To the glory of God, the Global Anglican Future Conference tagged GAFCON 3 at Jerusalem successfully ended last week Friday June 22, 2018. This all important conference is the third of its kind since its first gathering at Jerusalem in 2008, a decade ago. Between 2008 and 2018 conferences, there was the Nairobi, Kenya’s Conference in 2013. In simple historiography, GAFCON started in 2008 when Anglican Leaders who were dissatisfied with the acceptance and accommodation of ills in the global Anglican Communion, especially as it concerns the supremacy of the Gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ alone, supremacy of the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, and the clear teaching of the Holy Scriptures on human sexuality. Although the 1998 Lambeth Conference, a conference of Anglican Communion Bishops at Lambeth in the United Kingdom had resolution 1.10, stating very clearly the position of the Anglican Communion as it relates to issue of human sexuality and the Holy Scriptures; some provinces of the Communion, especially The Episcopal Church in United State of America, now known as The Episcopal Church (TEC) and the Anglican Church in Canada abused the resolution by admitting those who are in homosexual relationships into the priesthood, and particularly into the episcopate, with the consecration of an open gay, Gene Robinson in 2003. When all attempts were made to subject these erring provinces and churches to discipline and repentance were downplayed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, a majority of Church leaders within the global south and other places came together and fashioned GAFCON into being and boycotted Lambeth 2008 for GAFCON 2008 at Jerusalem. I shall give you a brief of my personal learning from GAFCON 3 in Jerusalem shortly. You can find Lambeth 1998 resolution 1:10 here [Human Sexuality – https://www.gafcon.org/jerusalem-2018/key-documents/resolution-110].
GAFCON AND ITS LEADERSHIP
The first Chairman of GAFCON Primates Council was the then Primate of All Nigeria, the Most Rev’d Dr. Peter Jasper Akinola. He chaired the first GAFCON at Jerusalem in 2008. He was succeeded by the Primate of Anglican Church of Kenya, the Most Rev’d Dr. Eliud Wabukala, who chaired the 2013 GAFCON at Nairobi, Kenya. Archbishop Wabukala was succeeded by the current Primate of All Nigeria, the Most Rev’d Dr. Nicholas D. Okoh, who chaired the most recent GAFCON 3 at Jerusalem. The testimony of this GAFCON 3 is encouraging and I shall relate a few issues to keep you abreast with its content later in this writing. Through the succession of these three great leaders of GAFCON, the Most Rev’d Peter Jensen has served as the General Secretary of GAFCON. Indeed he has served well and excellently.
As GAFCON continues to wax stronger and grow larger, the Chairman of GAFCON Primates Council, the Most Rev’d Dr Nicholas D. Okoh, who is the Primate of All Nigeria, announced to the enthusiastic congregation that gathered for GAFCON 3 at Jerusalem that GAFCON new leadership that would be succeeding him and his General Secretary are the Most Rev’d Foley Beach, the Primate of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and the Most Rev’d Dr. Benjamin Argak Kwashi, the former Archbishop of Jos Ecclesiastical Province and the current Bishop of Jos Diocese, Church of Nigeria, as Chairman of GAFCON Primates Council and General Secretary respectively.
The announcement of these new leaders of GAFCON was received with so much joy, ovation, and prayers for God’s leading in their leadershipThey will understudy their roles under the current leadership and resume their positions fully in 2019, by the grace of God. Let’s focus on the GAFCON 3 for a while now.
GAFCON 3 (17-22 JUNE 2018) HIGHLIGHTS
GAFCON 3 at Jerusalem was held under the authority of the Triune God in the power of the Holy Spirit under the able chairmanship of the Chairman of GAFCON Primates Council, the Most Rev’d Dr. Nicholas D. Okoh, MA, Fss, Mss, LLD, DD. Permit me to relate this part of the writing in bullet points.
- The Conference Theme: Proclaiming Christ Faithfully to the Nations.
- Different Church leaders made biblical exposition on the different topics during the Conference. The mornings were worship and exposition time all focused on the Gospel of St Luke Chapters 22:66 – 24:53). Plenary sessions for four days focused on “God’s Gospel”; “God’s Church”; “God’s World”; and “God’s Strategy.”
- The Conference released a special document titled: Letter to the Churches, GAFCON Assembly 2018 https://www.gafcon.org/news/letter-to-the-churches-gafcon-assembly-2018
- Delegates had opportunities of visiting historical sites in Jerusalem.
- There were nearly 2,000 delegates from laity, bishops and clergy in at GAFCON 3. It has been adjudged to be the “largest international gathering of Anglicans in 50 years” with 1,950 representatives from 50 countries, including 316 bishops, 669 other clergy and 965 laity. (There were over 1,100 delegates from the laity, bishops and other clergy in 2008; over 1,500 in 2013).
- The Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion provided the Choir that led worship throughout the Conference. The Choir was amazing in their ministration and dressing.
- New leadership of GAFCON were announced: Archbishop Foley Beach, Chairman of GAFCON Primates Council; Archbishop Benjamin Argak Kwashi, GAFCON General Secretary.
- Regional Secretaries were also announced: The Rt. Rev. Bill Atwood of the ACNA will coordinate GAFCON’s work in North and South America, the Most Rev. Glenn Davies, Archbishop of Sydney, will look after the Antipodes and Asia, the Rt. Rev. Andy Lines will coordinate Europe/UK, the Most Rev. Laurent Mbanda, Archbishop of Rwanda, will look after East Africa, and the Rt. Rev. Henry Okeke, Bishop of Mbamili, Nigeria will look after West Africa. See http://anglican.ink/article/foley-beach-and-ben-kwash-lead-gafcon
- Nine Strategic Networks were launched at the Conference: Theological Education; Church Planting; Global Mission Partnerships; Youth and Children’s Ministry; Mothers’ Union; Sustainable Development; Bishops Training Institute; Lawyers Task Force; and Intercessors Fellowship. The aims of each of this can be seen in the Letter to the Churches, GAFCON Assembly 2018 at https://www.gafcon.org/news/letter-to-the-churches-gafcon-assembly-2018
- According to a tweet by The Living Church @Living_Church, there are 50,493,122 members of GAFCON globally. Anglican Communion as a whole is made up of 90,883,488 members with 20,000,000 inactive members in England. By implication globally, the Anglican Communion active membership stands at 70,883,488 with 50,493,122 belonging to GAFCON. May the Lord bless and prosper GAFCON. [The source of this statistics is: Global Center for Christianity, Boston].
- Based on the statistic in the preceding point above, Church of Nigeria has 22,000,000, being the largest population of GAFCON members, followed by Church of Uganda 14,250,000, and others following.
GAFCON 3 AT OUR FINGERTIPS AND DOORSTEPS
Although I was registered (GAFCON Delegate Code: NA1543) to be at GAFCON 3 at Jerusalem, I was eventually unable to attend because of issues of logistics. It was a disappointment turned into the purpose of God for me that I hope to understand in full someday (Romans 8:28-30). I have learnt to sigh like the Church Doctor, John Chrysostom “In all things; glory to God.” Amen. However, though absent in Jerusalem physically, the products of modern technology brought the Conference to my office at the Episcopal House in Abuja. I must acknowledge the effort of our Church Television Station, the Anglican Cable News Network (ACNN) for the TV and Facebook live streaming of the Conference. Other Facebook and twitter users helped in keeping us abreast with the proceedings of the Conference as well. Let me mention in particular twitter handles that were beneficial to me during this conference: GAFCON @gafconconference; The Living Church @Living_Church; ACNA @The_ACNA; ADOTS @adots_acna; and many others that for want of time and space I am unable to list out here. I am indebted to Dominic Steele @dominicsteele for bringing personal interviews at the Conference ground to us live. According to tweet, there were 713,564 members of the GAFCON Online Community (that is made up of people who viewed the Conference through GAFCON website, Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube) and 125,796 of people who participated through livestreaming. We are grateful for the positive use of technology during this conference. Visit GAFCON website https://www.gafcon.org/ for more about GAFCON, particularly GAFCON 3.
While I congratulate our father in God, the Most Rev’d Dr. Nicholas D. Okoh, the Chairman of Primates Council, and the Primate of All Nigeria, and all Archbishops, Bishops, GAFCON 3 delegates and GAFCON membership as a whole for a successful GAFCON 3 Conference at Jerusalem, I wish to state that as a member of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, and a bonifide and strong member of GAFCON, I subscribed again to the Jerusalem Declaration of 2008 https://www.gafcon.org/jerusalem-2018/key-documents/jerusalem-declaration; the Letter to the Churches, GAFCON Assembly 2018 https://www.gafcon.org/news/letter-to-the-churches-gafcon-assembly-2018; and to the biblical Christianity that GAFCON upholds. If the Lord tarries, I look forward to seeing how God will use GAFCON in “Proclaiming Christ to the Nations” in the days and years ahead.
“Non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam.” Amen
The Venerable Doctor Gershinen Paul Dajur,
General Secretary, Church of Nigeria.