The Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (GSFA) is a recognised grouping within the  Anglican Communion which includes some 75% of Anglicans worldwide and traces its origins to the  first ‘South to South’ Encounter in Kenya in 1994. Since then, regular ‘Encounter’ gatherings have  brought the voice of Global South to the wider Anglican Communion and next week, 11th-15th June, a  group of 200 leaders is being gathered by the GSFA in Egypt as its ‘1st Assembly’ under a new  Covenantal structure. 

The Assembly will meet in the context of the rapid growth of Anglican Churches of the Majority  World, in contrast to the Western Churches which, on the whole, have been unable to resist a  cultural drift away from orthodox Christianity. 

In 2019, meeting in Cairo, the GSFA recognised that the time had come to offer the whole  Communion a new global structure of more representative leadership to enable a clear, united and  confident witness to Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour and agreed what has become known as the  ‘Cairo Covenant’. 

This is a voluntary covenanted commitment to shared (‘conciliar’) leadership involving bishops,  clergy and laity from each member Province (a regional or national Anglican Church) of the Anglican  Communion. Although each Province is legally autonomous, the Covenant recognises that loyalty to  the authority of Holy Scripture requires mutual dependence and discernment. It is the failure to  recognise this mutuality that has led to a deep tear in the fabric of the Communion over the past  twenty years as a minority of Provinces have pushed ahead with various forms of approval for same  sex unions without regard for the common mind of the Church.  

The recent decision of the Church of England, the ‘Mother Church’ of the Communion, to approve  the blessing of same sex relationships and to then to experiment with special services celebrating  such relationships has taken this crisis to a new level. In his Ash Wednesday statementi of 2023 the  GSFA Chairman and Primate of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan, Archbishop Justin Badi, said, 

“As the Church of England has departed from the historic faith passed down from the  Apostles by this innovation in the liturgies of the Church and her pastoral practice  (contravening her own Canon A5), she has disqualified herself from leading the Communion  as the historic “Mother” Church. Indeed, the Church of England has chosen to break  communion with those provinces who remain faithful to the historic biblical faith expressed  in the Anglican formularies (the 39 Articles, the Book of Common Prayer, the Ordinal and the  Book of Homilies) and applied to the matter of marriage and sexuality in Lambeth Resolution  1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference.”

Equipped with the Cairo Covenant, the GSFA has a robust structure to meet the challenges of a  rapidly changing world and Communion. Archbishop Samy Shehata, Assembly host and Primate of  the Anglican Province of Alexandria, commented, 

“GSFA is not just about new Communion structures. The motto verse of our Assembly is  Isaiah 49:6 ‘I will make you a light to the nations’. We are determined to free our beloved  Communion to take the gospel to the nations, to build one another up in our faith and to  foster true unity.” 

In addition to electing representatives from amongst the delegates (bishops, clergy and laity) to  serve as office bearers and members of the governing bodies of the GSFA, the Assembly will also  refresh and relaunch the GSFA’s three ministry tracks which will be the focus of the GSFA’s work  following the Assembly: Mission Partnerships, Economic Empowerment and Leadership & Ministerial  Formation. 

The venue for the Assembly is the Coptic Orthodox monastery of St Mark, Khatatba. Each day will  begin with Morning Prayer and Bible Study led by a Primate followed by plenary sessions on topics  such as Evangelism and Mission Partnership (Archbishop Tito Zavala, Chile), Biblical Anthropology  and Human Sexuality (Dr Sam Ferguson, Anglican Church of North America) and Economic  Empowerment (Mr Keith Chua, Singapore). Time will also be given to news from the constituent  Provinces (there are 11 full covenanted members so far) and in the afternoons the programme will  focus on eight optional workshops. Each day will close with Evening Prayer and a Communique will  be released at the close of the Assembly.