The Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (GSFA) has announced it will no longer recognise the Archbishop of Canterbury as the “leader of the global communion”, following the decision to allow same-sex couples to be blessed within the Church of England. In a statement, the GFSA said that the Church of England (CofE) had “disqualified” itself by allowing same-sex blessings and that they no longer considered the CofE as the “mother church”. The GSFA says it speaks for 75% of Anglicans around the world, officially representing 25 member provinces – mainly in Asia, Latin America and Africa. Earlier this month, the General Synod – the Church of England’s legislative assembly – passed a motion to allow the blessing of same-sex couples in civil partnerships. The House of Clergy voted 111 in favour, 85 against and three abstentions, while the House of Laity saw 103 votes for, 92 against and five abstentions.
The decision of Synod follows years of deliberations through the Living in Love and Faith process, which sought to understand the strength of feeling within the Church of England, from parish level upwards, about same-sex marriage. Following the announcement that the C of E would accept the blessing of same-sex couples, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Rev Justin Welby, said he would not perform the ceremonies in order to maintain harmony within the Anglican Communion. But in its statement, the GFSA has responded by saying they would no longer work “in communion” with groups that have “taken the path of false teaching”. They accused the Church of England of going against “the historical biblical faith”, adding: “This breaks our hearts.” The signatories include the GSFA’s chair, Archbishop Justin Badi, along with the archbishops of Chile, the Indian Ocean, Congo, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Uganda, Sudan, Alexandria and Melanesia.
These provinces will not leave the Anglican Communion. But according to the statement, their leaders will “expeditiously meet, consult and work with other orthodox Primates in the Anglican Church across the nations to re-set the Communion on its biblical foundation.” Archbishop Justin Badi, primate of South Sudan and chairperson of the GFSA, told Premier Christian News: “I respect the Archbishop of Canterbury but the decision of his own province has disqualified him as the leader of the Anglican Communion. How can he lead the Anglican Communion where his own province has a plural view about the major doctrine of the Church on marriage? He continued: “The Global South Fellowship of Anglicans will no longer work with the revisionist provinces. We will only try to encourage those who stand firm within those provinces, so that they continue to stand for the true Biblical faith and propagate that, and call for repentance to those who have gone astray.”
In response to the statement made by the GSFA, a Lambeth Palace spokesperson said: “At last week’s meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) in Ghana, there was widespread support for working together patiently and constructively to review the Instruments of Communion, so that our differences and disagreements can be held together in unity and fellowship. “The Archbishop is in regular contact with his fellow Primates and looks forward to discussing this and other matters with them over the coming period. “The Archbishop of Canterbury commented at the ACC in Ghana that these structures are always able to change with the times. “We note the statement issued by some Anglican Primates and we fully appreciate their position. As was reaffirmed in multiple discussions at the ACC in Ghana however, no changes to the formal structures of the Anglican Communion can be made unless they are agreed upon by the Instruments of Communion.
“The deep disagreements that exist across the Anglican Communion on sexuality and marriage are not new. The 42 member Churches of the Anglican Communion are independent and autonomous, but at the same time interdependent. It is a fundamental principle of the Anglican Communion that no province can bind another province, and no Instrument of Communion has any jurisdictional authority over any province. “In a world of conflict, suffering and uncertainty, we must remember that more unites us than divides us. Despite our differences, we must find ways to continue walking and working together as followers of Jesus Christ to serve those in need. It was clear at the global Anglican gathering in Accra that many Anglicans share this view. It remains the Archbishop’s prayer and his call to Anglicans around the Communion.”
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