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GAFCON Ambassador's Perspective: The launching of the new Anglican Church in Brazil

GAFCON Ambassador's Perspective: The launching of the new Anglican Church in Brazil

By Bishop Bill Atwood
Special to Virtueonline
www.virtueonline.org
May 14, 2018

Saturday evening a service brimming with young people and new Christians, marked the launch of a new Anglican Province in Brazil.

The witness and ministry of Anglicans in Recife is amazing. In fact, it may be the most robust ministry of any Anglican Diocese in the world. From care for single mothers, and after school training, to one-on-one evangelism and discipleship activities involving huge numbers, there has been a historic commitment to manifest and extend the Kingdom of God into the lives of more and more people.

An evangelistically modified Cursillo provides a platform for thousands of people to come to lively personal faith in Christ, and home cell groups incorporate them into the church's life. Several times a year, 150 unchurched married couples gather at a hotel for a course on marriage put on by these Anglicans. A course that provides a pipeline for many of those couples to come into the worshipping Body of Christ where they will be transformed by Christ, discipled, and deployed in one capacity of ministry or mission or another.

The beginnings of the new Province go back to 2005 when the then Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti and ninety percent of his clergy were excommunicated from the revisionist Episcopal church without legal process or trial. At issue was the refusal of the Bishop and his clergy to depart from Biblical authority especially in the area of human sexuality. Cut loose from their former church, the healthy evangelical diocese continued pursuing programs to touch people's lives and presenting the Gospel in word and deed. The result has been an aggressive (and effective) effort to plant churches, disciple people, and build new opportunities for outreach, with the number of congregations doubling by 2009.

Block by block, slums are "invaded" by prayers and people who turn dangerous areas of poverty into oases of the Kingdom of God. Job training programs abound, and many transformed people go back into the workforce as marketplace ministers. The plight of the Anglican Diocese of Recife reached Archbishop Greg Venables, who offered ministry licenses to the faithful clergy who were only too happy to affirm the authority of Scripture and historic Anglican faith and practice. In the midst of the growth, tragedy struck.

On February 26, 2012, Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti and his wife were brutally murdered in a knife attack in their home. Leaders reached out to Gafcon for oversight of a process to select a new Bishop.

On December 8, 2012, Miguel Uchoa was consecrated as Bishop. In the years following his consecration, the Diocese continued to grow dramatically. Needing more bishops, they reached out to Gafcon to function like an overseeing Province and authorize electing new suffragan Bishops. Before long, it became clear that the obvious trajectory was to multiply Dioceses and form a new Province in Brazil that would stay faithful to the authority of the Bible. Bishop Miguel Uchoa Cavalcanti became Archbishop-elect and the dioceses created, and the Constitution and Canons were produced for the new Province.

Last night, representatives sent by the Gafcon Primates' Council received the new Archbishop as he was presented by the people. With great fanfare, the declaration was read from the Gafcon Primates' Council recognizing the Anglican Church in Brazil as being an authentic Anglican work and welcoming the new Province into the fellowship of Gafcon, and welcoming the new Archbishop to the Gafcon Primates Council, and inviting a full delegation to attend Gafcon 2018 in Jerusalem.

For me as Gafcon Ambassador, the evening was extremely moving. Having walked with the people in Recife through many heartbreaks and unfair attacks, the launch service was particularly significant. Back in 2005, Archbishop Greg Venables asked me to deliver the clergy licenses to those who had been treated so unfairly.

When Bishop Cavalcanti was murdered, Gafcon Archbishops Tito Zavala and Bob Duncan took oversight. They sent me as Ambassador to supervise the development of the Constitution and Canons and oversee elections first of a Diocesan Bishop and then of suffragan Bishops as the Diocese grew.

As the service opened, an energetic contemporary worship team greeted the people with the cry, "Boa noite, Província!" (Portuguese for "Good evening, Province!") for the first time. The response was a roar like the Biblical "sound of many waters."

What followed was a powerful time of worship during which it was easy to see the passion on the faces of many people, especially new young disciples. Not to be outdone, however, even the gray-haired people enthusiastically joined in the celebrative worship.

Following the oaths for the new Archbishop, he was formally seated in his "cathedra," the Archbishop's chair, and then gave a stirring sermon about the commitment of the new Province to love people under the authority of the Word of God. There were two powerful points of contrast in the service last night.

The first was the breadth of acceptance from all over Brazil and around the world. There were representatives from Gafcon, as well as letters and video from a number of Primates around the Communion, including a letter of support and congratulations from Bishop Mouneer Anis, Chairman of the Global South.

In addition, there was a stirring choir from a Baptist Church, and well wishes even from places beyond Gafcon like Saddleback Church. Rick Warren sent two representatives to bring greetings for the Provincial launch and the Archbishop's enthronement. Everyone who came spoke about the extraordinarily fruitful ministry and gave their endorsement of the work and growth.

Contrasted with that was the inability of the institutional structures of the Anglican Communion to see life in those who refuse to embrace the changes away from Biblical teaching. Conservatives who do godly work like the new Anglican Church in Brazil are often derided as schismatic or vilified as "not being Anglican." Why is there such blindness to spiritual life? Perhaps it is because they are too busy trying to bail water out of their leaking boats. Perhaps it is a hardness of heart that cannot see past institutional structures into the Kingdom life they are supposed to support.

In any case, all over the Western "developed nations," churches are closing and dioceses are having to merge. How tragic they refuse to see the answer they need. It is the unashamed Gospel that is the heart of Gafcon, standing on Biblical authority. The same life that has caused the Anglican Church in Brazil to rise and be easily knit into the life of Gafcon. The Gospel life that is changing so many people's lives in Brazil. A Gospel that can do the same thing anywhere it is preached and received.

The Rt. Rev. Bill Atwood is Ambassador at large for GAFCON and Bishop of the ACNA International Diocese

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GAFCON Installs Primate of Anglican Church in Brazil

GAFCON Press Release
May 14, 2018

On Saturday, 12 May 2018, Brazilians packed the Paróquia Anglicana do Espírito Santo (Anglican Church of the Holy Spirit) to celebrate the launch of the Anglican Church in Brazil and the installation of The Most Rev. Miguel Uchoa Cavalcanti as their first Archbishop and Primate.

In 2005, the Bishop of Recife, The Rt. Rev. Robinson Cavalcanti, and ninety percent of the clergy of the diocese were excommunicated by the liberal Episcopal Church of Brazil. Though they lost some of their buildings, the Diocese carried on with a robust program of social action, evangelism, church planting, and discipleship. From 2005 to 2009, the Diocese doubled in size. In succeeding years, despite the tragic murder of Bishop Robinson, the Diocese continued to grow, and their leaders worked with the Gafcon Primates to organize the election of a new Bishop. On December 8, 2012, The Rt. Rev. Miguel Uchoa was consecrated as Diocesan Bishop.

Over the next years, the regions of the Diocese of Recife developed into Dioceses. This has led to the formation of a new Biblically orthodox Province which has been recognized by the Gafcon Primates Council not only as part of Gafcon, but also as a Province of the Anglican Communion. The Anglican Church in Brazil is the 41stProvince of the Anglican Communion.

"We thank God for our relationship with the leaders and member Provinces of Gafcon," said Archbishop Uchoa. "Through our struggles, Gafcon has been a wonderful support, helping us through the tragic death of our Bishop, and helping us organize first as a Diocese, then as additional Dioceses, and now as a Province. We are deeply grateful to be able to be a part of such a great movement that is committed to Biblical authority and historic Anglican teaching and practice."

In numerous countries around the world, the institutional structures of the Anglican Communion have been unable to bring discipline when liberal Provinces have adopted unbiblical teaching and practices. Gafcon has encouraged those who remain Biblically faithful in areas where the Gospel has been compromised.

Many greetings were shared from all around the world, including a video from Archbishop Greg Venables, Primate of South America.

Speaking of the launch of the new Province, The Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, Primate of All Nigeria and Gafcon Chairman said:

"We commend your courage to stand and be counted for Jesus at a time when many are in a state of self- inflicted confusion. We are loyal Anglicans, loyal to the faith once for all delivered to the Saints. We're ready to march forward with those who embrace, or refuse to redefine, the apostolic faith. We, as others, are redeemed sinners, but must not canonize sins in order to fill space in churches. Hearty congratulations. The eternal God is your refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms. (Dt33:27)

The Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali, Primate of Uganda and Gafcon Vice-Chairman said:

On behalf of the Province of the Church of Uganda and on my own behalf, I wish to congratulate you upon your installation as the new Archbishop and Primate of the Anglican Church of Brazil. May God who has called you uphold, guide and bless you in your ministry in your Province. We welcome you to the Gafcon family.

The Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach, Primate of North America said:

"With the Anglican Establishment not only tolerating, but now embracing revisionist theology and non-Biblical morality, it is quite refreshing to see Anglicans on fire with the Jesus of the Bible and taking seriously his commission to go make disciples!"

The Most Rev. Dr. Mouneer Anis, Bishop of the Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa and Chairman of the Global South said,

"On behalf of Primates of the Global South of the Anglican Communion, we offer our hearty congratulations to Your Grace on your election as the 1st Archbishop and Primate of the Anglican Church of Brazil. We very much look forward to working with you to advance the Kingdom of God. May the Lord bless you!"

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