We should elect our chair, say Primates

by
26 April 2012

by Ed Thornton

Instrumental: Dr Eliud Wabukala, who chairs GAFCON, gives his keynote address on Monday PHOTOS GAFCON

Instrumental: Dr Eliud Wabukala, who chairs GAFCON, gives his keynote address on Monday PHOTOS GAFCON

THE Primates of Nigeria and Kenya suggested this week that the Archbishop of Canterbury should no longer chair the Primates’ Meeting. The chairman should instead be elected by the Primates themselves, they said.

The Archbishop of Nigeria, the Most Revd Nicholas Okoh, and the Archbishop of Kenya, Dr Eliud Wabukala, suggested the idea at a press briefing on Monday, shortly before the start of a leadership conference of the Fellow­ship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA) at St Mark’s, Battersea Rise, in London (News, 6 April). A spokesman for the FCA said that dele­gates from about 30 countries were at­tending the conference, representing about 55 million “of all churchgoing Anglicans”.

Archbishop Okoh said: “My thought is that it will be better to have an Archbishop [of Canterbury] who is respected, honoured, for historical reasons, but that the Anglican Com­munion eventually should think about organ­ising itself around a chairman, who will have a tenured office, of four or five years, and then hand over to another person.”

He continued: “It seems that the Church of England is not carrying along everybody in the Communion, and that is why you can see there is a crisis; if we will solve the problem, we have to change the system.”

Archbishop Okoh noted the way that the Commonwealth now elects its leadership. “It is the same thing; the Church of independent countries — no longer the British Empire — must make some changes. It is not something that should remain permanent that the Arch­bishop of Canterbury, whether he understands the dynamics in Africa or not, remains the chair, and whatever he says, whether it works or not, is an order.”

The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Peter Jensen, who was chairing the press briefing, sought to clarify that the Primates were suggesting the election of a chairman of the Primates’ Meeting, not “some sort of super-leader of the Anglican Communion. . . We’re not talking about a chairman of the Anglican Com­mun-ion, but a chairman of the Primates’ Council, and one therefore able to gather the Primates.”

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Asked if any Primate, such as the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the US, would be eligible to stand as chairman, Dr Wabukala said that the position should be open to “those who subscribe to what the Anglican Communion stands for”.

Asked to elaborate further, he said that the Jerusalem Declaration, which was drawn up at the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) in Jerusalem in 2008 (News, 4 July 2008), “captures exactly what almost every­body is looking for”. When asked about Primates who would not endorse the Declara­tion, Dr Wabukala said: “That means self-exclusion. It’s not a covenant to sign to ex­clude you, but it is the faith that people pro­fess to which you may not be comfortable.” He went on: “Of course, the fact that one [chair­man] is elected, that means he is ac­cepted by all of us.”

Spokespeople for Lambeth Palace and the Anglican Communion Office both declined to comment on the idea suggested by the two Primates.

The two Primates’ Meeting was set up in 1978 by Archbishop Donald Coggan, and has met regularly since, each time at the initiation of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The Primates also announced plans for a second meeting of GAFCON, which will take place in May next year, at a venue that is as yet unspecified. A statement from the FCA said that the meeting would be “a dynamic force for restating the gospel of Jesus Christ in the face of revisionist attempts to change basic doc­trines, and turn Christianity merely into a movement for social betterment”.

Dr Jensen said that GAFCON 2 “reflects something about the new state of the Com­munion”. He said that the Lambeth Conference was “premised on the 19th-century sailing ships, bringing together once every ten years”. He said that the Lambeth Conference was “just bishops”, whereas GAFCON was “for all in the Church”.

Question of the Week: Should the Archbishop of Canterbury cease to chair the Primates’ Meeting?



THE Archbishop of Kenya, Dr Eliud Wabu­kala, said on Monday that the Anglican Communion’s leadership should no longer “be focused on one person or one Church”, and that “orthodox leaders” should “de­velop new structures”, writes Ed Thornton.

In a keynote address to the leadership conference of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA), of which he is chairman, at St Mark’s, Battersea Rise, Dr Wabukala said: “Orthodox leaders must now do more than simply stay away. We have to go back to the basic principles and develop new structures while remaining firmly within the Anglican Communion. . .

“Our Communion has come of age, and it is now time that its leadership should be focused not on one person or one Church, however hallowed its history, but on the one historic faith we confess.”

Dr Wabukala said that there had been “unprecedented challenges to Anglican identity forced upon us by the revisionist scriptural interpretation”. This had enabled members of the FCA “to rediscover the dis­tinctive reformed catholicity of our Com­munion as shaped so profoundly by the wit­ness of the 16th-century Anglican Reformers.”

The Global Anglican Future Conference, which will meet for the second time next year, “was launched as a rescue mission for the An­glican Communion”.

The rejection of the Anglican Covenant by C of E dioceses (News, 30 March) showed “that institu­tional remedies for the crisis have failed, and that the problems we face are far too deep-seated to be dealt with by merely managerial and organisational strategies”. The “heart of the crisis” in the Communion “is not institu­tional, but spiritual”.



THE Archbishop of Kenya, Dr Eliud Wabu­kala, said on Monday that the Anglican Communion’s leadership should no longer “be focused on one person or one Church”, and that “orthodox leaders” should “de­velop new structures”, writes Ed Thornton.

In a keynote address to the leadership conference of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA), of which he is chairman, at St Mark’s, Battersea Rise, Dr Wabukala said: “Orthodox leaders must now do more than simply stay away. We have to go back to the basic principles and develop new structures while remaining firmly within the Anglican Communion. . .

“Our Communion has come of age, and it is now time that its leadership should be focused not on one person or one Church, however hallowed its history, but on the one historic faith we confess.”

Dr Wabukala said that there had been “unprecedented challenges to Anglican identity forced upon us by the revisionist scriptural interpretation”. This had enabled members of the FCA “to rediscover the dis­tinctive reformed catholicity of our Com­munion as shaped so profoundly by the wit­ness of the 16th-century Anglican Reformers.”

The Global Anglican Future Conference, which will meet for the second time next year, “was launched as a rescue mission for the An­glican Communion”.

The rejection of the Anglican Covenant by C of E dioceses (News, 30 March) showed “that institu­tional remedies for the crisis have failed, and that the problems we face are far too deep-seated to be dealt with by merely managerial and organisational strategies”. The “heart of the crisis” in the Communion “is not institu­tional, but spiritual”.

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