South African Anglicans join in 'Confessing'
In a move to affirm their loyalty to Scripture and in a manner similar to what has happened in Scotland, seventy Anglican clergy and laity have come together to launch the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (South Africa).
Seventy Anglican clergy and laity this week (September 3) attended the launch of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (South Africa) at St John's Church in Port Elizabeth.
The Port Elizabeth day gathering, called 'Be Faithful', will, say organisers "send out a clear message that "the Scriptures exhort us to remain faithful to the faith 'once for all delivered to the saints', to the Lordship of Christ and hence to Apostolic teaching and practice."
Chronologically the Fellowship of Confessing Churches in Scotland was the first to set up formally earlier this year, however within the worldwide Anglican communion the preliminary steps to form
the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA) were taken at a Global Anglican Futures Conference (GAFCON) in June 2008. FCA was launched in July this year (2009) and was preceded (in June) by the formation of The Anglican Church in North America.
The foundational documents for both the Fellowship of Confessing Churches and the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans contain the paragraph:
'We reject the authority of those churches and leaders who have denied the orthodox faith in word or deed. We pray for them and call on them to repent and return to the Lord.'
In a report for Anglican Mainstream Chris Sugden writes:
FCA (South Africa) leaders stress that FCA is not another organization and is not seeking to create another church. They add: "It is a spiritual movement and fellowship for renewal, reformation and mission - uniquely bringing together those whose key shaping and commitment, but not exclusive identity, has been through the Anglo-Catholic, conservative evangelical, and charismatic expressions of Anglicanism. The FCA movement unites them in one fellowship defined by its centre in the Christian faith as currently expressed in the Jerusalem Declaration and Statement."
Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, commended the meeting in these terms:" The aim of all faithful evangelicals and catholics throughout the Church must be to witness to the truth in love and unity".
Anglicans from across South Africa - from the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, the Church of England in South Africa and the Traditional Anglican Communion - were welcomed as an example that the FCA is a body in which healing between different Anglican groups can take place, and not schism.
However in his keynote address, Canon Dr Vinay Samuel from India and Oxford who spoke at the London launch challenged the participants with respect to humanist ideologies amongst leading figures in the South African scene:
"Can you bring the biblical resources of faith to shape the heart of South Africa's agenda. Will its agenda be shaped by simply an ideology of rights and use the iconic status of leaders such as Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela to silence any other view?
Whilst emphasising the value of social transformation Canon Samuel continued:
But you are called to the prophetic stance of the obedient disciple, rather than the stance of political people who have become messianic with the new universal of human rights which is now being imposed, claiming that these rights are self-evident –and if the Bible teaches anything different it is to be rejected. They own the Bible, and claim the Holy Spirit, for the service of this ideology. That is based on power, not on obedience."
Archbishop Peter Akinola, Primate of All Nigeria and chairman of the GAFCON Primates Council, sent a greeting but made mention of his continuing concerns regarding the direction in which the Anglican church in general is heading:
" What a great blessing and tremendous joy to know that the mustard seed of GAFCON sown in the land of our LORD barely a year ago is already growing so fast and so big.
May I remind you that issues and concerns that led to GAFCON are still very much with us.
"Revisionists will not come to repentance. The action of TEC at its recent General Convention have confirmed our fears that for them, there is no going back. They are intensifying their search for new disciples in Africa, using mammon to buy silence and cheap compromise of the Gospel. They claim to be theologically with us, but are in full alliance with all that we stand against.
"GAFCON and FCA people must continue to stand very firm on the word of God. We must not waver or succumb to pressures posed by finance and economics. The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof. We must trust him who has called us. He is faithful and will provide what is needed for his work."
Meanwhile in Scotland, 35 churches have recently affirmed their allegiance to the Word of God in a public manner by posting their beliefs on congregational notice boards.