Comments: Primates Meeting: further reports

The GAFCON statement says, ".....The presence of the Primates from Canada and the United States and the absence of Archbishop Foley Beach whose Church is recognised by Anglicans around the world ....." this is clearly an inaccurate statement and possibly deliberately misleading. The Church of England is in communion with the Episcopal Church in Canada and the United States. It is not in communion with ACNA. I wonder who is out of step with whom? The good news of Jesus Christ is that whilst we were yet sinners, he loved us. He also said 'judge not, that ye be not judged'. The only definition of sin that I know is that it is a 'falling short of the glory of God'. We are ALL sinners. But God loves each and every one of us. We are ALL made in the image of God. The really important thing is that we keep on loving each other, talking and listening to each other and that we don't make public, misleading statements which by their nature are open to creating division. See how these Christians love each other is what we should be hearing from the rest of the world, those who have not yet discovered for themselves the liberty and love of the Gospel. By our behaviour perhaps they will then find their way into the Kingdom.

Posted by Anne at Friday, 6 October 2017 at 2:55pm BST

Amen, Anne. It's impossible to see the Love of Christ and hear the Good News in that misleading, sanctimonious, and hateful statement.

Most of the time, I live in the Western US. I won't soon forget that in the midst of anguish over Las Vegas, ACNA (ostensibly speaking for GAFCON) prioritized their petty agenda. Combined with this statement, all I can conclude is that GAFCON is obsessed with having power over others and wielding it like a club. And that most certainly is not the Gospel of Jesus. Jesus never asked them to be judges and gatekeepers. Never. In fact, He railed against those attitudes.

Would that GAFCON was as harsh with its own in places where the church supports violating the human rights of our gay brothers and sisters.

Posted by Cynthia at Friday, 6 October 2017 at 4:12pm BST

"to “make the linkage between social justice and climate justice.”"


The statements on climate justice from the Archbishop of Southern Africa, Thabo Makgoba, and from the Bible study lead by Archbishop Moon Hing actually give me hope. As far as I'm concerned, that's the Anglican Communion at work. There's the Good News and the call to care for God's Creation as it provides for us and our sisters and brothers.

Posted by Cynthia at Friday, 6 October 2017 at 4:24pm BST

The GAFCON Statement is the same-old-nothing new. The promotion of their ACNA entity is not only misleading, it is intended to do damage to the Episcopal Church in the U.S., and the Anglican Church of Canada, since "Archbishop" Beach isn't there to replace them. They are playing the game to win and they don't care how they do it. ACNA has no qualms about calling the Episcopal Church apostate and evil. One of their spokespeople present in Canterbury said that asking Presiding Bishop Curry to pray for Las Vegas was wrong because the GAFCON primates would have to pray with him. Since when is prayer divisive? Even Archbishop Welby said that he was "taken back" by this statement. If they can't pray together, what is their grasp of the Gospel? The presence of ACNA in a nearby hotel is their effort to provide support and instruction to their GAFCON allies. At previous meetings they have kept in touch with those in the meeting by text message. ACNA uses statements like these to advance their legitimacy, GAFCON and ACNA want an Anglican Communion that reflects their homophobic, fundamentalist, ultra conservative stance. This cannot be allowed to happen.

Posted by Richard Grand at Friday, 6 October 2017 at 4:52pm BST

Anne: "The really important thing is that we keep on loving each other, talking and listening to each other... See how these Christians love each other is what we should be hearing from the rest of the world."


Cynthia: "The statements on climate justice from the Archbishop of Southern Africa, Thabo Makgoba, and from the Bible study lead by Archbishop Moon Hing actually give me hope. As far as I'm concerned, that's the Anglican Communion at work."

Exactly. And I'd add poverty and health. The obsession with sex seems so disproportionate and judgmental, when there's a world in distress and poverty and in desperate need.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Friday, 6 October 2017 at 5:11pm BST

Archbishop Suheil Dawani obviously has an important work of reconciliation in the context of the Middle East where it's needed urgently. Claiming that reconciliation was “a priority” for Anglicans, one can only surmise what the Archbishop thinks about the nonsense spouted by GAFCON. Attempting to bring peace between Israelis and Palestinians is a much more worthy vocation than simply existing to spread hatred towards gay people. GAFCON is absurd.

Posted by FrDavidH at Friday, 6 October 2017 at 6:18pm BST

The "total Gospel." I'm onboard with that! What a breath of fresh air.

Posted by Cynthia at Saturday, 7 October 2017 at 6:32am BST

GAFCON's statement that 'we are not walking together' is only a statement of the blindingly obvious. One suspects that the reasons they do not leave the AC and form their own independent church have to do with potential loss of publicity and the revenue they receive from other, somewhat less bigoted, members.

Posted by Rev Dr Ellen M Barrett at Saturday, 7 October 2017 at 10:41am BST

Andy: The Scottish Primus "showed no concern for those under his care who cannot accept the decision to redefine marriage."

Firstly, that is fabrication: almost certainly the Primus feels sincere concern for those who struggle with marriage being open to all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. The SEC has struggled with the wound and pain involved when Christians disagree. Moreover, the SEC has sought to protect conscience by building caveats in the system: 'conservative' ministers/priests do not have to conduct same sex marriages. Differing conscience is recognised, but unity and fellowship are upheld, a unity in diversity which recognises and seeks to protect diverse and conflicting consciences. There are no grounds for saying the Primus "shows no concern". That is hype, and ad hominem attack, and a kind of hysteria I'm afraid. Pray about him, Andy, don't demonise him.

Secondly, Andy says that the Primus "shows no concern" for those who cannot accept the inclusive interpretation of marriage. Well Andy, what about the GAFCON leaders? Do they show "concern" for Christians whose loving relationships get excluded from marital blessing? There is, rather, a theological criminalisation of their love and its tender expression.

Whereas the SEC actually recognises that there are diverse views and consciences about human sexuality, and builds protections into their shared unity in Christ, respecting the right of conscience, but seeking love and grace for a continuing walk of fellowship and service...

...the GAFCON leaders (and I'm afraid Andy seems to reflect this) insist on a uniformity, and the domination of other people's consciences. In seeking to impose a single uniformity (and let's be honest, there is no uniformity in worldwide Anglicanism) the lives and tender fidelity of gay and lesbian Christians get crushed, marginalised, excluded.

"No concern"? Which polity shows more concern? Which one shows greater respect and protection for conscience? Which one seeks unity, not in uniformity, but in love and care, even in diversity and difference?

Posted by Susannah Clark at Saturday, 7 October 2017 at 11:38am BST

Finally Andy, you speak as if England and Scotland have 'African' views on sexuality. They don't. The increasing majority of people in the UK are generous and decent and accepting of tender fidelity regardless of gender. We are not Uganda or Nigeria. And therein lies a key point: there is NO worldwide Anglican Church. Each province explores God's love for its people in diverse ways and addressing very different cultures. That's why I think the Covenant-style impulse to impose Communion-wide uniformity is doomed to fail. It will simply alienate millions of people who recognise greater magnanimity and generosity in secular society. And that has fearful consequences for evangelism. In a sense, those who insist on their exclusive view of human sexuality are alienating themselves from ordinary people, and alienating the Church from them too.

There should be deep "concern" about that too.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Saturday, 7 October 2017 at 11:39am BST

Reading the Communiqué is all I have had time to get to so far. There have been reports of prayer and foot washing. Did the Primates gathering include a celebration of Holy Communion?

Posted by Rod Gillis at Saturday, 7 October 2017 at 2:21pm BST

Subsequent to my post at 2:21 pm, I came across what appears to be an answer to my own question in an ACNS article published on Michaelmas:

"Prayer and Bible study continue to be the bedrock of the meetings: next week the Primates are expected to start their gathering with a spiritual retreat; and their daily pattern will include morning prayer and evensong as they join with the daily offices at the cathedral. They will also share a daily eucharist."

Given the Eucharist and the detailed description of The Communion described by the Primates in their closing Communiqué, they clearly think The Communion is intact, internal tensions notwithstanding.

Being in the penalty box does not mean one is out of the game or out of the league.

The Canadian church will probably be willing to live with similar consequences if ssm passes second reading in 2019. TEC, Scotland, and Canada have been testing the boundaries, and so far they are holding. There is no scenario on the immediate horizon that would see them shown the door.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Saturday, 7 October 2017 at 4:06pm BST

Kind of interesting that the GAFCON statement doesn't quote any GAFCON primates who took part in the meeting. Especially in light of the Kenyan primate's participation in the closing news conference.

Posted by Jim Naughton at Saturday, 7 October 2017 at 5:05pm BST

Until 2012 there were two parishes in my deanery in which the ministry of women priests was unacceptable. It so happened that in both parishes the incumbent retired and, in the following vacancy, each Church Council asked the wider deanery for some help and said they would welcome the chance to have some services taken by women. Subsequently one of the parishes appointed a female incumbent and the other a female curate. In each case it had been the incumbent who had determined the policy for the whole parish. Some years ago, talking to some people from Belfast after a funeral, we talked about how so small a group can determine the apparent belief of a much larger group. I remember them saying that, in the hight of ‘the troubles’ in Northern Ireland, the core of the IRA had consisted of only 40 people. GAFCON is said to represent millions of ‘faithful Anglicans’, but I have rarely met any faithful Anglican for whom concerns about sexual orientation is the core issue in what it means to live out their Christian life. GAFCON is not as big as its leaders would have us believe, but a few people in powerful positions can cause havoc.

Posted by Nigel LLoyd at Saturday, 7 October 2017 at 6:14pm BST

I agree with Susannah that Gafcon haven't been fair to the Piskies, but unfortunately, truth's irrelevant to politics: lest we ever forget, Gafcon primates aren't the cowed managers of decline seen in the West; they're bossmen, prince bishops who rule millions of zealous believers from whom they draw the power radiated with every breath. Truth's whatever they say it is.

We should, I guess, be thankful that they haven't done near as much as they're capable of doing. What more can be said? Power as awesome as theirs plays by its own rules; and their patience is fast running out. Time will soon come when progressive provinces must decide: submit; or part ways.

Posted by James Byron at Saturday, 7 October 2017 at 9:04pm BST

@James Byron: It's true that the GAFCON Primates could wilfully decide to separate as a group from the churches of the Global North and be their own Church. The fact that they haven't done this by now is curious. They may be biding their time, but even their ACNA entity in the U.S., isn't gaining the ground they expected within the Communion. The GAFCON Primates may be modern Prince-Bishops, but they have largely been manipulated by right wing conservatives in the USA. Whatever one may say about the decline and so-called irrelevance of the Church in the West, parting ways would make them just another sect without Canterbury. Something seems to prevent this open breach, perhaps even the ministry of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Time will tell.

Posted by Richard Grand at Saturday, 7 October 2017 at 11:50pm BST

Perhaps a minor point, but is seems that "Gafcon UK" is in reality no more than Gafcon GB. No organisation limiting itself to England, Scotland and Wales, should ever pretend to the designation UK.

Posted by T Pott at Sunday, 8 October 2017 at 12:01am BST

"The fact that they haven't done this by now is curious."

I think the wild card here is the wider GS bloc and how they decide to evaluate things.

The other side of this is what you mean by "separate and be their own church." I strongly doubt this is the conception (with which you may disagree of course). The GS looks at (portions of) the CofE and liberal anglicanism in the west as the outlier. They wonder whether the present configuration by which the AC understands its identity and workings will survive.

This is not "separation to be a church" but standing still and seeing what will happen, including the stance of the wider GS (beyond Gafcon). Even the Primate of Australia confidently referred to a consensus about the doctrine of marriage and he isn't Gafcon or really very strongly GS.

Posted by crs at Sunday, 8 October 2017 at 10:52am BST

It's a little silly to refer to a consensus when the whole reason the issue is being discussed is that there isn't consensus and you're attempting to impose uniformity.

Posted by Jo at Sunday, 8 October 2017 at 3:55pm BST

"Even the Primate of Australia confidently referred to a consensus about the doctrine of marriage..."

Except there no longer is one. Saying brave things because one wants to be brave is not unheard of.
Who knows, deep down inside his confidence may be shaken.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Sunday, 8 October 2017 at 4:01pm BST

He's a public figure. Address him. View the accesible briefing and ask him what he means.

To say you know what is his confidence 'deep down inside' is lazy or just rude.

Posted by crs at Sunday, 8 October 2017 at 7:14pm BST

So, crs, you are saying that they will just bide their time until there is no longer a church in the "West" or "Global North". Then their ultra-right, homophobic, fundamentalist Anglicanism will be all there is. That's' a sad and cynical prognostication. One thing's for sure-it will not be a form of Anglicanism that has ever existed. (I will not go into the finer points of that statement). It will be (and is) essentially a different religion.

Posted by Richard Grand at Sunday, 8 October 2017 at 8:08pm BST

Re: CRS, "To say you know what is his confidence 'deep down inside' is lazy or just rude." Well someone is rude, pal

The comments from Archbishop Philip Freier, come at about 11:15 minutes in , “There is a strong consensus in the middle as I've affirmed in Australia that the doctrine of the Anglican Church concerning marriage is clear....” He goes on (13:59) “ the center there is a strong consensus that the doctrine of Marriage in the Anglican Communion is clear and unchanged....”

Freier's remarks taken as a whole are in fact worth listening to. They are more nuanced than your take on them; but what else is new.

Freier talks about the range of the situation on homosexuality across The Communion. He also spoke about how God has not abandoned the Anglican Church despite its past complicity in matters which require repentance.

His reference to consensus is to one he believes is located in the "center", in the "middle". There is the further question about whether or not this is the best way to describe The Communion as whole. Given the events in Canada, The United States, and Scotland, and I'm willing to bet in a healthy slice of Anglican public opinion in the UK, and given the level of conflict over these matters, the notion of a consensus in terms of a collective Communion wide agreement seems a very problematic description.

The continuing difficulty of an empowered political patriarchal majority to enforce its view on a growing subset seeking justice through consensus building forums like synodical government, is at the very least, a position under siege.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Monday, 9 October 2017 at 2:37pm BST

Thank you for accurately stating what he said.

This helps us avoid the conjectures about his 'deep down' this or that.

grace and peace

Posted by crs at Monday, 9 October 2017 at 4:43pm BST

"This helps us avoid the conjectures about his 'deep down' this or that."

Contrary wise, keeping an open mind about such things can be illuminating, along the lines of Foucault's analysis of public discourse by public figures who are in positions of power.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Monday, 9 October 2017 at 6:34pm BST

This is pointless.

Separate. The arguments are circular, there is no end to it. One of the right-wing talking heads here has outlined a GS plan in which they will simply wait for us to die. The simple fact is, we are waiting on the same for them.

Stop waiting. Withdraw from one another. It isn't a matter of the hand telling the foot "I don't need you," but a matter of the hand insisting the entire body become a hand and the foot insisting the entire body become a foot. It's useless, it's embarrassing, it's childish, and it is the primary cause of the growing irrelevancy of religion.

By remaining in a death-grip masquerading as an embrace with the right-wing elements of the church, we are doing them violence. They need to see and understand themselves, and we give them something to distract themselves from that. At the same time, we need to find what our center is, rather than the rather vaporous catchphrase of "inclusivity." Both churches - for they are, in all features separate - must officially separate and turn inward for that; not to circle wagons, but to embrace the reality of what we are. We talk about needing one another to keep us honest, or whatever, but how can we do that? We see nothing. We don't understand ourselves, so we can't understand them, and vice versa. Enough.

And, since this is always smugly brought forth, yes, it is perfectly acceptable to take your ball and go home if the "game" is to stand there kicking the ball at each others' heads with intent to hurt. Alternatively, you can simply admit that religion has failed, at every point, to provide a coherent way to deal with reality and complete the death of the religious element of society. Perhaps that will allow real faith to grow.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Tuesday, 10 October 2017 at 5:57am BST

Thing is, this isn't two sides wanting equal and opposite things, this is one side that says differing views can co-exist and the other insisting on uniformity. Nobody is trying to force the Diocese of Sydney or the Church of Uganda to ordain gay people, or indeed individual Priests in TEC or the SEC to marry gay couples. That's not on the table. All that's being asked is that conservatives respect that SEC and TEC have found a place that allows for a diversity of views. Because it's not about SEC and TEC having one view and other churches having a different view, it's about disagreements that run not just between Churches but through churches and through congregations. I may be wrong but I suspect that even Fr Kelvin's wonderfully affirming congregation at St Mary's Cathedral in Glasgow will still have some members with conservative views on sexuality, and likewise in parts of Uganda and Nigeria there are Anglicans with affirming views. This isn't a matter of whose view prevails, but whether there is room for more than one view. You can still argue about whether those views are right or wrong, and I will certainly continue to argue vehemently, but the question is whether you can or should use canon law (within a Church) or the instruments of communion (between Churches) to try and enforce your view.

Posted by Jo at Tuesday, 10 October 2017 at 10:23am BST


I'm sorry, but that rings rather hollow to those who are on the receiving end of all this "diversity," and "tolerance," which promises us haven and respite from discrimination, while ensuring a platform for that discrimination to continue, and demanding that we acquiesce to that. From the conservative side, it would seem to be similar. It entraps us all in an ongoing, self-created and unnecessary warfare. I would also point out that you contradict yourself here, by opening your comment with ". . this is one side that says differing views can co-exist and the other insisting on uniformity." That *is* to say that there are two sides, with equal and opposite views.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Tuesday, 10 October 2017 at 11:28am BST

But Jo, there really isn't one side saying they can coexist. How many times on this site are people saying that anyone who doesn't believe in SSM or women priests, etc. aren't real Christians? That they are harming the women who want to be priests and the GLBT. There are a LOT of people saying that Sydney is not really a Christian or Anglican church because they don't allow gay marriage or that North can't be a bishop because that would negate women priests Many say anyone who doesn't approve of gay marriage is an evil bigot. This is not a one-sided fight. Even those like Susan who say they want both sides to coexist, can't figure out a way to make it happen, and when they say it, many on the "inclusive" side will point out how impossible it is.

I think the comment above that both sides are waiting for the others to die out is correct. So too is the comment about the progressive church needing to figure out who it really is because from here, I don't see much difference between the progressive church and humanism. Save the environment, gay rights, women's rights, etc., etc. God seems more like an afterthought, a reason for priests to dress up.

Posted by Chris H at Tuesday, 10 October 2017 at 2:56pm BST

Care for the environment and respect for the rights of all people, particularly the poor and oppressed, are natural outworkings of the Gospel. I struggle to see how you can believe in a God who created the world and everything in it, who entrusted humanity with stewardship over creation and not recognise a Christian duty to protect it; to be "good stewards". Likewise I can't see how you can read Galatians 3:28 and not conclude that gender, race and class are not to be relevant categories in the church, and from that flows equal treatment of men and women, and people of every sexuality. I don't know what the "progressive church" is but I don't recognise from your description any church I've ever been to.

On the broader issue, I can think someone's views are wrong, even dangerous and harmful, without wanting to exclude them from the body of Christ. I believe that it is sinful to discriminate on the basis of gender or sexuality, as I'm sure some others do here. I've never said, nor heard anyone else say, that the Diocese of Sydney should be sanctioned for the things it has done wrong. You could make a reasonable argument that their theology is not within the Anglican tradition, not least because of its totalitarian tendencies, but that's a long way from saying they're not Christians. I'm not in the business of making judgements about who is and isn't a Christian.

Posted by Jo at Tuesday, 10 October 2017 at 10:25pm BST


You *can't* exclude them from the Body of Christ. They *cannot* exclude us. To assume that to separate from one another is to "exclude another from the Body of Christ" is incredibly arrogant.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Wednesday, 11 October 2017 at 8:43am BST

"How many times on this site are people saying that anyone who doesn't believe in SSM or women priests, etc. aren't real Christians?"

No Chris H. You've missed the point. No one says they aren't real Christians. Most of us simply say that we don't want that view to have any power over us. Hold the view, fine. But enforcing it on others is quite a different thing - it's oppression. Is there some way you can be happy holding your views while those with different views rejoice in SSM and equality?

This isn't about accommodating views. This is about power to control others.

Jo, you are spot on and inspirational. Mark, I hear you, but I tend to want to keep the doors open.

Posted by Cynthia at Wednesday, 11 October 2017 at 6:12pm BST

I'm well aware of the impossibility. Doesn't stop them desiring it or trying to accomplish it. To try and force someone or a group of people out of the church is to do just that.

Posted by Jo at Wednesday, 11 October 2017 at 9:09pm BST

If I understand Mark correctly, the arrogance isn't in trying to push people out of churches but in believing that that will remove them from the Body of Christ.
No human being has that power.
The Body of Christ is made up of everyone who has faith.
People can stomp their feet and shut us out of the room, but they can no more evict us from the Body of Christ than shouting "you're not by brother any more" actually changes the fact that siblings have the same parents.

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 13 October 2017 at 2:43pm BST

I get that, Erika, and I agree. My point is that, regardless of the impossibility, by using words like "apostasy" and "abandoning the Gospel" they're trying to achieve it nonetheless.

Posted by Jo at Saturday, 14 October 2017 at 7:24am BST

The Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada has published a reflection on the Primates' gathering. He has a section on the nature of the gathering and the notion of "consequences" as a feature of such a gathering. In that section he writes:

"A few of the Primates, including me, continue to struggle with these kinds of consequences. I sometimes wonder if The Meeting of the Primates has in fact moved definitively beyond what Archbishop Donald Coggan intended it to be – a gathering for 'leisurely thought, prayer, and deep consultation”; an occasion for the Primates to act “as channels through which the voice of the member churches are heard, and real interchange of heart can take place' (Lambeth Conference 1978)."

Posted by Rod Gillis at Monday, 16 October 2017 at 2:09pm BST

Well, all this has shown me is that radical humanists have been right all along. I spent the weekend crying tears of blood over it, but I can see now that religion - even liberal religion - is not only the opiate of the masses, but a real danger. The message of the Anglican Communion - even the Episcopal Church - is not "We'll fight for those with neither voice, nor power, nor wealth," but the liberal equivalent of "Sending thoughts and prayers." It would seem the only truly transformative power in Christianity - in ANY religion - is toward the negative, in conservative religion.

You've thrown us out to keep your own place, and that tells me that this is not the path, nor the Christ or the God that I've encountered.

I'm well aware, thanks to the tender, cowardly . . . oh, sorry! "non-violent" . . . sensibilities of the good, abuser-enabling liberal mindset, here, this comment will never see the light of day, but I'll post it elsewhere. I will miss the worship, the - now, I realize, silly - belief in my church as a friend and champion, the trust, that can *never* be restored, but the church clearly serves nothing but a bad purpose, now, and people needed to know that it's castrating their moral courage. Maybe, we'll be able to come together, in small groups on our own, no trappings, but what we labor to put together, but this is . . . wrong.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Thursday, 19 October 2017 at 11:22am BST
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