Gafcon Response to CofE General Synod
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Greetings in the Name of God our Father and His Son our Lord Jesus Christ!
Blessings to you as you behold the beauty of the Lord and his immense truth and grace on display through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul so eloquently writes, ‘For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”’ (Rom 1:16-17).
The decision taken today by the General Synod of the Church of England and the explanations given are clear indications that the Church of England is moving a step at a time to fully accept the practice of homosexuality as part of the life and practice of the English Church. To some of us who have been hoping that the Church would remain with her distinctive identity from those who don't believe the teaching of Scripture, this hope is diminishing.
We have lived through this with other Western Anglican Provinces that continually wavered on the ‘faith once delivered’ (Jude 3) and now outright deny the doctrine of biblical anthropology regarding gender identity and moral behavior. Those in the secular press and culture will argue that these are matters of justice, but God's justice can never contradict God's righteousness, and we know these changes attack the very core of biblical authority. Have the Scriptures been clear on human sexuality through the centuries? Yes, they have. The majority of Anglicans around the world have concluded the same. And yet, now, the Church of England has authorized the blessing of sin and declared that sin is no longer sin. From Lambeth Conference 1998 (and its overwhelming endorsement of Resolution I:10), following the Kuala Lumpur Statement in 1997, to Dar Es Salaam in 2007, to the Jerusalem Declaration at GAFCON 2008, to the Nairobi Communiqué at GAFCON II 2013, and the Letter to the Churches at GAFCON III 2018, we have remained resolute in speaking both the truth of Christian witness on matters of practice and ethics and calling the Anglican Communion Establishment to repent and return to the teaching of Scripture and the historical teaching of the Church.
This decision by the Church of England raises questions regarding the relationship of Anglican Provinces around the world with the Church of England and the continued role of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Gafcon provinces and other Global South provinces are already in impaired Communion with The Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Episcopal Church of Brazil, The Scottish Episcopal Church, The Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, and the Church in Wales. We shall now have to make a decision about the Church of England.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has abrogated his fiduciary responsibility and violated his consecration vows to “banish and drive away from the Church all erroneous and strange doctrine contrary to God’s Word” with his advocating this change in the Church of England. He is shredding the last remaining fragile fabric of the Anglican Communion. It is time for the Primate of All England to step down from his role as “first among equals” in leading the Anglican Communion. It is now time for the Primates of the Anglican Communion to choose for themselves their “first among equals” rather than having a secular government of only one nation appoint our leader. We are no longer colonies of Great Britain.
In 2017 the Gafcon Primates (representing more than 60 Million Anglicans worldwide) authorized the creation of a new mission into England because unbiblical practices had already been occurring in many dioceses of the Church of England. Many faithful Anglicans could no longer serve under bishops who had departed from the teaching of Scripture. We consecrated the Rev. Andy Lines to be its first Missionary Bishop and have since constituted the Anglican Network in Europe. Last year the GAFCON Primates consecrated the Rev. Lee McMunn, the Rev. Tim Davies and the Rev. Ian Ferguson, to assist in the growing work in the United Kingdom. The Rev. Stuart Bell will be consecrated in March. We believe the Lord is raising up a biblical alternative for the Christian faithful in Great Britain.
Many in the Church of England have made faithful and courageous speeches upholding biblical teaching. We thank God for them and acknowledge their faithfulness to the Gospel, and our ongoing fellowship with and support for them. For those who are feeling alone and vulnerable during this time, please be assured of the fervent prayers of your brothers and sisters around the world. You are not alone. And you do not have to endure this alone. The Lord will guide you as you honor him and seek to follow His will.
In April the Gafcon Primates will be hosting over 1,100 participants in GAFCON IV in Kigali, Rwanda. In collaboration with the Global South Fellowship of Anglicans (GSFA), we shall have more to say and do about these matters. Please come, and we’ll make room at the table for you.
On behalf of the Gafcon Primates, I am Yours in Christ,
The Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach Chair of the Gafcon Primates Council