In a revolutionary move bordering on schismatic, African archbishops unilaterally announced Sunday in Jerusalem that they have taken over the leadership of the Anglican Church from England and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.
Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Southern Cone, Uganda and West Africa and, later, the Anglican Church of Tanzania, will form a new Council of Primates purporting to provide new leadership for the Anglican Communion, according to press release published at the end of a seven-day conference held in Jerusalem.
"The uniqueness of the Jerusalem Declaration is that the Africans are sending out a clear message to England saying in essence that this is our church," said Rev. Dr. Arne H. Fjeldstad, Head of Communications for the Global Anglican Future (GAFCON) conference, which ended Sunday.
A year and a half ago, I advised the West to just give the Africans the Communion rather than agonise over slavery. But the Africans have now taken it.
Such a move is revolutionary. It reverses the whole "home/mission" mentality that has dominated Western Christianity for the last three centuries, and well it should. It gives Africans and other people outside the developed countries "ownership" of Christianity, which they richly deserve. That ownership–something they haven’t quite taken with the world’s economic system–will go a long way to immunise them from the silly trends in the West.
And that has implications that reverberate far beyond the Anglican close.