GAFCON 23 – Day 4. Momentum

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Day 4 draws to a close, the delegates of GAFCON23 in Kigali, Rwanda, are tired but excited by what tomorrow has in store.

The statement writing group have finished their work and the final draft is with the Primates. The reading will be tomorrow at 11am local time. Follow the official GAFCON livestream to watch it happen. Then flick over to The Heart of Kigali to see all our commentary on it.

During the day we kept up with our interviews. There were some crackers! First, a number of members of the General Synod of the Church of England who took us through the events around the vote welcoming the bishops’ proposals for same-sex blessings.

Archbishop Tito of Chile who was clear about the need for a re-ordered Communion and Rico Tice with Richard Borgonon talking about evangelism but then moving to the current crisis in the Church of England. The whole morning is worth watching and here’s Tice and Borgonon:

Before our evening panel I talked to delegates about what their mood was. There were a number of repeated themes. Many spoke of the joy of unity expressed by the 1300 delegates and the promise of further integration between Gafcon and the Global South Fellowship. A group of Nigerians told me it was “mission accomplished” for unity. A South African spoke of being excited about the “momentum” towards unity and “one voice”. This has been one of the main themes of the week and, as I’ve already reported, a great desire of the delegates. We should expect to see tomorrow’s Statement reflect that desire.

In the middle of speaking to people I bumped into Archbishop Ben Kwashi of Nigeria, the General Secretary who has overall responsibility for the Conference. How are you going? I asked him. “Relieved!” was his reply – relieved that it was all going so well and very grateful to God for it. “Now we are telling our story!” he exclaimed as we parted ways.

I also met some from England who told me how wonderful it was to have bishops and other who were acting “how senior leaders should be!” The disappointment with their current episcopal leadership was obvious. Others beamed with gratitude for “unity; clarity rather than compromise”. I’ve spoken to more than one bishop here who told me that the obvious and natural fellowship here was poles apart from what they experienced at Lambeth only a few months ago.

And there does genuinely seem to be a heartfelt outpouring of this kind of partnership. One Australian delegate described it as the church having “richly blessed each other”. The last word, though, needs to go to a Rwanda delegate. What was it like to have everyone from all over the world here, I asked him. “A Treasure!” he beamed.

So where are things headed now? Well the Statement is out tomorrow. For now there’s more things to chat about. Last night I sat down with the team from Stand Firm and we chatted through where things were at.

At the end of today we had another panel. Here’s that for you:

So where are we now? Have I mentioned the Statement tomorrow? But what will be in it? The key theme of today is the momentum of unity. The question hanging over tomorrow’s Statement is just how that unity will be expressed.

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