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Resetting the Communion: Report from the GSFA First Assembly

June 21, 2024
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Newsletter Contents

My dear brothers and sisters in the Gulf Atlantic Diocese,

I am writing to you from the airport in Atlanta on Father’s Day. I have just returned with Canon Andrew Rowell and Archbishop Emeritus Bob Duncan from the first Assembly of the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (GFSA) in Cairo, Egypt. Approximately 200 clergy and lay delegates gathered at a retreat center in the desert (it got to 110 degrees in the afternoon!) two hours from Cairo. I wanted to get this message out to you quickly, so that you may rejoice with me in the progress we have made in resetting the Anglican Communion and so that you may know how best to be praying in the days ahead.

First, some background: Why “Global South”? Who is the GSFA? Years ago, the Anglican Communion created this entity to foster cooperation and ministry among the Anglican Churches in the Southern Hemisphere. As you might know, Global South Anglicans today far outnumber Anglicans in the Northern Hemisphere. What the Communion leaders did not contemplate was the awakening of this Global South Fellowship over the last 30 years in the face of revisionist teaching and practice in the West, especially the United States, Canada, and England. To quote our Chairman Justin Badi, “Though Canterbury says, ‘let us walk together, listen to each other and have a good disagreement,’ the GSFA Primates and I say to you that we cannot walk together in sin, and unless there is repentance by those who have gone astray, we cannot have unity at the expense of God’s life-giving truth.” From its beginning, the Anglican Church in North America has been aligned with the Global South in the Anglican Communion’s ongoing theological crisis, and I am grateful to tell you we have been warmly welcomed.

The first action of the Assembly was to gather delegates from its member jurisdictions who have already submitted to the Cairo Covenant, including the ACNA, as well as other mission partners and guests. If you are curious about the Covenant’s details, click here. In accordance with the Covenant, our task was to create the structures necessary to move forward in redefining what it means to be a faithful Anglican. These structures are meant to help us “guard well together the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints; to be effective in fulfilling God’s mission to the world; to strengthen the Global South identity [and] its relational life … and to work for the well-being of our Anglican Communion” (Cairo Covenant, p. 1).

The second action of the Assembly was to select the men and women to fill the roles of those new structures—specifically, to elect officers for the Primates council and then to create an elected Board from among the delegates of the Assembly. This Board will function as the Standing Committee of the Assembly, and its members were elected equally from Bishops, other Clergy, and lay representatives. I was elected as one of the Board’s three Bishops; I will be serving alongside bishops from Indonesia and South Sudan. The clergy representatives are from Brazil, Uganda, Singapore, Congo, Chile, the United States and Canada. Laity come from Tunisia, Egypt, Myanmar, as well as some from countries I have already mentioned.

One of the most striking aspects of this Assembly is the coming together of some of the poorest countries of the world along with some of the most affluent. What we agree on is Jesus and his call to the Church to proclaim his Gospel in word and deed.

Many of you may ask about the Gafcon movement, which the ACNA participated in and whose GAFCON IV conference I attended last year with other delegates from our diocese. Gafcon is a missional movement responsible for ensuring a faithful Anglican witness where the established Church has failed to proclaim the Gospel of transformation. The final Communiqué reiterated that the GSFA is committed to “collaborating with Primates and bishops in the Gafcon movement and other orthodox Anglican groupings to work out the shape and nature of our common life together” (paragraph B.15, citing the 2023 “Ash Wednesday Statement”).

This was crucial as it shows a commitment of unity among the Global South Churches in the Communion. This unity sends a clear message to those who think they can depart from the teaching of Holy Scripture, who hoped to divide and ultimately frustrate efforts to reform the Anglican Church. Like all reformations, it will not be accomplished overnight. Please pray for continued unity among Global South provinces. Also pray for the Primates and Board as we work to teach and call other provinces to join in signing this historic document. Finally, pray for three new tracks which were outlined in the Covenant and have now been further outlined and assigned leaders: Missions Partnerships, Economic Empowerment, and Leadership and Ministerial Development.

Through the strong leadership of this Assembly and the work among our Missional partners throughout the world, God is at work to renew His Church!

Further Reading

Header/Featured Photo Credit

From the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches