orthodoxy could be reasserted. The sense now is that promises made to them in Canterbury have been openly broken. As a result the Global South leadership will now all be in attendance at Kigali and we ought to expect some significant announcements.
So how can you follow what will happen in Kigali?
The conference’s own website will have livestreams of some of the sessions and other material.
I will be joining with a multi-national team to bring “The Heart of GAFCON” – a daily stream not only broadcasting what happens in conference but also showcasing ministry and ministers from all over the global Communion. We’ll have interviews with all the key players and speakers, and live responses when the final communique is issued. Here’s a taster of what we’ll be doing:
I’ll be providing the feed of “The Heart of GAFCON” from this website.
OK, off to pack my bags and get on a plane…