GAFCON Chairman’s New Year Message for 2017

abp-nicholas-okoh-nigeria“As you will have seen from our end of year review, GAFCON is increasingly active. We are extending our reach, growing in influence, standing with the marginalised, strengthening our organisation and equipping key leaders, but all these things are the outworking of faithful prayer in the power of the Spirit. We are a spiritual movement in a spiritual battle and at the heart of the struggle is the challenge to the Word of God.

This is nothing new. Right at the beginning of bible history, the serpent says ‘Did God really say?’ (Genesis 3:1) and this is the question the traditional leadership of the Communion seems unwilling or unable to resolve. For instance…”

– Read Archbishop Okoh’s New Year message for 2017.

Is GAFCON the problem?

Abp Peter Jensen“An interview with the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, was recently published as an article in the Church of Ireland Gazette. The newspaper’s website carried the audio of the interview in full here.

For a self-confessed Ambassador and reconciler, Archbishop Josiah Fearon uses some undiplomatic language. The frank expression of his views on the Anglican Communion and the sexuality debate, and his sweeping dismissal of GAFCON and African church leaders have caused considerable dismay. However they reveal the thinking of the Anglican Communion Office and presumably those who endorse its leadership…”

– Archbishop Dr Peter Jensen, GAFCON General Secretary, responds to strong criticism of GAFCON, and what that criticism appears to say about the senior leadership of the Anglican Communion. Well worth taking the time to read. (link fixed)

Christian in a Muslim Culture: The Intriguing Insights of an Egyptian Bishop

Archbishop Mouneer AnisBishop Mouneer Anis, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Egypt, and Presiding Bishop of Jerusalem and the Middle East, delivered the ninth annual ‘Moule Memorial Lecture’ on 8 June 2016 in Cambridge. …

The topic of Mouneer’s lecture was “My Experience of Christian and Muslim Relations in Egypt”. As the title suggests, the bishop drew on personal experiences to speak about living as a Christian minority in a Muslim culture.”

– At The Australian Church Record, Steve Tong shares some insights from the lecture.

GAFCON Chairman’s Letter for Advent 2016

abp-nicholas-okoh-gafcon-photoI thank God that Archbishop Greg Venables will be re-joining the GAFCON Primates Council now that he has been elected to serve again as the Primate of the Anglican Province of South America in succession to our greatly esteemed colleague Presiding Bishop Tito Zavala. His ministry demonstrates that courage which is so central to the GAFCON story. In his previous term as Primate, despite much opposition, Archbishop Venables bravely supported orthodox Anglicans in North America and stood with the Diocese of Recife in Brazil after it had to withdraw from the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil.

We are now seeing similar courage in England as GAFCON UK, led by Canon Andy Lines, endures hostility simply for speaking the truth about the increasing breakdown of church discipline in the Church of England.  There are now clergy and bishops who openly take pride in their rejection of biblical preaching and have even launched a website to encourage the violation of the 1998 Lambeth Conference Resolution I.10 on human sexuality.

But more disturbing is the response of the Church of England at its highest level. …”

– Read Archbishop Nicholas Okoh’s full pastoral letter here.

The heart of GAFCON

Peter JensenAt the heart of GAFCON is communion.

When I became Archbishop of Sydney in 2001, I had a lot to learn. Even though I had been ordained for over thirty years by then, had lived in England for three years and had been the Principal of a theological College with students from many places in the world, there was so much that I did not know.

Two of the many things I had to discover through experience may sound strange and you may wonder where I had been all my life. But I suspect that many of us are in the same position…”

– GAFCON General Secretary, Dr. Peter Jensen, on The heart of GAFCON.

Bishop Greg Venables is new Primate of South America

abp-greg-venables-2016The Bishop of Argentina, Greg Venables, has been re-elected as the new Primate of the Anglican Church of South America. …”

– Report from the Anglican Communion News Service.

GAFCON Chairman’s Letter October 2016

abp-nicholas-okoh-gafcon-photoArchbishop Nicholas D. Okoh, Primate of All Nigeria and Chairman of the GAFCON Primates Council, has released this Pastoral Letter, reflecting on developments in October 2016 –

The call to be peacemakers is also a call to evangelism because peace with one another cannot be separated from peace with God, and peace with God cannot be separated from faithfulness to the biblical and apostolic gospel of God. I therefore warmly commend the Global South Chairman, Bishop Mouneer Anis, for his bold warning about the ‘ideological slavery’ which some Western Churches seek to impose on the Global South by using their money and influence to promote teachings which overturn the bible and offer a false gospel.

Many of us were therefore deeply disturbed that the Presiding Bishop of the American Episcopal Church (TEC), Michael Curry, was a prominent member of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s delegation in Rome, despite the fact that the Canterbury meeting of Primates in January this year had resolved that, among other things, TEC should not be involved in representing the Anglican Communion in ecumenical or interfaith relations.

This incident is just the most recent of many failures which the Cairo Communiqué describes as ‘the inability of the existing Communion instruments to discern truth and error and take binding ecclesiastical action’. We need alternatives. …”

– Read it all on the GAFCON website.

Bishop of Egypt calls for prayer and advocacy after ‘hostile takeover’

Archbishop Mouneer Anis Primate of Jerusalem and the Middle EastThe Bishop of Egypt, Dr Mouneer Anis, has called on Anglicans to pray and advocate with their local Egyptian consulates and embassies after a court ruling effectively subsumed the diocese into a separate denominational body. …

Through ACNS, Dr Anis is asking for Anglicans and Episcopalians to pray for the Church in Egypt. ‘we feel deprived from our legal rights and our role as a church, and our freedom, may be compromised,’ he said.

– Read it all at the Anglican Communion News Service.

Statement from the Global South Primates and GAFCON Primates Council Concerning Same-sex Unions

This Statement has been posted on the Global South Anglican website. We reproduce it here in its entirety –

Statement from the Global South Primates and GAFCON Primates Council Concerning Same-sex Unions

6th October 2016

1. We acknowledge that God is the Creator of the whole cosmos and of humankind. Male and female, God created them in his own image and likeness to know him, worship him and share in his glory and love.

2. We affirm the dignity and value of every human being, as each bears the image of our gracious God. We recognise that humankind’s rebellion against God has tainted that image, but not eradicated it. Yet every person is precious to God.

3. God’s message of hope is therefore addressed to every man, woman and child around the globe, that they might be redeemed, restored as image bearers of God through the life, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and inherit eternal life.

4. As we proclaim the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to a broken and wounded world, we acknowledge our own failures and weaknesses in the light of God’s word, the Bible. As God’s love was declared to us, before we loved God, so we declare God’s love to those who neither know him nor love him. Yet our love for God is both to believe and obey, and so our message is to call people to repentance and love for God, that they might be forgiven and live their lives in accordance with God’s pattern for humankind as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.

5.  We recognise that the brokenness of our world produces many aspects of human behaviour which are contrary to God’s good design. These include slander, greed, malice, hatred, jealousy, dishonesty, selfishness, envy and murder, as well as fornication, adultery and same-sex unions. In addressing the issue of same-sex relationships, we are not minimizing the sinfulness of other forms of behaviour that are contrary to God’s character and pattern for humankind. Rather, we are addressing an issue that continues to be contentious in both the Church and society and that strikes at the very heart of biblical authority.  

6. We affirm that the clear teaching of Jesus, and the Bible as a whole, is that marriage is an estate for all people, not just for believers. It is a holy institution, created by God for a man and a woman to live in a covenantal relationship of exclusive and mutual love for each other until they are parted by death. God designed marriage for the well-being of society, for sexual intimacy between a husband and a wife, and for procreation and the nurturing of children (Genesis 2:18-25).

7. We contend that sexual intercourse between two persons of the same sex is contrary to God’s design, is offensive to him and reflects a disordering of God’s purposes for complementarity in sexual relations. Like all other morally wrong behaviour, same-sex unions alienate us from God and are liable to incur God’s judgment. We hold these convictions based on the clear teaching of Scripture. We hold them not in order to demean or victimise those who experience same-sex attractions, but in order to guard the sound doctrine of our faith, which also informs our pastoral approach for helping those who struggle with same-sex impulses, attractions and temptations.

8. In this respect, the Church cannot condone same-sex unions as a form of behaviour acceptable to God. To do so would be tampering with the foundation of our faith once for all laid down by the apostles and the prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone (Ephesians 2: 20-22; 1 Corinthians 3:10-11; Jude 3).

9. Any pastoral provision by a church for a same-sex couple (such as a liturgy or a service to bless their sexual union) that obviates the need for repentance and a commitment to pursue a change of conduct enabled by the power of the Holy Spirit, would contravene the orthodox and historic teaching of the Anglican Communion on marriage and sexuality. Such pastoral provisions, while superficially attractive in giving a more humane and socially acceptable face to the church, actually hide the contravention of doctrine involved. We must be faithful in guarding the good deposit of the gospel, in all its gracious gifts with all its covenantal obligations as well, not for the mere sake of orthodoxy but out of genuine love for God and our fellow human beings.

10. Our faithfulness to God and knowledge of his love empowers us to offer sensitive and compassionate ministry to those who are sexually broken in the area of same-sex attractions and unions.  Our pastoral approach is to accept people for who they are, just as God accepted us for who we were. We oppose the vilification or demeaning of those who do not follow God’s ways.  We affirm that every person is loved by God, so we too must love as God loves. Our role is to restore them to God’s divine patterns by inviting them to receive the transforming love of Christ that gives them the power to repent and walk in newness of life. We rely on the Holy Spirit’s power to reveal to them the measureless goodness of God and the greatness of God in setting the captive free as a new creation.

11. We recognise that discipleship involves growth and while we long for all new believers to come to maturity in Christ, we know that this is a process. For those who are same-sex attracted, the path of discipleship and living in conformity with God’s Word can be difficult. We commit ourselves afresh to care pastorally for them as members of Christ’s body, building them up in the Word and in the Spirit, and encouraging them to walk by faith in the paths of repentance and obedience that lead to fullness of life (John 10: 9-10).”

– Source, Global South Anglican. PDF version here.

Photo: Global South Anglican, which has also posted this Communiqué.

Unity – The Real and The Counterfeit

Peter JensenI am always puzzled by the way in which the petition of Jesus, ‘that they may all be one’ (John 17:21), is so frequently assumed not to have been fulfilled. Why would it have failed, when the other two petitions were so gloriously answered? After all, one of the major themes of the New Testament is a demonstration that the gospel and the Spirit belong to all who own the name of Christ, on the same terms and conditions.

Even more puzzling is the careless way in which the petition has been plucked from its context and turned into a command. The true command is to ‘maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace’. Even denominational divisions do not destroy the spiritual unity of the one church of Jesus Christ. Indeed, they may be necessary so that the apostolic truth can be preserved.

When John 17 is constantly plucked from its context and quoted to demonstrate that we are to seek a form of Christianity which is institutionally uniform, we go well beyond the text. …”

– GAFCON General Secretary, Dr Peter Jensen, looks at some implications of Christian unity.

Reports from the 2016 Global South Primates’ meeting in Cairo

global-south-primates-meeting-2016The Global South Anglican website has posted a number of reports on the Sixth Global South Conference, currently taking place in Cairo. More than one hundred Anglican leaders from across the ‘Global South’, including Archbishop of Sydney Glenn Davies (third from right in photo), are meeting to discuss the challenges of reaching our world with the gospel of Jesus Christ in this generation.

As the Global South website states, “Anglicans in the 24 provinces of the Global South number 61.8 million, constituting 72 percent of the worldwide Anglican Communion.”

Please be encouraged to pray for all at the meeting.

Reports posted so far:

Global South Anglicans to Hold Sixth Conference in Cairo, Egypt.

Global South Anglicans Open 6th Conference with a Nod to Athanasius.

World Religious Leaders Laud the Anglican Global South Conference in Egypt.

President Sisi Welcomes the Anglican Global South to Cairo.

Global South Anglicans ‘Visit’ Carthage and the Valley of Dry Bones.

Group photo.

Photo credit: Michael Adel, Bridges Cultural Center.

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