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Is this the end of the road for the Church of England's hegemony
Whites dominate GAFCON IV

By David W. Virtue, in Kigali
April 20, 2023

The massive disarray and dysfunction in the Church of England, raises multiple questions as to both the future of the Church; its internal dysfunction; its relationship to the state; its relationship to the Monarchy, above all its relationship to the growing orthodox Global South that is rapidly distancing itself from the Mother Church.

About 10 percent of the 1300 delegates here are from the Anglican Network in Europe with its two dioceses, along with Church of England delegates and observers. It is said that Archbishop Justin Welby has people here who will report back to him. Welby's charge that GAFCON is a "ginger" group is clearly not true; it never was. An even smaller contingent is from Australia whose presence and control of GAFCON is overwhelming. I have heard three Australian archbishops from Sydney speak but no one from Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, or West Africa has given a plenary address.

Why is the Australian presence so dominant? Why is there an excessive white presence when GAFCON and GSFA is predominantly African and Black. One wag observed, perhaps we should call it; Global Australian Fellowship of Churches. The choices were considered "strategic."

What are those strategic reasons? Did the General Secretary consult with anyone else on the impact of the imbalance this line up presents? How strategic is it to claim to represent 85% of the Anglican Communion which is almost surely mostly non-white with keynote speakers who are mostly from Sydney and other Anglo's. Doesn't this decision expose GAFCON leadership to being accused of a new "colonialism" by western Anglicans? Was that possibility ever weighed in the decision-making process by the Primates before the speakers were chosen?

I am told that Nigerian Archbishop Henry Ndukuba will read the Statement coming out of GAFCON and Ugandan Archbishop Stephen Kaziimba will preach at the final eucharist.

The Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC) had its spokesman here in the person of Bishop Keith Sinclair who, in decidedly unBritish form, declared that if the Church of England follows the Episcopal Church on same-sex marriage it will tear the Communion apart.

"The fabric of the Anglican Communion will be torn at its deepest level if the Church of England on the recommendation of the House of Bishops and the Archbishop of Canterbury do what the Primates said in 2003 should not be done. Should the call to halt and find ways of continuing in our present communion not be heeded, then we shall have to begin to learn to walk apart."

Truth is, the fabric of the Communion has been torn since 1998 when Resolution 1:10 was brokered into the communion disavowing homosexual relationships, with no possibility that the rent will ever be repaired. ECUSA (now TEC) came to 1998 Lambeth for it to endorse same sex relationships with the support of senior South African bishops. Global South Bishops, led by Archbishop David Gitari and Bishop Donald Mtetemela with other colleagues resisted and brought resolution 1.10 to pass.

ACNA was born soon after, and now the CofE is facing its own calvary, with the only hope being the cry of the dying thief, "remember when you come into your kingdom." Sadly, the CofE is behaving more like the other thief.

It is also unclear what the CEEC envisages to happen within the Church of England. The House of Bishops hold all the cards and all the property. There will be no separate province and nobody will be permitted to declare their parish to be independent, a senior CofE cleric told VOL.

When he proposed that parishes be permitted to leave with their property in 2012, (when women bishops were being discussed,) he was angrily accused of attempting "to steal from the Church of England."

"The only hope is to deter the bishops from pressing ahead with their proposals. And the only way of doing this is for those assembled in Kigali to cease to be in communion with the Church of England, and for a new see to replace Canterbury."

Nobody listened at the February Synod in London when it was explicitly warned about the effects of LLF on the place of the Church of England in the Anglican Communion. They will only take notice if they are formally excommunicated this week, and the ABC loses any role in the Communion, he said. The chances of that happening seem slim to none.

The Church of England contingent here at GAFCON are very defensive. They will not admit the sad and sorry state of the CofE. It's like they don't see the slippery slope Welby is taking them down. They want to nuance things and say things are not really that bad. They do not see their ties with the state are actually undermining the gospel and hindering its advancement. While they will not say that GAFCON is a "ginger group" their actions and behavior pretty well do. They will not give up their "inherited" leadership roles; but they no longer own the communion; they don't even own the Church of England and it won't be saved by the CEEC either. The group here is deeply unrepresented of those in England who might need to look to GAFCON in the years to come.

Another observer noted that there also seems to be a focus on the CofE given the recent Synod decision. "For GAFCON to retain credibility it must represent at its gatherings (as it claims in its PR) that it represents the majority of Anglicans who are in the Global South, especially Africa." Regrettably, even the seminar on 'Your brothers and sisters throughout the world' had no reference to how fellow Anglicans can help (and are helping) their African colleagues suffering hunger and in some cases homelessness following attacks by religious extremists.

Nothing has been said on the persecution of Christians by Buddhists in Myanmar or by Muslims in Nigeria. For example - Nigerian Christians suffer the worst persecution in the world - and the secular media paint this as struggles over land due to climate change. The final GAFCON statement makes only passing reference to persecution.

Nigerian Anglican Primate Ndukuba says Christians are facing genocide in slow motion. "Thousands of people have been killed by well-organized, well-equipped, and well-funded extremist groups. Over 150 villages have been sacked. Over 2 million internally displaced people, and thousands more have been kidnapped for sex and ransom."

"I speak for the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), the largest Anglican Church in the world, with 25 million regular worshippers. I also speak from the Global South, the present Centre of Gravity of Global Christianity, that is, the Global South is where Christianity is experiencing rapid growth, people are becoming Christians daily and finding in Jesus Christ hope for living and eternity. They have found the Word of God and the Holy Spirit their source of strength and hope in the face of great challenges. There are now over 52 million Anglicans in the Global South out of 85 million worldwide."

Thousands of people have been killed by these well-organized, well-equipped, and well-funded extremist groups and over 150 villages have been sacked. There are over 2 million internally displaced people, and thousands more have been kidnapped for sex and ransom. Churches are now forced to pay millions of Naira for ransom for kidnapped church members, and over a dozen, pastors have been martyred by these extremists. This is of course in addition to the hundreds of churches that have been attacked, bombed, and destroyed.

There has been no mention of this here in Kigali, considered the safest and most prosperous city in Africa.

We will have to wait and see what the final statement coming out of GAFCON says.


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