Archbishop Stanley Ntagali, of the Anglican Church of Uganda has released a pastoral letter to his Church where he addresses his expectations for the upcoming gathering of Primates and the Anglican Communion’s future. Sadly, but perhaps not surprisingly, his pastoral letter is merely cover for his extortionate demands that those churches open to full inclusion of LGBT members (especially TEC) be anathematized.
The Provincial Assembly of the Church of Uganda has resolved to not participate in any official meetings of the Anglican Communion until godly order is restored. What do we mean by “godly order?” And, has it been restored? Let me give you some background.
Since 2003 the fabric of the Anglican Communion has been torn at its deepest level. The event that triggered this serious situation was the Episcopal Church USA’s consecration as bishop of a divorced father of two children, then living in a gay relationship.
Equally concerning was the sustained inability of the structures of the Anglican Communion – including the Archbishop of Canterbury himself – to discipline the Episcopal Church and restore godly order to the Anglican Communion.
After five years of endless meetings, conversations, commissions, and reports, several of the Primates from the Global South of the Anglican Communion came together to seek a way forward. We called our Provinces to come together in Jerusalem in 2008, along with faithful, Bible-believing, orthodox brethren from America, Canada, UK, and other Western countries. This was the beginning of GAFCON – the Global Anglican Future!
The obvious takeaway here is that Archbishop Ntagali at least, if not all of his GAFCON peers sees little value in continued conversation or in seeking the spirit of truth, unity or concord. He goes on to say;
While we rejoice in the birth and celebrate the growth of GAFCON as a global fellowship, the structures within the Anglican Communion have continued to disappoint us by their inability to restore Biblical faith and order to the Anglican Communion.
The Primates Meeting in 2007 in Dar es Salaam laid out a plan to bring discipline and restore order, and was unanimously supported by all 38 Primates of the Anglican Communion. Sadly, the Archbishop of Canterbury later unilaterally overruled it and did not implement it. This further breach of trust deepened the tear in the fabric of the Anglican Communion.
And then the Archbishop makes clear that though he is willing to go to a “gathering” of Primates, he will not participate in a “Primates Meeting” that includes TEC and ACoC (or Scotland??)
As GAFCON Primates, we have since met with the current Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Justin Welby, and explained our position – we are not in communion with the Episcopal Church USA or the Anglican Church of Canada (for similar reasons). We, therefore, cannot participate in meetings to which they are invited because that would mean there were no problems in the Anglican Communion. The Anglican Communion has, in fact, experienced a serious rupture and the wound is still deep.
Godly order has not yet been restored in the Anglican Communion and, therefore, as Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, I am constrained by the resolutions of our Provincial Assembly to not participate in a Primates Meeting.
At the same time, the Archbishop of Canterbury contacted me personally, along with every Primate of the Anglican Communion, and invited us to come together for a “gathering” to consider if there was a way forward for the Anglican Communion.
Together with the other GAFCON Primates, we have agreed to be part of a “gathering” of Primates in Canterbury to discuss the future of the Anglican Communion, keeping in mind Paul’s exhortation in Ephesians 4:3, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
If the Archbishop is to be taken at his word and if his GAFCON peers are similarly minded, then perhaps this gathering truly is the break point or at least a departure into an uncharted territory for global Anglicanism. Though, in fairness, it has not come to that point yet despite appearing to come very close before.
As GAFCON, we have a clear vision of the future of global Anglicanism and have been moving forward with that vision since Jerusalem in 2008. The Archbishop of Canterbury understands that the first topic of conversation in the “gathering” of Primates is the restoration of godly order in the Anglican Communion. This is the unfinished business from the non-implemented, but unanimously agreed, Communique from the 2007 Primates Meeting in Dar es Salaam.
If such discipline is implemented and godly order restored during the “gathering” of Primates, then I will be free to join any subsequent Primates Meeting that may be convened immediately thereafter in Canterbury. If such discipline and godly order is not restored, then I will uphold the Provincial Assembly’s resolution and withdraw from the meeting.
This is a serious moment for the Anglican Communion. I earnestly ask your prayers for the Primates to seek the mind of Christ and to take seriously their call to guard the unity and faith of the Church. Please pray for continued unity among the GAFCON Primates. Finally, I ask you to please pray for me, as I carry on my shoulders the convictions of the Church of Uganda and represent you in Canterbury.
As we prepare for this gathering, our own Presiding Bishop has also asked prayers. The question at the heart seems to be what do we want from the Communion and is it the truly the best vehicle for fulfilling our Christly mission or is its power primarily symbolic and sentimental?