Can the Global South Fellowship of Anglicans chase the snakes out of the Anglican Communion?

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In the Bible, the desert, or wilderness, is a place where God teaches and forms his people. Moses led the Israelites through the desert for forty years before they entered the Promised Land, Jesus spent forty days in the desert before he began his formal ministry.

Yesterday, in a monastery in the Egyptian desert, the Global South Fellowship of Anglicans (GSFA) met for their first Assembly, under their new covenantal structures. Their purpose? To reset the Anglican Communion.

In his keynote address, the current Chair of the GSFA, the Primate of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan, Archbishop Justin Badi, set out their plan.

Under the Cairo Covenant, provinces, dioceses and other networks of churches will "covenant with each other to stay faithful to the plain and canonical teaching of God's word and to be mutually accountable to each other in matters of Faith and Order." In effect they will form a "holy remnant" within the divided and theologically diverse Anglican Communion.

Archbishop Badi made clear that this remnant will not "walk together" or have "good disagreement" with Canterbury and other revisionist provinces. He repeated the message he first gave at the Lambeth Conference in 2022, "The GSFA Primates and I say, 'We cannot walk together in sin, unless there is repentance by those who have gone astray, we cannot have unity at the expense of God's life-giving truth.'"

And it is this life-giving truth which is the focus of all that has taken place so far in Egypt. The GSFA is preparing for mission – even in places where evil dominates. Archbishop Badi offered hope to those facing "suffering, injustice and chaos", saying, "But our God is never late. As we pray and work for his renewing kingdom, He will even harness the work of the forces of evil to achieve his salvation purposes. In the midst of darkness, the glory of God will shine on his people; and through his people that light will bring life and hope to all who call on the Lord. The nations will see and experience the salvation that only God can bring."

It was a message exemplified by Archbishop Stephen Than of the Church of the Province of Myanmar, who held out a wooden cross engraved with two whips representing natural and man-made disasters, and edged with silver. Holding it up, he said, "These disasters pressure and force us to share our tears and blood. In the middle of the cross, brothers and sisters, every cloud has a silver lining ... Jesus Christ, the gospel of Jesus Christ is our silver lining."

The Global South Fellowship of Anglicans has waited twenty-five years for the Instruments of the Anglican Communion to bring order to the divided church community, but they will wait no longer. They may respect the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Seat of Augustine, but Archbishop Badi had a message for the current incumbent: "We deeply lament the current situation in the Church of England and in revisionist provinces. We pray that they will 'come out of Babylon' (Isaiah 48:20) and return to obeying God's word."

As the bishops of the Church of England meet today to discuss plans for introducing standalone services of same-sex blessing, they may want to consider the voice of the GSFA. If they don't, they may find themselves being evicted, because Archbishop Justin was very clear what should happen to the liberal teaching in the Church: "I always say, in Africa we live in tukuls. When a snake enters your tukul you don't run away, it is the snake – you chase it away. So, we will struggle. The liberals, we will chase them out of our beloved Communion."

The Assembly of the Global South Fellowship of Anglicans is being livestreamed. Details can be found on their Facebook page.

Susie Leafe is director of Anglican Futures, which supports orthodox Anglicans in the UK.