Apr 17, 2023 by

The face of Anglicanism now resides in the Global South

By David W. Virtue in Kigali
April 17, 2023

The contrast could not be more obvious.

Here in Kigali, 1300 joyful, gospel driven evangelical Anglican delegates from 53 countries have arrived expectantly, hopeful about the future of Anglicanism in the world. They have come from the four corners of the earth to uphold and spread the faith held for two millennia by faithful Christians everywhere. By contrast, Lambeth was a joyless experience. Normally jubilant Africans were cowed by talk of climate change, management systems, and dreary Lambeth Calls exciting no one and nothing.

GAFCON is overwhelmingly African, (black) exuberant, youthful and the future face of Anglicanism. The largest delegations are from Nigeria, Uganda and North America (including Mexico and Canada). All of the members of the GAFCON Primates’ Council will be attending, and most of the Primates of the Global South Fellowship of Churches will be in attendance, VOL was told.

If you want to know how the Anglican communion is playing out and watch as its future unfolds, GAFCON is the place to be. Christianity first arrived in North Africa, in the 1st or early 2nd century AD. The Christian communities in North Africa were among the earliest in the world. Legend has it that Christianity was brought from Jerusalem to Alexandria on the Egyptian coast by Mark, one of the four evangelists, in 60 AD.

Since antiquity, Africa had been a continent largely involved in indigenous religious practices. But with the advent of Christianity, the continent experienced rapid growth of the faith and over the centuries it has become the continent with the largest Christian population in the world.

According to updated data for 2021, there are now nearly 685 million Christians in Africa, with 760 million expected by 2025. This surpasses earlier estimates of 630 million to 700 million for 2025: “By 2025, that number is expected to nearly double, to somewhere between 630 and 700 million believers.”

Anglicanism is at its most vibrant here in Africa. It is not uncommon to have six-hour Sunday morning church services and midweek revivals and Bible studies.

All this growth is occurring while Christianity in the West is rapidly dying, It is being killed off by secularism, rationalism, materialism, cultural shifts, changing sexual attitudes, modernity, a woke culture and, above all, a loss of theological nerve by mainline denominations who are not willing to stand up for ‘the faith once for all delivered to the saints.’

The theological and ecclesiastical world has shifted and changed. Even as Nones, people without religion, rise in the west, the faith today is stronger in China than America, despite a regime implacably opposed to Christianity. (There are an estimated 115 million evangelical Christians in China. Wheaton College’s Institute for the Study of American evangelicals estimates 90 to 100 million evangelicals in the US.)

The Christian Faith is growing the fastest globally where it faces persecution.

Nigeria saw the highest number of Christians killed for their faith than any other country on earth. Christian communities in the Middle Belt of Nigeria have effectively suffered a twenty-year long genocide. In 2021, at least 5,898 Christians paid the ultimate cost for following Jesus, almost 80% of whom come from Nigeria, reports Open Doors.

Despite this, the theologically strongest, largest Anglican province in the Communion is the Anglican Church of Nigeria. They, along with nearly all their African brethren oppose any change to the Biblical view on human sexuality, timeless theological positions now questioned by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Church of England.

Anglicanism faces internal revolt. The Global South is slowly separating itself from the Global North, along with its progressive Christian faith that is processing itself right over the theological, spiritual, and moral cliff over pansexuality.

Dean Chuck Collins noted in his analysis of global Anglicanism, “OUR FUTURE IS GAFCON, NOT THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY.” He made a declarative statement that rings truer which each passing month, especially considering a compromising sexuality report, Living in Love and Faith (LLF) that is tearing the Church of England apart, and causing heartburn to Global South Anglicans.

Tish Harrison Warren writing in the New York Times, notes that the global transformation of Christianity is already here. She writes; “The last century has seen a near-complete reversal of the global demographics of Christianity. Currently, the fastest growing Christian communities are in the ‘majority world’ — the term I use for non-Western countries that make up most of the world’s population.” You can read her piece here:

In his book “The Unexpected Christian Century,” Scott Sunquist notes that in 1900, about 80 percent of the world’s Christian population lived in the Western world and about 20 percent in the majority world. By 2000, only 37 percent lived in the Western world, and nearly two-thirds lived in the majority world. Sub-Saharan Africa had the most striking growth of Christianity, growing from around 9 percent Christian at the beginning of the 20th century to almost 45 percent at the end of it. There are around 685 million Christians in Africa now.”

“The face of Christianity is undergoing a fundamental transformation,” notes Sam George, the director of the Global Diaspora Institute at Wheaton College.

The theme of GAFCON IV is, “To Whom Shall We Go?” GAFCON will provide an encouraging environment filled with celebration, resources, testimonies, edifying content and experiences. “Our message is clear,” writes GAFCON chairman and ACNA Archbishop Foley Beach; “Our prayer is that GAFCON IV will be a blessing to many people as they seek to live faithfully as disciples of Christ to the glory of God.”

Archbishop Beach highlighted three themes of GAFCON: repentance, reform and renewal. “We need to get back to the Bible and Scripture and share what it means to be an Anglican Christian in today’s world.”

The next five days could well determine the future face of Anglicanism. One thing is for sure, that future will not be emanating from Canterbury or the Instruments of Communion and its current occupant in Lambeth Palace.

Read Virtueonline here

Related Posts


Share This