THE Anglican Communion needs a new structure for the future
rather than, as at present, one "for the power of some middle-aged
English clergyman based in London with very little hair", the
Archbishop of Canterbury said in Kenya on Sunday, on the eve of
Archbishop Welby was speaking at All Saints' Cathedral, Nairobi,
during a 24-hour visit to the city. He delivered the sermon twice
during the morning.
"I have thought and said for a long time that there is a need
for new structures in the Anglican Communion," he told the
congregation. "The issues that divide us are, at one level, simple;
but they are also, at another level, very complicated. Among many
things, they tell us that we need a new way of being together as
the Communion. A way that reflects the 21st century and not the old
These new structures would be found through "discernment and
wisdom and, above all, prayer and searching the scriptures", he
suggested. "Those who lead the Communion must have, at the heart of
any structures we build, worship and mission and witness and
evangelism as their aims and passion."
The Archbishop acknowledged that there were "many divisions
within the Church today". As an example of favoritism within the
Church, he spoke of the failure of the Church of England in the
1960s to welcome immigrants from the Caribbean. The churches set up
by those immigrants were now "the strongest in the country. . . The
Church of England lost the new life that they brought, and that God
was trying to offer us through them."
Differences within the Church would "always exist", he said, but
that the way in which these were presently handled threatened to
undermine evangelism. One of the worst moments of his ordained life
had occurred on a Sunday when he opened a newspaper to see the
headline: "How these Christians hate one another". The Church had
"seldom obeyed the teaching of scripture on disagreement".
There was an emphasis on scripture in the Archbishop's sermon.
He twice praised the congregation for having completed a
"Bible-reading marathon" - reading it in its entirety during the
past two weeks. There was a reference, too, to the East African
revival, when the Bible had spoken "like fire and flame to the
people". The Bible was "the essential thing without which the
Church simply drifts apart, and drifts away from God".
He warned, however, that the Bible could be "misused" by
leaders. In South Africa, for example, Christian leaders had
claimed that "apartheid was in the Bible." The scriptures must be
read "as the whole Communion across the whole world, praying for a
common vision that has its own application in each place". The more
serious the crisis facing a Christian, the more seriously he or she
must take the Bible, the Archbishop said. He recalled the night on
which his life had been threatened by soldiers in Africa, during
which he had turned to the Bible.
The Archbishop concluded his sermon by addressing the "great
areas of sin that tempt all of us", as set out in one of the
readings for the day (from Hebrews 13): power, sex, and money. With
reference to the misuse of power, he said that since becoming
Archbishop, "the biggest and most painful problem I have had is
dealing with the victims of bullying clergy."
The passage from Hebrews reads: "Marriage should be honoured by
all, and the marriage bed kept pure." The Archbishop took this
opportunity to refer to his opposition to the Marriage (Same Sex
Couples) Bill in the Lords (News,
7 June). His opposition was rooted in a desire to honour
marriage, "not because we hate or fear anyone, whatever their
sexuality". It was, he said, "not just that kind of behaviour that
dishonours marriage", but also violence, adultery, and
The Archbishop left Kenya before the start of GAFCON. He told
the congregation on Sunday morning that he was very sad not to be
able to spend 24 weeks rather than 24 hours with them, but the
christening of Prince George on Wednesday was "not the sort of
thing where you can say 'I'm sorry. I'm a bit busy.'"
Anglican Mainstream reported that he had prayed for GAFCON
during his sermon: "For a clear sense of hearing what God is
saying, and an expression of that in showing the love of Jesus to
all of us in all circumstances."
Referring to the recent terrorist attack in Nairobi (News,
27 September), the Archbishop said that he had come to
"condole" with the Church in Kenya in its "great suffering". It was
in Kenya, while working at a school 40 years ago this year, that he
had "first found the Lord".
The sermon can be watched at