Resetting the Anglican Communion: Important Questions

May 2, 2023 by

by Canon Phil Ashey, AAC:

“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 [Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches] will keep in step with the Spirit.” – From the Gafcon 2023 Kigali Commitment

We rejoice that GAFCON and GSFA, who represent an estimated (conservatively) 85% of Anglicans worldwide, have pledged themselves to this resetting of the Communion back to its biblical, apostolic, and Anglican Reformational foundations!

At the same time, we know this resetting raises many questions:

  • The Anglican Communion, as it has been governed over the last 25+ years in particular, has been described as “the last vestige of the British Empire.” Will the Archbishop of Canterbury surrender to this process of resetting? Or will he practice the politics of “divide and conquer” that were so successful in the British Empire for so many years in maintaining colonialism?
  • The Church of Nigeria removed “communion with the See of Canterbury” from its constitution (as a definition of membership in the Communion) in 2005, thanks to the prophetic leadership of Archbishop Peter Akinola. But the amendment process still took time. How long will it take for other churches represented in GAFCON and GSFA to do the same? And how will Canterbury seek to impede or interfere with this process?
  • What will we call the “reset” of the Anglican Communion? Do we give it a new name such as “Global Anglican Communion”? Or would that renaming be a surrender of the very “reset” that leaders in GAFCON and GSFA are claiming for themselves, as authentic inheritors of true, biblically-faithful Anglicanism?

I want to commend Steve Noll’s essay below for raising another question: How do we implement this re-setting of the Anglican Communion at every level of the Church, all the way down to the local Church? How do we take the exhilaration following the Kigali Commitment, and our anticipation of the GSFA Global Assembly in Cairo May 28-31, 2024, and turn it into action?

The Board of Trustees of the American Anglican Council are meeting this week, and this is one of the questions we will be asking ourselves. How can the American Anglican Council support, promote, and implement this great re-set? Is there a concrete way for us to demonstrate our support, not only in co-laboring with Gafcon and GSFA but perhaps by some way of formal affiliation with the GSFA Covenantal Structures? Likewise, in the church we just planted on St Simons Island, GA, in our Diocese of the Carolinas, how can we communicate the historic importance of the decisions made by GAFCON and GSFA to reset the Anglican Communion?

I want to also commend to you a letter that one of our Trustees, the Very Rev. Andrew Rowell, wrote to his congregation upon his return from Kigali (see below). Dean Andrew is also Rector of Christ Church Montgomery AL, and his letter is a great example of how we as leaders can communicate the historic implications of this moment and our hope in recovering the biblically-faithful, apostolically-ordered Anglican Communion that we have labored so long to see!

Yours in Christ,

– Canon Phil Ashey

(Received by email)

Read also:  INDIGENIZING GLOBAL ANGLICANISM: The Next Step by Stephen Noll


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