Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Middle East Presiding Bishop will not attend GAFCON

The Most Revd Mouneer Anis, Bishop of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa, and Presiding Bishop of Jerusalem and the Middle East will not be attending GAFCON.

He has explained why in a letter. The full text of the letter is below the fold.

Update Saturday evening

There are comments about this on many sites.

Covenant has Mouneer Anis explains his withdrawal from GAFCON.

babyblue asked Uh oh … Mouneer Anis jumps the shark?

08 May 2008

My very dear brothers in Christ,

Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

First I want to make it clear that this letter expresses my views as the Bishop of the Diocese of Egypt, not the views of the whole Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East. I count it a great honour to have been invited to GAFCON.

I appreciate the fact that GAFCON provides an important meeting place for leaders from the South and from the North. I very much understand the frustrations as well as the hopes that led to the organisation of this conference.

I do share your frustration in regard to what is going on in our Communion, as well as your hopes for strong and faithful Anglican church.

I am very disappointed with the direction taken by the Episcopal Church in the USA and the Anglican Church in Canada. This direction is not only about sexual ethics, which are contrary to Scripture, but also in regard to the fundamentals of the Apostolic Faith as we received it, like the Nature of Christ, the authority of scripture and God’s Salvation through Jesus Christ.

In addition they use very ambiguous language and contradictory phrases in their responses to the clear Windsor recommendation as well as the Dar es Salaam ones. It was shocking for me to hear that some now ask for the definition of ‘moratorium’ after four years of issuing The Windsor Report!

I am deeply concerned that The Windsor Report and Dar es Salaam recommendations were not followed through and now the very people who caused the Communion’s crisis are invited to the most important Anglican council which is the Lambeth Conference. It is wrong to sweep all these problems under the carpet!

I also share your hopes that we can go forward to advance the mission of the Gospel and be instruments in building the Church of Christ, founded on the Biblical truth.

Having said all this I am sorry that I will not be able to be with you at your Conference but I assure you that you will be in my prayers. Please accept my apologies. I also look forward to receiving your recommendations before going to Lambeth. My brothers I want to draw your attention to the following: 1) The unity of the Global South (GS) is our great concern.

As you know the Global South was established in 1997 and has been recognized by the whole Anglican Communion. It has been effective in strengthening the South to South links. The GS is composed of more than twenty provinces.

There is now increasing interest from Orthodox Bishops in the North to be affiliated with the Global South. This is because we use a moderate but form of language. In our last Steering Committee of the Global South in March we, in our statement, affirmed the importance of the Global South and its mission: We see an increasing conviction and confirmation of the prophetic and priestly vocation of the Global South in the Anglican Communion.

As Primates coming from different contexts, we were led into deep conversations and helpful clarifications on the challenges before us (Ps 133; Eph 4:1-6; Phil 2:1-5). We reaffirmed our total and collegial commitment to the solemn vocation of the Global South. We resolved, and urge all in the Global South and other orthodox constituencies of the wider Communion to strengthen our hearts and wills to work together for the fundamental renewal and transformation of the global Anglican Communion. ِ

We also stated: Through our conversations together and clarifications made, we are led to understand and appreciate the principled reasons for participation in GAFCON (June 2008) and Lambeth Conference (Jul 2008). Even if there are different perspectives on these, they do not and should not be allowed to disrupt the common vision, unity and trust within the Global South.

For this reason I appeal to you to take the above statements fully into your consideration and to be careful not to make binding decisions which may result in dividing Anglicans in the Global South and elsewhere. At the same time I would like to share with you a little more of my own thinking.

I believe that the best strategy for safeguarding orthodox faith and unhindered mission is to have parallel processes for building unity among those loyal to the biblical historic faith and ethics in both the South and the North. Orthodox leaders in the South and in the North need to continue to work together and support each other.

I would respectfully add that the Global South must not be driven by an exclusively Northern agenda or Northern personalities. The meeting of the Global South in ‘09 will be critical for the future, and the agenda will need careful preparation ahead of time.

The constitution of the Global South needs to be reviewed in such a way as to clarify representation and appointment of office bearers. The Global South has contributed much to the initiation of the Covenant process, and will need to consider how it is progressing.

If there is no prospect of a Covenant that safeguards orthodoxy and unhindered mission within a reasonable timescale, then the possibility of adopting a “holding covenant” may need to be considered. I urge you all to consider participating in the Lambeth Conference.

The absence of any of your voices will be a great loss. God has spoken to me through the Book of Jonah. So I decided not to withdraw but to go and speak the truth, and leave the rest to God. Please remember that there will be bishops who are not fully aware of the seriousness of the situation. They need to be alerted. Your presence would be a help, as indeed it was in 1998.

I am reminded by the words of Jesus that we continue to live in the world: “I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” John 17: 14-16 One last point: we need to combine steadfastness, a peaceable spirit and gracious language.

I believe that the language we use needs to be especially appealing to the “people in the pews” who may be confused or misled, having less understanding of the issues of the controversy, but who want to remain true Christians and Anglicans. “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” 1 Thess 5:24 May the Lord bless you.

Yours in Christ,

+Mouneer Egypt
The Most Rev Dr Mouneer H. Anis
Bishop of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa.

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Categorised as: Anglican Communion

This letter is very significant indeed.

He maintains his strong criticism of recent actions of The Episcopal Church, but also appeals to the organisers of GAFCON :

'For this reason I appeal to you to take the above statements fully into your consideration and to be careful not to make binding decisions which may result in dividing Anglicans in the Global South and elsewhere...

I would respectfully add that the Global South must not be driven by an exclusively Northern agenda or Northern personalities. The meeting of the Global South in '09 will be critical for the future, and the agenda will need careful preparation ahead of time.'

It is worth reading closely.

Posted by: Graham Kings on Wednesday, 21 May 2008 at 6:39pm BST

"It is worth reading closely." Graham Kings

Perhaps, but he gives no explanation as to why he will not attend a conference he seems to approve of so strongly.

Posted by: Davis d'Ambly on Wednesday, 21 May 2008 at 7:29pm BST

"God has spoken to me through the Book of Jonah."

Rather PB Anis had heard God speaking to him through the Book of Revelation? (specifically, Ch.3, v. 15-16. To be SPAT out, as "neither cold nor hot")

Ah well. Perhaps it's for the best that ++Anis IS going to Lambeth: quoth Sun-Tzu (via Michael Corleone!) "Keep your friends close, and your enemies CLOSER"! >;-/

Posted by: JCF on Wednesday, 21 May 2008 at 7:35pm BST

"There is now increasing interest from Orthodox Bishops in the North to be affiliated with the Global South."

Like Graham, I think this is a significant statement. Yet, the above irks me no end. Who are these "Orthodox"? I very sincerely doubt Metropolitan Seraphim has any interest in joining the Anglican Global South. These people need to be told in the strongest possible terms that their use of the word "orthodox" to imply some sort of Godliness lacking in those who disagree with them is insulting and, frankly, constitutes reviling. Not only that, it is simply not true. Even if one defines "orthodox" to mean adherence to a tradition, which is not its meaning, the "tradition" most of them are adherent to is no more than 500 years old, and is built on some very heterodox propositions as to the nature of authority, sacraments, redemption, and ecclesiology. They are not in any way "orthodox". It is disgusting that some otherwise very respectable poeple should stoop to this kind of self-righteous self-delusion.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 21 May 2008 at 7:52pm BST

Yes I read it in the same way as Graham Kings. But he is also waiting for GAFCON recommendations.

I must be missing a trick somewhere because, as I see it, a lot of these pressures are going into a kind of talk marshmallow. How is all this pressure going to emerge out of this Lambeth Conference?

Posted by: Pluralist on Wednesday, 21 May 2008 at 7:57pm BST

The question seems to be - as Anglicanism is to divide anyway, how is it done in a way that doesn't divide the conservatives rom one another?

Homosexuality was deliberately chosen as the kairos point of conflict because all conservatives could agree on it. As soon as they lose their common enemy all the other divisions - not least on the status of women - re-emerge with a vengeance.

Posted by: Paul Bagshaw on Wednesday, 21 May 2008 at 8:22pm BST

The difficulties with which the bishop grapples are surely those build into the foundations of the conservative realignment campaign.

That campaign struggles implicitly, pierced through by the unavoidable dilemma that the grounds upon which it casts non-conservative believers outside of its gatherings and narratives and venues are quite similar - uncannily similar? - to the grounds upon which one conservative believer can be divided and polarized with another conservative believer. This vexation will hardly go away by being ignored, for one occasion of studiously looking the other way only will necessarily lead to another occasion, and another, and another, and yet another.

A certain grim dilemma also underlies any conservative efforts to moderate narratives and language - since after all the message is still very much the same, an immoderate and holier than thou and self-righteous and penalistic message which claims to be God even as it claims to be in perfect, total subjegation to God. The trap is set and sprung for all believers who wish to make threats, conformity, coercion, policing, and punishment into God's grand and gracious tools for saving us from being non-conservative believers, inside or outside the existing Anglican Communion.

Thirdly, and not least, the conservative realignment campaign is painfully flawed in its cooperations and dependencies - especially in Africa? - with various state powers or governments whose ways of daily life are hardly democratic, let alone essentially ethical, let alone essentially and exhaustively Christian. These believers like to talk a very high road indeed, with all the dirt and evil around the planet being laid at the feet of, say, uppity women or queer citizens or non-conservatives believers or unbelievers - but again and again, brute facts of our globally entangled political and economic and social life reveal untidy and embarrassing alliances between dodgy African states and this or that part of African church life.

Denials and avoidances will only go so far in any of these difficult areas of the conservative campaign to conform all of us to its golden conservative idols whose feet turn out to be common me-first clay, indeed.

Alas. Lord have mercy.

Posted by: drdanfee on Wednesday, 21 May 2008 at 9:23pm BST

The retired bishop of Nelson, a vey gracious evangelical ( new zealand) works in the Egypt diocese...I wonder if he will be attending GAFCON?

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Wednesday, 21 May 2008 at 10:48pm BST

Davis, you say above that Mouneer Anis did not give an explanation as to why he is not attending GAFCON.

The clue to the letter, it seems to me, is in the sentences I quoted earlier, particularly about ‘northern agenda and northern personalities.’

Some of the organisers of GAFCON are clearly planning a non-Canterbury centred Communion.

The secretary of GAFCON, Chris Sugden, has written in ‘Not Schism but Revolution’:

'In other words, since the Archbishop of Canterbury has not provided for the safe oversight of the orthodox in the United States, he has forfeited his role as the one who gathers the Communion.'

The article itself was published in Evangelicals Now in September 2007, and was on the Anglican Mainstream site too, though it does not seem to be there now.

On the GAFCON website there is the key article,
‘The Global Anglican and Anglican Orthdoxy’ by Stephen Noll.

On Stand Firm there is the key article, ‘CCP and GAFCON: What does it all mean?’ by Matt Kennedy.

I discussed the dangers of setting up a non-Canterbury Centred Communion in both ‘Subtance and Shadow’

and ‘Faith and Fellowship in Crisis’.

Mouneer Anis, it seems to me, does not wish the Global South Anglican movement to be run by the ‘Global Anglican Future’ movement. He points to the key conference of the former movement in 2009. Before that, is the key conference at Canterbury this summer.

There is still time for bishops from the Global South to attend Lambeth 2008. Presence is more powerful than absence.

Posted by: Graham Kings on Thursday, 22 May 2008 at 12:03am BST

So why is he not going? He never got around to addressing that topic.

Posted by: JPM on Thursday, 22 May 2008 at 4:40am BST

"Homosexuality was deliberately chosen as the kairos point of conflict because all conservatives could agree on it."

Exactly. Before New Westminster voted for the third time to approve SSBs, the only thing the schismatics had to be upset over were the "Satanic" labyrinths some were using, and you can't very well justify a purge because of that.

"the Archbishop of Canterbury has not provided for the safe oversight of the orthodox"

Excuse me? They are not safe? Why? Has the AbofC supported a bill to have them and their friends imprisoned for 5 years? Has the AbofC lied about them? Has the AbofC denied their faith? Has he even so much as called them a bad name? Who else has done this? Yet they are not safe? Why? Because, despite their claim to "orthodoxy" they have no understanding of the basics of orthodox Church polity? I have yet to see an example of "oppression" that was not actually discipline very much deserved by the "oppressed" parties. And that includes what I know of the McBurney(?) affair. For the love of God, how much longer will this self-righteousness go on?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 22 May 2008 at 1:52pm BST

Don't you understand Sugdenspeak.

Some lessons

"Gafcon IS not an alternative to the Lambeth Conference."...means it actually is. However keep stating this and they will believe you.

"orthodox "...any one who agrees with us, and this can include a wide divergence of contradictory views form lay presidency to Anglo-Catholic services of worshipping the eucharistic elements. This definition will get tighter later on, and SYdney are biting their tongues.

"Sexual issues" not include divorce and remarriage..this issue is air brushed out of his Covenant definition of marriage. This will be the basis of the GAFCON Covenant and Declaration of Independence.

" perspicuity of Scripture"...we don't mention the divorce disagreement, and the female ordination disagreement as this shows up our failure to decide what the BIble actually means in these areas.

One word Sugdenspeak does not mention at this stage...lay could antagonise Anglo-Catholics padding out our numbers....particularly the Common cause bishops.

Like Basil Fawlty.." Don't mention the war, don't mention Lay presidency."

GAGCON is open to Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics....means GAFCON is open to Evangelical leadership, with a few Anglo-Catholic tokenisms. However "Bible based" Evangelicals are firmly in control....and we are against women in leadership posts as invitation to the women bishops who are against the homosexual agenda.

Global south... those Global south bishops who agree with our agenda, and are easily manipulated
by the Anglo-Saxon leadership. If this is chaallanged , just shout racism.

"Bible based."..Christianity , taking the Protestant interpretation. You donot bvecome a Christian by water baptism, and the idea that the eucharistic elments become the body of Christ is Romanist error.

Nigeria.. a wonderful exmple of a thriving Church, with numbers not mention wiedespread polygamy, pagan practices, double denomination memberships and the fact that such a vibrant Church has no real effect on a nation where corruption is rife and the standard of life is abysmal.

If one is attacked on this sissue , cry racism.

Hope that helps you!

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Friday, 23 May 2008 at 6:00pm BST

Several scenarios have been offered as to why +Mouneer Anis may have written what he did and why. Here is another that may meet the circumstances: +Jerusalem may have complained to him regarding the substance of the conference to be offered in Jerusalem and he wishes to remove himself from any ecumenical fallout in the Middle East that may result from GAFCON.

Recalling +Jerusalem’s conversations with +Akinola, +Jensen and Sugden+, ( an agreement seemed to have been reached that the “conference” portions of the event would take place outside of Jerusalem. A couple of days ago, the agenda for the “pilgrimage” Jerusalem portion of GAFCON was published. Its expository sessions, workshops, discussions, focus topics, plenary session, etc. do not seem to reflect “pilgrimage” format at all, rather a “conference”, the kind of conference that +Jerusalem specifically requested not take place in his territory as potentially fractious in an already unstable religious environment. (Interestingly, Mouneer Anis, in referring to GAFCON, only referred to it as a “conference”) If assurances were offered to +Jerusalem that this would not happen, and, in fact it is going to happen, +Dawani (and Mouneer Anis) may feel betrayed and their reputations in the Middle East may well be damaged, hence the need to separate themselves from the GAFCON event. The target audience for Mouneer Anis’s letter may, in fact, be the Middle East community itself.

It is true that Mouneer Anis has expressed concern about both the northern leadership of GAFCON and the leadership of the GS itself. If he does perceive that his wishes and the wishes of Dawani, are in fact, being ignored, the substance and agenda remaining the same for Jerusalem, then he may well be concerned about who is leading the GS and how that leadership has been chosen. And, not surprisingly, his letter moves on to that issue.

Posted by: EpfizH on Friday, 23 May 2008 at 6:53pm BST

"perspicuity", an odd Reformation era word, that I think means that Scripture explains itself, or is consistent with itself, or something. If that is in fact the way they are using it, then they are deluded, since Scripture is neither consistent nor self-explanatory. But, 500 years on, the need to have a well defined lLaw is so strong that no-one has been able to spot the obvious inconsistencies in Scripture?

"Bible based" Christianity. Another meaningless Evangelical catch word, great when you want to feel more righteous than others, useless in any other sense. What are the reast of us based on, the Necronomicon? We read the Satanic Bible at Mass, does that count:-)? I'd rather call them "hysteria based Christians", but that's just a sin for me.

I don't agree that the non-AS bishops are so easily led around by their white Western overlords. If anything, the rhetoric coming from people like +Akinola puts this solidly as the descendants of the colonized getting their own back on the descendants of the colonizers. Everything +Akinola says is about a justifiable push to get beyond colonialism, for Africans to see themselves as not merely behaving in response to Western impulses, but as confidently doing things on their own. I doubt he, or most of his African colleagues would be at all happy to take their marching orders from white people. Having one for a speech writer is another matter, that's not leadership, that's servanthood.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 23 May 2008 at 8:17pm BST

Have you seen the new GAFCON logo...inclusive of a cross and a latin word.

Dean Jensen recently boasted " we don't have any crosses in our Cathedral."

Also the use of latin in the motto...bit dubious when one considers the articles of religion on tongues not commonly understodod by the people.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Sunday, 25 May 2008 at 7:54am BST

"Dean Jensen recently boasted " we don't have any crosses in our Cathedral.""

They usen't have an altar either, having wheeled it out to place in the Sanctuary the real object of thier worship, the Bible. They also, falsely claiming some great risk of contagion from the common cup, started having individual communion cups, thus neatly doing away with any suggestion that they are consuming anything other than bread and wine by getting rid of the ablutions. This was on a trial basis, I don't know if they are still insulting Jesus. The funny thing, of course, is that they call this "orthodoxy".

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 26 May 2008 at 2:09pm BST

DEAN JENSEN has just denounced the Church of Rome in the opinion column of the SYdney Morning herald.

Yet he is prepared to support GAFCON, where Anglo-catholic bishops, who have borrowed much Romanist ritual and theology are welcomed as partners in regaining Anglicanism for Orthodoxy.

It seems hypocrisy to me!

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Tuesday, 27 May 2008 at 7:02am BST

"It seems hypocrisy to me!"

Well, yes, but how is this night different from all other nights?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 27 May 2008 at 2:31pm BST
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