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Three of the Largest African Anglican Provinces will not attend Lambeth Conference in 2020. More are expected

Three of the Largest African Anglican Provinces will not attend Lambeth Conference in 2020. More are expected
GAFCON Chairman blasts the Episcopal Church over its handling of Albany Bishop Bill Love as well as ongoing litigation in the Dioceses of Ft. Worth and South Carolina

By David W. Virtue, DD
December 7, 2018

Three of the largest African Anglican Provinces -- Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda -- have now said they will not attend the decennial Lambeth Conference in 2020, called by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Justin Welby.

"Archbishop Laurent Mbanda has confirmed that Rwanda will be joining Nigeria and Uganda in declining to attend the 2020 Lambeth Conference unless the Archbishop of Canterbury includes all faithful bishops of the Communion, and declines to invite those who continue to accept the jurisdiction of Provinces which have stepped outside the boundaries of apostolic faith," wrote Nigerian Primate Nicholas Okoh in a letter to his GAFCON followers.

GAFCON Provinces make up more than 80% of active Anglicans in the world, more than 45 million of the world's 55 million practicing Anglicans. This excludes the Church of England's 26 million inactive Anglicans.

While these three provinces represent some of the largest church going provinces in the Anglican Communion, other African provinces are weighing their options, including the Congo, the Sudan, Kenya, and it is almost certain that most of South America will not be attending and that includes the Primate of the Anglican Church of South America, the Most Rev. Gregory Venables and the newly installed Archbishop of Chile, the Rt. Rev. Tito Zavala.

It is a bitter blow to Welby who has called repeatedly for reconciliation in a divided communion. "The differences we have are differences within the family. . . They are about how we live as a holy people; how we live in a way that shows we are God's people. We do have very important differences, but we must show that we respect each other as sisters and brothers in Christ, and that we learn to disagree in a way that demonstrates that we love and value each other. . ."

In a letter to his GAFCON followers, Nigerian Primate and GAFCON chairman Nichola Okoh, blasted that notion and said that a number of Provinces had rejected the authority of Scripture. He called out those Provinces "which have stepped outside the boundaries of apostolic faith."

Okoh praised GAFCON as a "movement of courage" and said bishops, clergy and lay leaders around the world were prepared to be unpopular and break with the abuse of tradition to gather in Jerusalem for the first Global Anglican Future Conference in 2008.

"It was unfairly criticized as schismatic and one senior bishop of the Church of England even compared the leaders to the false teachers described as 'super-apostles' by St. Paul (2 Corinthians 11:5)."

"A decade later, we thank Almighty God that the Gafcon movement continues to expand and to gather those who are committed to proclaiming Christ faithfully to the nations. But we still need the same courage as in those pioneering days because the temptation to compromise with false teaching has not gone away."

The Nigerian Primate saluted the courage of all those Anglicans around the world who sacrifice to proclaim Christ faithfully. Some live-in contexts where Christians face attempts to very severely restrict their witness and our GAFCON 2019 Conference in Dubai next February is designed to encourage such brothers and sisters."

The GAFCON chairman described the American Episcopal Church as "notorious" in its handling of the Bishop of Albany, the Rt. Rev. Bill Love, over the controversial same-sex marriage Resolution B012 passed at General Convention last summer.

He ripped the Episcopal Church's mandating that all its dioceses must permit same sex marriage rites.
He praised Bishop Love for issuing a pastoral letter in which he makes it clear that this will not be permitted in the Diocese of Albany because the Episcopal Church "is attempting to order me as a Bishop in God's holy Church, to compromise 'the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints' (Jude 3) and to turn my back on the vows I have made to God and His People."

"It remains to be seen how Presiding Bishop Michael Curry will proceed, but TEC is relentlessly pursuing the faithful Dioceses of South Carolina and Fort Worth through the courts, as it has done with many others in the past", concluded Okoh.


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