Nairobi, Kenya — “What this means is that we are now going to have two Communions of Anglicans going forward, the Global South Anglicans who are keeping to the teachings of the Scripture and the Global North Anglicans who are preaching and practicing a watered-down gospel.”
This is how the Rev. Tom Otieno, the vicar of Saint Barnabas Anglican Church of Kenya in Nairobi explained the latest schism in the church, which looked unresolvable after the meeting of the Global Anglican Future Conference in Kigali, Rwanda in late April.
“We no longer recognize the leadership of the Right Rev. Justin Welby as the head of the Anglican Church, and I believe we are soon going to announce the new headquarters of the Global South church,” Otieno added.
At the end of the week-long meeting, some 1,000 delegates issued the Kigali Commitment, whose main thrust was that:
We have no confidence that the Archbishop of Canterbury nor the other Instruments of Communion led by him (the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ Meetings) are able to provide a godly way forward that will be acceptable to those who are committed to the truthfulness, clarity, sufficiency and authority of Scripture. The Instruments of Communion have failed to maintain true communion based on the Word of God and shared faith in Christ.
All four Instruments propose that the way ahead for the Anglican Communion is to learn to walk together in ‘good disagreement.’ However we reject the claim that two contradictory positions can both be valid in matters affecting salvation. We cannot ‘walk together’ in good disagreement with those who have deliberately chosen to walk away from the ‘faith once for all delivered to the saints’ (Jude 3). The people of God ‘walk in his ways’, ‘walk in the truth’, and ‘walk in the light’, all of which require that we do not walk in Christian fellowship with those in darkness (Deuteronomy 8:6; 2 John 4; 1 John 1:7).
According to the commitment, successive archbishops of Canterbury had failed to guard the faith by inviting bishops to Lambeth who have embraced or promoted practices contrary to Scripture.
“This failure of church discipline has been compounded by the current Archbishop of Canterbury who has himself welcomed the provision of liturgical resources to bless these practices contrary to Scripture. This renders his leadership role in the Anglican Communion entirely indefensible,” it stated.
The Church of England, the mother church, early this year agreed to bless same-sex relationships, although stating that such weddings were still not on the cards. To many conservatives, the difference is the same, and the issue has continued to raise hackles in the global stage.
The Future Conference is a communion of conservative Anglican churches formed in 2008 in response to ongoing theological disputes in the worldwide Anglican Communion. The majority of its membership is in the Global South, which although lacking in resources compared to its brethren in the developed world, has the numbers and the growth that are critical for the church’s future.
The inaugural conference took place in Jerusalem in 2008, the second was held in Nairobi in 2013, the third took place in Jerusalem in 2018, and a subsequent conference gathered in Dubai for G19 in February 2019.
The current meeting is underway in Kigali, where the chairman, Archbishop Foley Beach of the Anglican Church in North America said, “Sadly, with broken hearts, we must say that unless the Archbishop of Canterbury repents, we can no longer recognize him as the ‘first among equals’ and the spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion.”
The archbishop used his address to reference the decision of the Church of England to approve proposals to bless same-sex unions in a vote earlier this year of the General Synod.
Archbishop Beach described the Kigali meeting of over 1,300 people from across 53 nations as potentially “one of the most important church gatherings in our time.”
He also called on the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Church in Wales, the Episcopal Church of Brazil, the Anglican Church of New Zealand, the Church of Australia, the Anglican Church of Canada, and the Episcopal Church of the USA to also repent and “return to the teachings of Holy Scripture.”
“It is time for the whole Anglican establishment to be reformed,” he said. “Why does the secular government of only one of the nations represented in the Anglican Communion still get to pick the spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion? This makes no sense in today’s post-colonial world.”
by Tom Osanjo is a Nairobi-based correspondent for ReligionUnplugged.com. He is a former parliamentary reporter and has covered sports, politics and more for Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper.