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Communion has reached an "Ebenezer moment" and must separate from the CofE and the Archbishop of Canterbury, says Dr. Stephen Noll

By David W. Virtue, DD
March 23, 2023

American Anglican theologian, the Rev. Dr. Stephen Noll, has declared that the Canterbury-led Anglican Communion is now lost. Faithful Anglicans must separate from the Church of England, the Lambeth Conference, and the Archbishop of Canterbury to preserve the authority of Scripture, the history of the church and the tradition of the witness so that the Anglican faith once received be preserved and revived.

He proposes a revived, reformed, and reordered Communion in a joint Assembly of GAFCON and GSFA leaders in Jerusalem in 2028.

This proposed new Communion -- the 'Jerusalem Communion of Global Anglicans' or the 'Global Anglican Communion' --"will fulfil GAFCON'S original vision to be an instrument of revival of historic Anglican faith and mission based on the confession of the Jerusalem Declaration. The final proposal will develop further covenantal structures of governance and mutual accountability appropriate to a communion of churches," writes Noll in 14 theses, followed by commentary, toward reviving, reforming, and reordering the Anglican communion.

Noll believes his proposal of forming a Communion of Global Anglicans is visionary, practical, and necessary because the Western-led Anglican communion currently under the leadership of Archbishop Justin Welby is irretrievably broken with no hope of renewal or repentance.

A new communion of churches is necessary, says the author of two books on Anglicanism and a former theology professor who has taught in the US and Uganda.

The lightning rod issue has been the incursion of homosexuality (LGBTQI) behaviors into Western Anglican provinces; underlying it is the rejection of the authority of Scripture as well as history and tradition. A reordering of the Anglican Communion is now necessary.

"These theses describe an 'Ebenezer moment' for the Anglican Communion and propose a critical next step: a costly but necessary separation from the Church of England as the mother church and from the role of the Archbishop of Canterbury as a focus of Anglican unity. In truth, this separation has been happening since 1998, as Global Anglicans have begun charting their own way forward."

"Any genuine reform of the Church involves a threefold cord: renewal of faith and mission; reform of doctrine, discipline, and worship; and reordering of church polity at the local, regional, and international levels," writes Noll.

"This pattern was true in ancient Israel, in the early church, and at the Protestant Reformation in Europe and England. The challenge for contemporary Anglicanism is to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches in the context of Global Anglicanism."

Noll believes that plans should be laid at the 2023 GAFCON Assembly in Kigali -- in conjunction with the Global South Fellowship (GSFA) -- authorizing a working group to develop and present a final proposal for a new communion. The leadership of GAFCON and Global South Fellowship should produce a final covenantal structure to be inaugurated in 2028.

Noll is offering his proposal to Global Anglicans as they assemble in Kigali in April, 2023. "It reflects my own focus on the "movement in the Spirit" that took place in Jerusalem in 2008. It is offered as well to the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches, which will meet in 2024. The Global South Fellowship is a sister movement with GAFCON, with overlapping memberships and visions. GAFCON has contributed the movement's best formulary in the Jerusalem Declaration; the Global South Fellowship has approved a Covenant, which can serve as a first step in constituting a new Communion."

"I'm suggesting 'Jerusalem Communion of Global Anglicans' or 'Global Anglican Communion' as making clear the continuity with the historic Anglican Communion. "We are not leaving the Anglican Communion; we are the Anglican Communion!" many have said since 2008. Let's leave the historic name to Canterbury for safe-keeping."

Noll bases his vision of the Church triumphant in the penultimate chapter of the Bible:

"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband... It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed -- on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb." (Rev 21:1-2,12-27)

This vision is defined succinctly in the Creeds as the "one holy catholic and apostolic Church." No one tradition, however ancient or however widespread, has an exclusive claim to this vision, but the Anglican tradition is one of those widely recognized and respected throughout the world today.

Dr. Noll's full commentary can be found here:



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