lans should be laid at the 2023 Gafcon Assembly in Kigali – in conjunction with the Global South Fellowship – authorizing a working group to develop and present a final proposal for a revived, reformed, and reordered Communion to a joint Assembly in Jerusalem in 2028. This proposed new Communion – the “Jerusalem Communion of Global Anglicans” or the “Global Anglican Communion” – will fulfil Gafcon’s original vision to be an instrument of revival of historic Anglican faith and mission based on the confession of the Jerusalem Declaration. The final proposal will develop further covenantal structures of governance and mutual accountability appropriate to a communion of churches.


The proposal of forming a Communion of Global Anglicans is both visionary and practical.

I suppose the most powerful vision of the Church triumphant is found in the penultimate chapter of the Bible:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband… It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed – on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. (Rev 21:1-2,12-27)

While the Church expectant here on earth hardly compares with the glory that is to come, there are points of continuity:

  • She is a forerunner of the Kingdom of God, as promised by Jesus Himself.
  • She is holy, and her members, while sinners, are justified in Christ and sanctified by the Holy Spirit in what Paul calls the mystery of Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:32).
  • Her sanctity is set apart by a moral and spiritual wall of separation from those who have refused God (verse 8).
  • She participates in the fellowship of the holy angels, who watch over and guard the identity and sanctity of the churches on earth.
  • Her gates open in all directions of the compass, fulfilling the promise to Abraham “that in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed” (Gen 28:14).
  • Her foundation is that of the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, worship, and evangelism and in particular in the apostolic scripture and the apostolic ministry (Acts 2:42-47; 1 Timothy 4:12-16).

This vision is defined succinctly in the Creeds as the “one holy catholic and apostolic Church.” No one tradition, however ancient or however widespread, has an exclusive claim to this vision, but the Anglican tradition is one of those widely recognized and respected throughout the world today.

So what makes a communion of churches? The Church in the New Testament is described in terms of koinonia, usually translated “fellowship” or “participation.” In its deepest sense, koinonia proceeds from the relations of love of the Persons of the Triune God. St. Paul confers koinonia on the Church in this blessing: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the koinonia of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14).

Likewise, St John identifies the goal of the proclamation of the Gospel as bringing koinonia with God and koinonia among believers:

that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ…. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:3,6-7)

Just as John connects koinonia with the blood of Jesus, so Paul speaks of the participation in the body and blood of Christ which believers enjoy when they take and eat the bread and drink the wine of the Eucharist (1 Corinthians 10:16). 

Koinonia is also a sign of the Church’s unity in Christ, according to Jesus’ high priestly prayer that “they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us (John 17:21). So Paul exhorts his church in Philippi to seek unity: “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind” (Philippians 2:1-2).

I have dwelt on the sacred background for “communion” in order to distinguish the Church from a mere political assembly or social club. To be sure, the church at every level will be ordered in some way, often reflecting secular polities, e.g., with a constitution and rules of order. The word “covenant,” even in secular usage, carries an added weight, being enacted before God. For this reason, I think the idea of an Anglican Covenant is appropriate for an Anglican communion of churches.

So now I turn to the practicalities of a revived, reformed and reordered communion, uniting the work of Gafcon and the Global South Fellowship. What’s in a name? I’m suggesting “Jerusalem Communion of Global Anglicans” or “Global Anglican Communion” as making clear the continuity with the historic Anglican Communion. “We are not leaving the Anglican Communion, we are the Anglican Communion!” many have said since 2008. True perhaps, but while we cherish our bonds of affection as part of the ecclesia Anglicana, wrangling over titles is not Christ’s way. Let’s leave the historic name to Canterbury for safe-keeping.

The thought behind adding “Jerusalem” to the name is this: the new communion will not claim an historic see, but Jerusalem was chosen for the first Global Anglican Future Conference and for decennial Assemblies thereafter; and for Christians everywhere, Jerusalem is our “mother,” our heavenly destination (Galatians 4:26), and the place from whence the Spirit-empowered Gospel was taken to the ends of the earth.

I am suggesting – and it is merely a suggestion – that the leadership of Gafcon and Global South Fellowship aim toward producing a final covenantal structure to be inaugurated in 2028.

Why wait so long? Simply because establishing such a revived, reformed and reordered communion is a solemn, historic act. The formation of the Christian Church and of the Church of England and of the Anglican Communion itself took time, and indeed the coming to be of Gafcon and the Global South Fellowship have their own histories, travelling along what I have called “parallel lanes.” As I see it, each group has brought valuable resources – especially the Jerusalem Statement and Declaration and the proposal for an Anglican Covenant – but they should be carefully integrated. Finally, each of the Provinces and regions – from Africa, Asia, Australia, North and South America, and, yes, from Europe – have their own cultural and theological distinctives. Would it not be worthwhile to take counsel diligently and patiently so as to include all these Anglican jurisdictions in a new communion of churches?