Nicky Gumbel, founder of the Alpha Course joins the leaders of the Global South Anglicans who oppose same-sex marriage

Archbishop Justin Badi on the Pastor's Heart

Possibly the most significant words in a communique issued this week by the Primates (national leaders) of the conservative Global South Fellowship of Anglicans (GSFA) was the list of who attended.

The statement, which reaffirmed the determination of the Global South to “reset” the Anglican Communion “according to its biblical and historical roots“, featured Nicky Gumbel, founder of the Alpha Course as an attendee.

The Global South leaders met in Cairo and reaffirmed its “Ash Wednesday” commitment to “with the Church of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury forfeiting their leadership role of the global Communion, GSFA Primates will expeditiously meet, consult and work with other orthodox Primates in the Anglican Church across the nations to re-set the Communion on its biblical foundation.”

Gumbel is the former rector of Holy Trinity Brompton, a key church in the charismatic movement in the Church of England.

“At the meeting, we reaffirmed our adherence to Lambeth Resolution 1:10 in full both in moral teaching and pastoral care [opposing same-sex marriage while offering care to LGBTQIA persons],” said Archbishop Justin Badi of South Sudan, the chair of GSFA, interviewed by Dominic Steele for the Pastor’s Heart Podcast. And secondly, we also reaffirmed our Ash Wednesday Statement. So Nicky Gumbel, though he’s for the unity of the church, and that was what he was expressing. But as orthodox leaders, we reassured him and all our orthodox brothers and sisters in the Church of England that we will not leave them alone; we will continue to stand with them.”

Asked to comment on the GSFA relationship with Gumbel, Badi said “First, we will count him as a brother in our fellowship, in our midst. And together with him, we affirmed our Ash Wednesday statement, and also we committed ourselves to the GSFA covenantal structure as the only means to bring together all orthodox provinces [national churches] within the Anglican Communion.

“So him hearing that, he was a bit worried that maybe the church is going to separate, of which we assured him there is no separation. There is [nevertheless a] strong stand for the biblical truth in our communion, which we are taking as the global south. So the other stream of revisionism is what we are all lamenting and praying and waiting for genuine repentance. Once that is done, the communion will be together. Once that is not done, we will still keep our distance and continue in prayers.’ 

Asked to comment on Gumbel’s long friendship – from their schooldays on – with Archbishop Justin Welby, leader of the Church of England, Badi said “

Speaker 2 (13:31): I know Nikki Gamble is a biblical teacher. He teaches the biblical faith and what we are doing in the global south is the same thing: standing on the truth. So he thought [it] wise to join us, to listen to us, so which he did. And he was happy, and our hearts were all refreshed and filled with joy to see orthodox groupings within the Anglican communion coming together.

“[I don’t know about what] his feeling for his friend is. He might be the right person to express his feelings after the fellowship in the global South fellowship of Anglicans.” 

Gumbel and other charismatic leaders criticised moves to introduce same-sex blessings in the Church of England before the July meeting of the General Synod (church parliament). The prayers and plans to have services of blessing will be discussed again in November. The Other Cheek reported the general Synod discussion paper this week: “The Church of England’s proposal to half bless same-sex couples.”

UPDATE: A second view of Gumbel’s participation in the GSFA meeting came from a fellow British observer at the meeting, Richard Moy.

“It was a joy to travel with Nicky and Pippa Gumbel, who were both visiting Alpha International, and preaching at the Cathedral on the following Sunday as well as Nicky being an unofficial voice for the broad ‘alliance’ of parties ‘compelled to resist the House of Bishops’ as an observer at the GSFA meeting. It was humbling to hear their heart and passion for the church, and there is at least one photo going around of me looking like a fan-boy around them. We were joined in the invited guests from the Church of England by John Dunnett, who I have known since doing ARROW on the CPAS leadership scheme and who now spends his time networking and encouraging the troops through the umbrella group CEEC. Sitting between two such ‘generals’ in these meetings was an honour. …

This broad range of observers perhaps represented the optimists, the realists and the pessimists when it came to direction of travel in the Church of England, with optimistic Nicky passionately arguing that we can turn this around. 

His big pitch was for unity, a theme he returned to in the final day. For Nicky it’s all about having everyone around the same table. He wants the whole Anglican Communion to be represented in Rome (Primates meeting in 2024) and would have loved everyone to have been at the 2022 Lambeth Conference even is they came to resist. He’d love the whole church, well beyond just the Anglicans to unite together. “I don’t want to be part of any other body that doesn’t include all of you here”, he said, and “If we stop it please don’t throw us out, align yourselves with us.”

“… He emphasised that this was him speaking in his personal capacity, not on behalf of organisations associated with his name. But this was his very personal story of resisting his friend of more than 40 years.”

Moy goes on to suggest that Church of England charismatics may have opposed Archbishop Welby more strongly than the Archbishop more strongly than expected. “

Several reports out of London suggest the Lambeth office had calculated that their actions could lead to an exodus of clergy representing 10-15% of CoE congregants. 

But Justin Welby had reportedly reassured everyone that while his old constituency would be cross they would go with him on this. He was delighted they were recruiting reps to Synod who would ‘back Justin’ while they were not realising still where this all was heading. What an absolute nightmare it must now be to the College and House of Bishops when they realise that even those charismatics might have awoken with a jolt from a slumber and many find themselves suddenly in alliance with people they had barely been in a room with for decades – the ones the Lambeth staff had been content to lose. Already there has been a massive reduction in vocations in our own Diocese back home as potential ordinands and leaders hold off putting themselves forward for ministry in a church that seems willing to renege on its doctrine, or sense the troubled waters and steer clear of the crocodiles.” 

Image: Archbishop Justin Badi on the Pastor’s Heart, screenshot