GAFCON adopts moratorium on women bishops

Entebbe meeting of GAFCON primates resolves not to consecrate further women bishops until a consensus in favor of the innovation is reached

The archbishops of the GAFCON movement have enacted a moratorium on the consecration of women to the episcopate. In a communique released on 20 April 2018 at the close of their meeting in Entebbe, Uganda, the archbishops of the reform movement within the Anglican Communion stated they would uphold the “historic practice” of consecrating only men to the episcopate, until such time as a consensus for change emerges within GAFCON.

The archbishop’s statement noted the Primate of South Sudan endorsed this decision.

In Feb 2018 Anglican.Ink reported the Episcopal Church of South Sudan had consecrated its first female bishop. On 31 December 2016, the Most Rev Daniel Deng Bul, primate of South Sudan and Archbishop of Juba consecrated the Rt. Rev. Elizabeth Awut Ngor as assistant bishop of the Diocese of Rumbek.

Archbishop Deng, who retired in January 2018 and who was succeeded by , upon the election of his successor, the Most Rev. Justin Badi told Radio Good News:  “It was in my dream to ordain a woman as bishop in the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan before I leave”.

Bishop Elizabeth became the third African female bishop, following the Rt. Rev. Ellinah Ntombi Wamukoya, who was elected bishop of the Diocese of Swaziland on 18 July 2012 and ordained and installed on 10 November 2012. Her appointment was closely followed by the election, on 12 October 2012 of Margaret Vertue as bishop of the Diocese of False Bay. She was consecrated and installed on 19 January 2013.

Objections were raised over her consecration after the news became public in February, with the Diocese of Fort Worth of the ACNA asking the primates for an explanation as to how and why this innovation had arisen. In their communique the GAFCON primates said they considered the report given to them last year by the Task Force on Women in the Episcopate convened by GAFCON.

This report recommended: “The provinces of Gafcon should retain the historic practice of the consecration only of men as bishops until and unless a strong consensus to change emerges after prayer, consultation, and the continued study of Scripture among the Gafcon fellowship.” The regional meetings of the Panel gave overwhelming support for the recommendation. We therefore affirmed our commitment to this recommendation. During our time together, the Primate-elect of South Sudan also supported this commitment.

Kenya and Uganda have urged GAFCON to permit the consecration of women bishops, but have so far held back from acting in deference to the beliefs of the other provinces.

Bishop Elizabeth remains a bishop in good standing in the Church of South Sudan, a GAFCON province, and may attend the June GAFCON conference in Jerusalem. Sources within GAFCON who declined to be named as they were not authorized to speak on behalf of the organization tell AI the selection of delegates from the provinces to the Jerusalem Conference is an internal matter for each church, and if South Sudan sends her she will not be turned away.

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