The GAFCON Chairman’s September 2017 letter has been published and it contains much-expected news from the pen of Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, Primate of Nigeria…
I attended the Canterbury Primates Meeting held in January 2016 because I believed it might be possible to make a new start and change the pattern of repeated failure to preserve the integrity of Anglican faith and order. I was disappointed. The Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Lusaka the following April neutered the Primates’ action to distance The Episcopal Church of the United States (TEC) from Communion decision making. TEC has not repented, and continues to take aggressive legal action against orthodox dioceses. For example, the congregations of the Diocese of San Joaquin are currently having to turn over their places of worship to TEC, which has no realistic plan for filling them with worshippers. At the same time, the Diocese of South Carolina is now facing the potential loss of many of its historic buildings.
My disappointment was shared by the other Global South Primates who gathered in Cairo last October and we concluded in our communiqué that the ‘Instruments of Communion’ (which include the Primates Meeting of course) are “unable to sustain the common life and unity of the Anglican Churches worldwide” and do actually help to undermine global mission.
The only difference between the present and 2008, when Gafcon was formed, is that we have a different Archbishop of Canterbury. Everything else is the same or worse. There is endless debate, the will of the orthodox Primates is frustrated and misrepresented, false teaching is not being corrected, and nothing is being done to halt orthodox Anglicans in North America (and maybe soon elsewhere) being stripped of the churches that have helped form their spiritual lives.
In these circumstances, I have concluded that attendance at Canterbury would be to give credibility to a pattern of behaviour which is allowing great damage to be done to global Anglican witness and unity. Our energies in the Church of Nigeria will be devoted to what is full of hope and promise for the future, not to the repetition of failure.
This decision effectively signals the end of Welby’s attempt to hold the Communion together by endless rounds of talks and “reconciliation”. With the upcoming 2018 GAFCON in Jerusalem the momentum appears to continue to shift south.
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