Communique from the First Assembly of the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches

The First Assembly of the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches - GSFA 9th Trumpet, 11-15 June 2024, St Mark’s Conference Centre, El Khatatba, Egypt

“I Will Make You As A Light To The Nations” (Isaiah 49:6)

A.   Preamble

1. A total of 200 participants from across 40 nations gathered as orthodox Anglican leaders for the 1st Assembly of the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (GSFA). This is the first Assembly of the GSFA after the Global South Churches adopted a new Covenantal Structure in 2019 to bind their communion in Gospel life and witness together as a covenanted ecclesial body within the Anglican Communion. To maintain continuity with the past and remember our roots, we have chosen to recognise GSFA’s 1st Assembly as also the 9th Trumpet of Global South churches since its first gathering at Limuru, Kenya in 1994.

2. As at June 2024, 11 Provinces have become fully covenanted members of GSFA through their respective synodical processes. There are also 3 Associate Member dioceses and 14 Mission Partners comprising Anglican networks, theological colleges and mission societies. We were joined by special guests and observers. At the 1st Assembly, in total, there were 13 active Primates, 44 Bishops, 46 Clergy and 36 Lay leaders present.  

3. As an Assembly, we expressed our deep appreciation to Archbishop Samy Shehata, the Primate of Alexandria, and to the people of the Diocese of Egypt for their outstanding Middle-Eastern hospitality extended to us during our stay in Egypt.

4. We also expressed our gratitude to the government authorities of Egypt for providing us a safe environment in which to meet as well as their readiness to process travel visas where needed.

5. We were tremendously blessed that our Primates, bishops and Assembly participants had a personal audience with Pope Tawandros II, the Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church; and that Pope Tawandros II expressed keenness to build the fellowship with the GSFA as an expression of the ecumenical unity of the body of Christ.  

6. In addition to the presence of Coptic church leaders, our Assembly was wonderfully enriched by the presence of the Rev Xu Xiaohong, Chairman of National TSPM of the Protestant Churches in China and his delegation. We valued his comments about the contextual role of the church in seeking the welfare of the city or nation it is part of. He also noted how important it is to have models of the Church’s role in society in non-western countries.

7. We were encouraged  to have the General Secretary of GAFCON, Bishop Paul Donison, present at our Assembly. We recognised the important and often complementary roles that other orthodox bodies in the Communion play in contending for the truth and advancing God’s kingdom.

8. The Chairman of the Assembly Archbishop Justin Badi acknowledged the presence of Archbishop Emeritus Eliud Wabukala (retired Primate of Kenya) and Archbishop Emeritus Robert Duncan (retired Primate of Anglican Church in North America) and thanked them for their positive contribution to the Global South Churches over many years.

9. We welcomed to our gathering Bishop Anthony Poggo , the General Secretary of the Anglican Communion Office whom we had invited as an Observer.

10. The Chairman specially thanked Archbishop Emeritus Mouneer Anis (retired Archbishop of Alexandria) for his outstanding leadership role as Chairman of Global South (2012-2021), during which the Global South grouping transited to becoming  GSFA under a voluntary covenantal structure. The Assembly joined in to show Archbishop Emeritus Mouneer their warm and deep appreciation.

11. The theme of our 1st Assembly was God’s promise in Isaiah 49:6 : “I will make you as a light to the nations.” We gathered in St Mark’s Conference Centre, run by the Coptic Church in a desert region of El Khatatba, Egypt with three objectives in mind:

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

12. We were spiritually formed in the desert, a place to hear God’s heart. We were brought to a place of repentance for our own failings as well as to ask the Lord for humble boldness to serve him in a contested world. We were thankful to God for a gifted and God-fearing music team comprising both Egyptian and Ugandan worship leaders and musicians who helped us each day to enter God’s presence, while insightful expositions from St Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians helped us to gain a fresh vision of the Church in God’s eternal plan and called us once again to the high calling of God’s redeemed people. Each day, we sought God for power to take the gospel into a broken world and prayed, both in combined assembly and in small groups, for the suffering people in Congo, Myanmar, Pakistan and Sudan, and in so many different parts of the world.

B. We Renewed Our Commitment to Scripture and to the Anglican Communion

13. In the grace of God, because of our commitment to the authority of holy Scripture in its plain and canonical teaching and with guidance from historic Church councils, GSFA has become a spiritual home for all orthodox Anglicans. The GSFA Covenant of 2019 (also known as the Cairo covenant) is an historic development, a new instrument for the Anglican Communion to bring true unity in diversity which honours the supreme authority of Scripture.

14. To all 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 church’s doctrine of marriage and sexuality in Lambeth Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference, Chairman Archbishop Justin Badi had these stirring words:

“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, … (and that) unless there is repentance by those who have gone astray, we cannot have unity at the expense of God’s life-giving truth.”

15. We reiterated our commitment  in the GSFA’s Ash Wednesday Statement (2023) that we will not walk away from the Communion and its rich inheritance of biblical faith. Indeed, the Church of England’s departure from that standard has only served to strengthen our resolve to work together to reset the Communion. We also renewed our commitment, as per our Ash Wednesday Statement, to collaborate with other orthodox groupings to work towards a Communion that is marked by reform and renewal:

“With the Church of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury forfeiting their leadership role of the global Communion, GSFA Primates will expeditiously meet, consult and work with other orthodox Primates in the Anglican Church across the nations to reset the Communion on its biblical foundation. We look forward to collaborating with Primates and bishops in the GAFCON movement and other orthodox Anglican groupings to work out the shape and nature of our common life together and how we are to keep the priority of proclaiming and witnessing to the gospel of Jesus Christ …foremost in our life as God’s people.” (GSFA Ash Wednesday Statement, para 4)

16. We took practical steps to set up GSFA as a well-structured home for orthodox Anglicans worldwide by electing office bearers to the Board of the Assembly and the Primates Steering Committee by meeting in the separate houses of laity, clergy and bishops. The newly elected Primates Steering Committee from 2024 to the next Assembly (in about 3 years’ time) comprised of: Archbishop Justin Badi of South Sudan (Chairman), Archbishop Samy Shehata of Alexandria (Deputy Chairman), Archbishop Titus Chung of South East Asia (Honorary Secretary), Archbishop Stephen Kaziimba of Uganda (Honorary Treasurer), Archbishop Stephen Than of Myanmar (General member), Archbishop Titre Ande of Democratic Republic of Congo, (General member), and Archbishop Miguel Uchoa Cavalcanti of Anglican Church in Brazil, (General member).

C. We rose afresh to take God’s salvation to the nations

17. We paid special attention to the motto verse for our 1st Assembly where God says to his servant:

“he (the Lord) says:
“It is too light a thing that you should be my servant
to raise up the tribes of Jacob
and to bring back the preserved of Israel;
I will make you as a light for the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.””
Isaiah 49:6

As we heard the various plenary speakers and as we interacted with each other at the workshops, we realised that RENEWED MISSION TO A LOST WORLD is to be the defining mark of GSFA’s 1st Assembly.

18. We re-launched our three Mission & Ministry tracks, with a fresh commitment to start taking action with the Holy Spirit leading and energising us (Ezek 37:1-10). The 3 tracks are Missions Partnership, Economic Empowerment, and Leadership and Ministerial Formation.  

19. Missions Partnership: The Assembly affirmed the goal to work towards tangible mission partnerships, collaboration, and networks for the promotion of evangelism and missions, the sharing of resources and the raising up of the next-generation Anglican leaders. We were challenged to move our churches from “maintenance” to “mission” mode, and to engage in “mission from everywhere to everywhere”

20. Economic Empowerment: We again recognised the vital importance of GSFA churches becoming self-sufficient with help from more resourced orthodox Provinces and dioceses as well as Relief and Development funds. We affirmed that a key principle of successful sustained partnership is that both donor and recipient must be on equal terms with mutual respect. We re-committed ourselves to the Ethical Economic and Financial Covenant endorsed at the Global South Primates meeting in Kigali, Rwanda in September 2006

21. Leadership & Ministerial Formation: In addition to concentrating on the spiritual formation of bishops, the Track will pursue developing resources such as catechism material for the discipling of Anglicans as well as work towards obtaining accreditation for courses conducted by or recommended by the Track.  

22. Human conflict, greed and natural disasters are creating immense needs all across God’s world. We recognised that we need to do much more in ministering to these situations. We will work beyond immediate response to their needs to helping people and communities rebuild their lives to an acceptable, sustainable level. We affirm that people caught in warring situations need both mediation and the power of the gospel.

23. How do we relate the gospel to the issues of the day? At the Assembly, we focused on the issue of biblical anthropology and human sexuality. We received a better theological understanding of gender identity issues and learnt more compassionate ways to relate to persons who struggle in this area. We recognised the need to fortify people in our churches, including young children, with a biblical worldview by providing them with systematic teaching of Scripture to all ages. We rejoiced from our study of Ephesians chapter 1 that as believers we have an unshakeable identity in Christ.

D. Conclusion

24. In God’s grace, the Ordinary Members, Associate Members and Mission Partners of GSFA have met in God’s presence this past week and experienced something about God’s burning passion for the salvation of the nations. We have also tasted the joy and fruitfulness of fellowship among global brothers and sisters who share “the faith once delivered” (Jude 3) and also share in the common mission that God has entrusted to his Church.

25. With the joyful implementation of the Covenantal Structure, the GSFA offers a robust instrument to enable orthodox Anglicans to fulfil their historic vocation in a rapidly changing Communion. We have experienced the joy of diversity within the unity that the Holy Spirit gives us as we humbly receive the holy Scriptures as God’s written Word (Eph 4:1-7). We have taken to heart the motto verse of our Assembly, and we are determined to free our beloved Communion to take the gospel to the ends of the earth, to build one another up in our faith and to foster true unity.

26. While GSFA will continue to call our Communion back to the God who has spoken through the Bible, we will rise to the larger task that God has given to us: namely to make known “the gospel that saves” to the world. We will do so as a covenanted fellowship. We will care for one another and work together. GSFA churches go forth under the mighty hand of God to declare his glory among the nations!

This Statement is issued by the GSFA Primates Council:

1. Archbishop Justin Badi ( Primate of South Sudan & Chair of GSFA )
2. Archbishop Samy Shehata ( Primate of Alexandria & Vice-Chair of GSFA )
3. Archbishop Titus Chung ( Primate of South East Asia & Hon Sec of GSFA )
4. Archbishop Stephen Kaziimba ( Primate of Uganda & Hon Treasurer of GSFA )
5. Archbishop Stephen Than ( Primate of Myanmar & GSFA Steering Committee member )
6. Archbishop Titre Ande ( Primate of Congo & GSFA Steering Committee member )
7. Archbishop Miguel Uchoa Cavalcanti ( Primate of Anglican Church in Brazil & GSFA Steering Committee member )
8. Archbishop Hector (Tito) Zavala ( Primate of Chile )
9. Archbishop Foley Beach ( Primate of Anglican Church in North America )
10. Archbishop Ezekiel Kondo ( Primate of Sudan )

Issued on 18 June 2024

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