The Incredible Shrinking Global South Connection

GAFCON – the acronym for the Global Anglican Future Conference, was put together by a leadership group from the Global South and other parts of the Anglican Communion. To refresh your memory, that group consists of the following:

Archbishops Peter Akinola (Nigeria), Henry Orombi (Uganda), Emmanuel Kolini (Rwanda), Benjamin Nzimbi (Kenya), Donald Mtetemela (Tanzania), Peter Jensen (Sydney), and Nicholas Okoh (Nigeria); Bishops Don Harvey (Canada), Bill Atwood (Kenya) representing Archbishop Greg Venables (Southern Cone), Bishop Bob Duncan (Anglican Communion Network), Bishop Martyn Minns (Convocation of Anglicans in North America), Canon Dr Vinay Samuel (India and England) and Canon Dr Chris Sugden (England). Bishops Michael Nazir-Ali (Rochester, England), Bishop Wallace Benn (Lewes, England) were consulted by telephone.

Once upon a time the Global South also formed a leadership team, a Steering Committee consisting 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

Assoc Secretary: Bishop Martyn Minns
Asst Secretaries: Canon Wong Tak Meng, Canon Terry Wong

It was noted by the Global South Webpages that "other Global South Primates do participate in some of the meetings as and when the need arises. The Most Revd Henry Orombi (Uganda) participated in the recent meeting in London."

Only Primates Akinola, Kolini and Venables of that list were part of the leadership team for GAFCON. Archbishop Orombi, present at an earlier meeting also was part of this planning group. Primates Gomez, Malango, Anis and Chew were not part of this planning. The list now is considerably more weighted toward the swath of Provinces across Africa below the Sahara and above the Southern Africa, with a smattering of pasty white guys from the Unites States, and Canada, one member each from Pakistan and India, both now in England, and an Australian. Scratch the Canadian, two English, two immigrants to England, two US bishops and one Canadian bishop and the Australian, none of whom are Global South. What is left? The answer is five Primates.

GAFCON's leadership includes only one Primate from the Western Hemesphere – Bishop Venables from Argentina and the Province of the Sothern Cone, who was represented there by an American bishop from Kenya. The only person the group could muster from Asia is someone from Australia, definitely not Global South.

The conclusion is that this conference is being called by a core group of five African Provinces, or at least the Primates of those five Provinces, with the encouragement of a smattering of bishops and two Primates from outside Africa. Bishop Duncan of the Network and Bishop Minns of CANA represent genuine constituencies in the US. Both have sworn to stand by the directives of the Global South Steering Committee concerning future developments. The connection between the Primates of Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and incursions into the US is clear in that they have all ordained bishops serving in the US under their direction. Tanzania is less directly connected but is identifying itself with the rest. Venables from the Province of the Southern Cone is also involved in these incursions.

Whatever happened to The Global South? Well, following the first Global South Encounter, to which many bishops from the sociological / economic "global south" were invited and came, the GS moved distinctly in the direction of what is now understood to be the New Improved Neo Fundamentalist Anglican Communion (NINFAC). Various previously invited bishops found themselves no longer invited. The group became "Global South Anglicans," and became a party in the Anglican Communion party conflict. Thus the Global South Anglican group does not represent the Global South and increasingly does not represent Anglicanism.

In the strange world of those on the edge of Anglican Land, the Global South is not the Global South, and, oh yes, the Global Anglican Future Conference is not about Global Anglicanism. GAFCON is a meeting whose leadership consists of those who benefit from incursions into the Provinces of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada. It is a meeting of those who no longer care about the Anglican Communion as currently constituted. The leadership claims GAFCON not to be an instrument of the Global South. They are right. GAFCON is a delusion based on an illusion based on a fiction.

GAFCON will be a meeting to scrap the whole thing we have come to know as Anglicanism and begin something new. It will be trumpeted by its leadership as the best thing to happen to the Christian Church since the delivery of the faith to the saints once upon a time.

And they will be wrong.


  1. Mark - how do you define "Global South"? Australia is certainly in the southern hemisphere, and Sydney Diocese, along with a few others in Australia are certainly closer theologically to most of the African, Asian and Southern American Provinces than to North America. I'm a bit surprised that you so quickly discount the Archbishop of Sydney and his diocese as not being "Global South".

  2. The lack of a big "Welcome to our Province / Diocese, we're delighted to be hosting this conference..." type message on the website from either +Anis (J&ME primate) or +Dawani (Jerusalem diocesan) is curious. It just makes it look like the annoying relatives have invited themselves to have a pool-party in your backyard!

  3. On Oct. 30, nine primates issued a communiqué from Shanghai in which they called for:

    "7.3 We request the Steering Committee to start preparations for the 4th Encounter of the Global South in 2008;"

    Among the nine primates signing the Shanghai communiqué were Archbishop Chew and Bishop Mouneer. I would not assume that they are opposed to this week’s announcement.

    Mark McCall

  4. I've never been to Australia, but I get the distinct impression that it is not a "developing" country, as are the sub-Saharan African countries who are leading this whole thing. From the pictures I've seen, Melbourne and Sydney are sharply different places from Lagos and Dar Es Salaam.
    From what I understand, the Australian Anglican Church is divided between the Sydney diocese and all the rest. The rest of us outside Australia marvel at the presence of a harsh and strictly anti-Remonstrant Calvinist diocese in the midst of one of the most cosmopolitan and tolerant cities on earth. Not even 17th century Amsterdam had such a presence.

  5. To clarify, Don Harvey was a bishop in the Anglican Church of Canada, and was retired, but he formally relinquished his ministry, including all spiritual authority, in November and so his status in Canada is akin to a lay person. He is not licensable and should not be identified as a bishop. Subsequent to his relinquishment an announcement by a schismatic group was made to the effect that Mr Harvey had been welcomed as a bishop (!) in the Southern Cone, which apparently now includes Newfoundland. But how someone who has relinquished all spiritual authority one day can claim to have some spiritual authority the next is a mystery.

  6. Brian F's comment reflects the unthinking literalism that has driven so much of this destructive conflict.

    Global South, dear Brian, refers to what, at other times, has been called "the Third World," "the Two-Thirds World" and "the Developing World." It is a term that has meaning beyond Anglicanism. It reflects the fact that most (but not all) developed economies are in the Northern hemisphere, while most of the "developing" or "underdeveloped" economies are in the Southern.

    Australia is certainly in the Southern hemisphere. It is only by gross distortion that one could possibly describe it in terms of the Global South.

  7. If Jensen signs up with the new organization, will there finally be a legitimate Anglican presence in Sydney, after all these years?

  8. Further to (and contradicting) my comment yesterday, there is now some indication that the other members of the Global South Steering Committee were not in fact consulted about the Jerusalem conference. See the piece by Michael Poon (and comments) on the Global South Anglican website. (I tried two ways to post the link, but couldn’t pull it off; but I suspect everyone can find it without the link.)

    Mark McCall

  9. The Australian Province is much more complex than many of you seem to think. Sydney is only one, and by far the largest, of a few evangelical dioceses in Australia. There are also a few which could be characterised as Anglo-Catholic, at least one which is generally charismatic, and most of the rest are more liberal-catholic. But even within Sydney there are some liberal congregations, and within the large liberal dioceses there are some very significant evangelical congregations.

    The evangelical and anglo-catholic dioceses together carry enough votes in General Synod to prevent the Anglican Church of Australia from slipping into extreme liberalism. I think this is why the Australian church has up to now been so resistant to women bishops, and certainly has not nationally affirmed the place of active homosexuals in ministry, although some of the liberal dioceses have ordained active homosexuals. Although we have a liberal Primate, who is enthusiastic about ECUSA, the national church was very equivocal in its reaction to the response of ECUSA's HoB meeting in NO to the Dar Es Salaam Primates communique.

    I thought "Global South" as used in reference to the Anglican Communion was more about theological distinctives than socio-economic development, and was not completely coincident with the Global South as used in a secular sense.

  10. Brian said: "I thought "Global South" as used in reference to the Anglican Communion was more about theological distinctives than socio-economic development, and was not completely coincident with the Global South as used in a secular sense."

    Sure. But your initial complaint treated it as being about geography - I note your precise words: "Australia is certainly in the southern hemisphere." That the phrase is not about geography might even be obvious from the fact that its episcopal epicentre, Nigeria, is actually in the Northern hemisphere - as is at about half of Uganda and half of Kenya, not to mention the Province of South East Asia.

    The Australian Church has a number of distinct "parties" within it. So does the American Church, the Canadian Church, the English, Irish, Welsh and Scots Churches. Indeed, the only Provinces in the Communion which seem to claim a hegemonic unanimity of belief are those run by the ever so tolerant and democratic Prince Primates of the so-called Global South who remind us at every opportunity that every single member of their Churches is in absolute agreement with them on every substantive point in the present dispute.

    Of course, any sensible person would take such a declaration of unanimity with a very large block of salt.


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.