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Monday, October 21st, 2013

Monday began with a full breakfast at the hotel. As most of the delegates from the Anglican Church in North America were still adjusting to the East African time zone, both the relaxed morning atmosphere, and the ample supplies of coffee were greatly appreciated. Around Noon, delegates began to be registered and certified in the hotel lobby before embarking for All Saints Cathedral just a few miles away.

All Saints Cathedral itself is a campus complex that provides ample amounts of space. A normal week at the Cathedral includes no less than 14 worship services, and encompasses a variety of ministries carried out by the cathedral, diocese, and Kenyan province.

Getting off of the buses, over 1,300 delegates streamed towards the campus center, and standing in the middle of the flow one could catch a glimpse of God’s glory as people of each race and nation joyfully, and unhurriedly made their way towards the tents surrounding the cathedral.

Of course, being Anglican, there was to be tea, and so before moving into the Trinity Center for the opening session of worship, delegates enjoyed the moderate afternoon temperatures; in some quarters striking up new conversations and in others unexpectedly reuniting with old friends.

In the opening session, the worship team led the gathering in praise and worship, and the Most Rev. Peter Jensen of Sydney, Australia, fought back tears as he welcomed delegates from 38 countries and 30 Anglican provinces.

Bishop Jensen recounted the history of the Global Anglican Future Conference by encouraging the delegates to remember that GAFCON is about proactively moving forward in common ministry, rather than waiting for other people to do something. It was an explicit reference to the failure of the Anglican Communion’s structures; the same failure that Archbishop Welby had noted the previous day. Bishop Jensen reiterated the truth about Gafcon’s founding: It isn’t a movement that is leaving the Anglican Communion; it is a gathering that, refusing to be paralyzed by a lack of unity, is focused upon the glory and holiness of God.

It was the holiness of God, and the call to personal repentance that was the capstone to the evening session. The overarching theme of the talks was that of revival, it’s history in East Africa, and the need for this renewal in our present time. Authentic revival, though it may wash over groups and churches, begins in the form of individual, personal repentance.

As a North American, accustomed to conferences held in our own countries, it was a joy to see the Africans, especially of Uganda, Kenya, and Nigeria feeling completely at home leading the conference. As Archbishop Rwaje of Rwanda rose to speak, he and the East African congregants spontaneously broke into four part harmony in a song that was both unfamiliar to most Western ears, and disappointingly short.

Following the evening service, delegates returned to the hotel to share a late evening meal.

Pictures of the days events can be seen on Facebook here.