GAFCON 23 – Day 3. Unity?

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One of the questions being asked by those attending GAFCON and not a few onlookers is what exactly is the relationship between the Gafcon organisation and the Global South? I reported yesterday that the conference delegates were keen to see as much harmony as possible between the two.

Well the message seems to have got through. The Gafcon and Global South Primates met yesterday and appear to have reached some clarity on just what the future looks like.

And they were keen to tell us! At the Heart of Gafcon we found ourselves with a significant run of interviews with key Global South leaders. The first was James Wong, Primate of the Indian Ocean. You MUST watch this interview.

Those are sensational words from Wong. Not only was he incredibly forthright about Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, essentially accusing him of having lied about things, but he also spoke clearly about plans for a united future:

You may be aware of the primates of Gafcon and Global South came together yesterday.

And, we agreed now that we have to start thinking about love and unity within the steering council of Global South and the Primates Council of the Gafcon movement. So already we agreed that we ought to come together.

After Wong we had the privilege of speaking to Chair of the Global South, Archbishop Badi Arama of South Sudan. It’s another very important interview:

I think it’s hard to overstate the significance of this. For the past few days he was (very understandably) reluctant to speak into this topic. With caution he was waiting until the Primates had all met together. But now that the meeting had happened he was incredibly clear in his position.

We are dreaming of [unity with Gafcon], and we are … moving towards that. And, it is all our prayer that we will see something new within the Anglican communion in the nearest feature. My hope and prayer is that the two may become one.

But it wasn’t over. Next, Rennis Ponniah – the former bishop of Singapore and now General Secretary of the Global South. He spoke to us of what the path forward to unity might look like:

It’s been a momentous day. And we got to be the ones right at the heart of it. At the Heart of GAFCON.

In the afternoon delegates were presented with the first draft of the conference statement and had an opportunity to provide feedback in their provincial groups. We can’t share the content of the statement yet, but it’s fair to say that it is robust and clear and dynamically forward-looking. The conference was loudest in applause when it heard the segments that directly addressed the actions of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

We wrapped the day up with our daily panel:

One of our panellists, Fiona McLean, put it well:

Often people in Gafcon are accused of undermining unity, but actually we cherish the unity that we have as Christians together. We want to build on that and one of the great things about this conference is seeing the unity between Christians.

And those united Christians, from Gafcon and the Global South, represent approx. 85% of the world’s Anglicans.

There is a united Anglican Communion. It’s just that Justin Welby now isn’t part of it.

image: Archbishop James Wong delivering the Wednesday Bible Study. Courtesy GAFCON

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