To the Faithful of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans and friends
from Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Primate of Kenya and Chairman of the GAFCON Primates’ Council
My dear Brothers and Sisters,
Greetings in the precious name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!
Here in Nairobi we are preparing with great anticipation for our second Global Anglican Future Conference, GAFCON 2013, and this is the first of what I intend to be monthly pastoral messages as we move forward together in the unfolding purposes of God.
I am confident that this great gathering of over 1,300 delegates will touch the lives of you all, whether or not you are able to be present, and will be a decisive moment in a movement which will shape the future of the Anglican Communion for generations to come.
The reason I have such confidence is not simply because of the commitment and energy that is going into the planning of this great occasion, but above all because God is faithful. At the heart of our gathering will be the Lord Jesus’ Great Commission to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19) and as we commit ourselves wholeheartedly to that purpose, we can trust in the promise that comes with the command, the promise of his presence ‘to the end of the age’ (v20).
Here in Kenya, we know the reality of this promise because we are a nation which has benefited profoundly from the East African Revival. The fires of revival spread spontaneously through East Africa in the 1930’s at a time when many of the churches were cold and formal, deeply shaping what it means to be a Christian and an Anglican here today.
Out of this revival came a huge upsurge in spontaneous mission by ordinary church members throughout East Africa, some of whom were tested by violent persecution in subsequent decades. Despite the challenges of nominalism and tribalism, its legacy of evangelistic drive and resilient discipleship continues. At a meeting of Church Army Africa here in Nairobi last month, the GAFCON vision was strongly affirmed by its leaders as they rededicated themselves to reaching this continent for Christ. Indeed, revival has been described as ‘a reforming of the Church’s battle line’ in its work of claiming the world for Christ and so we have experienced it in Africa. But sadly, in some parts of the Anglican Communion we are seeing the process in reverse - the Church of Christ is being claimed by the world through compromise and false teaching.
The need to take action to establish a clear and undiluted biblical witness to Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit is very great. We will gather to proclaim the gospel with clarity and confidence and set in place structures that will facilitate rather than frustrate that great aim. The Jerusalem Statement and Declaration of 2008 gave us our biblical basis and in the Jerusalem Statement we spoke prophetically of three ‘undeniable facts’:
1. ‘The acceptance and promotion within the provinces of the Anglican Communion of a different ‘gospel’.’
2. ‘The declaration by provincial bodies in the Global South that they are out of communion with bishops and churches that promote this false gospel.’
3. ‘The manifest failure of the Communion Instruments (its international institutions) to exercise discipline in the face of overt heterodoxy.’
While we give thanks for much that has been achieved, especially in the emergence of the Anglican Church of North America and our Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, we are painfully aware that the Episcopal Church of the United States and the Anglican Church of Canada continue to promote a false gospel and yet both are still received as in good standing by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Furthermore, the Church of England itself, the historic mother church of the Communion, seems to be advancing along the same path. While defending marriage, both the Archbishops of York and Canterbury appeared at the same time to approve of same-sex Civil Partnerships during parliamentary debates on the UK’s ‘gay marriage’ legislation, in contradiction to the historic biblical teaching on human sexuality reaffirmed by the 1998 Lambeth Conference.
In these circumstances, attempts to achieve unity based merely on common humanitarianism and dialogue, without repentance, sacrifice the transforming power of the gospel. The seeds of the East African revival were planted through years of faithful bible teaching and were brought to life by the Spirit of God, with deep conviction of sin and the irrepressible joy of sins forgiven. This is the core of the transforming power of the gospel and in this we delight. Let me conclude by quoting Clause 9 of the Jerusalem Declaration:
“We gladly accept the Great Commission of the risen Lord to make disciples of all nations, to seek those who do not know Christ and to baptise, teach and bring new believers to maturity.”
May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.
The Most Rev Dr Eliud Wabukala
Primate of Kenya and Chairman of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans