GAFCON Primates Council release the Nairobi Communique

Primates’ Council Communiqué
April 22, 2016 – Nairobi, Kenya

We the Primates of the Global Anglican Future Conference met in Nairobi, Kenya from April 18-21, 2016. We give thanks for the gracious hospitality of the Anglican Church of Kenya, their Primate, the Most Rev. Eliud Wabukala, and All Saints Cathedral Diocese. As the location for GAFCON 2013, All Saints holds a special place in our history and in our hearts, and we have been encouraged to be here again.

We began our meeting with prayer and a Bible study that focused on Mark 2:1-12. In this passage, the Scriptures retell the story of a man who could not walk, but was assisted by friends who helped bring him to Jesus. Unable to get their friend through the front door, they loved him enough to find another way.

It is a story about the grace of God at work both in the power of fellowship and the merciful love of Jesus. We ourselves have received His forgiveness, and because He first loved us, we are passionate about doing all that we can to bring others into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. We met this week to find practical ways of removing obstacles so that all those who need healing can be brought close to Jesus, be forgiven of their sins, and walk again.

Mission and Discipleship
GAFCON works to guard and proclaim the unchanging, transforming Gospel through biblically faithful preaching, teaching, and programs which free our churches to make disciples by clear and certain witness to Jesus Christ in all the world.
This week we made progress on a wide variety of initiatives to build up the body of Christ. We planned for GAFCON 2018, approved a program that will facilitate bishops’ training, received good news from our provinces and branches, added staff to further the ministry, and made a transition in Primatial leadership. We have also paid careful attention to the facts that have arisen from the Anglican Consultative Council’s meeting in Lusaka.

As a global family we are continuing to make preparations for GAFCON 2018. This will be the third conference since our founding, and the ten year anniversary of the Jerusalem Declaration. The GAFCON movement uniquely draws together the majority of the world’s Anglicans, both clergy and laity, into one proportional and representative body.

We are excited to gather for worship that represents the breadth of the Anglican Communion, as we come together under the authority of the Bible. The conference will provide teaching from God’s Word, fellowship that spans continents, break-out sessions that teach on the themes of mission, discipleship, and evangelism, especially in places where persecution is rife.
It is our hope and prayer that disciples will be so inspired by the vision of the glory of God among the nations, that the Church will be revived and joyously released to spread the love of Jesus.

A coordinator has been appointed to take this work forward, a planning team is being formed, and more will be shared in the coming months.

Bishops’ Training
The Bishops’ Training Institute, launching in September 2016, will equip bishops to be men of prayer, diligent in Bible study and godliness. The inaugural class will bring together twenty new bishops from across the world. Its vision and mission is to equip today’s bishops for effective ministry by seeking the wisdom of the whole church, and especially senior bishops. It will gather, train, mentor, challenge, and sustain episcopal leadership so that today’s bishops will be empowered to live for Christ and make Him known.

We give thanks for the continued growth of GAFCON. Our meeting included representatives from ten provinces (Congo, Kenya, Myanmar, Nigeria, North America, Rwanda, South America, South Sudan & Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda) and two branches (Australia and the United Kingdom).

We also celebrated the newest branch of the movement that has been founded in New Zealand. While we were meeting in Nairobi, 500 people came together in Auckland and Christ Church, New Zealand to stand together for the truth of the Gospel. They have our full support, and we are excited to see what God will do in and through them in the years to come.

Staffing the Movement
GAFCON has demonstrated that it is a growing movement that now requires more staff to undergird its development. Mr. James Stileman has been appointed as our Operations Manager to work with the General Secretary, the Most Rev. Peter Jensen, in growing GAFCON’s capacity to serve the movement. The Rev. Canon Charles Raven is heading a new office of Membership Development, and will be working to increase and strengthen GAFCON’s branches and provinces. Ms. Tina de Souza has joined us to head our Communications Department, and she has overseen the development of our website and overall communications strategy. We welcome this team, and give thanks for their dedication to the cause of Christ.

We also give thanks for the wise and faithful leadership of the Most Rev. Eliud Wabukala, as his term as our Chairman comes to an end. His six years of service came at a critical time in the life of our movement, and he has put us on a good footing as we enter this next chapter of our life together.

We are excited to announce that the new chairman of the Primates’ Council is the Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, Primate of the Anglican Church of All Nigeria. He is joined in leadership by the new vice-chair, the Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali, Primate of the Anglican Church of Uganda. Archbishops Okoh and Ntagali have been deeply committed to the GAFCON movement since its founding, and are well prepared to lead.

Canterbury to Lusaka
We went to Canterbury out of a desire for unity. In our hearts we desire to see the tear in the fabric of the communion mended. The sanctions passed at that meeting were the mildest possible rebuke to only the worst of the offenders, but they were one step in the right direction. Regrettably, these sanctions have not been upheld. This is disappointing, but sadly not surprising. A more comprehensive statement appears in the appendix to this document.

This is an important time in the life of our churches. The grassroots outpouring of messages of support has shown the strength of our movement, and we are deeply thankful for the prayers of our laity and clergy over the last few months. We are a global family of authentic Anglicans standing together to retain and restore the Bible to the heart of the Anglican Communion. Please continue to pray for our global Anglican future.

Members of the Primates’ Council Present

The Anglican Church of Kenya
The Most Rev. Eliud Wabukala

Anglican Church of All Nigeria
The Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh

Anglican Church in North America
The Most Rev. Foley Beach

Province de L’Eglise Anglicane au Rwanda
The Most Rev. Onesphore Rwaje

The Anglican Church of Tanzania
The Most Rev. Jacob Chimeledya

The Church of the Province of Uganda
The Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali

Appendix: From Canterbury to Lusaka
Last January, we spent time together at the Primates Gathering contending for a restoration of godly order within the Anglican Communion. The sanctions passed at that meeting were not in themselves capable of restoring order, but they were a potential first step.

At that meeting, we acknowledged the reality of the “significant distance” between us and “expressed a desire to walk together” if possible. This distance was created when The Episcopal Church walked away from the Anglican Communion’s doctrine on sexuality and the plain teaching of Scripture.

Within hours of the meeting’s end the public responses from many bishops, clergy, and lay people of The Episcopal Church made it clear that they did not desire to share the same journey. The biblical call to repentance is a call to make a 180 degree turn. It grieves us that many in The Episcopal Church have again rejected this call. While we desire to walk together, until there is true repentance, the reality is that they are deliberately walking away from the Anglican Communion and the authority of Scripture at a distance that continues to increase.

The recent meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Lusaka, Zambia has again highlighted the inability of the current instruments to uphold godly order within the Communion. Delegates from the Episcopal Church, by their own admission, voted on matters that pertained to polity and doctrine, in defiance of the Primates. This action has damaged the standing of the Anglican Consultative Council as an instrument of unity, increased levels of distrust, and further torn the fabric of the Communion.

Nonetheless, we give thanks that these events have brought further clarity, and drawn GAFCON closer together in the mission of the Gospel. We are of one mind that the future of the Anglican Communion does not lie with manipulations, compromises, legal loopholes, or the presentation of half-truths; the future of our Communion lies in humble obedience to the truth of the Word of God written. What others have failed to do, GAFCON is doing: enabling global fellowship and godly order, united by biblical faithfulness. This unity has provided us with great energy to continue to work for the renewal of the Anglican Communion.

New Song Church builds bridges in the community

The Rev. Brent Stiller is rector of New Song Church in Port Perry, Ontario, a church in the Anglican Network in Canada.

How did you come to lead New Song Church?

In 2011, I realized I could longer remain in the Anglican Church of Canada. I relinquished my license as a diocesan priest and soon after, along with a team of committed co-workers, planted the church that would become New Song. We met first in a living room of a church member, then a school, and now in the building we call home (a renovated Odd Fellows Hall). It felt like a huge risk at the time, but not an unreasonable one. The people of New Song are such a courageous, God-dependent community. We sensed the Holy Spirit’s conviction and presence with us from the beginning, for which we are grateful!

An emphasis of New Song Church is building bridges in your local community. What led you and the congregation to make this an important focus of your life together?

I can’t imagine being part of a parish that doesn’t do that, to be honest. I think most churches try to build bridges into the community. If we believe God is already at work, which we do, it’s our job to listen and discern where and how and join in. In a community like Port Perry, which is generally a comparatively affluent community, the listening process takes a little longer. “What can we offer to this community? How can we best minister, and where?” are important questions we continue to ask ourselves. Each Sunday we pray, “Lord continue to show us what New Song’s unique mission is in the Port Perry area?” We don’t know that we have figured that out exactly, and it will probably change anyway over time, but we think we are on the right path.

Of course, one could simply react to an endless number of ministry opportunities so we’ve submitted ourselves to an “envisioning process” with an outside coach to help us become more focused in our mission values and strategic goals. We are about 80 percent finished, and I’m excited because I believe this will be very helpful to the parish, in both the short and long term. It is easy for a parish to live in a reactionary mode and we want to become focused on real ministry goals.

New Song engages with the community through the worship arts (like the David Festival), refugee resettlement programs, your art gallery, and mission trips to Honduras. How did New Song come to get involved in these types of community activities? How has the local community responded to your partnering efforts?

When we remodeled the building that is now our church, we built an art gallery space. We purchased (and invented) art hanging hardware so we could hold shows featuring the work of Christian artists in the area. We think this gives artists a great platform and reinforces the importance of the voice of the arts in the Church’s mission—something the Church has not been so good at in more recent times. I think the artists appreciate the opportunity, our congregation enjoys the changing shows, and it helps us grow in our faith as we see faith interpreted and presented through different mediums and forms. It also provides a safe space for non-Christian artists to enter the parish and engage with new friends and ideas.

With the refugee resettlement program,  that arose quite naturally out of the dire situation with Syrian refugees. We were watching the news like everyone else and hearing about Canadians sponsoring refugees. We just looked at each other and said, “Why don’t we do that?” Questions like, “What if?” and “why not?” can be great ministry starters, we have found. We held a couple of very well attended community meetings and determined there was a will to do this as a wider community. We invited other churches in and very intentionally invited non-church people to be full participants. We said publicly that we knew responding to this crisis was something many people cared about, not just Christians. It’s been a wonderful undertaking and we have almost doubled what we set out to raise. One Syrian family has arrived already, more will follow. Time will tell, but I believe the efforts of the churches has reminded people that we are here, present in the community, and that we care. We are not living in a private country club.

With the David Festival, that is a collaborative effort run by a committee of volunteers that include several New Song members. We believe in it because it encourages excellence in the worship arts, and again draws different churches together, to learn together. It’s been a great encourager of the arts. Last year New Song ran a writer’s group that met monthly as a direct result of the David Festival.

Why should the church engage in promoting and participating in the arts?

The Church used to be a patron of the arts. I think that is coming back. Art is a reflection of God, who is a creator, and created the world. The Bible is full of artisans co-creating, sculpting, writing, and doing art for the glory of God. That is why we do it. If you have ever been moved by a painting, or a song, or a poem, or an essay, or wanted to dance to a worship song, or a sonata, then you know how art can draw us closer to the Holy God. Art also provides various means by which we can express the whole array of human experience, before the only and most Holy One: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In a similar way that Christian worship can be almost disingenuous when churches remove the Psalms from corporate worship, Christians can become fragmented when the voice of the arts is absent from the life of the Christian community.  I really believe that.

Artists, particularly Christian artists I am guessing, are often isolated, even discouraged by what many call “Christian art” and sometimes face financial struggles. If the Church can help by highlighting their work and reminding them they are essential to the life of the Church, why wouldn’t we? Moreover, it is critical their voice, their gifting, is as recognized to be as valid as any other member of the body of Christ’s in mission

New Song is also building bridges to refugees. How have you seen the church impacted by helping refugees in their time of great need?

I think it has pulled us together and reminded us that we can actually come along and help those who are suffering. I think it’s been energizing and empowering for all the churches who have been involved. There has been a concert at one church, a Syrian lunch at another, and an art show at yet another (New Song). We believe that this model of working together on an issue, to help others, can be used again on a more local issue. We’ve already talked about that.

And of course, biblically we know that when we give, we also receive. We have been blessed by a sense of doing the right thing at the right time, and doing it together.

How have these engagements in the community made a difference in your own walk with Christ?

It’s been generally very encouraging. We know that faith without works is dead. These practical community engagements put our faith to work, and our faith is strengthened and grows. Something we should never forget is that all persons are made in the image of God and therefore everyone has an innate sense, nudge, urge to know their true home, which we ultimately find in Christ Jesus. As we engage with individuals in the wider community we have plenty of opportunity to discuss important and deeply human issues around need, love and mercy. These places of conversation in word and through art often become places where the Gospel can be shared in contextualized language.

One of the things I notice about the David Festival is that it seems to be a community project rather just an outreach from just New Song. Is that true?  How is partnering with other churches and organizations making a difference for sharing the Gospel in your local community?

On a very practical level, it’s a good witness to the community that churches are not in competition with each other, but serving together. And it also makes it easier to do things together. We pool our gifts and resources and create a more efficient, impactful experience. Christ prays for our unity and we are trying to practice that a little bit at a time.

Another thing that strikes me as quite interesting is how projects from New Song weave into one another, for example: the most recent Art Show is raising funds to aid in the resettlement of refugees in your community. How do you find this encourages evangelism and building bridges in your community?

There has been a nice synchronicity with the Art for Refuge show, where we invited artists in the community to create works around the theme of refuge to donate to be sold to raise to build new lives for refugee families. In many cases the artists are not Christian artists per se, but we invited everyone.

But here they have created art that will hang in a church gallery to raise funds for a cause we are all working together on. It feels perfectly right and wonderful. I don’t know how it will translate into evangelism and building bridges; these types of things are often non-formulaic. And we don’t have to worry about the end results of our projects, we can focus more on the relationships within it, and listen carefully to what is being shared.

To learn more about New Song Church, visit their website here

- By Mary Ailes, Director of Communications for the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic.

Registration is Open for the June 6-9 Church Planters Boot Camp

The four days of intensive training sessions will explore the principles and best practices needed to launch a church.

You’ll discover the answers to such questions as:

  • What does God want to do? (What is His vision for the community?
  • Who am I? (How will my gifts, skills, values and leadership style affect this ministry?
  • What am I sent to do? (What is my specific assignment in this community?
  • Who will do it with me? (How do I recruit people to fulfill God’s vision?
  • How will we do it? (What steps will we take to start a healthy church?
  • How will we evaluate our progress? (Are we accomplishing what God wants us to do?

You’ll leave the Boot Camp with:

  • A draft Launch Plan for your new church, with the major elements of your ministry defined;
  • Key strategies fleshed out;
  • Accomplishable major milestones identified; and
  • An initial time line to follow.

There are many training venues for church planters; few are sensitive to the sacramental and liturgical traditions our Anglican leaders bring to the table.

Planters are encouraged to include their spouses, if married, and key members of their launch teams in order to provide a common conceptual framework for the work they are undertaking.  Instruction in the core concepts is interspersed with team exercises to allow planters and teams to flesh out how the principles will be translated into their setting.

The Boot Camp’s training process is based on an adult learning model built on direct involvement and group interaction, mixed with lecture-based presentations. Participants are helped to think through what they need to do and how, and then begin to develop a plan that will help to guide the process.

The Church Planters Boot Camp is also beneficial for those who have recently planted churches; it helps to clarify missional strategy and discern aspects of church planting that may be overlooked.

Dates and Time
June 6-9, 2016 Sessions will run from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Planter: $350;
Planter and Spouse (without a team): $500;
Team Members: $300 for groups up to six; $50 per additional person. (Spouse may be included in the group rate.)
Boot Camp Alumni may attend for free.
Materials, lunch and snacks are included. 
Payment plans are available. Email to participate.

Register here by May 23, 2016.  Planters and Teams from the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic should use promotion code DOMABC2016.

For more information, email or .