Chairman’s 2023 Christmas Message and Year-end Review

“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness,  to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him.”
John 1:6-7

To be a faithful witness to the light of Jesus Christ is GSFA’s self-identity under God.  

The work of a person who is a witness is to establish the truth beyond a reasonable  doubt. May all of us continue to be strong witnesses of the God who has revealed  Himself in the holy scriptures. John the Baptist was the faithful witness and the voice  in the wilderness who announced the coming of Jesus Christ, the King of Kings who  rules and defends us, and restrains and conquers all of his and our enemies. 

In the week when we are about to celebrate our Lord’s incarnation, let us resolve to be like Him by giving ourselves sacrificially in service to those in need. Let us all resolve to share what God has given us with the poor, the suffering, the destitute as well as with all our fellow men and women who have yet to confess Jesus as Saviour & Lord.

The Year in Review  

In many ways, 2023 was a momentous year for GSFA. The Lord gave us three special  blessings:  

1. Courage to stand for the truth

We thank God for the luminosity and the courage He gave to the primatial  leadership of GSFA to stand for the truth by issuing the GSFA Ash Wednesday Statement. The Statement declared that by taking this action, which followed  closely on several revisionist-leaning actions by Canterbury since Lambeth 2022,  the Archbishop of Canterbury had forfeited his role as primus inter pares (“first  among equals”) of the Communion.  

The Ash Wednesday Statement emphasised that despite this departure from the ‘faith once for all delivered’ by the founding Province of our Communion, GSFA is not abandoning the ship. We are not leaving the historic Anglican Communion. We are stewards of all the good gifts the Lord has given our Communion through the centuries. We are therefore prepared, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to help re-set the Communion on its biblical foundation and continue our common life as God’s faithful people, rooted in the Word of God and expressed in common worship, distinctive liturgical formation, mutual care and accountability, and collective mission and ministry.

Events that have unfolded since the February 2023 Church of England General  Synod Resolution, including prayers of blessing for a same sex couple for the first  time on 17th December confirm GSFA’s reading of the situation and the timeliness  of our response. A similarly dangerous innovation in pastoral practice on same sex  blessings just announced by the Roman Catholic Church only serves to underline  the depth of the spiritual crisis. 

2. Love to build unity with other orthodox leaders

Looking back, I am grateful to God that He was pleased to use the Ash Wednesday  Statement as a catalyst for unity. GSFA was privileged to host the gathering of  Anglican Orthodox Leaders (AOL) in Cairo from 17th-19th October 2023 in which  a total of 13 orthodox Primates participated, and they were joined by 10 Anglican  leaders who were invited as Observers.  

The purpose of the meeting was to consult and to develop a collective response to what it means to be a faithful Church in these unprecedented times. What emerged was a commitment to stand together for the truth of God’s word and to work together to take the gospel out to a needy and pain-ridden world (AOL Communique). This wider circle of Anglican primates recognised the viability of the GSFA Covenantal Structure as a locus of unity for the orthodox in the  Communion which enables the full flowering of communion life. Importantly also, the Primates at AOL pledged that they would stand with orthodox Anglicans in revisionist and revisionist-leaning provinces.

3. Joy in God’s provision for the work of GSFA

We marvel at God’s faithfulness in not only providing the human resources for the  work of GSFA but in granting us in 2023 an operational centre in Cairo for our  growing ministry. We are especially grateful to Archbishop Samy Shehata of the  Province of Alexandria for the provision of a beautiful office space in the All  Saints’ Cathedral compound in Cairo. The opening of the Centre on 20 October  2023 captures the joy of this great step forward in our life and mission. 

Plans for the coming year  

GSFA plans to start the new year by conducting a Bishops Formation Retreat for  new bishops and their wives in Uganda in February 2024. 

We are getting ready for our first GSFA Assembly from 11th – 15th June 2024 in  Egypt. Please be in prayer for this Assembly that it might be a time of spiritual  refreshing and growing momentum. May we be like John the Baptist, fearless in the  declaration of God’s truth and preparing the hearts of many to be faithful disciples of  Christ. To our God and King be all majesty, power, authority, honour and glory,  world without end. 

I take this opportunity to wish you all the joy of Christmas and the blessings of the  newborn King and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen 

The Most Rev Dr Justin Badi Arama 
Primate of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and 
Chair of GSFA

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