Chairman’s March 2018 letter
6th March 2018
Archbishop Nicholas Okoh
To the Faithful of the Gafcon movement and friends from Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria and Chairman, the Gafcon Primates Council.
‘So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.’
My dear people of God,
In these words of the Apostle Paul, we have a wonderful description of what it means to be truly ‘in communion’. As Anglicans, we are members of a global fellowship and our fellow citizens are men, women and children from every race, tribe, nation and social background. As people who belong to Jesus Christ, purchased by his shed blood, we have an identity that transcends all others and will last into eternity.
That is why it is so important that we, as disciples of Jesus, maintain the integrity and disciplines of the household of God. The Gafcon movement came into being nearly ten years ago because godly leaders recognised that the Anglican Communion was being divided by leaders who rejected the authority of the Bible, denied the uniqueness of Jesus and promoted patterns of life which defy Scripture and reject the pattern of creation.
These divisions are deepening and will not be healed by the techniques of the corporate world. They are spiritual problems which need spiritual solutions and the first step is repentance, which requires that the unchanging truth of God’s Word is clearly taught and acted upon. This is what we have sought to do in Gafcon and where there is no repentance, there must be realignment. This involves new jurisdictions coming into being where necessary, such as the Anglican Church of North America, and changing patterns of relationship, both within and beyond the Gafcon movement.
For example, I commend the recent decision of the Provincial Synod of South East Asia to both declare itself in broken fellowship with the Scottish Episcopal Church in the light of its adoption of same sex ‘marriage’ and to recognise the Anglican Church of North America as a full Anglican Province.
As this realignment proceeds, how can orthodox Anglicans live together as a global fellowship which truly expresses the wonderful unity in diversity of being the household of God? While the traditional global institutions have clearly failed to maintain the integrity and unity of Anglican witness, our five yearly global conferences have been inspirational experiences and we have a Primates Council to provide spiritual leadership.
However, we realise that our global structures need greater depth to meet the present challenges and the Gafcon Primates have therefore authorised the formation of an advisory council, to be know as the Gafcon Panel of Assistance, to which each Gafcon aligned Province and Gafcon Branch will send three representatives, a bishop, a member of the clergy and a member of the laity. Regional meetings in preparation for the first plenary meeting of the Panel of Assistance in Jerusalem are already underway. Representatives for the Americas met in Chile last month and there will be meetings in Sydney, Kenya and England this month.
The cultural diversity of the Anglican Communion is not itself a problem. It has only become a problem because some have substituted the morality of their secular culture for biblical morality, but when Anglicans come together as the global ‘household of God’ in a shared commitment to the unchanging gospel, which for us is set out in the Jerusalem Statement and Declaration, we can help and guide one another in the task of fashioning a faithful witness which is appropriate to our settings without being compromised.
Our global fellowship must also be one of prayer. I congratulate and commend to you prayers the Bishop of Tanga, Maimbo Mndolwa, chosen as the next Primate of Tanzania, and also ask you to pray urgently for the safe release of the 110 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram last week from a school in Dapchi, a town in northeastern Nigeria. Many of the 276 girls abducted in a similar attack in 2014 are still held. May God comfort the broken-hearted and bring release to the captives.
The Most Rev’d Nicholas D. Okoh
Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria and Chairman, the Gafcon Primates Council