Global Anglican body rejects Church of England’s blessing of same-sex couples

A meeting of the Global Anglican Futures Conference, a gathering of theologically conservative members of the global Anglican Communion, held in Kigali, Rwanda, from April 17-21, 2023.
A meeting of the Global Anglican Futures Conference, a gathering of theologically conservative members of the global Anglican Communion, held in Kigali, Rwanda, from April 17-21, 2023. | Jeff Walton

A global gathering of conservative Anglicans has called for a "resetting" of the worldwide Anglican Communion after the Church of England voted to approve the blessing of same-sex couples.

The fourth Global Anglican Future Conference met this week in Kigali, Rwanda, bringing together approximately 1,300 delegates from 52 countries, including over 300 bishops and more than 450 other clergy.

In a statement known as the Kigali Commitment, released on Friday, the GAFCON delegates rejected the Church of England's decision to allow clergy to bless same-sex couples, and also rejected the authority of any Anglican denomination that accepts homosexuality.

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"Since the Lord does not bless same-sex unions, it is pastorally deceptive and blasphemous to craft prayers that invoke blessing in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit," stated the document.

"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 Kigali Commitment cited Resolution I.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference, which states "homosexual practice is incompatible with Scripture" and advised against the "legitimising or blessing of same sex unions."

The GAFCON statement called on "those provinces, dioceses and leaders who have departed from biblical orthodoxy to repent of their failure to uphold the Bible's teaching."

"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," the statement declared.

The delegates also called for a "resetting" of the global Anglican Communion, noting that they are joined by the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches in making this call.

"Both GSFA and Gafcon Primates share the view that, due to the departures from orthodoxy articulated above, they can no longer recognise the Archbishop of Canterbury as an Instrument of Communion, the 'first among equals' of the Primates," they stated.

"Resetting the Communion is an urgent matter. It needs an adequate and robust foundation that addresses the legal and constitutional complexities in various Provinces. The goal is that orthodox Anglicans worldwide will have a clear identity, a global 'spiritual home' of which they can be proud, and a strong leadership structure that gives them stability and direction as Global Anglicans."

A spokesperson for Lambeth Palace, the official residence for the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, released a statement in response to the Kigali Commitment.

"We note that The Kigali Commitment issued by GAFCON IV today makes many of the same points that have previously been made about the structures of the Anglican Communion," the statement reads.

"As the Archbishop of Canterbury has previously said, those structures are always able to change with the times — and have done so in the past. The Archbishop said at the recent Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Ghana (ACC-18) that no changes to the formal structures of the Anglican Communion can be made unless they are agreed upon by the Instruments of Communion."

The Lambeth Palace spokesperson noted that there has been "widespread support" among Anglican Communion leaders "for working together patiently and constructively to review the Instruments of Communion so that our differences and disagreements can be held together in unity and fellowship."

"The Archbishop continues to be in regular contact with his fellow Primates and looks forward to discussing this and many other matters with them over the coming period," continued the statement.  

"Continuing to walk together as Anglicans is not just the best way to share Christ's love with a world in great need: it is also how the world will know that Jesus Christ is sent from the Father who calls us to love one another, even as we disagree."

The Church of England's General Synod voted in February to approve plans to allow priests to bless same-sex couples, but the denomination's formal teaching on marriage and authorized liturgies remain unchanged

In addition to not changing their definition of marriage, the approved measure would also allow Church of England clergy to personally refuse to bless a same-sex relationship if they are morally opposed to such unions. The Archbishop of Canterbury Welby previously said he will refrain from blessing same-sex couples. 

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