GAFCON Primates Nairobi Communique

The GAFCON Primates today released a communiqué [pdf]. Lots of big news:

Nairobi Statement from the GAFCON/FCA Primates Council

Alleluia! Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!

1. We met in Nairobi from April 25th through April 28th, 2011. We gathered as the elected leaders of provinces and national churches of the Anglican Communion and as leaders ofGAFCON/FCA. We rejoice in the Easter proclamation that Jesus Christ is alive and we joyfully acknowledge his love for all humanity, his Lordship over all the earth and his promise to return with power and great glory.

2. We are profoundly saddened by the many disasters that have afflicted our world in recent months and offer our prayers for those whose lives have been devastated. We take to heart the warning from our Lord that in our age there would be “wars and rumors of wars” and a season when, “nations will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom and famines and earthquakes in various places.” We also remember His solemn warning that no-one can know the time for the end of this age and so we acknowledge all these events as reminders of the urgent need for repentance and reconciliation with our heavenly Father.

3. We are distressed that, in the face of these enormous challenges, we are still divided as a Communion. The fabric of our common life has been torn at its deepest level and until the presenting issues are addressed we will remain weakened at a time when the needs before us are so great. We were disappointed that those who organized the Primates meeting in Dublin not only failed to address these core concerns but decided instead to unilaterally reduce the status of the Primates’ Meeting. This action was taken with complete disregard for the resolutions of both Lambeth 1978 and 1998 that called for an enhanced role in “doctrinal, moral and pastoral matters”. We believe that they were seriously misled and their actions unacceptable.

4. We note the efforts of the Roman Catholic Church to offer support for those Anglican clergy and congregations who find themselves alienated by recent actions in the Communion. We believe that the provision of an Anglican Ordinariate is intended to be a gracious gift but sadly one that also points out that our own Communion has failed to make adequate provision for those who hold to a traditional view of the faith. We remain convinced that from within the Provinces that we represent there are creative ways by which we can support those who have been alienated so that they can remain within the Anglican family.

5. We devoted a considerable portion of our time together exploring some of the presenting issues regarding Anglican ecclesiology. We were mindful of the importance of letting scripture speak directly to the nature of the church and not simply let our current experience delimit our doctrine. While we are grateful for our history and our particular Anglican tradition we believe that there is and can only ever be one church of Jesus Christ which he has purchased with his own blood and over which he is the Head. The local church is the fundamental expression of the one true church here on earth and is bound together with other local churches by ties of love, fellowship and truth. From such networks have come denominations, national churches and global communions.

6. As members of the global Anglican Communion we delight in the particular history with which we have been blessed. We are grateful for the missionary heritage that gave birth to our global communion with its distinctive balance of reformed catholicity. Meeting in Nairobi we are especially thankful for the influence of the East African Revival with its emphasis on the renewing power of the Holy Spirit, a call to Holy living and unquestionable desire for evangelism.

7. We believe, however, that we are fully the church in our various settings, created and sustained by Word and Sacrament, and marked by obedience that results in faith, hope and love. We also recognize the Lord’s call to discipline demands from us a commitment to unity, holiness, apostolicity and catholicity. All of these are aspects of what it means to be church and we are committed to resourcing our bishops and other leaders so that we can more fully become the church that God has established.

8. We continue to be troubled by the promotion of a shadow gospel that appears to replace a traditional reading of Holy Scriptures and a robust theology of the church with an uncertain faith and a never ending listening process. This faith masquerades as a religion of tolerance and generosity and yet it is decidedly intolerant to those who hold to the “faith once and for all delivered to the saints”. We believe that the theological principles outlined in the Jerusalem Declaration offers the only way forward that holds true to our past and also gives a sure foundation for the future.

9. Confident of the power of God’s Word to renew His church we are creating a network for theologians and theological educators who embrace the Jerusalem Declaration to give further support for our seminaries and Bible Colleges. We have also reviewed and approved plans for the leadership conference now scheduled for April 2012 and the beginning preparations for an international gathering of Primates, Bishops, Clergy and Lay Leaders now scheduled for the first half of 2013 and provisionally designated “GAFCON 2”.

10. We are delighted in the election of the Most Rev’d Eliud Wabukala, Primate of the Anglican Church of Kenya to serve as Chairman of the Primates’ Council and also the Most Rev’d Nicholas D. Okoh, Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) to serve as Vice-Chairman. We were pleased to appoint Bishop Greg Venables and Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini as trustees. We also welcomed the Most Rev’d Hector Zavala, Province of the Southern Cone and the Most Rev’d Onesphore Rwaje, Anglican Church of Rwanda as new members of the Council.

11. We also recognized that if we are offer adequate support to our member provinces, sustain our various initiatives, and strengthen our communications capabilities we must add capacity to our current secretariat. Consequently it was agreed that a GAFCON/FCA Chairman’s office would be established in Nairobi, Kenya and a Global Coordination office would be established in London under the direction of the Rt. Rev’d Martyn Minns, Missionary Bishop of the Church of Nigeria, serving as Deputy Secretary and Executive Director.

12. Finally we know that it is only be God’s grace that we can accomplish anything and we call on all those who acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord to join us in prayer for our world and especially for those who are suffering because of natural disasters as well as those who struggle to live under violent and oppressive governments. We know that our only hope is in the redeeming and transforming love of God and we pray that we will all be faithful to our call to be an instrument of God’s grace.

13. To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.

The Primates Council
The Most Rev’d Eliud Wabukala, Archbishop, Anglican Church of Kenya, Chair
The Most Rev’d Justice Akrofi, Archbishop, Anglican Province of West Africa
The Most Rev’d Robert Duncan, Archbishop, Anglican Church in North America
The Most Rev ‘d Onesphore Rwaje, Archbishop, Anglican Church of Rwanda
The Most Rev’d Valentino Mokiwa, Archbishop, Anglican Church of Tanzania
The Most Rev’d Nicholas Okoh, Archbishop, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion)
The Most Rev’d Henry Orombi, Archbishop, Church of Uganda
The Most Rev’d Hector Zavala, Province of the Southern Cone
The Most Rev’d Peter Jensen, Archbishop, Diocese of Sydney, Secretary

Probably worth making some initial observations at this point.

GAFCON is clearly here to stay. When GAFCON 1 was announced it was all, to be fair, a little haphazard. Now we see the FCA established in many provinces all around the Communion and (as mentioned in the statement) GAFCON itself now has regional offices.

In one sense the fighting is over. We all know where we stand and GAFCON are making no pretence at continuing to fight over issues that it is now clear there is no willingness from the heretics to repent over nor any impetus on the part of the Communion establishment to discipline them.

As a result I suspect we will see the battleground moving from the official organs of the Communion (theACC, the Standing Committee, the ACO etc.) to lower-level infrastructure such as theological colleges, development agencies etc. After all, this is where the money actually flows to.

Where will GAFCON 2 be? I hear rumours of a potential return to Jerusalem, but also some alternate locations.

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