Australian Journalist-Clergyman Reports on Kigali Meeting
“The Chair of St Augustine is Empty”
By the Revd David Ould
Australian clergyman-journalist, David Ould reports from the GAFCON IV conference.
GAFCON 23 has closed here in Kigali with what may be one of the most significant Ecclesiological Declarations made in a century or more, the “Kigali Commitment”. The Commitment was read to the assembly by Primate of Nigeria, Archbishop Henry Ndukuba.
The Conference has let its mind known that they have run out of patience not only with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, but every Instrument of Unity in their failure to uphold orthodoxy. The Commitment’s criticism of Welby is loud and clear:
“WE HAVE NO CONFIDENCE THAT THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY NOR THE OTHER INSTRUMENTS OF COMMUNION LED BY HIM (THE LAMBETH CONFERENCE, THE ANGLICAN CONSULTATIVE COUNCIL AND THE PRIMATES’ MEETINGS) ARE ABLE TO PROVIDE A GODLY WAY FORWARD THAT WILL BE ACCEPTABLE TO THOSE WHO ARE COMMITTED TO THE TRUTHFULNESS, CLARITY, SUFFICIENCY AND AUTHORITY OF SCRIPTURE. THE INSTRUMENTS OF COMMUNION HAVE FAILED TO MAINTAIN TRUE COMMUNION BASED ON THE WORD OF GOD AND SHARED FAITH IN CHRIST.
“SUCCESSIVE ARCHBISHOPS OF CANTERBURY HAVE FAILED TO GUARD THE FAITH BY INVITING BISHOPS TO LAMBETH WHO HAVE EMBRACED OR PROMOTED PRACTICES CONTRARY TO SCRIPTURE. THIS FAILURE OF CHURCH DISCIPLINE HAS BEEN COMPOUNDED BY THE CURRENT ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY WHO HAS HIMSELF WELCOMED THE PROVISION OF LITURGICAL RESOURCES TO BLESS THESE PRACTICES CONTRARY TO SCRIPTURE. THIS RENDERS HIS LEADERSHIP ROLE IN THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION ENTIRELY INDEFENSIBLE. KIGALI COMMITMENT.” (My Emphasis)
The Commitment, the product of a genuinely inclusive process that involved all of the conference, goes on to state that
“BOTH GSFA AND GAFCON PRIMATES SHARE THE VIEW THAT, DUE TO THE DEPARTURES FROM ORTHODOXY ARTICULATED ABOVE, THEY CAN NO LONGER RECOGNISE THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY AS AN INSTRUMENT OF COMMUNION, THE ‘FIRST AMONG EQUALS’ OF THE PRIMATES. THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND HAS CHOSEN TO IMPAIR HER RELATIONSHIP WITH THE ORTHODOX PROVINCES IN THE COMMUNION.”
Gafcon has been abundantly clear: The Chair of St Augustine is Empty
The Commitment turns to the topic of “Resetting the Communion”, a section which included a number of joint references to Gafcon and the Global South. While the language of unity was not as strong as that which we heard on Wednesday, there is now a clear stated intent to work together with the language of “united commitment”. The Commitment states,
“WE APPLAUD THE INVITATION OF THE GSFA PRIMATES TO COLLABORATE WITH GAFCON AND OTHER ORTHODOX ANGLICAN GROUPINGS TO WORK OUT THE SHAPE AND NATURE OF OUR COMMON LIFE TOGETHER AND HOW WE ARE TO MAINTAIN THE PRIORITY OF PROCLAIMING THE GOSPEL AND MAKING DISCIPLES OF ALL NATIONS.”
There is also a commitment to support for faithful Anglicans in England and beyond, whether those who have left “Canterbury” structures or those who still find themselves within.
The mood of the Conference is joyful, excited and optimistic for the future. What will the Archbishop of Canterbury do in response? Quite frankly, it looks like almost all the Conference won’t really care – unless he finally repents. That’s what they’ve called for.
What will Gafcon do now? How will this Commitment turn into action? Only time will tell.
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