ACNS 4061 MIDDLE EAST 31 OCTOBER 2005
The Third Anglican Global South to South Encounter
Red Sea (Egypt), 25-30 October 2005
The Third Anglican South-to-South Encounter has graphically demonstrated the coming of age of the Church of the Global South. We are poignantly aware that we must be faithful to God's vision of one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. We do not glory in our strengths but in God's strength. We do not shrink from our responsibility as God's people because of our weaknesses but we trust God to demonstrate His power through our weakness. We thank God for moving us forward to serve Him in such a time as this.
1. A total of 103 delegates of 20 provinces in the Global South (comprising Africa, South and South East Asia, West Indies and South America), representing approximately two-thirds of the Anglican Communion, met for the 3rd Global South to South Encounter from 25-30 October 2005 at Ain El-Sukhna by the Red Sea in Egypt. The theme of the Encounter was "One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church: Being A Faithful Church For Such A Time As This".
2. We deeply appreciated the Archbishop of Canterbury for the time he spent with us, his listening ear and encouraging words. We took to heart his insight that the four marks of the Church are not attributes we possess as our own right, nor goals to attain by human endeavour, but they are expressed in us as we deeply focus on Jesus Christ, who is the Source of them all (John 17:17-21).
3. We were really warmed by the welcome that we received here by the President, the government and the people of Egypt. We valued the great efforts made by the state security personnel who are making the land of Egypt a secure and safe place to all her visitors. We were touched by the warm hospitality of the Diocese of Egypt.
4. We have witnessed in Egypt a wonderful model for warm relations between Christians and Muslims. We admire the constructive dialogue that is happening between the two faiths. We appreciated the attendance of the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Dr Mohammed Said Tantawi, the representative of Pope Shenouda III and other religious leaders at the State Reception to launch our Encounter. We were encouraged by their wise contributions.
B. We Gathered
5. We gathered to seek the face of God, to hear His Word afresh and to be renewed by His Spirit for total obedience to Christ who is Lord of the Church. That is why the gathering was called an "Encounter" rather than a conference. The vital question we addressed was: What does it mean to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church in the midst of all the challenges facing the world and the Church?
6. The world of the Global South is riddled with the pain of political conflict, tribal warfare and bloodshed. The moral and ethical foundations of several of our societies are being shaken. Many of our nations are beset by problems of poverty, ignorance and sickness, particularly the HIV and AIDS that threaten millions, especially in Africa. In addition to that, thousands of people have suffered from severe drought in Africa, earthquakes in South Asia, and hurricanes in the Americas - we offer our support and prayers to them.
7. Apart from the world condition, our own Anglican Communion sadly continues to be weakened by unchecked revisionist teaching and practices which undermine the divine authority of the Holy Scripture. The Anglican Communion is severely wounded by the witness of errant principles of faith and practice which in many parts of our Communion have adversely affected our efforts to take the Gospel to those in need of God's redeeming and saving love.
8. Notwithstanding these difficult circumstances, several parts of our Communion in the Global South are witnessing the transforming power of the Gospel and the growth of the Church. The urgency of reaching vast multitudes in our nations for Christ is pressing at our door and the
fields are ready for harvest.
9. Surrounded by these challenges and seeking to discover afresh our identity we decided to dig deeper into God's Word and into the tradition of the Church to learn how to be faithful to God's gift and call to be His one, holy, catholic and apostolic people. We deliberately chose to meet in Egypt for two reasons:
a. Biblically, Egypt features prominently in the formative period of the calling of God's people (Exodus 19). Moreover, Egypt was part of the cradle that bore the entry of the Savior into the world (Hosea 11:1; Matthew 2:13-15).
b. Meeting by the Red Sea, we could not help but be inspired by the historic crossing of God's people into the realm where He purposed to make them a "light to the nations" (Isaiah 42:6). Part of that blessing was fulfilled when Alexandria became a center of early Christianity, where church fathers formulated and held on to the
Christian faith through the early centuries.
C. We Discovered Afresh
10. We discovered afresh the depth and richness of our roots in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. Carefully researched papers were presented at the Encounter in the context of worship, prayer, Bible Study and mutual sharing. We recognize the dynamic way in which the four marks of the Church are inextricably interwoven. The salient truths we encountered inspired us and provided a basis for knowing what God requires of us.
The Church is One
11. The Church is called to be one. Our unity is willed by our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, who prayed that we "all might be one." (John 17:20-21) A great deal of confusion has arisen out of misunderstanding that prayer and the concept of unity. For centuries, the Church has found unity in the Person and teaching of Jesus Christ, as recorded in Scripture. We are one in Him, and that binds us together. The foundation and expression of our unity is found in Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord.
12. While our unity may be expressed in institutional life, our unity is grounded in our living relationship with the Christ of Scripture. Unity is ever so much more than sharing institutionally. When we are "in Christ," we find that we are in fellowship with others who are also in Him. The fruit of that unity is that we faithfully manifest the life and love of Christ to a hurting and groaning world (Romans 8:18-22).
13. Christian unity is premised on truth and expressed in love. Both truth and love compel us to guard the Gospel and stand on the supreme authority of the whole Word of God. The boundary of family identity ends within the boundary of the authentic Word of God.
The Church is Holy
14. The Church of Jesus Christ is called to be holy. All Christians are to participate in the sanctification of their lives through submission, obedience and cooperation with the Holy Spirit. Through repentance the Church can regain her rightful position of being holy before God. We believe concurrently that holiness is imparted to us through the life, ministry, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ (Heb 10:21-23). He shares His holiness with us and invites us to be conformed to His likeness.
15. A holy Church is prepared to be a "martyr" Church. Witness unto death is how the Early Church articulated holiness in its fullest sense (Acts 22:20; Rev 2:13, 12:11).
The Church is Catholic
16. The Catholic faith is the universal faith that was "once for all" entrusted to the apostles and handed down subsequently from generation to generation (Jude 3). Therefore every proposed innovation must be measured against the plumb line of Scripture and the historic teaching of the Church.
17. Catholicity carries with it the notion of completeness and wholeness. Thus in the church catholic "when one part suffers, every part suffers with it" (1 Cor 12:26). The local church expresses its catholicity by its devotion to apostolic teaching, its attention to prayer and the sacrament, its warm and caring fellowship and its growth through evangelism and mission (Acts 2:42-47).
The Church is Apostolic
18. The Church is apostolic in its doctrine and teaching. The apostolic interpretation of God's salvation plan effected in Christ Jesus is binding on the Church. God established the Church on the "foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone" (Eph 2:20).
19. The Church is apostolic in its mission and service. "As the Father has sent Me, so I send you." (John 20:21) In each generation He calls bishops in apostolic succession (Eph 4:11-12) to lead the Church out into mission, to teach the truth and to defend the faith. Accountability to God, to those God places over us and to the flock is an integral part of church leadership.
D. We Commit
20. As a result of our Encounter, we emerge with a clearer vision of what the Church is called to be and to do, with a renewed strength to pursue that vision. Specifically, we made commitments in the following areas.
The Authority of the Word of God
21. Scripture demands, and Christian history has traditionally held, that the standard of life, belief, doctrine, and conduct is the Holy Scripture. To depart from apostolic teaching is to tamper with the foundation and to undermine the basis of our unity in Christ. We express full confidence in the supremacy and clarity of Scripture, and pledge full obedience to the whole counsel of God's Word.
22. We in the Global South endorse the concept of an Anglican Covenant (rooted in the Windsor Report) and commit ourselves as full partners in the process of its formulation. We are seeking a Covenant that is rooted in historic faith and formularies, and that provides a biblical foundation for our life, ministry and mission as a Communion. It is envisaged that once the Covenant is approved by the Communion, provinces that enter into the Covenant shall be mutually accountable, thereby providing an authentic fellowship within the Communion.
23. Anglicans of the Global South have discovered a vibrant spiritual life based on Scripture and empowered by the Spirit that is transforming cultures and communities in many of our provinces. It is to this life that we seek to be formed and found fully faithful. We reject the expectation that our lives in Christ should conform to the misguided theological, cultural and sociological norms associated with sections of the West.
Mission and Ministry
24. Churches in the Global South commit to pursue networking with one another to add strength to our mission and ministry. We will continue to explore appropriate structures to facilitate and support this.
25. Shared theological foundations are crucial to authentic fellowship and partnership in mission and ministry. In that light, we welcome the initiative to form the Council of Anglican Provinces of the Americas and the Caribbean (CAPAC). It is envisaged that CAPAC will not only provide a foundation on the historic formularies of Anglican faith but also provide a structure with which member churches can carry out formal ministry partnerships with confidence.
26. Global South is committed to provide our recognition, energy, prayers and experience to the Networks in the USA and Canada, the Convocation of Nigerian Anglicans in the USA, those who make Common Cause and the Missionary District that is gathering congregations that circumstances have pressed out of ECUSA. We are heartened by the bold witness of their people. We are grateful that the Archbishop of Canterbury publicly recognized the Anglican Communion Network in the USA and the Anglican Network in Canada as faithful members of the Anglican Communion.
27. As for the other provinces and dioceses around the world who remain steadfastly committed to this faith, we look forward to further opportunities to partner with them in the propagation of the Gospel. We will also support those orthodox dioceses and congregations which are under difficult circumstances because of their faithfulness to the Word.
We appreciate the recent action of the Primate of the Southern Cone who acted to stabilize the volatile situation in Recife, Brazil.
In this regard, we take this opportunity to acknowledge the immense contribution of the Primate of South East Asia to the development of the Global South and to the preservation of orthodoxy across the worldwide Anglican Communion.
28. In order to provide teaching that preserves the faith and fits our context, it is crucial to update the curricula of our theological institutions in the Global South to reflect our theological perspective and mission priorities. We note from the All Africa Bishops Conference their concern that far too many Western theological education institutions have become compromised and are no longer suitable for training leaders for our provinces. We call for the re-alignment of our priorities in such a way as to hasten the full establishment of adequate theological education institutions across the Global South so that our leaders can be appropriately trained and equipped in our own context.
We aim to develop our leaders in biblical and theological training, and seek to nurture indigenous theologians. We will provide information on institutions in the Global South, and we will encourage these institutions to explore ways to provide bursaries and scholarships.
The Current Crisis provoked by North American Intransigence
29. The unscriptural innovations of North American and some western provinces on issues of human sexuality undermine the basic message of redemption and the power of the Cross to transform lives. These departures are a symptom of a deeper problem, which is the diminution of the authority of Holy Scripture. The leaders of these provinces disregard the plain teaching of Scripture and reject the traditional interpretation of tenets in the historical Creeds.
30. This Encounter endorses the perspectives on communion life found in sections A & B of the Windsor Report, and encourages all Provinces to comply with the request from the Primates' Communiqué in February 2005 which states:
"We therefore request all provinces to consider whether they are willing to be committed to the inter-dependent life of the Anglican Communion understood in the terms set out in these sections of the report."31. The Windsor Report rightly points out that the path to restoring order requires that either the innovating provinces/dioceses conform to historic teaching, or the offending provinces will by their actions be choosing to walk apart. Paragraph 12 of the Primates Communiqué says:
"Whilst there remains a very real question about whether the North American churches are willing to accept the same teaching on matters of sexual morality as is generally accepted elsewhere in the Communion, the underlying reality of our communion in God the Holy Trinity is obscured, and the effectiveness of our common mission severely hindered."32. Regrettably, even at the meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) in Nottingham in 2005, we see no evidence that both ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada are willing to accept the generally accepted teaching, nor is there evidence that they are willing to turn back from their innovations.
33. Further, the struggles of the Communion have only been exacerbated by the lack of concrete progress in the implementation of the recommendations of the Windsor Report. The slow and inadequate response of the Panel of Reference has trivialized the solemn charge from the Primates and has allowed disorder to multiply unnecessarily. We recognize with regret the growing evidence that the Provinces which have taken action creating the current crisis in the Communion continue moving in a direction that will result in their "walking apart." We call for urgent and serious implementation of the recommendations of the Windsor Report.
Unscriptural and unilateral decisions, especially on moral issues, tear the fabric of our Communion and require appropriate discipline at every level to maintain our unity. While the Global South calls for the errant provinces to be disciplined, we will continue to pray for all who embrace these erroneous teachings that they will be led to repentance and restoration.
34. Our on-going participation in ministry and mission requires godly and able spiritual leadership at all times. We are encouraged that many inspirational leaders in our midst bear witness to the Scriptures and are effectively bringing the Gospel to surrounding cultures. We commit ourselves to identify the next generation of leaders and will seek to equip and deploy them wherever they are needed.
35. We need inspirational leaders and accountability structures. These mechanisms which we are looking into must ensure that leaders are accountable to God, to those over us in the Lord, to the flock and to one another in accordance to the Scriptures. This last aspect is in keeping with the principle of bishops and leaders acting in council. In this way, leaders become the role models that are so needed for the flock.
36. The Global South emphasizes the involvement and development of youth in the life of the Church. The youth delegates encouraged the whole gathering by the following collective statement during the Encounter:
"Many youths in the Global South are taking up the challenge of living in moral purity in the face of the rising influence of immoral values and practice, and the widening epidemic of HIV and AIDS. Young people will be ready to give their lives to the ministry of the Church if she gives them exemplary spiritual leadership and a purpose to live for. Please pray that we will continue to be faithful as the Church of 'today and tomorrow'. It is also our heart's cry that the communion will remain faithful to the Gospel."Poverty
37. As the church catholic we share a common concern for the universal problem of debt and poverty. The inequity that exists between the rich and the poor widens as vast sums borrowed by previous governments were not used for the intended purposes. Requiring succeeding generations of people who never benefited from the loans and resources to repay them will impose a crushing and likely insurmountable burden. We welcome and appreciate the international efforts of debt reduction and cancellation, for example, the steps recently carried out by G8 leaders.
38. A dimension of responsible stewardship and accountability is the clear call to be financially self-sustaining. We commend the new initiative for financial self-sufficiency and development being studied by the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA). This is not only necessary because of the demands of human dignity; it is the only way to have sustainable economic stability.
HIV and AIDS
39. A holy Church combines purity and compassion in its witness and service. The population of the world is under assault by the HIV and AIDS pandemic, but the people of much of the Global South are hit particularly hard because of poverty, lifestyle habits, lack of teaching and the paucity of appropriate medication. Inspired by the significant success of the Church in Uganda in tackling HIV and AIDS, all our provinces commit to learn and apply similar intentional programmes which emphasize abstinence and faithfulness in marriage. We call on governments to ensure that they are providing adequate medication and treatment for those infected.
40. The holy Church will "show forth fruits that befit repentance" (Matt 3:8). Many of us live in regions that have been deeply wounded by corruption. Not only do we have a responsibility to live transparent lives of utmost honesty in the Church, we are called to challenge the culture in which we live (Micah 6:8). Corruption consumes the soul of society and must be challenged at all costs. Transparency and accountability are key elements that we must manifest in bearing witness to the cultures in which we live.
41. Many of us from across the Global South live juxtaposed with violent conflict, most egregiously manifest in violence against innocents. In spite of the fact that the conflicts which grip many of our provinces have resulted in many lives being lost, we are not defeated. We find hope in the midst of our pain and inspiration from the martyrs who have shed their blood. Their sacrifice calls us to faithfulness. Their witness provokes us to pursue holiness. We commit ourselves to grow to become faithful witnesses who "do not love their lives even unto death"
E. We Press On
42. We emerge from the Encounter strengthened to uphold the supreme authority of the Word of God and the doctrinal formularies that have undergirded the Anglican Communion for over four and a half centuries. Communion requires alignment with the will of God first and foremost, which establishes our commonality with one another. Such expressions of the will of God which Anglicans should hold in common are: one Lord, one faith, one baptism; Holy Scripture; apostolic teaching and practice; the historic Creeds of the Christian Church; the Articles of Religion and the doctrinal tenets as contained in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. Holding truth and grace together by the power of the Holy Spirit, we go forward as those entrusted "with the faith once delivered" (Jude 3).
43. By the Red Sea, God led us to renew our covenant with Him. We have committed ourselves to obey Him fully, to love Him wholly, and to serve Him in the world as a "kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Exodus 19:6). God has also helped us to renew our bonds of fellowship with one another, that we may "stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man in the faith of the Gospel" (Phil 1:27).
44. We offer to God this growing and deepening fellowship among the Global South churches that we might be a servant-body to the larger Church and to the world. We see ourselves as a unifying body, moving forward collectively as servants of Christ to do what He is calling us to do both locally in our provinces and globally as the "scattered people of God throughout the world" (1 Peter 1:1).
45. Jesus Christ, "that Great Shepherd of the sheep" (Heb 13:20, Micah 5:4), is caring for His flock worldwide, and He is gathering into His one fold lost sheep from every tribe and nation. We continue to depend on God's grace to enable us to participate with greater vigour in Christ's great enterprise of saving love (1 Peter 2:25, John 10:14-16).
We shall press on to glorify the Father in the power of the Spirit until Christ comes again. Even so, come Lord Jesus.
The Third Anglican Global South to South Encounter
Red Sea, Egypt, 25-30 October 2005
ACNSlist, published by Anglican Communion News Service, London