The Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali
Archbishop of Church of Uganda
13th August 2013
Good Morning. I greet you in the name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ!
I have an important message for you today. Ten years ago this month, a gay man, who was a divorced father of two children, was elected a Bishop in the Episcopal Church in America. This unbiblical decision on the part of a church threw the entire global Anglican Communion into chaos.
Two months later, the Archbishop of Canterbury convened an emergency meeting of the 38 Primates – Senior Archbishops – of the Anglican Communion to try to resolve the crisis. The Primates issued a statement that said that if the consecration of this gay man proceeded it would “tear the fabric of the Anglican Communion at its deepest level.” Even the American Archbishop agreed to this statement.
Yet, immediately after the close of the meeting, the American Archbishop held a press conference just outside Lambeth Palace and told the world that he would proceed with the consecration. And, indeed, he did.
And, as the Primates predicted, the American consecration of a gay man as a Bishop did “tear the fabric of the Anglican Communion at its deepest level.”
There were many attempts by the Primates of the Anglican Communion to bring discipline to the American Church, but they were not implemented. And, so the spiritual cancer has spread. It has infected the Anglican Church in Canada, the Church of England, the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Church of Wales, and even the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.
In America, they even have a Lesbian Bishop now! Many Dioceses in the American Episcopal Church have approved the blessing of same-sex unions. And, with their recent Supreme Court decision to recognize same-sex marriage, we expect the American Church to promote this even more.
It isn’t any better in Canada – most dioceses in the Anglican Church of Canada have also approved the blessing of same-sex unions.
In the UK the Civil Partnership Act was passed in 2005. It allows same-sex partners to enter into a legal relationship with all the same benefits as marriage. Sadly, the Church of England supported this bill.
In the first year after it was passed, more than 50 gay or lesbian priests were “joined” in civil partnership ceremonies and are living together in church housing. Who knows how many more have been joined in such ceremonies in the seven years since then.
In January of this year, the Church of England House of Bishops resolved that clergy in civil partnerships are eligible to become Bishops. I responded at the time by saying, “The recent decision of the [Church of England] House of Bishops to allow clergy in civil partnerships to be eligible to become Bishops is really no different from allowing gay Bishops. This decision violates our Biblical faith and agreements within the Anglican Communion. When the American Church made this decision in 2003 it tore the fabric of the Anglican Communion at its deepest level. This decision only makes the brokenness of the Communion worse and is particularly disheartening coming from the Mother Church.”
I have taken time to give you this history because we are at the ten-year anniversary mark of this crisis, and I want to ask, “Where are we?”
We have a new Archbishop of Canterbury who is born again and has a testimony. I have personally met him and I like him very much.
But, the problems in the Communion are still there, and they don’t change just because there is a new global leader. In fact, ten years later, the crisis has deepened. It is worse, and shows no signs of improving.
This is why the Archbishop of Nigeria, the other Archbishops of East Africa, and I have come together and decided to organize a second Global Anglican Future Conference or GAFCON. It will be held in Nairobi at All Saints’ Cathedral from 21st to 26th October. The Church of Uganda will be sending 200 Delegates to this important revival meeting.
The first GAFCON – or, Global Anglican Future Conference – was held five years ago in Jerusalem, the place where our Lord Jesus lived, died, and rose again for our justification.
The first GAFCON was very significant because it created a global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans led by a Primates Council and it also called for the creation of a new Bible-believing Anglican Province in North America. That new Anglican Province has now been created and is thriving. It is called the Anglican Church in North America.
This second GAFCON conference is also very important at this time in the life of our church. We are holding it in Nairobi this time because it is closer to the majority of the Christians who make up GAFCON.
I have called you here today because I want all our Christians to know about it, to pray for it, and to support it financially.
GAFCON is to the Anglican Communion as the East African Revival was to the church in Uganda. At first it was small revival fellowships meeting outside the church structures and church services. But, as the revival spread, it became mainstream in the Church. Now, most of the Church of Uganda is led by clergy and Bishops shaped by the East African Revival.
In the same way, we are going to GAFCON 2 in Nairobi to see that the Biblical faith of GAFCON spreads like revival throughout the whole Anglican Communion, so that global Anglicanism is brought back to its Biblical and evangelistic faith.
So, I am calling on all Christians to get involved in three ways:
First, we need you to pray! Pray for me as your Archbishop. Pray for your Bishop. Pray for your clergy and lay readers that we will all uphold the authority of the Bible in our lives and in our church. Pray for the GAFCON delegates that they will return from GAFCON and lead the Church of Uganda into Biblical truth and living.
Secondly, we need your financial support to ensure that your Bishop and other key clergy, women, and lay leaders from your Diocese are able to go to GAFCON. Please go to them and offer your financial support.
Finally, we need you to ask your Bishop and GAFCON delegates to report back to you after the conference. Ask them to tell you what they are doing to keep the Anglican Church on track.
Thank you for listening. And, thank you for supporting your Church’s leadership in GAFCON.
–(The Most Rev.) Stanley Ntagali is Archbishop of Uganda