A letter from Archbishop Foley Beach to Gafcon.
Beloved in Christ Jesus: Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Light of the world!
The season of Epiphany has been a reminder to us of the mission of the Church – to reach people with the Good News of Jesus Christ. With the Great Commission Jesus encouraged his disciples:
Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that I have command you; and I am with you until the end of the age. (Matthew 28:19, 20).
One of the great joys of the Anglican Communion is that it has the potential to demonstrate the gospel ‘mystery’ of being heirs, members and sharers together by a common global life and mission. It has been my privilege to share in the installation of Archbishop Melter Tais as the new Primate of South East Asia. It is a joy to be with brothers and sisters who are so united in mission and in love for Jesus.
Please pray for Archbishop-elect Stephen Kaziimba as the Church of Uganda prepares for his enthronement service on Sunday, March 1st, at which I have been invited to preach. The Ugandan Church has a noble history of faithfulness to Christ, from the early martyrs of the mid 1880’s through to Janani Luwum in 1977 and countless acts of courageous witness for Christ to the present day. We give thanks for the Ugandan witness throughout the decades. May this Church, truly seeded by the blood of the martyrs, reveal even more of the glorious mystery of the gospel in its life together!
Christian discipleship and leadership calls us to make disciples of all nations and it requires us to protect the flock from false teachers. Encountering false teachers is nothing new in the history of the Church. The New Testament is filled with exhortations regarding false teachers. The Apostle Paul was concerned about what was happening in his beloved church plant in the city of Ephesus and wrote: “For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them…” (Ephesians 5:5-7).
Did Paul say not to love them? No. He said not to become partners with them. This is the real challenge for many of our brothers and sisters in the Anglican Communion who have had years of partnership and fellowship and communion with provinces who now are filled with false teachers and with those who are practicing immorality. While the Anglican Establishment argues that this does not matter – that we can agree to disagree on issues of salvation—the Scriptures are clear that we are dishonouring the Body of Christ and the Lord himself when we ignore false teachers and pretend everything is just fine. (See 1 Corinthians 5:11-13 and 2 John 1:10-11).
Recognising the difference between true and false teachers and true and false “togetherness” calls for discernment. I strongly recommend a new tool that helps us in this task by recalling our recent history. The Anglican Reality Check (www.anglicanrealitycheck.org) is an interactive time-line which tracks key events, good and bad, in the unfolding crisis of faith which has overtaken the Anglican Communion in the twenty-first century. It is amazing how much we can forget, and in a world of instant mass communication, this is a great way of keeping perspective and not being swayed by the latest PR slogans. Please spread the word and ensure that this powerful resource is used as widely as possibly to keep the laity and clergy informed.
In the meantime, the Gafcon Networks have continued to work and minister so as to enhance the proclamation of the Gospel all around the world, especially to those in places where they have no witness or church. These Networks – the Suffering Church, Church Planting, Theological Education, Women’s Ministries, Bishop Training Institute, Youth and Children’s Ministry, Global Mission Partnerships, Lawyers Task Force, Sustainable Development, and PRAYER – are all working to help equip the Church for the work God has given us. You can find out more at www.gafcon.org/neworks.
Please also pray for KIGALI 2020 in Rwanda, an important conference for bishops and their wives. Archbishop Kwashi, Archbishop Mbanda, and their teams are working hard to prepare for our arrival in June. If you are a bishop in the Anglican Communion and can affirm the Jerusalem Declaration, you are welcome to attend.
I invite you today to go out and share Jesus with someone!
Give us grace, O Lord, to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ and proclaim to all people the Good News of his salvation, that we and the whole world may perceive the glory of his marvelous works; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. – Collect for Third Sunday of Epiphany
Your brother in the hope and faith of Christ,
The Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach
Chairman, Gafcon Primates Council