Spreading the Gospel in Rwanda
Something I didn’t know (but probably should have) when I arrived in Rwanda was that it is known as the land of a thousand hills and a thousand smiles. The loveliness of both the topography and the people struck me immediately.
Godfrey Karema and the Dufatanye Organization
I was visiting Rwanda to represent the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina as one of its clergy delegates to the 2023 GAFCON (Global Anglican Future Conference), held April 17–21 in the capital city of Kigali. However, since I arrived an extra day early, I was able to take a day trip to visit one of St. Philip’s own world mission partners, Godfrey Karema and the Dufatanye Organization. The DO began in 2003 with a vision to spread the good news of Jesus and care for those whose lives have been affected by the genocide, HIV/AIDS, or malnutrition, and it has grown into an organization with hundreds of staff with a ministry to eight villages, each with 250 homes.
What I thought was going to be an informal tour of the facilities alone with Godfrey turned out to be a reception and a tour that I will never forget. And everything I saw––the hundreds of children who greeted me with shouts of joy and dancing, the elderly women weaving baskets on the floor, the youth-led Bible studies, the carefully planted vegetable gardens that help to feed each family, the godliness and persistent faithfulness of Godfrey himself, and so much more––showed me that it is one thing to read an article or see pictures of global poverty, but it is quite another thing to witness it firsthand. I have much to share about this life-changing experience, and I welcome you all to join me Sunday, May 28, at 9:30 a.m. in the Parish Hall to hear about it.
My three-hour ride back to Kigali took six prayer-filled hours (that’s a story for another time), but I made it back to my hotel in time to get some rest before the start of GAFCON the next day.
GAFCON and a New Season of Anglicanism
The fourth Global Anglican Future Conference brought together 1,302 delegates from 52 countries, including 315 bishops, 456 other clergy, and 531 laity. Roughly 85% of the Anglican Communion was represented for this historic occasion. Each morning began with a time of worship and a sermon from Paul’s letter to the Colossians. This letter was fitting to hear read and preached, as many of the issues addressed to the church in Colosse are just as relevant today to the current state of Anglicanism. Many Anglicans in the West have forsaken the supreme authority of the Word of God and the preeminence of Jesus Christ by becoming captive to plausible arguments and “empty philosophy and vain conceit” (Col 2:4, 8). And a commitment to true biblical unity was what GAFCON IV was all about.
What was especially helpful for me was hearing the history of the last 25 years, going back to the Lambeth Conference in 1998. This was the watershed moment when Anglicans on paper agreed to hold to scriptural teaching, but then immediately after, churches in the U.S. and England acted as if Resolution 1.10 of Lambeth 1998 were mere ink on parchment. For decades, the majority of the global Anglican Communion persistently and patiently called those who strayed from the Bible’s teaching to repentance.
Well, at GAFCON IV, the archbishops/primates of the Global South formally agreed with the Bishops represented in the GAFCON movement to reject the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury as an instrument of unity within the Anglican Communion. On Friday, April 21, the conference published the finished statement that had been in production the entire week. I encourage you to read for yourself “GAFCON’s Kigali Commitment” in its entirety (five pages), but let me highlight a few key parts.
The Failure of the Archbishop of Canterbury to Maintain True Communion: We have no confidence that the Archbishop of Canterbury nor the other Instruments of Communion led by him (the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ Meetings) are able to provide a godly way forward that will be acceptable to those who are committed to the truthfulness, clarity, sufficiency and authority of Scripture. The Instruments of Communion have failed to maintain true communion based on the Word of God and shared faith in Christ.
All four Instruments propose that the way ahead for the Anglican Communion is to learn to walk together in ‘good disagreement’. However we reject the claim that two contradictory positions can both be valid in matters affecting salvation. We cannot ‘walk together’ in good disagreement with those who have deliberately chosen to walk away from the ‘faith once for all delivered to the saints’ (Jude 3). The people of God ‘walk in his ways’, ‘walk in the truth’, and ‘walk in the light’, all of which require that we do not walk in Christian fellowship with those in darkness (Deuteronomy 8:6; 2 John 4; 1 John 1:7).
Successive Archbishops of Canterbury have failed to guard the faith by inviting bishops to Lambeth who have embraced or promoted practices contrary to Scripture. This failure of church discipline has been compounded by the current Archbishop of Canterbury who has himself welcomed the provision of liturgical resources to bless these practices contrary to Scripture. This renders his leadership role in the Anglican Communion entirely indefensible.
“Resetting” the Anglican Communion: We were delighted to be joined in Kigali by leaders of the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (GSFA) and to host a combined Gafcon-GSFA Primates meeting. Together, these Primates represent the overwhelming majority (estimated at 85%) of Anglicans worldwide.
The leadership of both groups affirmed and celebrated their complementary roles in the Anglican Communion. Gafcon is a movement focused on evangelism and mission, church planting and providing support and a home for faithful Anglicans who are pressured by or alienated from revisionist dioceses and provinces. GSFA, on the other hand, is focused on establishing doctrinally based structures within the Communion. ...
Both GSFA and Gafcon Primates share the view that, due to the departures from orthodoxy articulated above, they can no longer recognise the Archbishop of Canterbury as an Instrument of Communion, the ‘first among equals’ of the Primates. The Church of England has chosen to impair her relationship with the orthodox provinces in the Communion. ...
We welcome the GSFA’s Ash Wednesday Statement of 20 February 2023, calling for a resetting and reordering of the Communion. We applaud the invitation of the GSFA Primates to collaborate with Gafcon and other orthodox Anglican groupings to work out the shape and nature of our common life together and how we are to maintain the priority of proclaiming the gospel and making disciples of all nations.
Resetting the Communion is an urgent matter. It needs an adequate and robust foundation that addresses the legal and constitutional complexities in various Provinces. The goal is that orthodox Anglicans worldwide will have a clear identity, a global ‘spiritual home’ of which they can be proud, and a strong leadership structure that gives them stability and direction as Global Anglicans. We therefore commit to pray that God will guide this process of resetting, and that Gafcon and GSFA will keep in step with the Spirit.
What Lies Ahead: In order to pursue these priorities and to grow the work of the Gafcon movement, we endorsed the establishment of a foundation endowment. We also encouraged the Gafcon provinces to become financially self-sufficient, not only to advance mission but also to avoid being vulnerable to economic manipulation.
Most importantly of all, we commit ourselves afresh to the gospel mission of proclaiming the crucified, risen and ascended Christ, calling on all to acknowledge him as Lord in repentance and faith, and living out a joyful, faithful obedience to his Word in all areas of our lives. We will explore fresh ways to encourage each other, to pray for one another and to hold each other accountable in these things.
Join me in praying for our beloved Anglican Communion as the sun has risen on the dawn of a new era within it. We pray for biblical fidelity and the good news of Jesus Christ to be boldly proclaimed in every corner of the Earth and that Jesus would indeed draw all men to Himself. There is much to be done but so much we can rejoice in and be proud of as Anglicans who are committed to the Bible’s authority and place in our lives and to the Church for whom Christ laid down His life.
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