First Report from GAFCON IV in Kigali, Rwanda
Liberalising Churches Called to Repent
By David W. Virtue
In a stem-winding speech to some 1300 delegates here at GAFCON IV, Chairman and Archbishop Foley Beach said it was time to move past Canterbury and seek the renewal, revival and reform of the Anglican way. GAFCON IV will not spend the next five days focusing on the past, he said.
In his presidential address at the Kigali Convention Center in Rwanda, the GAFCON chairman said GAFCON will not focus on the failures of Canterbury; move beyond the past and seek the renewal of the church.
His speech brought applause several times from the assembled delegates. Archbishop Beach observed that since the last GAFCON meeting in Jerusalem it had been a difficult time with Covid-19 shutting down ministries with “many facing persecution, famine and drought, flooding, war and civil unrest” prompting him to wonder if GAFCON would survive.
However, “when God ordains something he sees it through,” adding that GAFCON IV “may be one of the most important church gatherings in our time.”
“God had his hand on GAFCON,” he said, and was blessing the movement for “standing against those who conveniently or culturally stand against the word of God.”
In addressing his core message, the archbishop spoke about the “four marks of a continuing spirit filed movement: a repenting church, a reconciling church, a reproducing church, and a relentlessly compassionate church.”
“We” Anglicans “can go on playing church, being religious, and even making statements that make no spiritual impact on our world.” However, the desire of Christians today is to see “revival break out and spread to every part of the world.”
“A repenting church was one that modelled the Lord’s call for all people to repent of their sins. It served no purpose to call out the sins of others if we ignored our own sins and shortcomings, he explained. The Holy Spirit “reveals” to a believer their sins, giving you a choice to turn away or to continue in sin.”
ARCHBISHOP BLASTS CANTERBURY
Addressing the growing apostasy of the Church of England the archbishop said this: “In recent days we have seen the Church of England led by the Archbishop of Canterbury walk away from the plain teaching of Scripture. We call on them to repent, to return to the teaching of the word of God. We call on them to stop blessing sin and return to the sanctity and holiness of marriage.”
He then called out the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Church in Wales, the Episcopal Church of Brazil, the Anglican Church of New Zealand, the Church of Australia, the Anglican Church of Canada, and the Episcopal Church of the USA to “repent and turn to the teachings of Holy Scripture.”
“Sadly,” he observed, “and with broken hearts, we say that until the Archbishop of Canterbury repents, we can no longer recognise him as the first among equals and the spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion.”
“It is time for the whole Anglican establishment to be reformed. Why does the secular government of only one of the nations represented in the Anglican Communion still get to pick the spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion? This makes no sense in today’s post-colonial world.”
Archbishop Beach then addressed the question of personal and corporate holiness, speaking forcefully and at equal length to “our provincial sins, our church’s sins, our personal sins,” as “some things we do are not of God.” We must repent.
“A reconciling church was not a church that was reconciled to the world, or to sin, but first to God “based on the truth of the Scriptures.”
“Real reconciliation needs to remove the source of the quarrel, the root cause of the hostility and anger between people. There could be no reconciliation, without repentance,” he said.
“A reproducing church was a church that consciously sought to make disciples and tell the whole world about the saving grace and love of Jesus Christ. A relentlessly compassionate church was one driven by the love of God to love one’s neighbour. The love of God compels me to love my neighbour,” he argued.
The opening session featured gospel entertainment from a local choir and dancers and addresses by the host, the Most Rev. Laurent Mbanda, Archbishop of Rwanda, the general secretary of GAFCON, the Most Revd Ben Kwashi, the prime minister of Rwanda, Édouard Ngirente, and Archbishop Beach.