Launch and impact of Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans in South Africa
by Chris Sugden
"I waited and prayed for this for 15 years" - said Rev David Macgregor, the retired Dean of Pretoria in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, (ACSA) following the launch of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans in Southern Africa (FCASA).
70 people gathered from Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town in St John's Church Walmer Port Elizabeth on September 3rd. They came from both the ACSA which is recognized by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the (largely conservative evangelical) Church of England in South Africa (CESA) which is not.
One clergyman from ACSA told me this was the first Anglican meeting he had attended with people from CESA.
FCA brought together orthodox Anglicans from the charismatic, conservative evangelical and anglo-catholic traditions at Jerusalem in June 2008, in London in July 2009 and again in South Africa in September 2009. Contributors included Alan Kenyon-Hoare, the vicar-general of the Anglican Catholic Church of South Africa, Bishop Desmond Inglesby of CESA, Nigel Juckes, a charismatic vicar from Durban and Archdeacon Sharon Nell from Port Elizabeth.
The host Bishop Bethlehem Nopece of Port Elizabeth. said: "The issues within the Anglican Church have been simmering for a long time, and are only now coming to the fore. The interpretation of Scripture and its cultural validity is an issue affecting all denominations in the Body of Christ - however, the true Church of Jesus will not compromise on His Word and will stand firm against liberal thinking that has infiltrated this sacred institution. As concerned Biblical Anglicans, we intend to do the same in SA through the FCA."
"Our intention is not to bring division nor is it to form a breakaway. Rather it is our hope that as a working group of concerned ministers, we would encourage Anglican leaders in this country to stand firm on the uncompromised Word of God, and not to bow down to political or social correctness on key issues. We must lead toward Truth. I see the FCASA playing an active role in equipping ministers and members to uphold the Truth and in keeping the Anglican Church accountable."
Retired Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya, represented the Primates Council of GAFCON. The chairman, Archbishop Akinola sent this greeting: "The action of TEC at its recent General Convention have confirmed our fears that for them, there is no going back. They are intensifying their search for new disciples in Africa, using mammon to buy silence and cheap compromise of the Gospel. They claim to be theologically with us, but are in full alliance with all that we stand against. GAFCON and FCA people must continue to stand very firm on the word. We must not waver or succumb to pressures posed by finance and economics."
TEC needs support beyond the Anglo-Saxon world for its agenda of same-sex blessings and elevating people in such relationships to be bishops. The Diocese of Cape Town, headed by Archbishop Makoba, indicated that South Africa would provide it since ten days previously they voted to affirm a pastoral response to those in same-sex relationships in faithful commitment.
In the analysis of keynote speaker Canon Dr Vinay Samuel, convenor of the Theological Resource Group of the FCA, South Africa would provide a beachhead in Africa for accepting the ideology of the human rights agenda of the secular west. " Can you from an orthodox biblical faith bring biblical gifts to shape this social agenda that is at the heart of South African social identity? If South Africa is simply going to take a human rights agenda that is not tempered or shaped by biblical truth, but shaped principally by the ideology of rights and uses the iconic status of leaders such as Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela to silence any questions to its agenda, whether in human sexuality or in any other area, it is not the best gift to the world from South Africa. It is up to you, small as you are, to say "No, we will draw on all the best of South Africa, its journey in reconciliation, its journey in throwing off religious prejudices, its journey in social transformation; but we will also recognize its weaknesses - its weakness in moral frameworks, its inability to be able to uphold truths. Are you prepared to be prophetic that way? Not prophetic in saying: " This is the mission God has given to South Africa, lets push it all over." Rather, prophetic in being obedient to what the Bible is teaching."
The meeting had an impact since following it the Synod of Bishops issued a statement which gave weight to the orthodox view in saying that we hold that "clergy unable to commit to another in Christian marriage partnership are called to a life of celibacy", and claimed that the resolution of the Diocese of Cape Town " was pastoral in nature and not in any way in conflict with Resolution 1.10 of Lambeth Conference 1998."
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