Sunday, 22 June 2008

GAFCON starts

There are numerous reports from GAFCON. The official GAFCON site has: Archbishop Akinola’s Opening Address in full.

The subsequent news conference is reported in “We Have No Other Place to Go” - Akinola confims there is no break away. An audio clip is available. And Stand Firm has a fuller record of questions and answers.

And there is also GAFCON Leadership Meets Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem. Another version of this encounter can be found in the ENS report, Jerusalem bishop calls GAFCON participants to reconciliation, not division.

First media reports:

Reuters Ari Rabinovitch Conservative Anglicans to discuss Communion split

Jerusalem Post Matthew Wagner Anglicans gather in Jerusalem to protest secularization

BBC Robert Pigott Rival meeting deepens Anglican rift

Telegraph Martin Beckford Primate of Nigeria vows to rescue Anglican church from crisis over sexuality

In a rallying cry to the hundreds of traditionalists who have gathered in Jerusalem for a critical summit, the Primate of Nigeria, Archbishop Peter Akinola, said many in the Communion were “apostates” who were going against their religion by tolerating homosexuality.

He poured scorn on the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, for his “misleading” comments on Islamic law and claimed he was not interested in what he and other African leaders had to say.

But Archbishop Akinola pledged that he would help Anglican worshippers break free from the spiritual “slavery” they had been placed in by the liberal West, and said the Gafcon conference would answer important questions about what should happen next in the church.

The Times Ruth Gledhill Rebel Anglican bishops plan refuge for orthodox views

Anglican bishops meeting in Jerusalem are planning to form a “church within a church” to counter Western liberalism and to reform the Church from within.

Senior sources told The Times that the most likely outcome of the divisions over homosexuality and biblical authority was an international “Anglican Fellowship” that would provide a home for orthodox Anglicans…

…The new fellowship could have a leadership of six or seven senior conservative bishops and archbishops, such as the Bishop of Pittsburgh, the Right Rev Bob Duncan — who chairs the US Common Cause partnership that acts as an umbrella for American conservatives — Archbishop Henry Orombi, Primate of Uganda, and the Church of England’s Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali.

The aim is not to split the worldwide Anglican Communion, which has 80 million members in 38 provinces, but to reform it from within. Formal ties would be maintained with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, but fellowship members will consider themselves out of communion with the US and Canada…

The Church Times blog has a good roundup of links here.

And Iain Baxter has emailed us a summary of the first day, which is below the fold.

It is well, it is well with my soul.

The opening meeting of the GAFCON conference, here in Jerusalem, ended with this classic hymn. But all is not well with the soul of Anglicanism, at least according to Arch Bishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria. In the US, The Episcopal Church is championing spiritual bondage and it’s all part of the continuing struggle against colonialism.

We are here because we know that in God’s providence GAFCON will liberate and set participants [particularly Africans] free from spiritual bondage which TEC and its Allies champion. Having survived the inhuman physical slavery of the 19th century, the political slavery called colonialism of the 20th century, the developing world economic enslavement, we cannot, we dare not allow ourselves and the millions we represent be kept in religious and spiritual dungeon.

He declares: “a sizeable part of the Communion is in error and not a few are apostate;”

However, not even all the African and Global South leaders agree with him. But this is because they are been bought off:

We know that the expert ‘divide and rule’ agents of TEC and Lambeth have been at work using money and other attractions to buy ‘silence and compromise’ from some gullible African and Global South Church leaders; hence we have begun to see signs of disunity in our ranks.

Lambeth is clearly the enemy along with The Episcopal Church in the US and the Canadian Diocese of New Westminister.

Lambeth Palace, in July 2007, issued invitations to TEC bishops, including those who consecrated Gene Robinson, to attend the Lambeth 2008 conference. At this point, it dawned upon us, regrettably, that the Archbishop of Canterbury was not interested in what matters to us, in what we think or in what we say.

He asks: What sort of recognisable structure and funding must GAFCON as a ‘movement’ in the Communion have to be able achieve the tasks set for it?

Does this mean that money must be used to keep errant “sound” Bishops and Churches on side?

The GAFCON conference has cost £2.5 million. Six individuals in Nigeria donated $1.2 million of this and one individual alone gave $900,000. There is clearly big money behind this grouping but where is it going? This week may begin to give some answers.

Iain Baxter
Media Participant for the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement
GAFCON, Jerusalem 2008.

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Comments

As a contrasting African voice, +Bakare of Harare (currently being viciously victimised by Mugabe) is reported as saying:

"I believe in a church that is inclusive, accepting of people regardless of sex or orientation. In the Bible homosexuality is listed as a sin, but as one of a long list. I don't see why it should be singled out."

http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/anglicans-feel-the-brunt-of-mugabes-many-hatreds/2008/06/22/1214073053808.html
http://www.theage.com.au/world/anglicans-rally-round-harare-but-australias-silence-is-defeaning-20080622-2uxz.html

Posted by: MJ on Sunday, 22 June 2008 at 11:50pm BST

"Thank God I am not like that tax-collector over there."

- A Righteous Pharisee.

Posted by: bls on Monday, 23 June 2008 at 12:12am BST

Peter Jensen has spoken again:

http://www.theage.com.au/world/sun-sets-on-church-of-england-20080621-2uod.html

http://www.theage.com.au/national/church-rebels-are-true-believers-20080622-2uzw.html

I'm looking forward to seeing what the farewell service from Sydney Cathedral is going to be like - more powerpoint films, I suppose?

Posted by: kieran crichton on Monday, 23 June 2008 at 4:05am BST

Martin Beckford writes slanted editorials instead of reporting. "He poured scorn on the Archbishop of Canterbury..." Pouring scorn? Rubbish. Strong disagreement and deep disappointment? You bet.

Posted by: robroy on Monday, 23 June 2008 at 5:59am BST

It is incredible that a Conference dedicated to he restoration of Anglican orthodoxy and the sanctity of marriage in its official hand book has nothing to say about the Lord Jesus christ's teaching on mariage and divorce. Guess its because they can't agree as to what those words mean! Yet the hand book sppeaks of the perpicuity of the Bible!

Furthermore the ordination of women is not even mentioned ( to Keep Rwanda, kenya and Uganda on booard)a nd mention of Bishop Schorri condemns her liberalism and not her gender.


Appeal is made to the early Church, but the early Church knew nothing of re-marriage after divorce or female ordination. Cleverly they do not give a cut off date for the end of the pristne early Church.


Posted by: Robert ian Williams on Monday, 23 June 2008 at 6:02am BST

As we say in the United States, "Welcome to our world!" Now the Anglican Communion and its various national Churches will be treated to the theological foolishness of "a church within the Church". The self-appointed leaders of this "fellowship", all of them male bishops, will hurl insults like rotten tomatoes at their "sister" and "brother" Christians. No epithet will be too uncharitable for them to utter. No one except their minions will be immune from their wrath. Quickly they will indentify sympathetic bishops and start picking off parish churches to add to their fold. In short order, they who claim that they are not engaging in schism will be leading a rolling schism. Many from the broad middle of the churches will seek to dialogue with the members and leaders of the fellowship. All such efforts will likely fail. Finally, actual schism will take place. If it is any consolation, the episcopal leadership of the "church within the Church" in TEC will all be deposed within a year or two, along with their standing committees. These "bishops" and their congregants will have to form some other church than the Episcopal Church. If they remain in communion with Canterbury, this will be
a strategic move to buy time until they replace the ABC with themselves. All of this in expression of their self-righteous fury that others could diagree with them on the subject of the place of LGBT persons in the life of the Churches. Welcome to the topsy-turvy world of the "orthodox" Anglicans.

Posted by: karen macqueen+ on Monday, 23 June 2008 at 7:59am BST

It is clear that they will NOT replace the ABC with themselves, nor will the next ABC been more of their ilk than the current one. Indeed the protection of the Anglican Communion, as it now is, will come from the ABC, and the ABC will be appointed by Her Majesty on recommendation of her Prime Minister on recommendation from a committee recommended by the current hierarchy. In short, what will change the Anglican "orthodox" back to traditional tolerant Anglicans will be the passage of time, and little else. I now think both Gafcon and Lambeth will do little to advance the power of the right wing.

Posted by: Andrew on Monday, 23 June 2008 at 8:49am BST

Ah, reforming the Anglican Communion from within. This is, at last, public confirmation of what the very conservative evangelical stream in the Church of England has been attempting to do for a few years now. The step by step take over of parishes in urban areas will eventually end up with them having workable majorities in synods - as will soon happen in the Anglican Church of Australia as Sydney Diocese ordains more and more men to the priesthood.

The problem is that those of us who wish to resist this will, quite simply, lack the get up and go to resist it. But resisted it must be. Now the tactics are quite clearly out in the open it should be openly discussed. Which way do we want the church to go? I for one do not want it to go their way.

Posted by: Wilf on Monday, 23 June 2008 at 8:58am BST

"Appeal is made to the early Church, but the early Church knew nothing of re-marriage after divorce or female ordination. Cleverly they do not give a cut off date for the end of the pristne early Church."

I take it as certain that women were being ordained in the early church. If it weren't happening, then Nicea and other early councils wouldn't have even addressed the issue.

Posted by: ruidh on Monday, 23 June 2008 at 9:05am BST

"We have made enormous efforts since 1997 in seeking to avoid this crisis, but without success. Now we confront a moment of decision."

"There is no longer any hope, therefore, for a unified Communion…”

I find these two statements contained in one document rather self-contradictory.

Yesterday +Abuja was quoted somewhere to the effect that a conference this big actually needs more preparation than Gaffecon received.

Which may be true (granted an obvious obsession with numbers and a love of drama and hyperbole), but sadly the organisers don’t seem to have paid attention enough to either direction nor effects (intended as well as un-intended) left by their inflated “conference cum pilgrimage” ecclesiola.

Why didn’t they go to Kent instead?

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Monday, 23 June 2008 at 9:28am BST

I take it as certain that women were being ordained in the early church. If it weren't happening, then Nicea and other early councils wouldn't have even addressed the issue.


The admission of women as cultic priestesses in non Christian cults might well have led to the Church Councils addressing the issue.

Also there is evidence of some heretical sects borrowing the custom from mystery religions

Posted by: Michael Thompson on Monday, 23 June 2008 at 9:32am BST

Would anyone care to explain to me how Scripture as the sole authority in the Church, the Real Absence, denial of Baptismal regeneration, Subordination of the Son to the Father in the Trinity, PSA as the main, if not only, understanding of the Atonement, and any of the other heterodox ideas taught by people like Jensen, can be called in any way, shape, or form "orthodoxy"? Seriously. They keep referring to "the faith once and for all delivered to the saints" while practicing a form of Christianity that would be utterly unrecognizable as Christianity to anyone born more than 600 years ago. Whether or not it represents a better discernment of the will of God for His people is immaterial. It could well be right, but how in the name of God can it be called "orthodox"?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 23 June 2008 at 1:04pm BST

“Quickly they will indentify sympathetic bishops and start picking off parish churches to add to their fold. In short order, they who claim that they are not engaging in schism will be leading a rolling schism.”-- karen macqueen+

I think that the schism has already taken place, and that CAFCON is doing “entry work” in the Anglican Communion in much the same way trotskyite sects do it in the British Labor Party, or the way some communists do in the Democratic Party here in America. They are not loyal to the AC, but seek simply to rip off members and assets for their own group. When they have what they want, and have done as much damage to the AC as they can, they will formally announce “the split.”

Posted by: Kurt on Monday, 23 June 2008 at 2:39pm BST

Andrew,

Of course I did not mean that the GAFCON leadership would replace the ABC as the primate of England. He (for the forseeable future it will still be a male) will continue to be chosen according to English law and the practices of the C of E. I expect the "Anglican Fellowship" of "orthodox" bishops and congregations will do some of the following: 1. Continue to do their best to undermine the moral authority of the current ABC; 2. Propose a panel of co-ordinating Primates who would represent, proportionately, their regions. This would give African Primates more clout. 3. Pressure the ABC to call regular Primates Meetings, since the conservatives have managed to use these meetings to push forward their agenda. 4. Apply pressure to try to make the Lambeth Conference into a legislative body with jurisdiction over all of the national Churches. 5. Focus their energy on enacting a Covenant that amounts to a code of internationally binding canon law, with provisions to exclude from the Communion those national Churches that do not conform to their traditional moral teachings. They will, finally, come to a point of decision as to whether to commit to a long term strategy to try to take control of the Anglican Communion over a period of decades or to risk full schism and form their own network of like-minded Churches that may or may not be in some sort of association with Canterbury. From my perspective, here in California, admittedly a charmed existence, the GAFCON movement is not likely to succeed at any of these strategies to dominate the Anglican Communion and reshape it to their liking. Our younger generation polls at over 80% in favor of same sex marriage. As our young people grow up with the experience of the full inclusion of LGBT persons and same sex couples in society, they will not accept a homophobic church.

Posted by: karen macqueen+ on Monday, 23 June 2008 at 6:28pm BST

"As our young people grow up with the experience of the full inclusion of LGBT persons and same sex couples in society, they will not accept a homophobic church."

This is precisely what conservatives see as a danger, because of what it says about attitudes to the Gospel. Given that the underlying fear that drives conservatives is of destruction by the evil forces of the world, we have to recognize it and try to reassure them there is nothing to fear. Jesus tells them the same thing, though, and they won't listen to Him. The point is valid all the same. We have been given the Gospel and told to go preach it to the world. We can, and do, argue endlessly about what that Gospel means, and how to best preach it, but that's just distraction. The idea that the world will change according to its own precepts and then will change the Gospel is the exact opposite of what is supposed to be. We discern what the Gospel is and then tell the world about it. The issue of what it means to tell the world is another thing entirely. I do not believe we have the right to use the power of the state, or indeed any other power, to force the world to comply. I do not believe we have the right to frighten, bribe, brutalize, or otherwise coerce people to become Christians. Many conservatives seem not to agree with me on this, at least if the response of those with whom I have discussed the issue here is anything to go by. Indeed, someone here a while ago, in response to a bishop's apology for such past abuses, accused him of abandoning the Great Commission, as though the things he was apologizing for simply weren't real. I think I'm in pretty good company, since St. John Crysostom says the same thing, though no doubt many conservatives would consider St. John's teachings to be "the traditions of men" and something the Reformation got rid of.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 24 June 2008 at 2:59pm BST
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