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.

Global South Conference opens in Cairo

cairo-cathedralArchbishop Nicholas Okoh, the chairman of Gafcon, was the preacher at the opening communion service of the Global South Conference in All Saints Cathedral Cairo on Monday October 3rd, presided over by the chairman of the Global South, Archbishop Mouneer Anis.”

Photos via Anglican Mainstream. And Canon Chris Sugden has this report.

See also:

 This report from the Anglican Communion News Service.

and another via David Ould.

Bishops begin historic Canterbury-Rome ‘pilgrimage’

canterbury-pilgrimage-bishopsThirty-six Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops from 19 countries are in Canterbury at the start of an historic week-long summit marking closer ties between the two traditions. Events will include a service in Rome on Wednesday (October 5) jointly led by the Archbishop of Canterbury and Pope Francis at which the bishops will be formally commissioned to work together in pairs.

Services at Canterbury Cathedral over the weekend have illustrated the deepening relationship between the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church. On Saturday the Suffragan Bishop in Europe, David Hamid, delivered the homily at a Catholic Vigil Mass in the cathedral’s Undercroft. …”

– So much for the truths rediscovered at the Reformation. Emphasis added. Report and photos from the Anglican Communion News Service.


Related: Adam4d.

GAFCON Chairman’s letter, September 2016

abp-nicholas-okoh-nigeriaMy dear people of God,

As I write, GAFCON is about to launch a project which I believe will be very significant for the future of the Anglican Communion. Under the leadership of Director Dr Samson Mwaluda, the recently retired Bishop of Taita Taveta in Kenya, the GAFCON Bishops Training Institute begins its first conference in Nairobi on 29th September for some twenty recently consecrated bishops drawn from GAFCON affiliated provinces. We already have a waiting list for our next conference!…”

– Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, Chairman of the GAFCON Primates Council, shares some encouraging news in his latest pastoral letter.

GAFCON Chairman’s Pastoral Letter, August 2016

abp-nicholas-okoh-nigeriaMy dear people of God,

I have just returned from a very encouraging visit to the United States where I met with my brother Archbishop Foley Beach and I rejoice to see how the Anglican Church in North America is growing strong and standing firm.

As the steep decline of The Episcopal Church (TEC) of the United States and the Anglican Church of Canada continues, despite the hope of its leaders that reshaping it in the image of secular culture would attract, we give thanks for the Anglican Church of North America and remember the promise of our Lord Jesus Christ ‘I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it’ (Matthew16:18).

GAFCON recognises that the Church is not ours. It belongs to Jesus and it is Jesus who builds the Church through his word. …”

– Read all of Archbishop Nicholas Okoh’s pastoral letter for August 2016 at the GAFCON website.

Abp of Canterbury and the Pope to celebrate 50th anniversary of Anglican Centre in Rome

Pope Francis and Archbishop Welby June 2014Coming up in October –

“The Archbishop of Canterbury will join Pope Francis for a joint service of Evening Prayer in the church of San Gregorio al Celio. Both men will preach and a Joint Declaration will be read out.

The service will combine elements of Anglican Evensong and Catholic Vespers, and will see the Sistine Chapel Choir joined by the choir of Canterbury Cathedral as they join together in common worship.

The central piece of the service will be the blessing and sending-out of pairs of IARCCUM bishops. The International Anglican and Roman Catholic Commission on Unity and Mission is made-up of pairs of bishops from around the world, who work together in their own countries, to follow Pope Francis’ call that we should walk together as if we were one.

– from The Anglican Centre in Rome.


Why the Reformation is Definitely Not Over


Is the Pope a Catholic? Understanding the Catholic Church.

After “Shared Conversations” what Gospel will the Church of England share?

Canon Phil AsheyIn Nairobi, Kenya I still remember a Sunday lunch Archbishop Eliud Wabukala hosted for Archbishop Justin Welby and other Archbishops, bishops and honored guests gathered the day before GAFCON 2013 began.

During that lunch, Archbishop Peter Jensen gave the opening remarks. He reminded all those present—and as he looked directly at Archbishop Justin Welby—that he and other GAFCON Primates had been asked not once, not twice, but three times to go back to their Bibles and reread what it had to say about issues of sexuality. Archbishop Peter Jensen said that he and the GAFCON Primates had done so, and had concluded that God’s word on homosexuality and same-sex marriage was clear, authoritative and unchanged. On the eve of GAFCON 2013, he cited this conviction as among the principal reasons he and others in GAFCON were standing for Biblical clarity and authority.

Immediately following, Archbishop Welby was invited to give remarks. He came forward and thanked Archbishop Jensen for his stirring speech. He then gave brief remarks that concluded with, “please don’t forget lost people.” And then he sat down.

The Archbishop of Canterbury failed to engage Archbishop Jensen’s remarks about Biblical clarity and authority. In that context, his plea not to forget lost people reveals the false dichotomy that seems to be at the heart of Canterbury’s thinking and the ‘Shared conversations.’ It is just this: that if we hold fast to the clarity and authority of the Bible, we will never reach lost people…”

– American Anglican Council’s Canon Phil Ashey writes about a revealing incident in Nairobi, and the apparent thinking behind the Church of England’s Shared Conversations. Emphasis added.

(Photo: Canon Ashey reporting from Nairobi in 2013.)

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