Chairman’s June 2016 Pastoral Letter
To the Faithful of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans and friends from Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria and Chairman, the GAFCON Primates Council
My dear people of God,
May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him! As the new Chairman of GAFCON I greet you in Jesus’ name and thank God for all of you, from north and south, east and west.
First, I want to thank my predecessor, Archbishop Eliud Wabukala who will soon retire as Primate of Kenya. Under his leadership our movement has been greatly strengthened and our second great conference in 2013 which he hosted in Nairobi showed that GAFCON was here to stay. As a Primate, I understand the very heavy burdens of our office and I thank God for my brother’s wisdom, courage and perseverance. I also assure his successor, Archbishop elect Jackson Ole Sapit, of my prayers and look forward to his fellowship in the GAFCON family.
I have been involved with GAFCON from the beginning and I am convinced that this is a movement called into being and sustained by the Lord of the Church himself. In every age, the devil is at work to destroy the Church, but we stand firm in the confidence that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
The Apostle Paul tells us that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We therefore preach the gospel, make disciples and commit ourselves to prevailing prayer, knowing that the most dangerous attack on the Church today is not persecution from the outside, terrible though that can be, but a globalised secular ideology which has established itself inside the Church.
We must therefore devote ourselves to the task of restoring the Bible to the heart of the Anglican Communion and this is the way to true unity. The divisions which have been so destructive in recent years have come about because some have chosen to abandon biblical doctrine and it has become increasingly clear since the meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Lusaka last month that those traditionally entrusted with leadership in the Communion will do nothing to call them to repentance.
GAFCON is evidence that despite this deep failure, God has not given up on the Anglican Communion. Indeed, in his mercy and grace, he is renewing it and we look forward with great anticipation to GAFCON 2018 as a gathering of the nations for the nations as we magnify the one true God who has rescued us from futile ways and brought us into the Kingdom of his Son.
As we prepare for GAFCON 2018, we shall also press forward in developing networks, training key leaders, encouraging sound biblical theology and resourcing our supporters throughout the world. We shall also not shrink back from standing with faithful Anglicans who find themselves in jeopardy.
In the beginning, the focus of our concern was North America and we thank God that he has raised up the Anglican Church in North America as a new wineskin in that continent. Now our concern is increasingly with the British Isles. A line has been crossed in the Church of England itself with the appointment of Bishop Susan Goff, of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, as an Assisting Bishop of Liverpool. The false teaching of the American Episcopal Church has been normalised in England and this divisive act has meant that the Church of Nigeria’s Akure Diocese has had no alternative but to end its partnership link with Liverpool Diocese.
At our recent Primates Council meeting in Nairobi we reaffirmed our solidarity with the leaders of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans in the UK and the Anglican Mission in England at this testing time.
When the GAFCON movement began in 2008 with our first conference in Jerusalem, my predecessor as Primate of All Nigeria and former Chairman, His Grace Peter Akinola, declared that GAFCON was a rescue mission for the Anglican Communion. His words were prophetic and they are being fulfilled. Let us be confident of all that is yet to come. Let us work and pray for the reform and renewal of our beloved Communion. Let us trust in our God who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think.
The Most Revd Nicholas D. Okoh
Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria and Chairman, the GAFCON Primates Council
(Note to our readers: Please click here to read the letter from the Bishop of Akure Diocese to the Bishop of the Liverpool Diocese)