Moment of decision for Anglicans approaches

A meeting of Anglicans from around the world – the Gafcon conference in Kigali, Rwanda, this April – is shaping up to be a decisive moment in world Anglicanism. The Other Cheek will be there to cover the news as part of a media team of partner websites.

This conference may be the moment that the Global South Anglicans, who are generally theologically conservative, assert control of the Anglican Communion from the more progressive Global North. 

The role of the Archbishop of Canterbury as the primus inter pares ‘first among equals’ who convenes and chairs the critical meeting of the Anglican Communion is under challenge.

As progressive provinces (national churches) in the Anglican Communion have adopted same-sex blessings or marriage, the calls for “resetting” the Anglican Communion from evangelicals and other theologically conservative have become more urgent.

Gafcon, the Global Anglican Futures Conference, is one of two majority-world movements in Anglicanism, with the Global South Fellowship of Anglicans (GSFA) as the other. Moves by the Church of England bishops to bless same-sex marriages have pushed the more militant Gafcon and the more conciliatory GSFA closer together.

The convergence of Gafcon and GSFA and the possibility of the Kigali conference as a turning point is made clear in a Gafcon statement. “Presently, the Gafcon Primates are meeting regularly with the Primates of The Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches and other Orthodox Primates across the world to discern the path forward. The outcome of these meetings will affect the majority of the 85 million Anglicans worldwide. 

“Gafcon will not be commenting on the content of these meetings while they are ongoing but will be releasing a statement at the end of the upcoming Gafcon IV Conference to be held from 17-21 April in Kigali, Rwanda.”

It will be the Anglican equivalent go the G20 meeting of governments, with much behind-the-scenes work to build a united position.

The leaders of GSFA churches have declared they are in “impaired communion” with the Church of England following its General synod moves to adopt prayers of blessing same-sex relationships and said that they do not recognise the present Archbishop of Canterbury as the “first among equals” leader of the global Anglican Communion. 

This aligns with Gafcon’s 2008 “Jerusalem Declaration”, which says, “We reject the authority of those churches and leaders who have denied the orthodox faith in word or deed.”

Image: Kigali Convention Centre, Credit: Innocent Mudahunga