The Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (GSFA), a group of 25 provinces of the Anglican Communion, has announced its split from the Church of England.
In a statement on Monday, the GSFA said it no longer recognizes Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, as the leader of the Anglican Communion.
The GSFA said its stance was based on the recent decision of the Church of England to bless same-sex unions, describing the move as a “departure from the historic faith passed down by the apostles”.
In January, bishops of the Church of England had said while same-sex marriages would not be allowed in the churches, such couples would be permitted in the church to give thanks for their civil marriage or partnership and receive God’s blessing.
Reacting to the development in the statement on Monday, the GSFA said it could not support the decision.
“As the Church of England has departed from the historic faith passed down from the Apostles by this innovation in the liturgies of the Church and her pastoral practice (contravening her own Canon A5), she has disqualified herself from leading the Communion as the historic “Mother” Church,” the statement reads.
“Indeed, the Church of England has chosen to break communion with those provinces who remain faithful to the historic biblical faith expressed in the Anglican formularies (the 39 Articles, the Book of Common Prayer, the Ordinal and the Book of Homilies) and applied to the matter of marriage and sexuality in Lambeth Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference.
“As much as the GSFA Primates also want to keep the unity of the visible Church and the fabric of the Anglican Communion, our calling to be ‘a holy remnant’ does not allow us be “in communion” with those provinces that have departed from the historic faith and taken the path of false teaching.
“This breaks our hearts and we pray for the revisionist provinces to return to ‘the faith once delivered’ (Jude 3) and to us.
“The GSFA is no longer able to recognise the present Archbishop of Canterbury, the Rt Hon & Most Revd Justin Welby, as the “first among equals” Leader of the global Communion. He has sadly led his House of Bishops to make the recommendations that undergirded the General Synod Motion on ‘Living in Love & Faith,’ knowing that they run contrary to the faith & order of the orthodox provinces in the Communion whose people constitute the majority in the global flock.
“We pray that our withdrawal of support for him to lead the whole Communion is received by him as an admonishment in love.”
The GSFA added that it will take immediate measures to establish a new leadership and work towards “re-setting” the Anglican Communion in line with the teachings of the Bible.
“With the Church of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury forfeiting their leadership role of the global Communion, GSFA Primates 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,” the statement reads.
“We look forward to collaborating with Primates and bishops in the GAFCON movement and other orthodox Anglican groupings to work out the shape and nature of our common life together and how we are to keep the priority of proclaiming and witnessing to the gospel of Jesus Christ in the world foremost in our life as God’s people.
“Together with other orthodox Primates, we will seek to address the leadership crisis that has arisen because for us, and perhaps by his own reported self-exclusion, the present Archbishop of Canterbury is no longer the ‘leader’ of the Communion and no longer the Chair of the Primates’ Meeting by virtue of his position.
“GSFA Primates will carefully work with other orthodox Primates to provide Primatial and episcopal oversight to orthodox dioceses and networks of Anglican churches who indicate their need and who consult with us. This is to ensure that the faithful all across the worldwide Anglican Church but who find themselves in revisionist Provinces receive the pastoral oversight, guidance and care of a global, connectional Church which the Anglican Communion is meant to be.
“Given this action by the Church of England’s General Synod, we believe it is no longer possible to continue in the way the Communion is. We do not accept the view that we can still “walk together” with the revisionist provinces as prescribed by the Anglican Communion Office and in the exploratory way proposed by IASCUFO (Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith & Order) at the recent Anglican Consultative Council (ACC)-18 meeting.
“GSFA Primates are joint-stewards together with other orthodox Primates of the Anglican Communion, defined by its Formularies and that has been birthed and sustained by God through the centuries. We are accountable to the whole and to each other for the historic Christian faith and its practice in our autonomous Churches.
“The Church of England is the “historic first” province, but now that it has departed from the historic faith, the responsibility falls to the remaining orthodox Primates.
“We will not walk away from the Communion that has so richly blessed us and for whose faithfulness to God and His word our forebears have paid a costly price. What has happened in the Church of England has only served to strengthen our resolve to work together to re-set the Communion, and to ensure that the re-set Communion is marked by reform and renewal.
“Only then will the Anglican Church as a whole be able to be God’s channel of light and transformation in a dark and broken world. Only then will we be able to live out our witness as part of God’s one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.”
Archbishops who endorsed the GSFA position were listed as Justin Badi, primate of South Sudan and chair of GSFA; Hector (Tito) Zavala, primate of Chile and GSFA vice-chair; James Wong, primate of Indian Ocean; and Titre Ande, primate of Congo.
Others are Stephen Than, primate of Myanmar; Foley Beach, primate of North America; Samuel Mankhin, primate of Bangladesh; Stephen Kaziimba, primate of Uganda; Ezekiel Kondo, primate of Sudan; Samy Shehata, primate of Alexandria; Miguel Cavalcanti, primate of Anglican Church in Brazil; and Leonard Dawea, primate of Melanesia.