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GAFCON leader on the ABC’s suggestion of a looser communion

GAFCON leader on the ABC’s suggestion of a looser communion

In his latest pastoral letter Gafcon Chairman Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Primate of Kenya writes,

Real discipleship will be marked by sacrifice and by love for Jesus Christ, and if we truly love Jesus Christ, we will love another and we will work together love the lost. It is therefore very sad that the Archbishop of Canterbury is calling a meeting of Primates to see if the Communion can be saved by making relationships between its Churches more distant rather than closer.

A statement in response to the Archbishop’s invitation can found on the GAFCON website. Let me simply say here that a global Communion embracing widely different cultures should strengthen its member Churches by mutual wisdom to see where adaptation becomes compromise, each Church being submitted to the revelation of Jesus Christ as we have it in Scripture as our final authority in all times and in all places. Instead, it has become clear over the last twenty years that the Communion is becoming a source of weakness as Churches which have rejected the truth as Anglicans have received it spread false teaching, yet continue to enjoy full communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Yet the Kenyan Daily Nation has Anglican primate downplays split call ahead of meeting Global Anglican Future Conference. An extract:

Archbishop Eliud Wabukala told the Sunday Nation yesterday that any impending split is not a Kenyan affair as those were internal conflicts among the churches in North America.

“Those are internal affairs in the North American churches. I wish you could get in touch with the Archbishop of Canterbury as we are not involved in any way,” said Rev Wabukala.

He said that despite having an Anglican communion, every province — or country — is guided by its own constitution in terms of discipline and laws.

Meanwhile, from the same Daily Nation article,

… the Anglican church in Kenya has in recent weeks been embroiled in a controversy of its own.

Early this month, the Mt Kenya West Diocese expelled five priests who were under investigations for allegedly engaging in acts of homosexuality.

The five were excommunicated after investigations by a tribunal formed by the church.


Five more priests from the Anglican Church of Kenya are now being investigated for allegedly engaging in homosexuality. According to the church, the five from Mt. Kenya region are married and have children even as their wives remain unaware of their husbands’ hidden sexual orientation.

Bishop Joseph Kagunda of the Mount Kenya West Diocese, confirmed that the church had set up a tribunal to probe the matter mid this year, the Nation reports.

“The church is ashamed to be associated with them,” rebuked Bishop Kagunda.

Last week the Anglican Church suspended one of its priests for allegedly luring four young men to the vicar’s house, where it is reported he forced them to sleep with him.

Bishop Kagunda also told the Nation that the church had established that some of the accused preachers all over the country had been engaging with fellow priests for a long time.


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Bill Ghrist

@prof christopher seitz

“But I am also not clear whether there are any good grounds against polygamy given a redefinition of marriage ‘on these shores’? ”

I’m not really sure how, if at all, our recent changes may affect the legal grounds against polygamy, but it seems to me that they actually reinforce the moral grounds against it. The legalization of same sex marriage has been possible because over the last century the effective definition of marriage has evolved from a relationship between a dominant male and a subordinate female to a relationship in which both spouses are of equal moral and legal standing. It is hard to imagine polygamy as a relationship between equals. I think that the main reason polygamy was outlawed in the United States was because it became evident that it was almost always extremely oppressive to women.

Rod Gillis

When I was received into the Anglican Communion in 1975, I was given a Certificate of Reception. It hung on the wall of my office in every parish I served in. On the back is a map of the world, with a text which reads:

“Drawing its teaching from the Bible, The Anglican Communion holds the belief of the early Church as summarized in the creeds. In its ministry of Bishops, priests, and deacons, and its emphasis on the Sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion, instituted by Christ, it preserves the ancient structure and practice of the Church, while seeking to fulfill God’s will in each generation.”

Looking at the Certificate in the light of recent events, i’m thinking it is a lot like looking at a Confederate $100 bill. Issued on a promise, and now an artifact of the past.

Jeremy Bates

I’m curious. What do you mean by “received into the Anglican Communion”?

Do you mean “received into a church that was a member of the Anglican Communion”?

I wasn’t aware that clergy are (or ever were) received into the Anglican Communion directly. Who issued this “certificate”?

Rod Gillis

@ Jeremy Bates “I wasn’t aware that clergy are (or ever were) received into the Anglican Communion directly. Who issued this “certificate”?

When you join the Anglican Church of Canada from the Roman Catholic Church, you are not re-baptized or re-confirmed, you are “received”. The bishop of the day directed/delegated that this be done by the rector the parish I was in at the time.

So, on the Feast of Presentation 1975 I was received into the Anglican Church (from the Roman Catholic Church) during the parish communion service. At the service I was presented with, A Certificate of Reception Into The Anglican Communion signed by my rector and the vestryman who presented me. The certificate says, “received into the fellowship of the Anglican Communion”. I entered Divinity School the same year and was latter ordained priest and deacon with my class.

Roman Catholic priests who become Anglicans would be likewise received, and, of course, not re-ordained, but licensed by their new Anglican Bishop to function as such.

In the liturgy currently appointed for this purpose in the Canadian Church, a person is received by the bishop who says, “N. we recognize you as a member of the one holy catholic and apostolic church, and we receive you into the fellowship of this Communion. God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, bless, preserve and keep you. ” ( B.A.S. p. 629)

A person so received would likely get a certificate (like the one I have), which like a certificate of baptism or confirmation, is simply documentation of the event.

Regarding The Episcopal Church, I did a quick search and came across this link. I’m sure someone more familiar with the American scene can clarify or update the info as may be required.

Rod Gillis

John, exactly right there is nothing in there about punishing other churches, or even instruments of Communion. In fact, the primates gathering did not exist at the time I came aboard. However, my larger point, is that to which the Certificate of reception witnesses, no longer exists as such.

prof christopher seitz

One question re: sexuality is the opinion of Progressive Christians about the status of polygamy. CMS believed this was not appropriate and means for dismantling it were set before new believers.

Was this not appropriate? Was it wrong because it ‘raised the matter to a dogmatic level’ (which of course it didn’t strictly speaking; but no matter)? Should the CMS be faulted for this and if so, should it follow that polygamy ought to be permitted between consenting adults who ‘love one another’ and marry on those grounds? This is no longer a false argumentative trail, for surely the effect of defining marriage requires that polygamy be evaluated and approved.

Tobias Haller

Please refer to Resolution 26 of Lambeth 1988. The matter has been referred to local option. It is a live issue in parts of Africa; should it ever become a live issue elsewhere, the same principle could, one imagines, be applied. I doubt it will ever be a very live issue on these shores.

The Lambeth reversal is a tacit statement that the CMS (and the earlier Lambeth conferences) were imposing a European reading of morality in a different context. There appears to be a recognition that the moral issue — whatever it is — is best addressed in that local context rather than universally as an absolute. You may not be happy with that, but your argument is with Lambeth 1988, not me, as I have written elsewhere at length as to what I think is wanting in polygamy. Polygamy was not my concern in my initial comment, and I see no need to discuss it further here. I’m more concerned with those who seek to impose as moral absolutes those things that are best addressed locally and in context. Especially when they treat these matters as if they were core doctrines or central to the Christian life.

prof christopher seitz

The experience I have with a large number of Bishops in the African context–+Eliud is a Wycliffe grad; +Josiah Idowu-Fearon a close friend; Tanzanian Bishops teaching at Wycliffe; friends in Burundi, West Africa, Uganda–does not suggest to me that polygamy is a matter indifferent in the light of Lambeth 1988.

They are the sons and daughters of CMS and/or the East African revival.

So my beef is neither with Lambeth 1988 nor CMS nor the present reality grosso modo.

But I am also not clear whether there are any good grounds against polygamy given a redefinition of marriage ‘on these shores’? That you might have some is fine, but this will of course now be tested in the civil realm and under ‘Caesar’s Rules.’

Cynthia Katsarelis

Well Christopher, if you want to talk about polygamy, then we need to look to Africa where that practice is far more common. Somehow the GAFCON bishops don’t seem to be making a big deal of it.

The only place you find it contested in the US is in sects of the Mormon Church. So I’m not seeing that it is much of an issue for TEC.

David Allen

They are not sects of the LDS Church. They are sects of Mormonism, two different things. They broke with the LDS Church and the LDS Church continues to excommunicate polygamists when identified in their midst.

prof christopher seitz

I thought the point was obvious.

When CMS and others came to Africa they regarded polygamy as sinful and so required via various procedures for it to be dismantled, with as little injury as possible to those affected in terms of social care, etc.

That it may persist in some areas is irrelevant to the point that CMS once required behavioral change of those baptized. Sin is sin.

My question was whether this is now regarded to have been a bad thing (given the put-down of CMS with which this thread began)?

And further, what is now wrong with polygamy in the light of marriage redefinition? Do you believe that polygamy is appropriate is consent to it is not compelled and the partners believe it is loving?

Tobias Haller

The history of Anglican engagement with polygamy is complex, and involved in the end a reversal of the position established at previous Lambeth conferences, so reassessment has already happened to some extent, including the allowance of a continued (though not expanding) polygamous relationship (See Resolution 26 of 1988.) It concerned not so much polygamy itself, but who could be baptized, so it did rise to a level of sacramental concern at the most essential level.

Tobias Haller

This seems to demonstrate [René – ed.] Girard’s point about blaming some to sanctify others. The elevation of points of sexual morality to the highest levels of dogma and the chief characteristic of Christianity is blowback from the Colonial emphasis, along with the protestant (if not Puritan) notion that right teaching is at the heart of Christian churchliness, and warrants separation. The CMS planted seeds we are now reaping.

Bill Paul

Surely “the highest levels of dogma” is misleading. It is truer to say that (a) the endorsement of TEC’s new sexual ethic (leaving aside whether is has been successfully argued and the process by which it was asserted) is so far out-of-bounds that something has to be done and (b) if we are going to play the game of church, so to speak, with bishops then that adds something to problem because we aren’t dealing solely with ideas, concepts, or different viewpoints but also with an office meant for the whole church (as +Rowan often reminded TEC) and with actions and behaviors of the same. Further, to label something Protestant or Puritan, with the intimation that we are truly catholic because we are united no matter what only gives support to the charge that the real Golden Calf in TEC is an undiscriminating inclusivity.

Cynthia Katsarelis

Gosh Bill, I’m sorry that my existence as an LGBTQ Child of God, created in the Image of God is such a problem for you. What exactly do you think should be done about me and my spouse. We’ve been together 24 years and got married in our Episcopal parish last January. What exactly needs to be done?

“Undiscriminating inclusivity.” So who is qualified to judge? Jesus expressly said “don’t judge” and Jesus said nothing about loving gay couples. Nothing. But he had words about divorce, hard heartedness, and using the Law to exclude and oppress people.

Scripture, examined closely, is impossible to use to condemn LGBTQ people. If you use Leviticus, then how do you justify the pro-slavery bits? Or the command to stone adulterers? Or the abominations of wearing mixed fibres, tatoos, or eating shellfish? There is no way to use Scripture against us without cherry picking and hypocrisy.

TEC is not insisting that other provinces adopt our view.

Jesus said that we can tell the true prophets from the false ones by the fruits of their labors. Look at the witch hunt going on in Kenya, and the “kill the gays” or mere “jail the gays” laws in Africa – supported by the GAFCON archbishops. What kind of fruits are those? Let alone our own rate of LGBTQ teen suicide and hate crimes. What kind of fruits are those?

Tobias Haller

Well, Mr. Paul, you may say not the “highest” but clearly you think it sufficiently high to warrant action.

Your accusation that unlimited inclusivity is the modus vivendi of TEC is false. There are clear limits — you just think they have gone too far. I am not saying, “Anything goes,” but that the protestant “solution” to disagreement about what does go is division rather than dialogue.

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