The Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans has about 40 million members. Its churches include the Anglican Church in North America, though its largest national churches — including those in Nigeria, Uganda, and Kenya — have long had overlapping membership with the Anglican Communion. The GAFCON meeting, held in Kigali, Rwanda, April 17–21, drew 1,302 delegates from 52 countries, including 315 bishops, 456 other clergy, and 531 laity. Its final statement is called the Kigali Commitment.
The Church of England broke from Roman Catholicism in the 16th century. Since the formation of the Anglican Communion in 1867, the archbishop of Canterbury has been considered the global communion’s spiritual and moral leader, though he has no binding authority. The global Anglican Communion is composed of 42 Anglican churches throughout the world and about 80 million members. Its major gathering is the Lambeth Conference.
“Public statements by the archbishop of Canterbury and other leaders of the Church of England in support of same-sex blessings are a betrayal of their ordination and consecration vows to banish error and to uphold and defend the truth taught in Scripture,” the GAFCON statement said. The statements also repudiate a resolution of the 1998 Lambeth Conference that declared “homosexual practice is incompatible with Scripture” and advised against legitimizing or blessing same-sex unions.
The Church of England change came despite the archbishop of Canterbury’s affirmation of this resolution’s validity, GAFCON said.
“We have no confidence that the archbishop of Canterbury nor the other Instruments of Communion led by him [the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Consultative Council, and the Primates’ Meetings] are able to provide a godly way forward that will be acceptable to those who are committed to the truthfulness, clarity, sufficiency, and authority of Scripture.”
The statement said successive archbishops of Canterbury have “failed to guard the faith by inviting bishops to Lambeth who have embraced or promoted practices contrary to Scripture.”
“The failure in church discipline has been compounded by the current archbishop of Canterbury’s welcoming of blessing practices contrary to Scripture,” the statement continued. The GAFCON conference said this “renders his leadership role in the Anglican Communion entirely indefensible.”
Church of England leaders need to repent of their actions, the GAFCON statement said.
“We long for this repentance but until they repent, our communion with them remains broken,” it added. “We consider that those who refuse to repent have abdicated their right to leadership within the Anglican Communion, and we commit ourselves to working with orthodox primates and other leaders to reset the communion on its biblical foundations.”
GAFCON’s leading church primates were joined by primates of the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (GSFA). Together, the Kigali statement said, these Anglican leaders represented about 85% of Anglicans worldwide.