Anglican Crisis Reaches African Summit — Pray for this Church to Stand Firm in Truth

Thirty-five of the Anglican Communion’s Thirty-Eight primates, each presiding over a national church, are meeting this week in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The meeting is a last-ditch effort to avoid a total meltdown in the communion over the issue of homosexuality. Of course, the deeper issue is biblical authority — and many of the bishops attending the meeting are only too aware of this fact.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, is going to the meeting as the traditional leader of the Anglican Communion, though his leadership may undermined even before the meeting starts. The Anglican experiment is now called into question. The American church, The Episcopal Church USA [ECUSA], effectively detonated a bomb at the heart of the worldwide Anglican community by electing an openly-homosexual man as Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003.

Since then, the American church has done almost everything within its power to antagonize the global church and to make ever more clear its determination to normalize homosexuality. The Windsor Report, fashioned as an attempt to hold the Communion together, demanded that ECUSA cease and desist from electing any further homosexual bishops and apologize to its sister churches. The ECUSA response has fallen far short of those demands. Then, to add insult to the wounds, the American church elected a woman, Katharine Jefferts Schori, as its Presiding Bishop.

This may pose the first obstacle to any solution at Dar es Salaam. Bishop Jefferts Schori is not recognized by many of the other primates, who are likely to refuse to meet if she is present. The vast majority of Anglican churches worldwide do not ordain women as priests, much less as bishops.

All Christians should be in prayer for our Anglican brothers and sisters at this crucial time. There is little hope, humanly speaking, for a resolution to the conflict. The American church, joined by liberals in the Church of England, are unwilling to cease their efforts to normalize homosexuality. The churches in the “Global South” refuse to surrender biblical authority. These churches are absolutely correct in seeing the issue of homosexuality as a crucial test of theological and biblical integrity — and an unavoidable battle for the soul of their Communion.

A weakening of witness in one church or communion affects us all. We must pray that this historic and influential communion will hold the American church accountable — fulfilling the prayers of so many faithful Episcopalians who grieve the travail of their church.

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