A Report from the second Gafcon Bishops Training Institute
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
Bishops learnt from, and were challenged and equipped by other bishops at the Second Gafcon Bishops Training Institute Conference (BTI2) at Limuru, Kenya during May 2017. The theme which prevailed through the nine days of seminars, rich Christian fellowship, prayer, singing, Bible study and prayer was that, “as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another”.
Twenty-six recently consecrated bishops from nine different countries across four continents, along with presenters including bishops and two archbishops, came together at the beautiful Brackenhurst Conference Centre in Limuru, Kenya for the Gafcon BTI2 Conference.
“My eyes were opened to the challenges my fellow bishops face” was a comment made and echoed by many of the participating bishops. “We knew of some of the trials our fellow African bishops faced but were not aware that bishops from the West faced many of the same challenges - including economic challenges”. “BTI2 allowed us to gain a new understanding and empathy for one another” commented another of the bishops attending the conference.
The BTI2 Conference was officially opened by The Most Rev’d Nicholas D. Okoh, Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria & Chairman, the Gafcon Primates Council.
Archbishop Okoh began his address with the challenge:
“I hope all of us here today share an ambition that when our earthly lives draw to an end, we can say with the Apostle Paul ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith’ (2 Timothy 4:7)”.
Archbishop Okoh’s presentation discussed the background to the current crisis that faces the Anglican Communion, the dimensions of the challenges, and the instruments available to bishops to continue what he described as the necessary “new Reformation”. Archbishop Okoh drew some practical suggestions to assist Gafcon bishops as they face serious challenges in their own dioceses, before concluding with the final challenge:
"So let us like Luther, and our own Anglican reformers who loved the gospel of Christ more than their own lives, take our stand and live as good soldiers of Jesus Christ, looking to that day when the Church Militant here on earth shall become the glorious Church Triumphant."
Archbishop Jackson Ole Sapit, Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Kenya, addressed the delegates on the topic of ‘Transformative Leadership for a Growing and Caring Church”. He provided biblical insight and practical suggestions for bishops in their various leadership roles.
Other topics during the nine days of the conference were facilitated by carefully selected gifted bishops and other facilitators from throughout Africa, the USA and Australia. Their presentations covered topics as diverse as: The Importance of Theological Education; Raising Finances for Sustainable Capital Projects; The Growth and Relevance of Anglicanism in the 21st Century; The History and Importance of GAFCON and the Challenges it Faces; The Role of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in One’s Spiritual Journey; Financial Stewardship; Anglicanism for the Growth of the Church; The Threat of Liberalism; The Deceit of the Prosperity Gospel; and Mission and Evangelism. A highlight for many bishops was the Q & A sessions following each of the presentations and the opportunity to continue to discuss issues during the tea and meal breaks or during the times of walking in the forest.
Bishops at BTI2 noted that they sometimes feel a sense of loneliness as they operate in isolated and under-resourced areas with few people to provide them with encouragement. The Gafcon BTI2 Conference allowed them to establish a network with other like-minded, theologically orthodox bishops who are facing similar challenges. These networks will continue to serve the bishops for their years of future ministry.
BTI2 concluded with the attending bishops issuing a report which “strongly recommends this training for all recently consecrated Anglican Bishops as a means of promoting inter country fellowships, sharing experiences, and better understanding of the aims and objectives of Gafcon”.
Gafcon's BTI3 Conference is scheduled for November 2017.
You can watch a highlights video of BTI2 here.
Paul Sampson, 15 June 2017