by the Very Rev. Andrew Rowell
I’m so very thankful that I’ve been in Kigali, Rwanda, this week for the Global Anglican Futures Conference, GAFCON IV. In my capacity as a delegate from the Gulf Atlantic Diocese (ACNA) and a member of the Board of Trustees of the American Anglican Council, I am pleased to refer our readers to the final statement of the conference, entitled The Kigali Commitment, which can be read here.
When this week began, I was of two minds. On the one hand, I was excited, confident in the gospel faithfulness of those gathered. GAFCON is always, first and foremost, a time of worship and praise, of making new friendships and strengthening old ones in the light of God’s love. It was certainly that and more this week. But, on the other hand, there were numerous political matters in play that threatened to temper some of that excitement. The primary matter at hand was whether representatives of GAFCON (the missional arm of emerging orthodox Anglicanism) and the GSFA (the Global South Fellowship of Anglicans, the “church structure” arm of emerging orthodox Anglicanism) would find a way to work together moving forward. Just a few days before the conference, the leaders of GAFCON and GSFA had serious differences over a number of issues and, so, we began GAFCON IV needing a miracle.
As you can see in the Kigali Commitment, just such a miracle came about. As you will read, the attached Kigali Commitment contains a clear statement of shared purpose and future cooperation between GAFCON and GSFA. The Statement does more than that, of course. It (1) grounds our common life in the authority of Scripture; (2) speaks clearly about how every aspect of our lives, including our sexual lives as men and women made in His image, must be submitted to God’s rule; (3) reiterates our independence from the old, tired colonial systems of The Church of England and the economic weight of Trinity Wall Street, which have become openly comfortable with heresy; and (4) rejoices that God has brought the real Anglican Communion, representing more than 85% of the 85 million Anglicans in the world, of every tongue, tribe, kingdom, and nation, together and has unleashed us for ministry! But it also speaks with clarity about how we will move forward as both GAFCON and GSFA join in purpose to create the ecclesial structures that will keep us united in faithful ministry across the world until Jesus returns to redeem all things.
The stage is well set for our next season of renewal. I look forward to Cairo 2024 (and hope my wife Mimi and my little sons, Eben and Zeke, will be with me to worship and see some pyramids!). There, the GSFA will gather to continue their good and godly work of building, for the first time in history, a global Anglican Communion that is conciliar and covenantal, with provisions that discipline heresy and hold us accountable to one another into the future. To be clear, never before in the long history of the Anglican Communion (the third largest Christian community in the world and the largest body of Protestants in the world) have we had global structures to maintain good discipline – and now we will under these new structures. I’m prayerful and expectantly thankful for what will happen in Cairo next year, as these godly structures will be filled with the same Gospel fervor experienced this week at GAFCON IV!
I’m immensely proud that the American Anglican Council has been tirelessly involved in the work of birthing this renewed Anglican Communion, and above all, I rejoice that He who has begun this good work is faithful to complete it in the day of Christ Jesus!