The Sixth Global South Anglican Conference took place in Cairo, Egypt from 3rd through 8th October, 2016. The theme for this encounter was: “…found faithful.” Primates, Bishops and representatives of Anglicans in the Global South reflected on mission. They deplored the departure of some western churches from traditional and biblical norms on homosexuality and called for discipline to bring Anglican churches back into relationship with each other. Below we publish excerpts from their message to the worldwide Anglican Communion.
7 October 2016
God places in our hearts the resolve to be part of his mighty work in our generation. He is merciful to us and has answered our prayers in ways and in circumstances that far exceed our expectation. We have witnessed the gracious and powerful breaking in of the Holy Spirit in the present time. We recall with joy the many ways that God has revived our Churches through his light-shedding holy Word and fresh-anointing of his Spirit. He makes us able to take up responsibilities and initiatives for mission. He uses us to contend together in the face of false teaching for the faith that was once delivered to the saints (Jude 3).
The initial forms of partnership that have emerged among us – in mission and evangelism, in economic empowerment and in theological education – have helped to give us a shared life and a shared history, and we are desiring for more. We celebrate the great things he has done. The Lord is good, and his love endures forever (Psalm 107:1).
God has also led us in this journey to respond with compassion to the brokenness in the present-day world. We live in a time of great human suffering, deprivation and dislocation. We see this brokenness in the faces of the oppressed, the persecuted, victims of human trafficking, the refugees, the internally-displaced persons, persons with disabilities, the poor, the hungry, the sick, the homeless, victims of HIV/AIDS, aduts and children whose lives are violently shattered by wars, terrorist attacks and conflicts. The suffering in many parts of the world today compels us to respond more deeply in Christ’s name to extend the Kingdom of God – the righteous, just and compassionate rule of God – in all corners of the world (Micah 6.8).
The risen Christ gives us his peace in the midst of crisis, a peace to be shared with the world. He opens our eyes and inflames our hearts with love, so that we can interpret life in the light of his holy Word. We ask God to continue to use our Churches to serve the human needs that are all around us.
But the great need of the world is for the bread of life, Jesus Christ himself. We need to proclaim the gospel faithfully and plant Christian communities amongst the unreached. To do this, we need to build strong and vibrant parishes that are committed to orderly and regular teaching as well as intentional disciple-making.
Extending God’s kingdom in the world includes shining the light of His rule winsomely. This involves personal and communal holiness and doing good works in the society. We are redeemed to be remade in the image of God and therefore to grow in godliness, integrity and holiness. We acknowledge our own brokenness before God.
Christian witness in the public square on ethical issues is a vital way of helping society to keep to God’s patterns and intentions for the world. God’s people must give society a prophetic picture of a future to aim for, one that is freed from economic driven-ness and social oppression to justice, freedom and compassion.
Drawing from our heritage
At this conference, we drank deeply from the rich Christian heritage in Egypt and North Africa. We reflected on the history of the Church in Carthage (now Tunis) and were reminded of the realities of suffering in the Church and in particular, Egypt and North Africa. Carthage calls us as Anglicans to focus on the cost of discipleship and to live faithfully and uncomfortably for Christ in a world dislocated from God. Carthage also reminds us of the historic role of bishops who were confident of their authority to order the Church and at the same time, how divisions can weaken her.
We also looked at the theme, “How Africa shaped the Christian mind.” We were led on a journey to walk together with an array of saints, bishops and monks and rediscovered the rich Christian heritage in Egypt and North Africa. This region was in fact the crucible of spiritual and intellectual traditions that have shaped Christianity down the centuries. This lasting heritage was borne out of fidelity to the gospel and integrity of Christian life, even at the cost of suffering and martyrdom. The Church in Africa today is challenged to take up the continuing task of shaping the Christian mind.
We affirm the biblical and historic faith that our Anglican forebears have faithfully handed down to us at great cost and which continues to shape our discipleship and mission:
1. We are part of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church worshipping the one true God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We profess the faith uniquely revealed in the Holy Scriptures – the canonical books of the Old and New Testament that contain all things necessary for salvation, and set forth in the catholic creeds, which faith the Church is called upon to proclaim afresh in each generation.
2. The doctrine in our churches, as our Anglican forebears bequeathed to us, is grounded in the Holy Scriptures and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures. In particular such doctrine is to be found in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer 1662 and the Ordinal.
Unity in the Body
Our fidelity to this Anglican heritage also prompts us to repent of our failings in keeping the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace in God’s household. We recognise that division and dislocation amongst orthodox Anglicans have arisen during the disputes on human sexuality. We repent of our failings to share with one another more sacrificially across ethnic, national and economic divides in the Global South. We confess that our disunity makes us less able to be an effective sign of God’s kingdom in the world…
Clarity in the Gospel we proclaim
We recall our Anglican heritage not merely with nostalgic interest. Rather, its doctrinal and liturgical framework continues actively to shape our Christian life, and bind Anglicans worldwide together as one people with a mutually recognisable ecclesial identity. This enables us to discern the movement of the Spirit, and strive together as one for the faith of the gospel against false teachings in our time. That is, it gives us the lens through which we can see the world as Jesus would see it, and follow him as he would call us.
This heritage speaks with special emphases to the powerful post-modern values and revisionist approaches that are creeping into the Church in the present time. Authorisation of liturgies and making pastoral provisions for blessing of civil unions of same-sex couples and blessing or solemnising of same-sex marriage are clear departure from the historic understanding of Anglican faith and order. On the same basis, the consecration of bishops, ordination of priests and making of deacons who live in same-sex union makes a fundamental break from the teaching on marriage in our Anglican heritage. Churches that condone these practices are severing themselves from their own spiritual roots.
We are grieved by those provinces and dioceses whose actions violate clear teaching of Scripture in Lambeth Conference 1998 Resolution 1.10; they also ignored the recommendations of the Windsor Report (2004) as well as subsequent Primates Communiqué/Statements that have placed a moratorium on the consecration of homosexual bishops in same-sex unions and the authorisation and implementation of public rites for the blessing of same-sex unions. By departing from the historic faith and order of God’s people, they also undermine their moral witness to their own societies, and cause huge confusion among the Anglican faithful in our Churches in this globalising world.
“Out of Egypt I called my son” (Hosea 11:1). We are resolved, as a renewed Global South body, to go forth, following Jesus, to bring the light of the Gospel to the ends of the earth, through the Spirit’s power and for the Father’s glory.
“But one thing I (we) do; forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I (we) press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”(Philippians 3:13-14)