Mission and Ministry of GAFCON: Extracts from Archbishop Ben Kwashi’s opening address to GAFCON IV Kigali


I believe that it is God who has called us to come together this week.  He has called us out of our own contexts, out of our familiar places, so that we can sit side by side, listen and learn from him and from one another, pray to him and pray with one another, encourage one another, and seek to discern God’s vision and guidance for the future.  Some of us have come from far away, and have faced the exhaustion and the cost of distant travel.  Some have come from places where the persecution of the church makes it dangerous to be a Christian.  Some have come from countries where recent events and decisions within the church  – particularly with regard to the authority of the Bible and to marriage – have made life painful, bewildering and seemingly threatening to our faith and to our way of life.  To everyone here we want to say a big Welcome as we continue to pray that this week will be a landmark of encouragement, hope and renewal in our own lives and in the life of the world-wide church.

The theme which is the backbone of our gathering is:

“To Whom Shall We Go?” (John 6:68)

Jesus had been teaching that he himself was the Bread of Life and then, in St. John’s words, 

When many of his disciples heard [this teaching], they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” . . . After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” (John 6:60, 68-70)

Peter’s question, “Lord, to whom shall we go?” and the circumstances which gave rise to that question are particularly relevant to our own circumstances today.  Jesus’ teaching was not hard for many people to understand but it was hard to accept; they preferred to follow their own ways and their own interpretations of Scripture.  Our Lord knew their hearts: he knew that some would turn against him, but he knew also that there were others who, although they might fall from time to time, would persevere, remain faithful and become the core of his church.  Those of us who wish to remain faithful to Christ today need to bear in mind three things:

i. The Primacy of Scripture

We are all too well aware of the pain, the confusion and the suffering which has now arisen within the Anglican Church, and indeed also in other denominations.  Do we stick firmly to the Bible or do we follow the ways, the interpretations and the personal preferences of contemporary society?  Let us be absolutely clear.  Led  by the Holy Spirit and relying on His power, GAFCON remains rooted in the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer, supported by the Apostles’ Creed, the 39 Articles and the Jerusalem declaration.  There can be no negotiations or back-tracking on what God has done, or about the teaching, the ministry, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Here is the rock on which we are built and to step aside or vacillate in any way, big or small, would be to put our feet on shifting sand, where sooner or later we shall fall.  Jesus gave clear warnings that some would turn away and that trouble and persecution would come, but he added, “take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)  “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Mt.28:20).

ii. The Power of the Gospel

The world around us is falling into a growing state of confusion and in some cases, disintegration, but it is the power of the gospel which can turn things round: the gospel of Jesus Christ carries the power of God.  The effect of the gospel will be seen in the life of whoever believes in that gospel, no matter their nationality, tribe, background, education, qualifications, age or gender, and the fruit of the gospel will be seen in righteousness, holiness, service, development, health, and in the physical and spiritual blessings that accompany that person in the community.  The Christian gospel does not destroy: it builds and brings life in all its fullness to everybody without discrimination.

History has shown that where the Gospel is taught, preached and lived, and revival has broken out, it has started with one small spark in one place and spread like wildfire.  As it spreads what has happened has not been a huge increase in bank balances, or even in the building of churches.  What has happened has been that all trade, operations, practices and businesses that threatened life and safety closed down, corruption and lies were rejected, the police had less work, families were strengthened, lives were changed and the praises of God were sung in every household.  The same can be true today!

iii. The Priority of Evangelism & Mission

If the gospel is alive then, like any living being, it must grow.  When Peter preached the first sermon on the Day of Pentecost, the church was born with 3000 babies!  The administration was sorted out quickly and their priorities were clear: teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers (Acts 2:42).  The result was that when the first internal disruption came it was quickly resolved through prayer, consultations, and the election of seven godly leaders to serve the community.  The result was immediate: “the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7).  Either the gospel spreads its wings and grows, or it stands still and in doing so it stagnates, and disintegrates as the world passes it by, ignoring it as an out-dated commodity.


For GAFCON the corner-stone is the Primacy of Scripture, as rediscovered at the Reformation.  Out of that flows the Power of the Gospel, issuing in the Priority of Mission.  These put together give us a sure confidence in God and a certain hope in him for the future. Whatever we are facing today, there is always hope. Persecution has never killed the church, and it never will kill the church. In fact persecution helps the gospel to spread, as Christians run from one place to another!

Remember the story in Matthew 8:23-26.  Jesus and the disciples were in the boat and a great storm blew up. And Jesus was asleep!!!  They clambered over to him and shouted through the wind, “Master, wake up!  Don’t you care!  We’re in extreme danger!  We are all going to drown!”.  Jesus got up and calmed the storm, but notice what he said to the terrified disciples.  “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?”  In other words, the question is not “Where is God?”, but “Where is your faith?”.  The disciples’ question – which many of us today wish to ask – was turned round and thrust back at them in the form, “Where is your faith?” 

You have nothing to fear if only you know who is with you in all the circumstances of life.  It is we, God’s people, not God, who need to open our eyes and Wake Up!


All that I have mentioned so far has always been true of GAFCON, as can be seen   from the Jerusalem Declaration, the formative document which emerged from the first GAFCON gathering in 2008.  You will recall that the Jerusalem Declaration aimed “to chart a way forward together that promotes and protects the biblical gospel and mission to the world, solemnly declaring the following tenets of orthodoxy which underpin our Anglican identity.” Thereafter followed fourteen foundational points of belief, doctrine and practice.  The conclusion made it clear that GAFCON had been called together with a sense of urgency because “a false gospel has so paralysed the Anglican Communion that this crisis must be addressed. The chief threat of this dispute involves the compromising of the integrity of the church’s worldwide mission . . . We believe the Anglican Communion should and will be reformed around the biblical gospel and the mandate to go into all the world and present Christ to the nations.”  That was a prophetic statement!


Building upon the Jerusalem Declaration and subsequent discussions, in February 2018 the Holy Spirit enabled us to produce a working document entitled GAFCON: Strategic Focus 2021-2031.  This was whole-heartedly accepted by the Primates, Guarantors and Trustees and its implementation began immediately.

Then COVID……2019-2021 cancer…2020-2021 another Cancer attack 2022 June –

December with continuing treatment to march 2023.

It is therefore my suggestion that we begin to observe the implementation of our GAFCON VISION FOCUS from Kigali IV this conference 2023!!!

Basic to the production of that paper was the understanding that “we cannot claim apostolic succession without following and continuing in the steps of the apostles to be apostolic in mission, apostolic in leadership and apostolic in ministry”.  In asking what God’s will, vision and plan is for GAFCON,  it was noted that “This is generally a dangerous question as choosing to follow God’s way, rather than our own pre-packaged and carefully planned route, generally involves risk!  If we truly want to go God’s way, to be his people and to spread his gospel around the world then we shall meet opposition and our faith will be tested, but, in God’s grace and through the Holy Spirit’s enabling power, his name will be glorified, and we shall be surprised!”

We therefore set out what we believe are seven key areas and ways in which God is calling GAFCON to move.  Let me outline these very briefly.

1. To declare a Decade of Discipleship, Evangelism and Missions

Discipleship, evangelism and mission are at the heart of GAFCON.  In order not only to remind churches and members of this, but also to provide a catalyst for action, we urged that a Decade of Discipleship, Evangelism and Mission be declared 2023-2033.  In so doing, however, it should not be thought that these goals can be achieved simply by the issuing of a directive from the leadership.  Experience has proved that the most effective movement is for an impetus to catch fire at the grass roots level, and from thence it will move upwards. 

However, let us consciously concentrate our efforts, and give this gospel top priority in every ministry group in our churches, schools, communities and our individual lives – and see what God will do in the years ahead! We must partner with other Mission agencies, para church campus missions and all other outreach evangelism agencies on fire for Jesus! 

2. Gafcon-Next-Gen

If we are looking to the future, as indeed we must be if we are at all serious about the mission which God has put into our hands, we must be looking at the next generations and particularly we must be looking for the leaders of the next generation.  I am seriously wondering who will be my grandchildren’s pastor! “Next Gen” is the intentional development of the next leaders of the movement. The Most Rev Miguel Uchôa Calvacanti and the Rt. Rev.Stewart Ruch have already been appointed to begin this ministry. 

3. GAFCON Youth

In many African, Asian, or South American nations the vast majority of the population is below 35 years of age.In Nigeria out of 200ml people, 120ml are under 30years of age and 80ml are under 20yrs.  That generation needs to be guided, nurtured, trained and established on a firm foundation because these youths are the foundation of our society.  There is therefore an urgent need to involve our youth in all aspects of the church’s life and ministry.  The opportunity must be grasped now, before it is too late – before the youth are exploited negatively. By the way… the young generation are a world wide movement powered by the android phones. You could be with your children at home but they are receiving satanic teachings on any subject from any part of the world. The need for the saving gospel to our children is NOW!!!

4. GAFCON Women

Our ministry as leaders within the church must have a solid and secure base in our home and family. It should not be thought, however, that the role of women is limited to the home.  Women, as individuals and as groups. have a vital role to play in the church and in the society.  This network, led by Dr.(Mrs.) Gloria Kwashi, is already doing serious work and they are raising their funds through the production and sale of a beautiful blue GAFCON wrapper. They are the backbone of all mission enterprise involving hospitality, rescue missions, family counselling, protection of vulnerable and orphan children, behind the scenes “silent ministry” and evangelism to the rural and poor communities an so much that women are leading always in the front row.

5. GAFCON Mercy Ministries

We need to begin a central approach to dealing with the world’s natural and man-made disasters.  In many ways this arm of our movement and mission is our “public face” and our witness hangs here in large part – especially to the non-Christian world.  

6. Bishops’ Training

The Bishop’s Training will focus on understanding further what the gospel is, how it relates to the Reformation tradition and how we are to implement this today in our own various areas of service. The Bishops can then train their clergy and dioceses on how to implement and fulfil this call.

7. Primates

Primates are encouraged to engage in inter-provincial official visits so that all can listen to and learn from each other.

The Strategic Focus is a guide for each province to adapt and implement as a compass for our common ministry and missions.  We are called to proclaim Christ faithfully to the nations.


It is my sincere hope and prayer that this week we shall grow in mutual love and understanding, and become a renewed beacon of light shining brightly, and urgently spreading to all the corners of the world with a revival fire whose fuel is the Primacy of the Scriptures, the Power of the Gospel and the Priority of Mission.

++The Most Rev. Dr. Benjamin A. Kwashi

GAFCON General Secretary

April 2023

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