GAFCON23: Solving world problems requires concerted efforts of nations, religious organisations – PM Ngirente

Prime Minister Dr.Edouard Ngirente said that consolidated efforts of state and non-sate actors, including religious affiliations and civil society organizations are needed to solve problems facing the world today such as climate change, wars and conflicts, family challenges and effects of global pandemics.

Ngirente made the remarks on Monday 17 April as he presided over the official opening ceremony for the 4th Global Anglican Future Conference taking place in Kigali from 17-21 April which is held under the theme, “To whom shall we go?”

This conference draws together Anglicans from around the world who are seeking to guard the unchanging, transforming gospel of Jesus Christ and to proclaim Him to the world. More than 1300 people from 53 nations will participate in this week-long summit.

In his remarks, Ngirente commended the Anglican church of Rwanda for the continued collaboration with the Government in the implementation of programs in health, education and income generation projects, which he said are improving the lives of citizens.

Ngirente said: “Rwanda appreciates the role of churches, including the Anglican Church of Rwanda, in the process of unity and reconciliation as well as in contributing to socio-economic transformation of our country.” 

The Prime Minister expects the conference to make strides in uniting the Church and bringing nations together for the wellbeing of mankind.

Ngirente also commented on the role of spiritual leaders saying that communities look to them to seek guidance on how to build satisfying lives. He added that every leader should always be defined by values, and by the example that he sets for people.

In his welcoming remarks, the Archbishop of the Church of Rwanda, Dr. Laurent Mbanda quoted the prophet Jeremiah in chapter 23:26 where the scripture warns against inescapable consequences of rejecting the authority of God’s word.

Mbanda said that GAFCON wants, desires and commits to bringing and keeping the Bible at the center of everything we do. “Let us keep the unchanging Word of God.”

GAFCON 2023 is taking place at a unique time in the history of the Anglican Church following the recent Church of England’s decision to create and implement prayers of blessing for same-sex marriages.

In response, the Primates of The Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (who represent the majority of the world’s worshipping Anglicans) declared that they are in impaired communion with the Church of England and said that they do not recognise the present Archbishop of Canterbury as the “first among equals” leader of the global Anglican Communion.

According to the Most Reverend Benjamin Kwashi, the General Secretary of GAFCON and an Archbishop in the Anglican Church of Nigeria, the Bible stands at the heart of the faith that all Anglican Churches have inherited from the Church of England. 

“I am praying that as we meet together in Kigali, we will be encouraged to continue to walk as disciples of Jesus Christ, no matter what challenges are set before us,” said Archbishop Kwashi.

It is expected that some of the meetings at GAFCON Four will be discussing the recent developments in the Church of England and what they mean for the majority of the 85 million Anglicans worldwide.

“Again and again, when Anglican dioceses have moved away from the clear teaching of scripture, it leads to the establishment of alternative episcopal oversight. It happened first in Canada and the United States, and for over 20 years now it has continued to be needed in Australia, Brazil, England, New Zealand, Scotland, and throughout the world,” said The Most Reverend Dr Foley Beach, Chairman of GAFCON and Primate and Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America. 

“Now that the Church of England has decided to create and implement prayers of blessing for same-sex marriages, GAFCON expects that the numbers of those seeking alternative episcopal oversight will only increase,” said Archbishop Beach.

Delegates at the conference will hear Bible Studies by Bishop Jay Behan (Church of Confessing Anglicans in New Zealand), Archbishop James Wong (Anglican Church of the Indian Ocean), Archbishop Kanishka Raffel (Anglican Diocese of Sydney, Australia) and Archbishop Stephen Kaziimba (Anglican Church of Uganda). There will be Plenary Sessions each day as well as a number of seminars.

GAFCON stands for the Global Anglican Future Conference and they gather together for a conference every five years. The last conference was held in Jerusalem in 2018.