[O]ur strength and unity does not depend upon institutional structures, new or historic, but upon an unshakeable commitment to obey the call of Jesus Christ and follow him.
Grace and peace to you in the name of our precious Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
I continue to thank God for the global family of the GAFCON movement and as we stand together to restore the Bible to the heart of the Anglican Communion, I believe that we are recovering what it truly means to be disciples of Jesus Christ. Today, we give thanks for St Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist for whom discipleship was costly. The call of Jesus was the point where he abandoned his love of money because he knew God had not abandoned him. Matthew, the despised tax collector, experienced the grace of God as he was given a new purpose in life and a new community to be part of.
Real discipleship will be marked by sacrifice and by love for Jesus Christ, and if we truly love Jesus Christ, we will love another and we will work together love the lost. It is therefore very sad that the Archbishop of Canterbury is calling a meeting of Primates to see if the Communion can be saved by making relationships between its Churches more distant rather than closer.
A statement in response to the Archbishop’s invitation can found on the GAFCON website. Let me simply say here that a global Communion embracing widely different cultures should strengthen its member Churches by mutual wisdom to see where adaptation becomes compromise, each Church being submitted to the revelation of Jesus Christ as we have it in Scripture as our final authority in all times and in all places. Instead, it has become clear over the last twenty years that the Communion is becoming a source of weakness as Churches which have rejected the truth as Anglicans have received it spread false teaching, yet continue to enjoy full communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Our GAFCON movement believes in a much richer vision. We seek to unite. We recognise and embrace those who sacrifice for the sake of the gospel, not only those who persevere in the face of violent persecution but also those who persevere despite being marginalised and even forced out of their traditional spiritual homes by the rise of false teaching in the Church. To them we say ‘You are not alone’ as we join together to make Christ known.
I am very encouraged to see this commitment to true discipleship bearing fruit in various ways as our movement matures and I want to highlight a recent initiative.
When the GAFCON Primates Council met earlier this year, we agreed to a request from the Anglican Church in North America’s Caminemos Juntos movement for Bishop Miguel Uchoa of the Diocese of Recife to provide episcopal covering for orthodox Anglican Churches in central and northern South America who are unable to continue within their dioceses. Speaking at the annual Caminemos Juntos conference last month, GAFCON Primate Archbishop Tito Zavala said “It’s time for biblical and missionary Anglicanism” and welcomed this initiative to bring isolated churches into fellowship and make possible a united Anglican church planting movement to reach Latinos throughout the Americas. In his plenary address, Archbishop Foley Beach emphasised the vital link between mission and discipleship, telling the delegates that “To plant churches and raise up workers we need to re-learn how to make disciples.”
I hope soon to announce various capacity building steps we are taking to fulfil the commitment we made in the Nairobi Communiqué of 2013 ‘to find new ways of supporting each other in mission and discipleship’. However, what will really assure the future of our movement, and of the Anglican Communion as a whole, is the recognition that our strength and unity does not depend upon institutional structures, new or historic, but upon an unshakeable commitment to obey the call of Jesus Christ and follow him.
Feast of St Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist; 21st September 2015
Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Primate of Kenya and Chairman of the GAFCON Primates Council