A Re-set Anglican Communion?
Will Welby Jump or Be Pushed?
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, in his speech to the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC-18) in Accra, Ghana, expressed apparent willingness to relinquish his role as primus inter pares: “I will not cling to place or position as an Instrument of Communion. The role of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Sea [sic] of Canterbury, is an historic one. The Instruments must change with the times.
“I will not cling to place or position. I hold it very lightly, provided that the other Instruments of Communion choose the new shape, that we are not dictated to by people, blackmailed, bribed to do what others want us to do, but that we act in good conscience before God…”
However, events may render Archbishop of Canterbury’s offer redundant. The Primates of the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (GFSA) have already declared their intention to “re-set the Communion, and to ensure that the re-set Communion is marked by reform and renewal.”
Following the Church of England General Synod’s decision to bless sexual relationships outside marriage, the GFSA Primates said, “we believe it is no longer possible to continue in the way the Communion is. We do not accept the view that we can still ‘walk together’ with the revisionist provinces.”
In a published statement, the GSFA Primates declared that the Church of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury have forfeited their leadership role of the global Communion. For this reason, the Primates can no longer recognise Welby “as the ‘first among equals’ Leader of the global Communion. He has sadly led his House of Bishops to make the recommendations that undergirded the General Synod Motion on ‘Living in Love & Faith,’ knowing that they run contrary to the faith & order of the orthodox provinces in the Communion whose people constitute the majority in the global flock.”
The GFSA Primates announced their intention to re-set the Anglican Communion and to provide oversight for Orthodox Anglicans in revisionist provinces. They said they would “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… Together with other orthodox Primates, we will seek to address the leadership crisis that has arisen because for us, and perhaps by his own reported self-exclusion, the present Archbishop of Canterbury is no longer the ‘leader’ of the Communion and no longer the Chair of the Primates’ Meeting by virtue of his position.”
The twelve Primates said they would “carefully work with other orthodox Primates to provide Primatial and episcopal oversight to orthodox dioceses and networks of Anglican churches who indicate their need and who consult with us. This is to ensure that the faithful all across the worldwide Anglican Church but who find themselves in revisionist Provinces receive the pastoral oversight, guidance and care of a global, connectional Church which the Anglican Communion is meant to be.”
At first glance, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Ghana speech would indicate that he is facing the reality the General Synod’s decision has created, that he is now seen by many in the Anglican Communion as a symbol of disunity. But he may not have faced the full reality. He speaks as if there is a discussion yet to be had. He may well find the decision has already been made de facto if not de jure in many parts of the Communion.
The GFSA Primates are the following Archbishops: Justin Badi (South Sudan), Hector (Tito) Zavala (Chile), James Wong (Indian Ocean), Titre Ande (Congo), Stephen Than (Myanmar), Foley Beach (ACNA), Samuel Mankhin (Bangladesh), Stephen Kaziimba (Uganda), Ezekiel Kondo (Sudan), Samy Shehata (Alexandria), Miguel Uchoa Cavalcanti (Brazil), Leonard Dawea (Melanesia).
The full text of the GSFA Statement can be found at: www.englishchurchman.com