Broken Communion: Boycotting ACC-16 Meeting? By Canon Francis Omondi
The calls to boycott the Anglican Consultative Council-16 gave an impression of an irrepairably broken Anglican Communion.
I have observed however that though on the outside we are wasting away, we are being renewed as a communion daily.
The pronunciation of broken fellowship while remaining in the communion is at best confusing.
This talk to ”walk away’ yet staying is well captured in the Church of Uganda’s, Archbishop Stanley Ntagale, explanation of walking out of primates meeting in January: ” I have left the meeting in Canterbury, but I want to make it clear that we are not leaving the Anglican Communion.”
In disregarding a binding Lambeth Resolution 1.10 of 1998, TEC and Anglican Church of Canada were deemed to have broken off from the communion. Yet they refused to walk away.
This led to the collective resolution of the GAFCON, and a Group Global South provinces, for several years not participate in any gathering in the Anglican Communion to which TEC and The Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) were invited, until they repented of their “erroneous doctrinal and theological postures and practices”.
It appeared that divide would be bridged at the January 2016 Primates meeting in Canterbury.
Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh of the Church of Nigeria, considered the January 2016 Primates meeting in Canterbury an exception.
Archbishop Eliud Wabukala of Kenya who is also the chairman of GAFCON saw the sitting together at Canterbury as: ‘an opportunity to restore godly faith and order …’
Archbishop Eliud Wabukala.
The unanimous decision of the Primates: “was to walk together, however painful this is, and despite our differences, as a deep expression of our unity in the body of Christ” according to the statement released at the end of the meeting.
The meeting resolved to impose discipline to TEC for changing their marriage canons:
‘for a period of three years The Episcopal Church no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or policy’. Furthermore, The Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Rev’d and Rt Hon. Justin Welby was asked ‘to appoint a Task Group to maintain conversation among ourselves with the intention of restoration of relationship, the rebuilding of mutual trust, healing the legacy of hurt, recognizing the extent of our commonality and exploring our deep differences, ensuring they are held between us in the love and grace of Christ’.
Before the ink was dry, the walking away began.
Some Primates remained skeptic.
Archbishop Okoh the Primate of Nigeria, wrote while announcing their boycott of the ACC-16 meeting: “We are yet to be convinced that the restrictions imposed on TEC will be implemented. The bottom line, therefore, is that nothing has changed.”
The announcements of the arrangements of the ACC-16 meeting and the said presence of TEC there, did not help things. Calls for boycott become louder in the global south.
“There can be no true walking together with those who persistently refuse to walk in accordance with God’s word, and the Kenyan province will not participate in the forthcoming meeting,” Wabukala the Archbishop of Kenya said.
Ugandan Archbishop Stanley Ntagali also said would not participate in any such conferences of the Anglican Consultative Council until “godly order is restored.”
Ntagale had judged that: “the leadership of the Anglican Communion does not have the will to follow through. This is another deep betrayal.”
The Province of Rwanda and the province of Egypt and Jerusalem also joined in the boycott.
In the run up to Lambeth Conference of 1998, many feared that the Anglican Church would make a resolution on human sexuality supporting same sex relation.
It took the courage, respect and reason of our late archbishop David Gitari to change the course of things. With great patience, he provided leadership that resulted in Lambeth 1.10 resolution on human sexuality thereby consolidating Anglican orthodoxy as a global movement with significant leadership from Africans.
Inspired by this example, the Kenyan delegation ignored the call for boycott and
honoured the synodal decision that seated them to represent Kenya at the ACC-16 in September 2015. They reasoned that: ‘It is TEC to be excluded from ACC in respect to the suspension and not ACK.’
Besides they were determined to be heard through the resolutions made at ACC-16 since decisions reached here would have ramifications in the Anglican communion.
Archbishop Justin Addressing ACC-16.
In his report of the Primates meeting at the ACC-16, the Archbishop of Canterbury declared :
‘I have acted on the Primates’ decisions in those areas for which I have responsibility.’ He further invited the ACC to also share in “working through the consequences of our impaired relationships” as was both his and the Primates’ desire, hope and prayer.
The ACC-16 adopted the Primates resolution.
Mandy Patinkin was Inigo Montoya in the classic ’80s fairy tale film, The Princess Bride. One of my favourite lines from the movie, is the most famous, uttered by Patinkin: “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
Patinkin admits that it is not his favorite. He told CBS This Morning recently that the line he loves most from the film comes at the very end, after his character has finally had the revenge he sought for so long.
“I have been in the revenge business so long, now that it’s over, I do not know what to do with the rest of my life.” Patinkin states, “I love that line. And I love it for all of us, because the purpose of revenge – in my personal opinion – is completely worthless and pointless. The purpose of existence is to embrace our fellow human being, not be revengeful, and turn our darkness into light.”
As the ACC- 16 is nearing an end in Zambia, I would observe that :
Staying away gives power to progressives. That is easy to understand. I can only conclude that the GAFCON primates are deliberately undermining Canterbury.
The writer serves with the Anglican Church of Kenya’s All Saints Cathedral Diocese in
Nairobi. The views expressed here are his own. (email@example.com )