Communiqué from the 6th Global South Conference, Cairo 2016
[Editor’s Note: Anglicans from the southern hemisphere have been gathering for official meetings since 1994, and these 24 provinces have come to be referred to as the Global South. The Gafcon provinces are a part of the Global South, and together they met his week in Cairo.]
7th October 2016
1. The Sixth Global South Anglican Conference took place in Cairo, Egypt from 3rd through 8th October, 2016. The theme for this encounter was: “…found faithful.” This is taken from 1 Corinthians 4:2: “… it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.”
2. Delegates from sixteen Anglican Provinces were present. We were also joined by Anglican leaders from Bangladesh, USA, Canada, England and Australia.
3. We were encouraged by the warm welcome given by the President of Egypt, His Excellency, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to the Primates and the generous gift of his time. He affirmed the important role religious leaders play in bringing peace. The Primates were encouraged by his commitment to affirm common citizenship and promote freedom of religion.
4. We were immensely grateful for the wonderful hospitality provided for us by Archbishop Mouneer Anis and the people of the Diocese of Egypt. The warmth of their welcome and hospitality provided a context in which we were able to share, discern, pray, study, worship and take counsel together so that we might more clearly discover a united and prophetic voice about matters that are affecting our beloved Anglican Communion and our world.
5. We were also grateful to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Home Affairs for facilitating this Conference and the Ministry of Tourism for arranging the memorable visits to the places of interest.
6. We were encouraged by the presence of ecumenical guests at our opening Service. Papal Nuncio Archbishop Bruno Musarò, who represented Pope Francis, brought greetings and stressed the importance of this meeting in discerning the signs of the time in the light of the Gospel. Metropolitan Bishoy representative of Pope Twadros II, Bishop Krikor Kosa of the Armenian Catholics in Alexandria and Dr. Said Amer, representing the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, also brought greetings.
7. We welcome the forthcoming inauguration of the new Province in Chile and the inauguration of the Province of Sudan.
8. The Global South Primates also elected a new Global South Primates Steering Committee (GSPSC). Archbishop Mouneer Anis (Jerusalem and the Middle East) was reelected as the Chairman, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh (Nigeria) was reelected as Vice Chairman, Archbishop Stanley Ntagali (Uganda) was elected as Secretary, Archbishop Ng Moon Hing (Southeast Asia) as Treasurer and five other ordinary Members: Archbishop Stephen Than Myint Oo (Myanmar), Archbishop Tito Zavala (Southern America), Archbishop Masimango Zacharie Katanda (Congo), Archbishop Martin Blaise Nyaboho (Burundi) and Archbishop Foley Beach (North America). We also thanked God for the services of the outgoing members of the GSPSC.
9. Our gathering at All Saints’ Cathedral powerfully reminds us of God’s infinite mercy and grace: “Out of Egypt I called my son” (Hosea 11.1). It fills us with a huge sense of gratitude to God who has rescued us from the power of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of his beloved Son (Colossians 1.13). God has called us to be his instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for us – from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted (1 Peter 2.9, The Message).
10. Through the Bible Studies, we reflected on the needs of the people of God in marginalised centres, the challenges of unity and false teachings and the work of evangelism and mission in the world today. From Ezekiel 37, we were reminded of a sovereign God who calls us to live in holiness and rely on Him to turn around seemingly hopeless situations. From Ephesians 2:19-22, the unity of the Church is based on the finished work of Christ on the cross. The Gospel has always been believed in and preached in the midst of competing values and ideologies. In our generation we must not fail nor be ashamed as stewards of this same Gospel.
To be part of God’s mighty work in our generation
11. We especially celebrate with joy the spiritual journeys of our Churches since our first meeting in Limuru, Kenya in 1994. We thank God for the history of the Global South. We remember our roots as an ecclesial body that grew out of the “South-South Movement” which was then under the auspice of the Anglican Consultative Council. God has used us beyond our original reasons for coming together. The Holy Spirit, Lord and Giver of life has been powerfully at work in us, to will and to act to fulfil God’s good purposes.
12. God places in our hearts the resolve to be part of his mighty work in our generation. He is merciful to us and has answered our prayers in ways and in circumstances that far exceed our expectation. We have witnessed the gracious and powerful breaking in of the Holy Spirit in the present time. We recall with joy the many ways that God has revived our Churches through his light-shedding holy Word and fresh-anointing of his Spirit. He makes us able to take up responsibilities and initiatives for mission. He uses us to contend together in the face of false teaching for the faith that was once delivered to the saints (Jude 3).
13. The initial forms of partnership that have emerged among us – in mission and evangelism, in economic empowerment and in theological education – have helped to give us a shared life and a shared history, and we are desiring for more. We celebrate the great things he has done. The Lord is good, and his love endures forever (Psalm 107:1).
14. God has also led us in this journey to respond with compassion to the brokenness in the present-day world. We live in a time of great human suffering, deprivation and dislocation. We see this brokenness in the faces of the oppressed, the persecuted, victims of human trafficking, the refugees, the internally-displaced persons, persons with disabilities, the poor, the hungry, the sick, the homeless, victims of HIV/AIDS, aduts and children whose lives are violently shattered by wars, terrorist attacks and conflicts. The suffering in many parts of the world today compels us to respond more deeply in Christ’s name to extend the Kingdom of God – the righteous, just and compassionate rule of God – in all corners of the world (Micah 6.8).
15. The risen Christ gives us his peace in the midst of crisis, a peace to be shared with the world. He opens our eyes and inflames our hearts with love, so that we can interpret life in the light of his holy Word. We ask God to continue to use our Churches to serve the human needs that are all around us.
16. But the great need of the world is for the bread of life, Jesus Christ himself. We need to proclaim the gospel faithfully and plant Christian communities amongst the unreached. To do this, we need to build strong and vibrant parishes that are committed to orderly and regular teaching as well as intentional disciple-making.
17. Extending God’s kingdom in the world includes shining the light of His rule winsomely. This involves personal and communal holiness and doing good works in the society. We are redeemed to be remade in the image of God and therefore to grow in godliness, integrity and holiness. We acknowledge our own brokenness before God.
18. Christian witness in the public square on ethical issues is a vital way of helping society to keep to God’s patterns and intentions for the world. God’s people must give society a prophetic picture of a future to aim for, one that is freed from economic driven-ness and social oppression to justice, freedom and compassion.
Drawing from our heritage
19. At this conference, we drank deeply from the rich Christian heritage in Egypt and North Africa. We reflected on the history of the Church in Carthage (now Tunis) and were reminded of the realities of suffering in the Church and in particular, Egypt and North Africa. Carthage calls us as Anglicans to focus on the cost of discipleship and to live faithfully and uncomfortably for Christ in a world dislocated from God. Carthage also reminds us of the historic role of bishops who were confident of their authority to order the Church and at the same time, how divisions can weaken her.
20. We also looked at the theme, “How Africa shaped the Christian mind.” We were led on a journey to walk together with an array of saints, bishops and monks and rediscovered the rich Christian heritage in Egypt and North Africa. This region was in fact the crucible of spiritual and intellectual traditions that have shaped Christianity down the centuries. This lasting heritage was borne out of fidelity to the gospel and integrity of Christian life, even at the cost of suffering and martyrdom. The Church in Africa today is challenged to take up the continuing task of shaping the Christian mind.
21. We affirm the biblical and historic faith that our Anglican forebears have faithfully handed down to us at great cost and which continues to shape our discipleship and mission:
a. We are part of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church worshipping the one true God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We profess the faith uniquely revealed in the Holy Scriptures – the canonical books of the Old and New Testament that contain all things necessary for salvation, and set forth in the catholic creeds, which faith the Church is called upon to proclaim afresh in each generation.
b. The doctrine in our churches, as our Anglican forebears bequeathed to us, is grounded in the Holy Scriptures and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures. In particular such doctrine is to be found in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer 1662 and the Ordinal.
Unity in the Body
22. Our fidelity to this Anglican heritage also prompts us to repent of our failings in keeping the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace in God’s household. We recognise that division and dislocation amongst orthodox Anglicans have arisen during the disputes on human sexuality. We repent of our failings to share with one another more sacrificially across ethnic, national and economic divides in the Global South. We confess that our disunity makes us less able to be an effective sign of God’s kingdom in the world.
a. We affirm and cherish the witness of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), and other Anglican Churches and networks that God has raised up in guarding the integrity of the gospel.
b. We recall the commitment of the Global South Primates Steering Committee Communique in March 2008 to pursue unity amongst the doctrinally orthodox. We will not allow different convictions and strategies on relating to the Communion over specific issues to disrupt the common vision, unity and trust we share. Therefore, we need to be attentive to what God is speaking to our Churches in the GAFCON Jerusalem Statement and Declaration of 2008, the Nairobi Communique of 2013, and look forward to working together with them in guarding and propagating the good deposit of faith that we have received.
c. This conference rejoices with the 2015 decision of the Global South Primates to welcome the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) as a partner Province. Additionally, we will continue to extend our support and fellowship to orthodox Anglican dioceses and parishes in those Provinces which have departed from the biblical and historic teaching on human sexuality and marriage.
d. We need to respect different integrities for those Churches that accept the ordination of women and those who do not. Mutual respect should be given to different streams of Anglo-Catholic, Evangelical and Charismatic Anglicans.
Clarity in the Gospel we proclaim
23. We recall our Anglican heritage not merely with nostalgic interest. Rather, its doctrinal and liturgical framework continues actively to shape our Christian life, and bind Anglicans worldwide together as one people with a mutually recognisable ecclesial identity. This enables us to discern the movement of the Spirit, and strive together as one for the faith of the gospel against false teachings in our time. That is, it gives us the lens through which we can see the world as Jesus would see it, and follow him as he would call us.
24. This heritage speaks with special emphases to the powerful post-modern values and revisionist approaches that are creeping into the Church in the present time. Authorisation of liturgies and making pastoral provisions for blessing of civil unions of same-sex couples and blessing or solemnising of same-sex marriage are clear departure from the historic understanding of Anglican faith and order. On the same basis, the consecration of bishops, ordination of priests and making of deacons who live in same-sex union makes a fundamental break from the teaching on marriage in our Anglican heritage. Churches that condone these practices are severing themselves from their own spiritual roots.
25. We are grieved by those provinces and dioceses whose actions violate clear teaching of Scripture in Lambeth Conference 1998 Resolution 1.10; they also ignored the recommendations of the Windsor Report (2004) as well as subsequent Primates Communiqué/Statements that have placed a moratorium on the consecration of homosexual bishops in same-sex unions and the authorisation and implementation of public rites for the blessing of same-sex unions. By departing from the historic faith and order of God’s people, they also undermine their moral witness to their own societies, and cause huge confusion among the Anglican faithful in our Churches in this globalising world.
26. We received with thanks the joint statement by the Global South Primates and GAFCON Primates Council on same-sex union/marriage (6th October 2016) that was presented to the Conference. We resolve not to be endlessly distracted by the same-sex issue or diverted from our mission. To develop momentum in our mission, we need to urgently develop robust structures and processes to bring the whole gospel to the whole world.
27. The prolonged failure to resolve disputes over faith and order in our Communion exposes the Communion’s ecclesial deficit, which was highlighted in the Windsor Continuation Group Report (2008).
28. This deficit is evident in the inability of existing Communion instruments to discern truth and error and take binding ecclesiastical action. The instruments have been found wanting in their ability to discipline those leaders who have abandoned the biblical and historic faith. To make matters worse, the instruments have failed to check the marginalisation of Anglicans in heterodox Provinces who are faithful, and in some cases have even sanctioned or deposed them. The instruments have also sent conflicting signals on issues of discipline which confuse the whole Body and weaken our confidence in them.
“… for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” (Jeremiah 2:13)
29. The instruments are therefore unable to sustain the common life and unity of the Anglican Churches worldwide, especially in an increasingly connected and globalising world, where different ideas and lifestyles are quickly disseminated through social media. This undermines the mission of the Church in today’s world.
30. We are deeply saddened that the Provinces of Scotland, Canada and Wales have recently made moves to change their Canon, teaching and practice in relation to same-sex union. These have been done against the Primates Gathering Communiqué of 16th January 2016 (Addendum A, paragraph 2).
31. The Church of England (COE) has a unique role in the life of the Communion, which means that decisions it makes on fundamental matters impact the Communion more deeply than those made elsewhere. This is because both of its historical role and the particular role of Archbishop of Canterbury as first among equal amongst the Primates. We are deeply concerned that there appears to be a potential move towards the acceptance of blessing of same-sex union by COE. This would have serious implications for us should it occur.
32. The present and potentially escalating crisis poses challenges to the Global South in the shepherding of her people. We recognise the need for our enhanced ecclesial responsibility. We need to strengthen our doctrinal teaching, our ecclesiastical ordering of our collective life as a global fellowship and the flourishing of our gifts in the one another-ness of our mission.
33. The Global South Primates will therefore form a task force to recommend how these needs can be effectively addressed.
34. “Out of Egypt I called my son” (Hosea 11:1). We are resolved, as a renewed Global South body, to go forth, following Jesus, to bring the light of the Gospel to the ends of the earth, through the Spirit’s power and for the Father’s glory.
“But one thing I (we) do; forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I (we) press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”(Philippians 3:13-14)