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GAFCON and GSFA committed to ‘reset’ the Anglican Communion over Church of England same-sex blessings but not as one group

by Kelly Valencia
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Two major Anglican groups who claim to represent 85 per cent of Anglicans worldwide have said they are committed to working side by side to "reset" the Anglican Communion, but not as one merged organisation.

The Church of England's recent decision to approve plans to bless couples in same-sex marriages sparked calls for a change in the current structures of the Anglican Communion.

Following the General Synod's decision, the GSFA said the Church of England had "disqualified" itself and that they no longer considered it to be the "mother church".

It also said it would "meet, consult, and work with other orthodox Primates in the Anglican Church across the nations to reset the Communion on its biblical foundation".

GAFCON’s response was similar, calling on Archbishop Justin Welby to “step down from his role as “first among equals” in leading the Anglican Communion”.

In response to the GFSA statement, Lambeth Palace said they “fully appreciate their position” and called on Anglicans to “remember that more unites us than divides us”.

“Despite our differences, we must find ways to continue walking and working together as followers of Jesus Christ to serve those in need,” it continued.

Now, the Primates of the two major Anglican groups have met in Kigali, Rwanda, this week during the GAFCON Conference.

In a statement released as the conference drew to an end, GAFCON said the groups had "affirmed and celebrated their complementary roles in the Anglican Communion" and drew on their shared view that they no longer recognise the Archbishop of Canterbury as "first among equals."

"We rejoice in the united commitment of both groups on three fundamentals: the lordship of Jesus Christ; the authority and clarity of the Word of God; and the priority of the church's mission to the world. We acknowledge their agreement that 'communion' between churches and Christians must be based on doctrine... Anglican identity is defined by this and not by recognition from the See of Canterbury," the statement read.

"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. The Church of England has chosen to impair her relationship with the orthodox provinces in the Communion."

Both groups have been at odds with the Archbishop of Canterbury's leadership for a while, but their approach has been different.

While GAFCON accepted Archbishop Justin's invitation to attend the Lambeth Conference last year, some members of the GSFA refused to attend the event as their way of boycotting the Church of England's direction of travel.

“Resetting the Communion is an urgent matter,” the statement continued.

“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. We therefore commit to pray that God will guide this process of resetting, and that Gafcon and GSFA will keep in step with the Spirit.”

Premier has contacted Lambeth Palace for comment.

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