Chairman's Opening Address to the GSFA First Assembly (Egypt, 11 - 15 June 2024)

“I will make you as a light for the nations’’
(Isaiah 49:6b)

Welcome & Greetings

My Dear Fellow Primates and Moderators, Leaders of the Coptic Orthodox Church, China Christian Council Chair, Bishops, all Provincial delegates, Delegates from different Church groupings, Mission Partners, Invited guests, Ladies and gentlemen.

On behalf of the Global South Steering Committee, I warmly welcome all of you to this first Global South Assembly under the Covenantal Structure, here in Egypt. Special welcome to our brother the new Primate of South East Asia, the Most Rev Dr Titus Chung in to this fellowship.

We are grateful to the Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Tawadros II, and his people for warmly extending to us the use of this beautiful Retreat Centre. Their hospitality and love remind us of the unity we can have in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Let me acknowledge the presence of former Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Archbishop Robert Duncan and our father Dr Mouneer Anis who have made a significant contribution to the life of Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches. Thank you.

Brothers & sisters, we have chosen to hold this Assembly here in Egypt because this is, so to speak, the ‘centre’ of the world. It is the place of the ancient historical sites recorded in the Old Testament. It was a place of refuge to the blessed Mary with the baby Jesus. We thank the Province of Alexandrea for allowing us come to Egypt. As Hosea 11:1 reminds us:

“Out of Egypt, I have called My Son.” Furthermore, we are meeting in the desert which was where our Lord himself received his final preparation before launching his public ministry. This Retreat Centre is therefore a fitting venue because GSFA is seeking to follow in the footsteps of God’s faithful Son.

Committed to Biblical Truth

The Global South first started as a regional grouping of Anglican Provinces that was largely south of the equator. Its first meeting, known as the 1st Trumpet, was in 1994 in Nairobi, Kenya. Their stand for orthodoxy in the Communion led them to issue the South-South Kuala Lumpur Statement 1997 which fed into the historic 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10. But this has never been taken seriously by the revisionist Provinces.

In 2016, the Global South appointed a study team to find ways of addressing the problem of an ecclesial deficit in the life and structure of the Communion, a problem identified in 2008 by the Communion’s Windsor Continuation Group. The team drafted a Covenantal Structure which was adopted in 2019 by the 7th Global South Conference in Cairo. It was agreed that the basis of membership in the Global South fellowship would change from geography to doctrine and acceptance of the Covenantal Structure by the Province’s Synod or Standing Committee. Provinces who join the fellowship covenant with each other to stay faithful to the plain and canonical teaching of God’s word and to be mutually accountable to each other in matters of Faith & Order.

The Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (GSFA for short) now becomes a home to all orthodox Anglicans within the Anglican Communion. I am happy to let you know that in this Assembly we have 200 participants coming from 40 countries around the world. They represent the ‘holy remnant’ in the Communion. They hold fast to God’s word as ‘the faith once delivered’ (Jude 3) and seek to obey it in their lives. They are those who have resisted bowing to the demands of revisionism. They have committed themselves to proclaim and live out the authentic gospel truth.

Again, I say to all of you who have decided to remain faithful to the historic biblical faith expressed in the Anglican formularies (the 39 articles, the Book of Common Prayer, the Ordinal and the Book of Homilies) and applied to the matter of marriage and sexuality in Lambeth Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference, welcome to GSFA as a home of Orthodoxy.

Though Canterbury says “let us walk together, listen to each other and have a good disagreement”, the GSFA Primates & I say to you that “we cannot walk together in sin, …unless there is repentance by those who have gone astray, we cannot have unity at the expense of God’s life-giving truth.”

In this Assembly which is the 9th Trumpet of the Global South, we will blow the Trumpet together to remind, to warn, and to gather the faithful remnant across the Anglican Communion in mission for the authentic gospel.

Committed to Global Mission

The theme for this Assembly comes from the Old Testament book of Isaiah 49:6b which says: ‘’I will make you as a light for the nations’’ This was a prophecy about the role of Israel not only to be the people of God under His rule, but Israel chosen to be “a light to the nations, so that God’s salvation may reach to the end of the earth”

It is my prayer that from this Assembly, each one of us will carry the light of the gospel truth to the world. Indeed, the world is in an extremely grave position. Suffering, injustice, conflict and chaos spread like wild fire. It may not be too much to say that Satan has released the forces of ‘evil’ on the world in every realm: the physical, social, moral and spiritual realms. It is sad to see the ongoing flux and confusion in our beloved Communion: the concerted movement towards revisionism which is now openly accommodated by some provinces.

It is also sad to hear and see the increased hostility and persecution of Christians in so many parts of the world. But our God is never late. As we pray and work for His renewing kingdom, He will even harness the work of the forces of evil to achieve His salvation purposes. In the midst of the darkness, the glory of the Lord will shine on His people; and through His people that light will bring life and hope to all who call on the Lord. The nations will see and experience the salvation that only God can bring.

In this Assembly, we will activate and discuss how to sustain the three TRACKS which will enable the GSFA to move together in Mission Partnership, Economic Empowerment, and Ministerial & Leadership Formation in all Orthodox provinces. There is room here for the active participation of our Mission Partners. This will enable us to take the Gospel out to a lost and needy world, and to care for one another in the GSFA family in a consistent way as there is so much hardship and conflict in several of our provinces.

Committed to our historic Communion.

All those who are committed to preserving the historic Anglican doctrine and teachings are the true Anglicans. We respect and relate to the seat of St Augustin. It is always our prayer that the person who sits on that seat will always be faithful to the faith we once received from the Saints and faithfully transmitted.

Currently, the Communion and the world need the witness of a holy remnant. The Global South demonstrated the spirit of a holy remnant at the Lambeth conference of 2022 by refusing to share Holy Communion with the revisionist Bishops. We will continue to stand strong and never compromise the truth for a unity that condones sin. We deeply lament the current situation in the Church of England and in revisionist Provinces. We pray that they will “come out from Babylon” (Isaiah 48: 20) and return to obeying God’s word. In the meantime, GSFA will continue to explore how best to support Orthodox Churches in these Provinces.

In this Assembly, we will look further to how we can fulfil our responsibility to the wider Communion from which historically we have received a good inheritance in the faith. In our Ash Wednesday (20 February 2023) statement, we made it clear that we will not walk away from the Communion that has so richly blessed us and for whose faithfulness to God and His word our forebears have paid a costly price. What has happened in the Church of England has only served to strengthen our resolve to work together to re-set the Communion. We will collaborate with other orthodox groupings to ensure that the re-set Communion is marked by reform and renewal. Only then will the Anglican Church as a whole be able to be God’s channel of light and transformation in a dark and broken world.

The Purpose of this Assembly

The purpose of our gathering here as a holy remnant from around the world is to recharge ourselves in order to shine more brightly for God in a darkening world. As the redeemed people of God, we have been commissioned to go out to help those who are floundering in the darkness of sin and guide them towards the light of God’s healing and saving power in Christ Jesus. The power to achieve this will only come through prayer.

The objectives of our Assembly are:

  1. To worship the Lord and receive new strength through prayer, Word & the Spirit.
  2. To mobilise and encourage ourselves as orthodox Anglicans to defend, live out and proclaim the gospel.
  3. To prayerfully choose office-bearers according to the Covenantal Structure to lead the work of GSFA.

Notice that the first objective is to be a PRAYING fellowship, one that draws strength from God’s word and God’s Spirit. That is because the power to fulfil God’s calling comes from God Himself. As the GSFA family, we will need to find ways in which we can follow the example of the early church where “all of them devoted themselves to prayer” (Acts 1:14). Let this renewed prayerfulness begin at this Assembly.

My dear brothers and sisters, let us assemble then to humbly repent of our own failings before God, to seek His face afresh, and to renew the covenant we are making with Him and with each other. May these days of the Assembly be a time of friendship and devotion, a time to offer our churches and groupings afresh to God, and to connect together as a global body of faithful Anglicans to advance His glorious kingdom in the world.

With this, I declare the Assembly open and may God bless our time together.

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

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