Thinking Anglicans

GAFCON prepares for the gathering of Primates

Jonathan Petre reports in the Mail on Sunday: Repent or we quit say bishops in gays feud: Anglican church could split in challenge to Welby’s authority

Church leaders from Africa and Asia are threatening to walk out of a crucial meeting chaired by the Archbishop of Canterbury unless American bishops drop their support for gay marriage.
Archbishop Justin Welby last year invited the leaders of the worldwide Anglican Church to the summit in Canterbury next week in a ‘make or break’ effort to avert a permanent split over homosexuality.
The row has torn the Church apart for a decade – with conservatives accusing liberals of abandoning the word of God by backing openly gay bishops and marriages for gay couples – and the Archbishop wants to broker a deal to allow both sides to co-exist peacefully.
But insiders said a hardcore of eight to 12 conservative archbishops from Africa and Asia are preparing to quit the meeting on the first morning unless the liberal Americans ‘repent’ or the Archbishop throws them out…

The GAFCON website has been very active in the past few weeks, see the following links:

And Anglican Mainstream has links to further items at Canterbury Primates’ Meeting – news and commentary

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Jo
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Jo

I hope Archbishop Justin shows some courage and tells them they’re free to go. Call their bluff if it’s a bluff, make it clear who caused the schism if not.

peterpi - Peter Gross
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peterpi - Peter Gross

“Church leaders from Africa and Asia are threatening to walk out of a crucial meeting chaired by the Archbishop of Canterbury unless American bishops drop their support for gay marriage.”

If the African and Asian church leaders are really saying that:

Good-bye.
Don’t let the fancy Medieval gilded doors slam on your backside.

These churches fought for a long time to have Western churches stop telling them what to do, and now they want to tell Western churches what to do?

Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

Th optimist in me hopes that these bishops will leave as they threaten and we can have an end to this blackmail once and for all (for that is what it is, naked blackmail). The pessimist warns that there will be yet another fudge.

Jensen’s article shows why these people will never accept the ‘mixed economy’ solution, something which is obvious from ‘shared conversations’ too. There is going to be a split, any chance of a compromise, if one existed which I doubt, is long gone. The sooner it takes place the better.

Susannah Clark
Guest

To start with Eliud Wabukala’s Christmas Pastoral Letter: “If Jesus is Lord, then he must govern our relationships through his word.” What exactly does this mean? Is the ‘word’ literally true? Is it to be interpreted? How? Is it to be read in the context of the social values of its authors? Is every verse applicable to all societies in all times? In what sense is the bible ‘true’? What role does individual conscience play? Or justice? Should Canaan be re-colonised and its non-Jewish inhabitants be killed to cleanse the Promised Land? Did God even actually command that in the… Read more »

Clarejxx
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Clarejxx

Sad bigotry and an affront to my gay and Muslim friends.

Nathaniel Brown
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Nathaniel Brown

“Play our way or we’ll take our toys and go home.” I can hardly see the American bishops “repenting,” or ++Canterbury chasing them out in response to this most un-Christian blackmail. The end of the “Communion”? Let us hope so, in order that the C of E can finally be free to start to operate as a national church. We can and should pray for those that leave, but it will be a good thing if they do go.

Susannah Clark
Guest

In the ‘Anglican Communion at a Crossroads’ post, what exactly is “the truth and authority of the Bible”? How precisely should the biblical texts be read, interpreted, and understood? Are the texts literally true? Inerrant? To be read in social contexts of the authors? Are all verses for all ages? And where does interaction, conscience, judgment, change, new knowledge come in? Are we automatons, pre-programmed (if faithful) to submit individual conscience to ancient texts? Is that what we were given conscience for? If the Anglican Communion is at ‘a crossroads’, is that a decision between a rigid dogmatism insisting on… Read more »

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

A walkout by conservative churches would be a good thing. It would bring matters to a head, and force Welby to confront the inherent contradiction of attempting to keep ultra-conservative African churches happy in a liberal western society in which (for the vast majority of the population) the debate over same-sex issues is over and settled. What does he want: a Sealed Knot re-enactment of the Chatterley trial, re-fighing the culture wars of fifty years ago in the desperate hope that he’ll get a different answer (hint: he won’t), or making the CofE actually part of England, accepting that the… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

Peter Jenson, in his article ‘The Need for Gafcon’, writes of gay and lesbian sexuality: “this sin is identified as spiritually deadly and those who engage in it without repentance are outside the kingdom of God” If Gafcon seriously think that Parliament, and the majority of church members in the Church of England, will accept that, he is in ‘wonderland’. Will the Archbishop of Canterbury repudiate that statement? Is Justin Welby seriously going to try to impose ‘robust’ rules on sexuality in order to placate views like this one above? It’s just unreality, and he has a duty and responsibility… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

Peter Jensen, in ‘Why Gafcon Truly Matters’:

“The Evil One rejoices at the division of Christians. Far from being divisive, GAFCON is a great force for unity.”

Then stay unified. Don’t split or divide. Look for grace to love one another, even if people have diverse views within your church.

Like it or not, we are One in Christ, for all eternity, even if we have different views on some things. Our union and communion dwells in Christ alone.

The challenge is not “Who is most right?” It is “Who can find most grace?”

We need grace to stay together.

Turbulent Priest
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Turbulent Priest

A good principle is that if anyone offers their resignation, accept it with a good grace. And also, never threaten to resign yourself.

Concerned Anglican
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Concerned Anglican

Looking at the GAFCON website I thought that Peter Jensen, even in his posed jpg, is beginning to look quite old. It’s time for him to let go and let someone younger bring some much -needed fresh air to what is a very stale debate.

Tim Chesterton
Guest

It’s the Mail, so of course it doesn’t identify its sources. Who are these ‘insiders’? It may be true, but I wouldn’t bet the farm on it.

June Butler
Guest

I expect Justin Welby will try to smooth things over, but it may not be in his power to do so. He surely knows that churches that favor same sex marriages and blessings will not roll back their policies. Also, I don’t see how anyone can view the policies in the Church of England as anything other than homophobic. What form does the archbishop want the AC to take?

DBD
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Tim C: it’ll be the Archbishop of Here or the Bishop at There, or the Director of Stuff. Only the top dogs leak.

Cynthia
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Cynthia

It’s simply stupid. American bishops are not going to repent of following Jesus into inclusion, acting justly, and with the roar of the Holy Spirit. Further, we are a more democratic church and this threat by GAFCON won’t even be heard by 98 percent of us who have a voice in the prophetic spirit that is in our church. For those of us who hear it, there is very little to respect in the theology of hate expressed by Peter Jensen, et al. GAFCON is not operating within the realm of reality. Which is why it is a phobia. I… Read more »

Jeremy
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Jeremy

First reaction: This is classic triangulation, on an international scale. Family systems therapists will have a field day. Second reaction: ‘The end of the “Communion”? Let us hope so, in order that the C of E can finally be free to start to operate as a national church.’ Exactly. If the GAFCON primates do leave, this will not be the end, but rather will be a liberating moment, for the Communion, for Anglicanism generally, and for the Church of England in particular. The Church of England should welcome the opportunity to no longer be bullied by GAFCON primates who do… Read more »

Jeremy
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Jeremy

“Welby last year invited the leaders of the worldwide Anglican Church to the summit . . . “

Does the Mail not care that the phrase “worldwide Anglican Church” is a lie?

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

Here is a link to the New Years address by the Canadian Primate which bears directly, I think, on the agenda of the coming meeting of Primates, on its range and priorities. http://www.anglican.ca/news/primates-sermon-2016/30013839/ His grace is far less scrappy than I. His message is one that smug self styled custodians of “orthodoxy”, i.e. chaps ( they are mostly all men) who post on various right wing Anglican sad sack sites would prefer you not know about. Some would say our Primate has no leverage because he presides over a marginal province; but then, I’m cheered by the question, can anything… Read more »

Malcolm French
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Malcolm French

I think Tim makes a good point. The Mail might be a cut above a supermarket tabloid. (That said, a friend once handled media relations on a Regina story that got attention around the world. He said that the only news organization that consistently fact checked with him before publication was the National Enquirer.)

Malcolm French
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Malcolm French

In any event, I suspect TA and the few remaining religion editors could save themselves a lot of effort by just reprinting seven or eight year old stories and updating the names. That’s all GAFFEPRONE seems to be doing. Their bullying didn’t work then. It won’t work now.

James Byron
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James Byron

Gafcon are undoubtedly bluffing — if they’d wanted to leave, they’d have done so many years ago — but I doubt the managerial Welby would ever call ’em on it, if only ’cause he likely agrees that homosexuality is a “salvation issue.” Instead, there’ll be the usual puff piece about unity, and, I suspect, intense pressure on TEC to impose another “moratorium” on consecrating LGBT people, likely Gafcon’s immediate goal. To get it, Welby may even threaten TEC with the rhetorical nuclear option: a formal accusation of racism from African churches, an accusation that’d terrify TEC leadership. As shown by… Read more »

Sister Mary
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Sister Mary

Mr Pastry dances “The Lancers” once again?

(For those who don’t remember, this performance of a man trying to hold the ring of a traditional dance is available on YouTube.)

I suspect ++Justin will feel obliged to stand in for Richard Hearne. For what purpose? Even God created one earth but made a separation between sea and dry ground. Diversity and difference may well be fruitful developments in honest thinking

Colin Penman
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Colin Penman

Why not do as the GAFCON website suggests, and share your thoughts with ackenya.archoffice@gmail.com? I’m sure he’d appreciate it.

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

“Welby may even threaten TEC with the rhetorical nuclear option: a formal accusation of racism from African churches”

How would that work? “It’s racist for Americans to do in America things that some Africans don’t like”. I get that liberal USians are petrified of accusations of racism no matter how ill-founded, but in 2016 I would hope that the transparent stupidity of that argument – especially when being used to suppress LGBT equality, which is another shibboleth of almost equal weight – would see it rejected.

Jeremy
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Jeremy

James Byron, I’m not sure you grasp TEC’s current situation. At General Convention 2015, “the House of Deputies concurred with the House of Bishops’ approval the day before of a canonical change eliminating language defining marriage as between a man and a woman (Resolution A036) and authorizing two new marriage rites with language allowing them to be used by same-sex or opposite-sex couples (Resolution A054).” In other words, TEC’s governing body opted for marriage equality despite knowing the likely GAFCON reaction. (This is what happens when a church decides refuses to be bullied by foreign prelates.) PB Curry is in… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

Oh GAFCON, how can we miss you if you just won’t go?

JCF
Guest
JCF

“It is easy to be like parents who by false kindness allow their children to follow destructive patterns of behaviour.”

Does Archbishop Wabukala have any sense of history, that such a phrase parrots exactly one that would have been used 100 years ago, re a church model of European “parents” and African “children”?

We’re all adults here…AND we’re all Children of God. No one gets to talk down to each other as the (supposedly) superior—or more godly—party.

That is, unless one side INSISTS upon “taking our marbles and going home”. In which case, the “children” analogy becomes too painfully obvious…

Karen MacQueen
Guest
Karen MacQueen

Either this threatened walk-out by the GAFCON Primates is basically a publicity stunt or these leaders are up to something. +Michael Curry, the Primate of TEC, will represent our Church. When threatened by whomever, +Michael Curry will have neither the inclination nor the power to “repent” of TEC’s position on LGBTI inclusion in the Church. I assume the GAFCON Primates know that. +Justin Welby has no authority to expel TEC from the Communion. I assume the GAFCON Primates know that. So, what are they up to? My guess would be that they will demand another moratorium on consecrations of LGBTI… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Karen, I suspect that the GAFCON conservatives are trying to construct a narrative that (1) will serve them well back home, because they are about to take a major step that will not meet with universal agreement in their own provinces, and (2) will give any wavering primates an apparent incentive to join the marble-takers in leaving the gathering. The marble-takers probably have their post-departure press release already drafted. The question is how Welby plans to counter their maneuvers, other than by blocking any attempt to exclude. I don’t think throwing money at the problem will do the trick. Perhaps… Read more »

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

“Either this threatened walk-out by the GAFCON Primates is basically a publicity stunt or these leaders are up to something.” Actually, there’s a third option: they genuinely believe that they are right and genuinely believe that others secretly agree with them and are just awaiting a leader to coalesce around. You only have to listen to Anglican Mainstream to hear the effect of a reality distortion field: Sugden genuinely believes in his own position, and genuinely believes that there is a vast silent majority of people who agree with him. There may be much to dislike about his ideas and… Read more »

James Byron
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James Byron

Interested Observer, I imagine it’d be a spin on the post-colonial guilt trip they laid on England: arrogant Westerners imposing your corrupt, unbiblical hedonism on decent African provinces just trying to stay true to the gospel. They could also point to TEC flouting a Lambeth resolution passed with African votes. All nonsense, but as you say, even the accusation of racism terrifies liberals. Jeremy, back in ’06, Rowan Williams swiftly and effectively intimidated TEC leadership into a moratorium on consecrating lesbian or gay bishops. Canons can be suspended or ignored. As I said, I hope enough has changed, but I’m… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“Jeremy, back in ’06, Rowan Williams swiftly and effectively intimidated TEC leadership into a moratorium on consecrating lesbian or gay bishops.” I’m familiar with that history. But after that event, while TEC observed the moratorium, schismatics schemed at border crossings. So I suspect that TEC is in “fool me once” mode. Furthermore TEC is no longer subject to blackmail by its former GAFCON elements. As against them, TEC is in litigation mode. And the hoped for means of disciplining TEC–the so-called Anglican Covenant, which was neither–died an ignominious death, voted down by the Church of England itself. A lot has… Read more »

Sara MacVane
Guest
Sara MacVane

@ interested observer, do you really think that Sugden “believes” what he says? I have been reading a lot about WWII lately and find it impossible to agree that any German really “believed” that there was a secret conspiracy by “the Jews” to rule the world. The motives for the Shoah were totally other. I marched on Washington for civil rights because I find it impossible to “believe” that the color of anyone’s skin should deprive him or her of full citizenship, so if Sugden really “believes” that some of us are ceated in the image of our maker, and… Read more »

S Cooper
Guest
S Cooper

Anybody read Welby’s invitation letter for the meeting? It reaffirms all the previous meetings which upheld traditional teaching. Gafcon wouldn’t even be in London if he didn’t do that and invite acna. Tec even accepts that?! On what basis does anyone think welby is going to tell gafcon to take a walk? I don’t see why anyone has hope that he goes against the church of England’s established position (see very expensive legal cases recently defending just that), jettisons the largest Anglican provinces (with whom he agrees) and simultaneously smashes his relations with Rome. Rather than playing wishful thinking regarding… Read more »

Andrew Lightbown
Guest
Andrew Lightbown

The idea that gay and lesbian Christians are outside the kingdom of God is an interesting one; it sounds as though the GAFCON folk have rejected salvation by faith, through grace and mercy in favor of salvation through works, which is of course not an Anglican theology.

Marshall Scott
Guest

You know, there seems a continuing effort to ratchet up expectations of this meeting. As I understand it, Archbishop Welby did his best to say this meeting was anything but “crucial.” Those who want the Primates to function as a synod are calling for this meeting to be a synod; but that’s not how this started. Brother Byron, I was in the room when we (the House of Deputies) voted to concur with the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church to establish a moratorium. Note that it was a limited time decision, and has long since ended. This was… Read more »

David Runcorn
Guest

Actually there is fourth option, Interested Observer. I think it the most likely one. Someone with their own motives has been spinning news to a hack hungry for a story. The piece in the Mail contains no quotes, no ‘statement’ – just claims by ‘insiders’ – who have their own motives no doubt. So, unsurprisingly, we end up spinning stuff in turn. Well this meeting is going to be quite hard enough with the best of motives.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

I don’t think the threat of accusing TEC of racism is going to go anywhere. +Michael is African American and he is a leader in talking honestly about race in the US. As Jeremy pointed out, TEC is not uniformly white!!! Our diversity is broad, African Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, Latino/a Americans, and then outside the US in our Province 9 there is Haiti, Honduras, etc. There is some racial tension in the US over gay equality. Some African Americans come from more conservative religious traditions. Gay African Americans sometimes suffer isolation in their communities. But this is not… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

I made the mistake of reading the article with the hopeful title “What Brings Us Together as Anglicans.” Alas, apparently, according to the writer, Phil Ashey, what brings Anglicans together is hatred towards gay people and twisting Scripture to lift up and support their bigotry above all other considerations. Apparently, we are not brought together in the Eucharist, in the urgent concern for justice for the poor and marginalized, in the love of Jesus Christ who poured out his life for all, or in following His commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves. Nope. What really unifies is the “truth”… Read more »

Pete Broadbent
Guest
Pete Broadbent

Just a simple question – this is Jonathan Petre from the Mail on Sunday. Since when did anyone give any credibility to anything he writes? It does seem slightly crazy to take this story seriously. Of course, there are all sorts of people on both edges of the debate who would wish that it is true, because it suits their preconceptions. But ask yourself – is likely that folk will pay for the air fare just to do a walk out? Or is it more likely that this is at the same level of credibility as everything else that appears… Read more »

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

I think comparisons of anything with the Shoah rarely illuminate. But without wishing in any way to defend Sugden’s spurious views, I think the comparison is particularly tasteless in his case. He is not essentialist, as racists are: once a racist decides someone is a member of the out-group, there is nothing the victim can do. Sugden believes, so far as I can tell, that gay people are just the same as everyone else but _choosing_ to behave in a way he asserts is sinful. That is for most people here, of course, arrant nonsense, but it is entirely different… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Guest

Thank you, David Runcorn. All the talk on this issue reminds me of the hours we go through on CBC TV in Canada between the polls opening and the results starting to come in. It’s spin, spin, spin, but we’ve got hours to fill. What might be a Christian solution? Maybe the new presiding bishop of TEC should pick up the phone, call a few of his GAFCON-affiliated counterparts in Africa and Asia, and ask ‘Hey – just wondering, as one crazy Christian to another – is there anything in all this talk about a walkout on the first day?’… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“is likely that folk will pay for the air fare just to do a walk out?” Quite possibly. These are the kind of people who want to score a theopolitical point and make an international media splash. A mere boycott by 230 bishops didn’t really cause much excitement at Lambeth 2008; but GAFCON has learned that lesson. Politely declining the invitation is no story at all. This time, they will arrange for the TV cameras to be near their point of exit. I predict a parade of primates to the microphones in high dudgeon. They cannot arrange such international media… Read more »

F. D. Blanchard
Guest
F. D. Blanchard

“What might be a Christian solution? Maybe the new presiding bishop of TEC should pick up the phone, call a few of his GAFCON-affiliated counterparts in Africa and Asia, and ask ‘Hey – just wondering, as one crazy Christian to another – is there anything in all this talk about a walkout on the first day?'”

Would this be a phone call to the very same people who refused to share Communion — or even space– with our former Presiding Bishop? and who strong-armed the former Archbishop of Canterbury into disinviting one of our diocesan bishops to Lambeth?

F. D. Blanchard
Guest
F. D. Blanchard

As for a possible GAFCON exit, So long, have a nice trip, and we’ll leave the porch light on for you.

JCF
Guest
JCF

To be a fly on the wall in the room when ABC Welby accuses PB Michael Curry of racism…

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

“this is Jonathan Petre from the Mail on Sunday. Since when did anyone give any credibility to anything he writes? It does seem slightly crazy to take this story seriously.”

Exactly.

The majority of the Global South isn’t even aligned with Gafcon. No one knows what will happen at this meeting and that is precisely the way it is designed.

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

” As Jeremy pointed out, TEC is not uniformly white!!!” Of course not, Cynthia: any such accusation would be horsehockey. Gafcon may not go there; an alternative would be to threaten to leave the Anglican Communion en masse unless the ACNA is immediately recognized, and TEC put on immediate notice to repeal equal marriage or be expelled, say by a vote of the primates. No precedent, or course, but then, there was no precedent for Lambeth 1.10 dictating policy to the provinces, yet it happened. They’ve already gone and gotten Foley Beach invited, so they’re halfway there. Playing on Welby’s… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest
MarkBrunson

The cries of “racism” are nothing new, and generally come when those who despise and vilify TEC and inclusion start to become a bit hysterical having realized that their chest-puffing self-righteous bullying hasn’t worked. Of course, they have a great objection to cries of “homophobia” are levelled at *them*.