A group of GAFCON Primates and bishops met recently in Nairobi to formulate a response to a meeting held at General Seminary in October between a group of African Primates, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and a group of Episcopal Church bishops that was described as a continuation of the Indaba process first begun at the 2008 Lambeth Conference.
From the statement released following the October meeting:
Our conversations grew out of the Fifth Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue, May 22-25, 2014, at Coventry, England (info here) ((http://www.anglicannews.org/news/2014/05/anglican-communion-bishops-in-dialogue-issue-testimony.aspx (link is external)). We shared news from our churches, rejoiced in our renewed fellowship, and marveled at the gifts and diversity of creation God has provided. We prayed together, and we worshiped.
Our intention was to build missional partnerships among our churches, taking Jesus’ statement of his mission as our own—“to bring good news to the poor, . . . to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Lk. 4:18-19) We confessed that one thing we have in common is that we all have needs, not the least of which is our profound need for each other.
We also celebrated that each of our churches has gifts to offer the others. Framing our conversation in the context of human dignity and flourishing, the sustainability of our common ministry, and the care of the Earth, we found several subjects for fruitful collaboration that will allow us to share our gifts with each other.
Apparently, that meeting was not looked upon favorably by other Global South bishops who are part of GAFCON and so the meeting in Nairobi was convened and a letter sent to Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi (who had been part of the meeting in October) calling him to task for meeting with the “unbiblical” Episcopal Church. But since no response had been received from him, they have decided to release their letter to the public to “avoid misunderstanding” and to ensure that everyone knows that those at the meeting at General did not “speak for the Anglican Provinces of Africa.”
This incident is a reminder that Africa is a very large and diverse continent and a perhaps a sign that the bonds of friendship and mission might prove a unifying force within the Anglican Communion after all.
The letter to Archbishop Ntahoturi is reprinted below and you can find the link to it here
Dear Archbishop Bernard,
Please receive our greetings in the name of the Lord Jesus,
We write with a profound sense of distress about your actions in regard to the “Transformation Through Friendship” gathering. We take strong exception with numerous points.
First, the document itself is a manipulation. It is in fact, not principally about “Friendship” but is in fact an attempt to further advance the unbiblical and false teaching of the Episcopal Church.
Second, we reject the characterization that the communiqué represents “African Primates and Bishops.” Given that there is absolutely no acknowledgment that there are other African Primates and Bishops who do not agree, the document, of which you were a collaborator and signatory, presents itself falsely. It does not represent the faith of the overwhelming majority of African Christians. This is particularly offensive given your position as Chairman of CAPA. If you are able to continue in your position with integrity, we would need both an explanation and an apology. If you are not able to do so, we would ask you to step down as Chairman.
We are particularly grieved because “it is not an enemy that reproaches… but it was you.” (Psalm 55:12-13) Given the fact that you are the Chairman of CAPA, and are supposed to represent the agreed positions of African Primates, your actions have created a tremendous obstacle to our participation in any CAPA gatherings until this can be properly sorted out.
Third, the theologically superficial approach of the “Friendship Communiqué” attempts to effect reconciliation without repentance. Not only did your presence validate unbiblical teaching and practice of the Episcopal Church (USA), but seeks to give momentum to a process which does not solve issues of salvific import. This is an example of teaching that is socially grounded rather than Biblically substantiated. By your presence, you validate unrepentant, unbiblical teaching and practice.
Fourth, we reject the process of “Indaba” as it is being implemented. Rather than seeking true resolution, it has been consistently manipulated only to recruit people to unbiblical positions. “Indaba” as currently practiced, is a fiction advancing human desires that are not informed by Gospel truth.
Fifth, the meeting uncritically proposes “Mission,” without recognizing that there must be theological agreement about what purpose the mission pursues, as opposed to Biblical Mission which furthers the redemptive love of Christ through repentance and conversion.
Sixth, while we are certainly aware of the problem of poverty in Africa, we reject alliances that seek to capitalize on economic vulnerability to advance an agenda.
Dear Brother, we know that this agenda does not represent the faith of your Province, Diocese, or even your own heart. We call you to repentance and restoration to join with us in fellowship that is founded on Christ’s truth and is faithful to His Word. In keeping with our East Africa Revival heritage of repentance and confession, we long to have this resolved. Please know this letter comes not from malice but from a desire for godly fellowship to be restored.
posted by Jon White