Thinking Anglicans

13 English bishops write to GAFCON

Thirteen evangelical bishops of the Church of England have written a letter in response to this document: Letter to the Churches – Gafcon Assembly 2018.

Their letter is titled Remaining Faithful within the Church of England.

The signatories are:

Donald Allister, Bishop of Peterborough
Pete Broadbent, Bishop of Willesden
Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham
Tim Dakin, Bishop of Winchester
Richard Jackson, Bishop of Lewes
Julian Henderson, Bishop of Blackburn
Alistair Magowan, Bishop of Ludlow
Nick McKinnel, Bishop of Plymouth
James Newcome, Bishop of Carlisle
Mark Rylands, Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Exeter
Andrew Watson, Bishop of Guildford
David Williams, Bishop of Basingstoke
Paul Williams, Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham

Readers who do not keep up with GAFCON statements may also be interested in:

Rev Dr Stephen Noll’s Commentary on the ‘Letter to the Churches’

Chairman’s Letter – October 2018

Nigerians join Ugandans not attending Lambeth 2020

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David RuncornKateFather Ron SmithInterested ObserverRobert Ian Williams Recent comment authors
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Andrew Lightbown
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I wonder the extent to which the student Christian Unions of the 70’s and early 80’s have been the real shapers (despite references to the apostolic tradition etc) of these signatories ongoing theological commitments. 7 of the 13 went to Oxbridge, 2 to Durham and 1 each to Leeds, Bristol and Nottingham. The names of the most elite schools also feature large in their formative education. I wonder to what extent club goods and tribal identity are at play here? Just a thought.

peter kettle
Guest
peter kettle

And, of course, they are all men.

Kate
Guest
Kate

GAFCON isn’t very welcoming to women

peter kettle
Guest
peter kettle

I rest my case!

Fr John Emlyn Harris-White
Guest
Fr John Emlyn Harris-White

The only person who is smiling at this letter is the ABC. They all share his ‘theology’. Narrow, unloving, and certainly not Catholic. One Holy and Catholic Apostolic Church is certainly not part of their agenda, but double speak is clearly their ideal. It is a very sad letter which shows where the present ABC has led the church in his Primacy. Happy to enjoy the status and stipend of a Bishop of the Church of England, so staying in post, whilst trying to hold hands with the narrow minded folk that make GAFCON, and their like-minded allies of various… Read more »

CRS
Guest
CRS

“One Holy and Catholic Apostolic Church” — are we to understand this terminology now to refer to all those individual Christians scattered abroad who share the same basic views on same-sex marriage and whatever sacramental understanding is said to agree with the same? I ask because in many ways it sounds an almost Zwinglian ecclesiology, ironically. A sort of abstraction — “The One True Church.” Obviously the one present church calling itself “The Catholic Church” would then be wrong to call itself that since, in its theological self-understanding, it has failed to be aligned with your views. I think that… Read more »

Mother Hubbard
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Mother Hubbard

Since GAFCON predates the present ABC he can hardly be held responsible for the course the CoE or global Anglicansim have taken. Of the signatories of this particular letter only two were consecrated in Welby’s time. Catholic whinging is just as unpalatable as evangelical. In self-righteousness they are mirror-images.

Kate
Guest
Kate

This is the start of schism.

Paul Waddington
Guest
Paul Waddington

I am inclined to agree. The divisions within the Church of England closely resemble the divisions within the Anglican Communion generally. The logical consequence is surely a schism in the CofE, with one faction going with GAFCON, and the other remaining loyal to the Lambeth Conference. However, it will take a few years for a plan to emerge, and for the details to be worked out. By that time, the Cof E will be considerably smaller.

CRS
Guest
CRS

“…with one faction going with GAFCON — and the Global South — and the other remaining loyal to the Lambeth Conference.” I fear this is far too tidy. “The Lambeth Conference” is hardly the clear alternative to whatever traditional bloc exists globally, and it is far from clear even the Archbishop of Canterbury, who convenes it, even believes such a dichotomy describes the true reality on the ground. But yes, the divisions within the CofE resemble those more generally. Yet add to that of course that the CofE is itself held captive to a very difficult set of establishment constraints,… Read more »

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

Well, sort of. It’s the start of schism in the sense that fallings out in pubs on a Friday night cause the Tooting Liberation Front (membership, 6) to split to form the People’s Front for the Liberation of Tooting (membership, 3) and the Continuity Tooting Liberation Front (membership, 3). The impact of this on the country as a whole is non-existent, because each time the CofE splits it becomes weaker and less credible. The CofE would be decreasing in size and influence anyway, but by forming into multiple factions it becomes exponentially less important. You know that group who rent… Read more »

Cynthia Katsarelis
Guest

Why this maneuver? Why now? Clearly, it’s linked to the letter by the eleven bishops, right? Don’t these 13 bishops owe someone an explanation for this? Like the people of CoE? Is this mutiny? When have subordinate bishops ever engaged in the international bit? Did the ABC know? Is it designed to influence the sexuality statement that’s in progress? This seems far removed from the General Synod and the clear mandate for “radical inclusion.” I just find it odd. Many in TEC would object to ACNA being included in the Anglican Communion meetings, after all the trouble they’ve caused us,… Read more »

Jeremy
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Jeremy

I can’t say I’m surprised at this, or at the demands made by Nigeria and Uganda. And if the ABC is smiling at this letter, it is only a smile of relief that a few bishops have now come to his defence. Quite honestly, several Archbishops of Canterbury have been storing up this trouble by raising expectations that Canterbury will enforce a supposed orthodoxy. Of course it can’t do that, and of course HM Gov’t values very highly the UK’s relationships with the US and with Canada. So the ABC is caught between a rock and a hard place. But… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

My word, the Evangelical Bishops have been busy emulating St. Paul in churning out their epistles. First a letter signed by 11 bishops and now another signed by 13. Looking at the names of the signatories 8 are common to both letters. Missing from the second letter are Lancaster (the only woman), Birkenhead and Maidstone. However, Winchester, Lewes, Guildford, Basingstoke and Southwell & Nottingham have joined the fray. In total seven Diocesans have appendeed their names to one or both of the missives – Blackburn, Peterborough, Durham, Carlisle, Winchester, Guildford, Southwell and Nottingham.

Bernard Silverman
Guest
Bernard Silverman

Can anyone comment on the particular signficance (if any) of the differences between the two lists? You have to assume that all these bishops are in touch with each other and therefore that all of them had the opportunity of signing whichever of the two letters they chose to.

CRS
Guest
CRS

I believe Mr Runcorn has explained it (below). This group has written out of concerns they have about Gafcon, even if as sympathetic at points, which they clarify.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Could the common denominator be ‘sexism and homophobia’?

David Runcorn
Guest
David Runcorn

We may be trying too hard here. Why could the letter not be what it claims to be – a response from some English evangelical bishops to the recent GAFCON ‘letter to the churches’? What I think is significant is the request that organisational structures and policy development processes within GAFCON be more transparent. This is not a new concern actually – sources of funding and leadership influences within GAFCON have never been properly accountable. The bishops also ask to be consulted more directly with regard to GAFCON activity within the CofE and rightly question the appropriateness of the current… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

GAFCON has set itself up as an alternative to the Anglican Communion and to the Archbishop of Canterbury as an Instrument of Communion. The letter to the churches makes that very clear. Under the circumstances it is not these bishops’ place to formally write to GAFCON without permission of the Archbishop of Canterbury to whom the bishops freely (if stupidly in my mind) gave oaths of obedience. Presumably they weren’t told not to write so technically the letter of their oaths is intact but they have, to my mind, broken the spirit of their oaths. Quite apart from the GAFCON… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

I’ve just returned from a lovely couple of days with a group of people I’ve known for over 45 years. All are sympathetic to the C of E, some of them regular attenders and committed to the cause, as it were. Not one of them knew anything about these letters. Not one of them had even heard of GAFCON. Not one of them knows about the sexuality/gender arguments, and not one of them cares—because they don’t need a bunch of yesterday’s men and women telling them what to think, or do. Not one of them pays any attention to what… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Do C. of E. Bishops actually swear an oath of obedience to the ABC?

Bob Marsden
Guest
Bob Marsden

David, how exactly was the consecration of Bishop Andy Lines “irregular” in an Anglican sense?

Michael Mulhern
Guest
Michael Mulhern

Interestingly, I gather there are a number of people (clergy and lay) being ‘encouraged’ to contact their diocesan and suffragan bishops to ask why they haven’t signed either letter. These bishops are, broadly, evangelicals who signatures have not been put to either letter. Manipulation? Panic? Bullying? After all, nine members of the College of Bishops signing one, and 12 another, is a small percentage of the total membership of the College. This alone makes their recourse to the language and claims of a catholic ecclesiology deeply ironic.

Pete Broadbent
Guest
Pete Broadbent

It is what it says it is: a response to the GAFCON Open Letter to the Churches following their meeting in Jerusalem. We heard from them that they were disappointed that there hadn’t been a response to their letter, so we wrote to them. And because there are people in the evangelical constituency who wanted to know what we thought (even though many on TA couldn’t care less!!), we released it. We’re basically saying that we share some of their concerns (no big surprise there), but we have some major questions about their ecclesiology. There’s nothing more or less to… Read more »

Perry Butler
Guest
Perry Butler

Anglican Unscripted 448 for a GAFCON reaction to the Letter from Stephen Noll ….

Anthony Archer
Guest
Anthony Archer

Doctrinal and ecclesiological matters and their debate in the Anglican Communion are routinely the subject to letters from this or that party and I don’t think their existence merits some of the outraged comment that can arise. I am usually more interested in who has signed them rather than what they say. As the Bishop of Liverpool has commented, ‘It’s good to talk’, and therefore it is useful to know what various elements of the Church of England leadership are thinking at any point in time. However, much is at stake with the LLF work and if my analysis is… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

GAFCON isn’t a normal third party though. Even ACC sees GAFCON creating a danger of schism http://anglicanink.com/article/gafcon-response-acc-secgens-schism-charge

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

As regards the Lambeth boycott ..this must be costing Sydney a pretty penny.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Do you mean, Robert, that Sydney has spent all its money on trying to defeat the local Australia S/S Marriage legislation? OR, do you think that Sydney spent more money on getting African Primates to GAFCON 2018? In any event, Sydney diocese has little to contribute to mainline Anglicans in Australia. Sydney’s Archbishop recently tried to interfere in ACANZP’s polity on S/S/ Blessings but it didn’t work (He is on the board of GAFCON).

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Not really so surprising about Nigerian Anglicans Joining those from Uganda who will not be attending Lambeth 2020. Both provinces are allied with the homophobia of their local governments, which still apply draconian punishment on Gays and their Families. Perhaps Lambeth 2020 will then be free from Sexism and Homophobia – more in line with the Love of Christ in the Gospel.

Kate
Guest
Kate

Which is why it is so sad to see some of our bishops writing warmly to GAFCON rather than condemning their homophobia and patriarchal sexism.

David Runcorn
Guest
David Runcorn

Kate They were making a specific response to a specific letter. ‘writing warmly’? – well it was to fellow Christians, collegial, polite but it was also critical. I too, in another context, would like to know these concerns are being raised. And perhaps they are. The best challenging is not usually best done in the full public spotlight. That jist tends to harden the battle lines.