Over at Virtue Online:
VIRTUEONLINE sat down with the Church of England in South Africa (CESA) Presiding Bishop Desmond Inglesby at the GAFCON conference in London and talked about his church, his relationship with GAFCON and the rest of the Anglican Communion. The Presiding Bishop of his church is based in Cape Town, South Africa. He is a delegate to the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA) conference held at St. Mark’s Church, Battersea Rise, London.
VOL: The Church of England in South Africa (CESA) was constituted in 1938 as a federation of churches. Your first bishop, the Rt. Rev. G. Frederick B. Morris was appointed in 1955. You are an Anglican church, but you are not a member of the Anglican Communion. However, you relate closely to the Sydney Diocese of the Anglican Church of Australia, to which you are similar in ethos and theology. You see yourselves as a bastion of the Reformation and particularly of reformed doctrine. Is that a correct understanding of the situation as it was then and still exists today?
INGLESBY: Yes that is correct. We are a Reformed Evangelical Anglican Church. We subscribe to the 39 Articles, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal. These collectively are the touchstone of true Anglicanism since the Reformation in England.
VOL: Presiding Bishop, with the growing realignment in the Anglican Communion among orthodox (evangelical) Anglicans globally, where do you see the place of the Church of England in South Africa? Do you see yourself having a place at the table of global orthodox Anglicanism?
INGLESBY: We received an invitation to GAFCON 1 and the recent FCA Leadership conference. We are very grateful that the GAFCON Primates saw their way clear to inviting us. We see their invitation as their acceptance and recognition of CESA. Because we are Anglicans, we are delighted to be part of GAFCON/FCA and will endeavour to do whatever we can to build up the fellowship of the Anglican Communion.
VOL: Do you think the FCA is the (new) vehicle to unite all evangelical Anglicans globally? Would you be happy to see FCA be the uniting force for ALL evangelical Anglicans in southern Africa? Would you work towards that end now that you have been attending this conference in London?
INGLESBY: Yes I do. I was very encouraged to see the focus on Biblical truth at the recent FCA Leadership Conference. With a theme like ‘The Uniqueness and Supremacy of the Lord Jesus Christ’, the emphasis was clearly on the gospel. GAFCON/FCA is providing clear Biblical leadership where Canterbury has failed.
FCA in South Africa is still in its infancy and is a work in progress. It falls mainly under the control of evangelicals in ACSA. Historically ACSA has been regarded as the “official” Anglican Church in South Africa. CESA affirmed the Jerusalem Declaration at its Synod in 2008. In my opinion, there is still work to be done to strengthen FCA’s hand in Southern Africa if it is going to unite all evangelical Anglicans in Southern Africa.
VOL: With the decline of the Church of England (in England) it would seem oxymoronic to still cling to this name to describe yourselves. Do you anticipate changing it in the future?
INGLESBY: We are in the process of considering a name change. The name ‘Church of England in South Africa’ is an anomaly. It has colonial overtones and, to some extent, is linked with Apartheid. More importantly, we need to align ourselves with the Anglican Church worldwide. Most Anglican provinces changed their name about 20-30 years ago. In choosing a new name, we must clearly identify ourselves as Anglicans and seek in this capacity to reach the “new” South Africa.
VOL: In the United States, evangelical Anglicans and Anglo-Catholics reside, if somewhat uneasily together, under the umbrella of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) as a front against the ultra-liberal Episcopal Church. Could such a coalescence of evangelical Anglicans be possible in South Africa?
INGLESBY: In South Africa we have the unusual but not unique situation where there is more than one Anglican denomination. I’m aware of at least 4 – ACSA (Anglican Church of Southern Africa) TAC (Traditional Anglican Church) ACC (Anglican Catholic Church) & CESA. They are all separate and quite different in character. Over time there have been some fierce legal battles fought between CESA & ACSA (who share a common heritage), but these are something of the past. Although we remain separate, we do co-exist harmoniously. A combined ACSA/CESA liaison committee meets once year to keep the lines of communication open. Structurally, we will always remain separate, but I think that GAFCON can provide an umbrella under which we can co-operate and fellowship together.
VOL: The Anglican Church of Southern Africa has been bought lock, stock and barrel by the Episcopal Church who has poured millions of dollars over the years into this province breaking the unified orthodox Anglican front on that continent. Do you see any hope that this Anglican province will repent of its positions on homosexuality, gay marriage and more?
INGLESBY: I am aware that Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori recently visited South Africa. I am not privy to the financial arrangements between ACSA and TEC. If ACSA or any other denomination condones the ordination of homosexual clergy, the consecration of homosexual Bishops or accepts gay marriages, they should repent and return to Biblical standards. In my opinion, they will only repent if they see that these practices as sinful and in conflict with the clear teaching of God’s word.
VOL: What is CESA’s views on the ordination of women to either the Diaconate or priesthood?
INGLESBY: CESA recognizes the invaluable contribution that women make to gospel ministry and the life of the church. That women play a strategic role in gospel ministry is clearly evident in our Lord’s ministry. We have women involved, some employed, in many areas of ministry. Our understanding is that God’s order for women in the home is the same for the church. Women are not called to teach, preach or lead in the public congregation where men are present. Women are equal but different to men. They are specifically called to teach women. CESA does not ordain women to either the diaconate or priesthood.
VOL: Your predecessor Bishop Frank J. Retief was not invited to attend the Lambeth Conference held in 2008 either as a Bishop of the Anglican Church or as a Bishop of the church in full communion with the Anglican Communion. Do you think things will change enough in the next few years that you might be invited to attend the next Lambeth in 2018?
INGLESBY: The fact that CESA Bishops are not invited to Lambeth remains a mystery to us. It would be enlightening for us to know on what grounds we are excluded. Stephen Hofmeyr (QC) points out that Bishop Morris as Bishop in North Africa had been a member of the Anglican Communion’s Lambeth Conference since 1948, but as Bishop in the Church of England in South Africa he was not invited in 1958. Quoting Stephen: “If the Anglican Communion were to abide by its own standards, CESA, it seems, should be one of its component parts – contributing to the Anglican Communion and receiving a contribution from the Anglican Communion. One can only hope that, when future invitations are sent out for the Lambeth Conference, a spirit of truth and love will prevail.”