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GAFCON Council says Episcopal Church defied communion’s primates

GAFCON Council says Episcopal Church defied communion’s primates

The primates council of GAFCON meeting in Nairobi has issued a communiqué including a statement on the participation of Episcopal Church members of the Anglican Communion Council in the recently concluded ACC-16 in Lusaka:

This week we made progress on a wide variety of initiatives to build up the body of Christ. … We have also paid careful attention to the facts that have arisen from the Anglican Consultative Council’s meeting in Lusaka.

We went to Canterbury out of a desire for unity. In our hearts we desire to see the tear in the fabric of the communion mended. The sanctions passed at that meeting were the mildest possible rebuke to only the worst of the offenders, but they were one step in the right direction. Regrettably, these sanctions have not been upheld. This is disappointing, but sadly not surprising. A more comprehensive statement appears in the appendix to this document.

From the appendix,

Delegates from the Episcopal Church, by their own admission, voted on matters that pertained to polity and doctrine, in defiance of the Primates. This action has damaged the standing of the Anglican Consultative Council as an instrument of unity, increased levels of distrust, and further torn the fabric of the Communion.

Read the communiqué, and the Appendix “From Canterbury to Lasaka,” here.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby said at the conclusion of ACC-16: “the consequences of the Primates meeting have been fully implemented.” See our previous coverage.

The communiqué also announced that the new chairman of the Primates’ Council is the Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, Primate of the Anglican Church of All Nigeria. Joining Okoh is the new vice-chair, the Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali, Primate of the Anglican Church of Uganda.

Attendees were: The Most Rev. Eliud Wabukala (Kenya), The Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh (Nigeria), The Most Rev. Foley Beach (ACNA), The Most Rev. Onesphore Rwaje (Rwanda), The Most Rev. Jacob Chimeledya (Tanzania), The Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali (Uganda).

The conservative blogosphere is in an uproar about a comment conservation on the Episcopal Café here.

Rebecca Wilson

… the primates’ communique said, among other things, that Episcopal Church representatives “will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity.” Our members voted on everything at this meeting, including resolutions concerning doctrine, and no one ever suggested that they shouldn’t. The consequences did not stand because the primates did not have the authority to impose them and the ACC declined to do so.

Zachary Guiliano

Rebecca: perhaps you could name a resolution on doctrine that they voted on?

  • Rebecca Wilson

    -Resolution C13 on the “Agreed Statement on Christology”
    -Resolution C14 on “Buffalo Statement of the International Commission for Anglican Orthodox
    Theological Dialogue, In the Image and Likeness of God: A Hope-Filled Anthropology”
    -Resolution C16 on “Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification”

Wilson reported from Lusaka for House of Deputies News.

ACNS has ACC adopts 44 resolutions by assent. Whatever the meaning of “by assent,” the members of the ACC from the Episcopal Church were equal participants with all other members of the ACC. The 44 resolutions include resolutions on polity and doctrine.


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Sean Storm

According to Wikipedia these are the Global South provinces :
Bangladesh, Burundi, Central Africa, Congo, Indian Ocean, Jerusalem and the Middle East, Kenya, Melanesia, Myanmar, Nigeria, North India, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Rwanda, South East Asia, South Africa, South India, South America, Sudan and South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, West Africa, West Indies.

David Allen

Many Global South provinces were represented at ACC – 16. Some GAFCON affiliated provinces were also there. But GAFCON is a subset of the GS, not synonymous. GAFCON also includes ACNA and the Archdiocese of Sydney, not part of the GS.

Paul Powers

According to this link, Kenya and South America had representatives at ACC-16. So did Central Africa and South Sudan and Sudan, but I’m not sure whether they are members of GAFCON.

Sean Storm

I have a question. Did any Churches or Provinces that are listed as members of the Global South and or GAFCON, send representatives to ACC-16? And if they did that’s very interesting, because I get the impression that everyone at ACC-16 was clearly wanting to “walk together”.

Paul Woodrum

The only authority GAFCON will accept is its own. I doubt they would accept papal-like decisions from Canterbury that were contradictory to their own grasp for power.

Jeremy Bates

The “problem” is that GAFCON wants doctrinal purity, and discipline for those who fall short.
But of course they do not trust Canterbury to impose that discipline.
GAFCON now has 2 choices. Either wait for the next Lambeth Conference–which will prove, like the Primates, to not have any authority over provinces–or give up trying to control the Comunion, and brand themselves ever more clearly as The One True Branch of Anglicanism.
The more TOTBOA proclaims its own sanctity, and implicitly calls the rest of the Communion wicked, the more of a schism there will be.

Matthew Dutton-Gillett

I think we must acknowledge that the part of the Communion represented by GAFCON operates with a fundamentally different understanding of the polity of the church than most of the rest of the Communion. Most if not all of the GAFCON churches limit the voices of laity and clergy much more than in many other places, and bishops — especially senior bishops — have much more authority. They embrace a model of the church that is much more centralized, which the Episcopal Church and other Communion partners have specifically chosen not to do. As a result, they naturally think that senior bishops should be obeyed in all things, and imagine that they have an authority that the non-GAFCON part of the Communion — and the Communion’s own structural documents — does not support. That is just one of the many things that gets in the way of the GAFCON churches and the non-GAFCON churches attempts to understand one another. Unfortunately, the GAFCON model of church is more alien to Anglicanism — but I don’t hold out much hope for that changing. I also think that authoritarian models of leadership are much more current in most of the cultures where the GAFCON churches live, whereas much of western culture has been moving away from those models.

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