Global South Steering Committee messes about with Anglican Identity

At least they waited until Easter Monday, giving us all a week or so to wonder and to wander about in the contemplation of those Holy Days. As soon as possible thereafter the Global South Steering Committee posted their most recent reflections, gleaned from a meeting just following the GAFCON meeting and just before Palm Sunday.

We remember that the Global South Steering Committee consists of the following: President: Most Rev'd Peter J. Akinola, Nigeria; General Secretary: Most Rev'd John Chew, Southeast Asia; Treasurer: Most Rev'd Mouneer Anis, Jerusalem and the Middle East; Most Rev'd Emmanuel Kolini, Rwanda; Most Rev'd Drexel Gomez, West Indies; Most Rev'd Bernard Malango, Central Africa; Most Rev'd Gregory Venables, Southern Cone. The Secretariat consists of Assoc Secretary: Bishop Martyn Minns and Asst Secretaries: Canon Wong Tak Meng, Canon Terry Wong.

Five of this group were at the meeting in London that issued the Statement today: Archbishops Akinola, Chew, Anis, and Kolini and Venables. Absent were Archbishops Gomez and Malango. Nothing was said about the presence of members of the Secretariat, but Bishop Martin Minns was present at the meeting of GAFCON folk just previous to this meeting, so he might have been there. Archbishops Venables, Akinola and Kolini were at the previous meeting, and were joined by Archbishops Chew and Anis.

More importantly let us remember that the Global South Steering Committee (GSSC) is a subgroup of a self selected purist community within the Anglican Communion. The Global South Encounters (there have been three already) started began with a rather universal appeal to Anglicans in the "South" – determined partially by geography, partially by being the product of missionary efforts by "older" Anglican Provinces, and partially by being in the developing world. Dr. Michael Poon has done a good job of unfolding the history of the Global South group. You can read it HERE. Over time the Global South group has become a gathering of self-proclaimed "orthodox" Provinces and from that group arose the GSSC. In turn, GSSC and a variety of representatives of Anglican Provinces and Anglican-like churches not in communion with Canterbury formed the group that constitutes the leadership team for GAFCON – The Global Anglican Future Conference.

The Statement from the GSSC issued today speaks to several issues that warrant attention.

"The pastoral and missional needs for focused leadership and development, the deepening of collegial foundation and framework for the transformation and renewal of covenantal Anglicanism will be the focus of the 4th Global South Encounter, which by then should have a broadened representation."

The notion of covenantal Anglicanism is perhaps the most important item in the Statement. Throughout the statement there are references to the "St. Andrew's Draft" of the proposed covenant. The GSSC is asking that it be acted on if possible at the next ACC (Anglican Consultative Council) meeting. "we strongly urge the presentation of a definitive text to the Provinces by ACC 14th (May 2009) to begin the urgent and timely process of official adoption and ratification for the Communion." The notion of a covenantal Anglicanism is central to GSSC's concern to separate the sheep from the goats.

"…we are led to understand and appreciate the principled reasons for participation in GAFCON (June 2008) and Lambeth Conference (Jul 2008). Even if there are different perspectives on these, they do not and should not be allowed to disrupt the common vision, unity and trust within the Global South. We are looking forward to offer the fruit of the labour on the Anglican Catechism in Outline to the Anglican Communion in June 2008."

GSSC is backing away from the notion that Lambeth is useless. Here they are supporting both GAFCON and Lambeth. The decision by some in the Global South to go to one or the other or both should not be viewed as a divisive matter. At the same time GSSC's presentation of "the Anglican Catechism in Outline" to the Anglican Communion will apparently appear at GAFCON. Such a catechism becomes the teaching tool for covenantal Anglicanism.

"Following the inconclusive response to the repeated calls for repentance and the specific requirements of The Episcopal Church in the Windsor Report and the various Communiques (Dromatine Feb 2005, Dar es Salem Feb 2007), the undifferentiated invitations to the Lambeth Conference (July 2008) of the un-repenting Bishops who have clearly flouted the bonds of trust and "torn the fabric at the deepest level" of the Communion is causing a significant number of Bishops to be troubled, in deep consternation and dilemma as to their own Lambeth participation.

The controversial visit involving the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and the ACC (Oct 2007), without prior consultation with the Primates on its composition, procedure and accountability process, and its un-critical and overly generous assessment of the response of the House of Bishops (TEC) has further weakened the remaining fragile threads of trust in the Communion and severely affected hope for any genuine resolution.

These have caused various deepening negative assessments and cast further doubts on the state, will and ability, of the Communion to continue as a recognizable living and witnessing expression of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. Consequently, initiatives and challenges have emerged which could lead to further fragmentation and disintegration in the Communion, which is already in the nadir of collegial trust and confidence."

The GSSC seems to believe that the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and ACC (JSC) needs somehow to have consultation with the Primates prior to meeting at the request of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Further, the composition of that body is set by the Primates and the ACC. The GSSC slam of the Joint Standing Committee for their "overly generous assessment of the response of the House of Bishops (TEC)" is indicative of an emerging battle for the control of the central committees of the Anglican Communion. If the JSC becomes dependent on the Primates rather than advisory to the Archbishop of Canterbury, then its more generous (read less orthodox) attitudes can be dismissed.

The GSSC Statement pushes the issues facing the Communion further down the road toward permanent split. GSSC wants a "covenantal Anglican Communion," with a communion wide Catechism and leadership provided by the Primates. Of course the model for that leadership is touted in the GSSC. They stated,

"We see a increasing conviction and confirmation of the prophetic and priestly vocation of the Global South in the Anglican Communion. As Primates coming from different contexts, we were led into deep conversations and helpful clarifications on the challenges before us (Ps 133; Eph 4:1-6; Phil 2:1-5). We reaffirmed our total and collegial commitment to the solemn vocation of the Global South. We resolved, and urge all in the Global South and other orthodox constituencies of the wider Communion to strengthen our hearts and wills to work together for the fundamental renewal and transformation of the global Anglican Communion."

The "fundamental renewal and transformation of the global Anglican Communion" might better read "the fundamental reorganization of the Anglican Communion into the World Wide Anglican Church."

I see no reason why any thinking Anglican, in the Global South, North, East or West, should have anything to do with this emerging Anglican Patriarchy. At best this is silly, at worst it is a horrible miscasting of the vocation of Anglicanism.


  1. An idea occurred to me which may or not in the picture and might be a possible explanation for the GS' strong movement to implement the St. Andrew's covenant asap even though it is clearly not the draft the orthodox would most want. Should it be adopted, and a precedent then established for a "covenanted" "church", would it not be an easier matter to simply keep upgrading the covenant's restrictions until something like the GS Catechism is achieved? --- An incremental approach to a stronger union? One question might be, if a covenant were to be adopted, by what means and by whom would it be amended? EPfizH

  2. 'The "fundamental renewal and transformation of the global Anglican Communion" might better read "the fundamental reorganization of the Anglican Communion into the World Wide Anglican Church"."

    You forgot to add, "under the complete and absolute control of the Bishops and Primates of the Global South Steering Committee and their self-selected heirs and successors."

    This lot propose an ultramontane papacy of the worst sort. They make Pio Nono look like a raging liberal.

  3. I have been trying to find the content of the "Global South draft for the proposed Anglican Covenant" but have so far failed.

    Have there been further Global South contributions since their initial submission(available on the AC's official site under 'responses')?

    Help appreciated

  4. I suspect there has always been a tension between those who insist on trying to be a confessional / covenant body and those who can live with ambiguity. Maybe that is a line upon which a schism should be drawn.


  5. I guess someone else had the same idea. What would we do without Stephen Nolls, past Truro Fairfax Rector, Trinity Faculty Member and co-author of The Road to Lambeth.

    On the strategy of the covenant...

    From: Binding the church and constraining God http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/6737
    Savi Hensman

    "Though responses from some provinces have indicated profound misgivings about a Covenant of this kind, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, a strong believer in church unity, is pushing ahead. In an Advent letter in December 2007, he made it clear that those attending the Lambeth Conference of bishops which he is convening in 2008 should be willing to endorse the notion of a Covenant which would ‘avoid the present degree of damaging and draining tension arising again’. He also urged that bishops, rather than synods on which other clergy and laypeople are represented, should take ‘responsibility for sustaining doctrinal standards’.
    Later that month, a leading figure in the drive for greater centralisation, The Rev Dr Michael Poon from Singapore, chair of a Theological Formation and Education Task Force created by the hard-line Global South Anglican coalition, wrote of the extensive work this Task Force had put into ‘a draft of the theological framework for an Anglican catechism’, which would be ‘a unitive and building document for the whole Communion’ which ‘would complement the GSA theological input to the Anglican Covenant processes. We took particular care in defining orthodoxy in the Anglican Communion in the document’, which ‘has important ramifications for Christian discipleship throughout the Communion’.
    Divisions have opened up within the ranks of those seeking to impose their own version of doctrinal orthodoxy on the Anglican Communion on how this can best be achieved, with much debate over the wisdom of organising a Global Anglican Future Conference in Jerusalem which many see as a rival to the Lambeth Conference. However another leading light in this movement, the Rev Professor Stephen Noll, now based in Uganda, suggested in January 2008 that ‘Strategically the idea of a Covenant is a good one’ and urged that ‘Those attending the Global Anglican Future Conference should maintain ties with those orthodox leaders who are working on the Communion Covenant.
    It seems unlikely that a final Covenant from Canterbury, filtered now through the Anglican Consultative Council, will be sufficiently crisp to deal with the present crisis. However, the opportunity may arise hereafter to negotiate an ecumenical Anglican Covenant that will serve as a means of warding off heresy and will chart the future of orthodox Anglicanism.’ Once the principle of a Covenant is established, it can be revised to be more restrictive."

  6. Call me crazy - on this topic anyway.

    I have seen many good chairs bring groups to agreement - because sometimes you just have to get to the main issue, and stop focusing on specifics.

    The first order of business on the covenant is a motion from the floor, yea or nay - "Do you want a covenant, binding on all members, that includes new terms for expelling independent provinces from the Anglican Communion?" A written ballot, no group-think peer pressure, and an absolute accounting of the vote.

    It is quite possible the majority will reply - no. Because they don't like the general concept, they can't make a binding promise for their province, or because of certain types of clauses that will always be unwelcome in any form.

    We can easily estimate about one-third want such a covenant, one-third absolutely do not, and just perhaps - the rest will vote "no" because their province doesn't care that much, and they are tired of the constant rehashing of the idea.

    It isn't a simplistic idea, it's a bold one. And it might just end the matter. All have had the opportunity to voice their opinions. If there is agreement to proceed, then keep hashing out the details.

    That said - I also say, "when pigs fly." Some would rather keep trying to teach those pigs to sing. It's destructive.


OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.