Common Roots: Ancient Evangelical Future Conference

Tanzania rejoins GAFCON

The House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Tanzania has voted to rejoin the GAFCON movement and to authorize their primate to attend his week’s meeting of the GAFCON primates’ council in Nairobi. Meeting in Dodoma on 12-13 April 2016 the House of Bishops gave their blessing to the shift in policy initiated by Archbishop Jacob Chimeledya (pictured) that began at the January meeting of primates in Canterbury. In 2013 Bishop Chimeledya defeated Archbishop Valentino Mokiwa — one of the founding GAFCON primates — for election as archbishop and primate of Tanzania. A member of the province’s Anglo-Catholic wing, Archbishop Mokiwa had been elected to a five year term as archbishop and primate in 2008. It had long been the custom in the Tanzanian church for primates to serve two five year terms — and unofficially for the office to alternate between the low and high church parties. Following his defeat in 2013 Bishop Mokiwa charged some electors had been bribed with funds supplied by the American Episcopal Church to vote for his opponent in order to pull Tanzania out of the GAFCON orbit. Church insiders confirmed the veracity of these charges to AI, however the church’s provincial secretary denied any malfeasance had taken place. Tanzania subsequently dropped out of the GAFCON movement with only a few of its bishops attending the 2013 Nairobi Conference. However, Archbishop Chimeledya, who had come from the low church wing of the party and had attended the 2008 Jerusalem Gafcon Conference but after his election as archbishop pulled the church away from GAFCON, switched sides during the January primates meeting. Sources within the primates meeting told Anglican Ink the archbishop joined the GAFCON bloc in Canterbury and has been invited by the group’s chairman, Archbishop Eliud Wabukala of Kenya, to become part of the primates’ council. In what may be a related development, Bishop Mokiwa has abandoned the GAFCON cause and lent his support to the Bishops in Dialogue and Indaba process.  Last month he hosted a conference funded by the Episcopal Church in Dar es Salaam designed to foster links between the Episcopal Church and Africa’s Anglican bishops. GAFCON’s primates are expected to release a statement on the current parlous state of the church at week’s end.

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