Two weeks ago, the Kigali Commitment was published.
It was a response to more than twenty five years of repeated departures from the authority of God’s Word which have torn the fabric of the Communion.
It followed more than twenty five years of warnings that have been blatantly and deliberately disregarded.
The conclusions were stark.
"Public statements by the Archbishop of Canterbury and other leaders of the Church of England in support of same-sex blessings are a betrayal of their ordination and consecration vows to banish error and to uphold and defend the truth taught in Scripture."
"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."
"Successive Archbishops of Canterbury have 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."
"We long for this repentance but until they repent, our communion with them remains broken."
"We consider that those who refuse to repent have abdicated their right to leadership within the Anglican Communion, and we commit ourselves to working with orthodox Primates and other leaders to reset the Communion on its biblical foundations."
But as the Commitment itself acknowledged:
"Resetting the Communion is an urgent matter. It needs an adequate and robust foundation that addresses the legal and constitutional complexities in various Provinces. The goal is that orthodox Anglicans worldwide will have a clear identity, a global ‘spiritual home’ of which they can be proud, and a strong leadership structure that gives them stability and direction as Global Anglicans."
The hard work of resetting the Anglican Communion is only just beginning and it will require us all to work together locally, nationally and globally if these words are to come to fruition.
Revd Canon Phil Ashey of the American Anglican Council raised some big questions in a recent email to supporters:
The Anglican Communion, as it has been governed over the last 25+ years in particular, has been described as “the last vestige of the British Empire.” Will the Archbishop of Canterbury surrender to this process of resetting? Or will he practice the politics of “divide and conquer” that were so successful in the British Empire for so many years in maintaining colonialism?
The Church of Nigeria removed “communion with the See of Canterbury” from its constitution (as a definition of membership in the Communion) in 2005, thanks to the prophetic leadership of Archbishop Peter Akinola. But the amendment process still took time. How long will it take for other churches represented in GAFCON and GSFA to do the same? And how will Canterbury seek to impede or interfere with this process?
What will we call the “reset” of the Anglican Communion? Do we give it a new name such as “Global Anglican Communion”? Or would that renaming be a surrender of the very “reset” that leaders in GAFCON and GSFA are claiming for themselves, as authentic inheritors of true, biblically-faithful Anglicanism?
In contrast Rev Dr Stephen Noll asked a series of questions of local Anglican churches:
"Would it not be reasonable...
to ask that parish clergy give at least one sermon a year on world mission and the global church and to refer to the subject appropriately from the pulpit from time to time;
to focus on particular global and persecuted churches in the Prayers of the People;
to develop global partnerships through various Anglican mission and development agencies;
to include the Gafcon/GSFA as a line item in the annual budget;
to include discussion of the global church as part of new member and adult classes;
to seek seriously to implement Gafcon’s call for a Decade of Evangelism?"
The Instruments of Communion are broken but building new ones will require careful planning and strategic thinking. It is work that will quite rightly be led by the leaders of the Global Majority world and we must all do all that we can to support them - locally, and where appropriate, globally. We will need to be generous with our time, money and talents.
As a recent Anglican Futures blogger said, "There is much talk of “Global Anglican Re-alignment”, the challenge for the English Anglicans going to the Global Anglican Futures Conference is to have hearts realigned to be the servants of all and master of none."
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