Thinking Anglicans

GAFCON and Global South

The following appeared earlier on the Global South Anglican website as a comment to this article, but has now been removed. I have added some typographical emphases.

7. I just received the following confidential letter by e-mail from an esteemed Primate. I am overwhelmed that my remarks on GAFCON – posted as a mere comment in the Global South Anglican web blog, would attract such swift rebuke from an Anglican Primate. I am not sure whether he himself would be so out of character to use such harsh words to a priest begging for clarifications from the authorities. After all what will take place in GAFCON affects my future. The metadata of his Word-document reveals that it was in fact drafted by another person – by an equally esteemed new bishop in America. The issues he raised are public in nature, and are decisive to the future of the Global South Anglican movement. They call for considered response.

First, I enclose his comments:

I can only use the very words you yourself have chosen to express my great concern at your public statement – shocked and saddened.

How could you possibly believe it to be God’s will to make such a public scandal against your brethren without first consulting with us? Common courtesy and politeness alone would have insisted on that and the scripture clearly teaches us to exhaust private attempts at reconciliation before doing something public.

You assume authority and superiority (neither of which are yours to assume) and assault not only the entire enterprise but the integrity of those involved.

You use rhetorical questions thus adding inappropriate scorn to what you have perpetrated.

On top of this you used the Global South website for a personal matter. With whose authorization did you do so?

This conference is designed to move beyond the current paralysis in the Communion and pursue mission with those who have a common mind about what Biblical mission means. We are not suggesting that we are the only ones who have the “real” faith to share, but neither are we so naive to believe that all who call themselves Anglicans agree with what the church has always described as the content of the faith and the mission of the Church. If the intention were to foment division, there are far more effective ways to do it than the plans we are making. In addition it is being set up by leaders who believe that the theological crisis (which you wrongly limit to being a North American problem) has damning implications in real people’s lives.

Given that every clear statement on unity, faith, and order has been summarily ignored, it is unreasonable to suspect that continuing to do the same things will bring different results.

Please seek God over this and recognize the great wrong you have done to those who have trusted you and never imagined you might behave in this way.

I leave aside his questions on the use of web blogs and authority in blog posting, which I consider as confusion on his part on the nature of web blog. The Primate, as a senior member in the GSA leadership team, should well be aware that GSA has two important arms working for the long-term strengthening of churches in the Southern Hemisphere and in the Communion at large. They are the Economic Empowerment Task Force and the Theological Formation and Education Task Force, the latter of which I am the chair. The chairs of both Task Forces work closely with the central leadership in the GSA Primates Steering Committee. For myself, I keep in touch with the GSA Primates chair and General Secretary on weekly basis over the past year – if not more – on our long-term work outside of the limelight. Successive GSA communiqués have commended the work of these two tracks.

In particular, the Primates have commissioned the Theological Formation and Education Task Force to produce a draft of the theological framework for an Anglican catechism. The committee with Primate-representatives from Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, and South East Asia, alongside corresponding members from Northern churches endorsed by the Primates, has been working very closely together (and very hard) for the past year on this project. We have taken great care to produce a unitive and building document for the whole Communion, that it would complement the GSA theological input to the Anglican Covenant processes. We took particular care in defining orthodoxy in the Anglican Communion in the document. The 60-page Interim Report Anglican Catechism in Outline (ACIO), with Key Recommendations—that has received unanimous endorsement from all members— has important ramifications for Christian discipleship throughout the Communion. It will be submitted to the GSA Primates very soon. The GSA Primates who went to China in October 2007 saw an earlier draft and have commended on its work in their communiqué. They “urge [their] dioceses to make it available to all strata of leadership in preparation for its formal adoption in the first quarter of 2008”. According to agreed plans, it will be released it by mid February 2008, if not earlier, to the whole Communion for feedback. The Final report is due to be released by June 2008. All these plans were agreed by the Primates at least six months ago. The GSA Chair and General Secretary have received the successive drafts and were consulted on all major decisions as the draft was amended and re-crafted.

The drafting committee met in Singapore from 11 to14 December 2007, I believe it was in the same week as the Nairobi meeting took place. Archbishop John Chew was with us throughout the meeting and gave us vital leadership. I do not think any of us meeting in Singapore knew about the Nairobi meeting.

I hope this sets the scene in explaining why I was shocked and saddened by the GAFCON Statement.

I ask pose your questions gently back to you: Did you and those in Nairobi consult all GSA primates on such an important conference on Anglican future? Could there be better coordination between Global South Anglican initiatives and that of the GAFCON organizers? Are you setting up a new structure (Global Anglican) other than GSA to move the Communion forward? Would you not think given the publicity that GAFCON has attracted (quite aside from my humble questions) as splitting the Communion, how would others in the Communion perceive the ACIO Interim Report that is meant to build up the whole Communion upon the authority of the Holy Scripture when it is released? (Have you seen the document?) Would they not be prone to dismiss it off hand as another radical proposal from the Global South? This would be a great pity and great setback to the good work of the Global South Movement.

The GSA Primates leadership team has a prime responsibility to work and discern together with all churches in the Southern Hemisphere. Its authority is derived from this mandate. Consultation is vital to this.

I suggest GSA Steering Committee to meet soon to clear up the matter.

Please be assured of my continued effort to work to the utmost in defending orthodoxy with you in the Communion.

Whoso beset him round
With dismal stories
Do but themselves confound;
His strength the more is.
No lion can him fright,
He’ll with a giant fight,
He will have a right
To be a pilgrim.

Affectionately in Christ,

Posted by Michael Poon on 12/31 at 01:29 PM


GAFCON needs explanation

Updated again Sunday evening

On the one hand, two papers have been [re-]published on the GAFCON site, which are “to add to the understanding of the background to the Global Anglican Future Conference”:

On the other hand, Michael Poon from Singapore, writing on the Global South Anglican site, has asked the GAFCON organisers some very good questions:

“Everything is permissible” — but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible” — but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. (1 Corinthians 9: 23-24)

I am saddened and shocked by the Statement on “The Global Anglican Future Conference, June 15-22, The Holy Land”, issued on December 26, 2007. Perhaps the Primates responsible need to clarify their views on the matter.

1. On what basis was the Statement “announced by Orthodox Primates”? What is the basis of orthodoxy? Historically, the Communion takes Canon A5 “Doctrine of the Church of England” and C15 “On the Preface to the Declaration of Assent” of the Church of England as the basis of its belief. This underpins Section 2 (“The Faith we share”) of the proposed Anglican Covenant. On what basis did the Primates of Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Southern Cone, and Tanzania declare themselves as orthodox primates?

2. Did the Primates at Nairobi act on their personal capacity or as primates of their respective churches that “represent over 30 million of the 55 million active Anglicans in the world”? It would be helpful if the Primates and bishops are able to have their Statement ratified through due process by their Provincial/National/Diocesan Synods.

3. Has the Global South Anglican Primates Steering Committee endorsed this Statement? So far, it has remained silent on the matter. It is important to note that the authority of the Global South Anglican “movement” and of the Steering Committee arise from the South-South Encounter and most recently the Kigali Meeting in 2006. The Global South represents a broad spectrum of Anglican churches that hold onto the historic faith and ecclesiology informed by the historic formularies. It does not answer to the dictates of the radical evangelical wings within the Communion. It is regrettable that Asia, West Indies, and Middle East are glaring omissions among the “conveners” of the proposed Conference. Have they been consulted? Have they rejected the proposal? In their place, we find names of colleagues (with due respect) from a particular strand in the Northern churches. Why was this Statement issued with such haste? And without broader representation?

4. Was the Presiding Bishop of Jerusalem of the Middle East consulted? After all the proposed Conference takes place in Jerusalem? Furthermore, by holding it in Jerusalem, it makes it quite impossible for orthodox Christians from Muslim countries to attend. And yet, what is that insignificant minority in the face of powerful numerical blocs?

What should our discipleship be at this stage? Primates are pledged to uphold the unity and the faith of the church, and not their private judgments and personalities—even their interpretation of orthodoxy. Please be constructive in your decisions at this stage.

Michael Poon
Feast of Thomas Becket, 2007

Sunday Update

Michael Poon has asked some more questions, see Michael Poon asks Archbishop Peter Jensen for clarification on several crucial points. The article is too long to add in full here, but the first two questions are as follows:

1. What is the particular nature of the crisis before the Communion today?
2. What are the particular heritage within the Anglican history you wish to retain?

And, as noted in a comment below, the following editorial note appears on the Global South Anglican homepage:

Editorial note: Both Dr Michael Poon and Archbishop Jensen have articles featured on this site regularly. It will be in the interest of our readers and Anglican faithful that we continue some open conversations on the nature and direction that our Communion is taking. This is a critical time for our Communion and churches. If we are just fighting for biblical orthodoxy and nothing else, we might as well splinter into independent churches. Even ‘mission’ is not a good enough reason to be together – for we are working quite well across denominational boundaries. If it is both biblical orthodoxy AND the catholic order of our Church with our identity/mission as an ecclesial family, then it calls for careful, deeper reflection, longterm vision and clarity in our strategy – that the 2003 crisis and our subsequent responses may not tear the fabric of our Communion even further.

And, as also mentioned in comments, there is this report from a Kent newspaper:

CofE unity threatened by conference split:

GAFCON spokesman Canon Chris Sugden would not be drawn on whether or not Dr Williams would be invited to the rival conference. He said: “Of course, the Archbishop will be preoccupied with the Lambeth Conference, but no decisions have been made yet.”

A spokeswoman for Lambeth Palace said the Archbishop of Canterbury would not be making any comment on the alternative conference…


San Joaquin saga continues

Events in San Joaquin before Christmas are recorded here.

Next, we have these blog reports from Fr Jake:

The last one of those has links to many other blog commenters, and also notes that some prominent American Anglican sites have not mentioned the events at all.

And today’s Modesto Bee reports on this also: Bishop Schofield removes Episcopal vicar from Atwater post by Sue Nowicki.

There is also a PDF file containing an excerpt from a letter to Father Fred Risard of Atwater’s St. Nicholas Episcopal Church from Anglican Bishop John-David Schofield.


opinions after Christmas

Giles Fraser wrote in the Guardian about A very lefty festival.

The tradition of carols as an anarchic and populist form of devotion is alive and well, says Ian Bradley in Face to Faith.

Jonathan Romain wrote in The Times that All the true miracles happen in the human heart.

Vicki Woods wrote in the Daily Telegraph about Going to church when you have no faith.

At Ekklesia Simon Barrow wrote that Christ is an unwanted gift for the religious.

Jonathan Bartley wrote about The real offensiveness of Christmas.


Here let us stand

‘Since Christmas a day: and the day of St Stephen, First Martyr.
‘Since St Stephen a day: and the day of St John the Apostle.
‘Since St John the Apostle a day: and the day of the Holy Innocents.
‘Since the Holy Innocents a day: the fourth day from Christmas.
‘To-day, what is to-day?’

So wrote T S Eliot at the start of the second act of his play Murder in the Cathedral, written for the 1935 Canterbury Festival, and first performed in the Chapter House at Canterbury, just a few yards from where, on this day in 1170, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket, was killed.

The murder, or assassination, of Thomas Becket within his cathedral church shocked the whole of western Christendom. Within three years he had been canonized, his name added to the roll of saints of the Church, and King Henry II forced to do penance for his role in Becket’s death. From Iceland to Italy there are churches dedicated to St Thomas of Canterbury, and relics, statues and images from just a few years after 1170.

The cause for which Becket died, however, is not one that today we necessarily regard as unambiguously right. As Eliot has the assassins remind his audience, the rule of law that we treasure as a great protection was begun by the reforms of Henry II that Becket stood against. ‘Remember,’ says the Second Knight in his speech to the audience, ‘remember that it is we who took the first step. We have been instrumental in bringing about the state of affairs that you approve.’ On the other hand, the rule of law that Henry II was introducing was harsh, whereas the rule of the Church, which Becket wanted to encompass as many people as possible, was more lenient.

And yet we cannot easily regard the murder of Becket as justified, even if we can agree with some of the sentiments Eliot has the knights express. The end does not justify the means. The powerful cannot go around murdering those they disagree with, whether they be political rivals or obstacles (as Becket had become to Henry II), or the weak and impoverished (as the boys of Bethlehem were to Herod, or indeed today). The prophets of the Old Testament remind us of this too: we see David brought to book by Nathan for arranging the death of Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11, 12); and Elijah foretells disaster on the house of Ahab for his complicity in bearing false witness against Naboth and causing him to be executed (1 Kings 21); and there are plenty of other examples.

The very rule of law that Henry II wanted to introduce requires that arbitrary exercise of power is not allowed. The murder of Thomas Becket reminds us still that the rule of law (tempered by equity and mercy) is fundamental to the Judaeo-Christian tradition, and that it applies as much if not more to the rich and powerful and to the rulers as it does to the dispossessed, the powerless and the ruled. Those in power must always be held to account for their treatment of those who are in their power.

‘To-day, what is to-day?’
‘Let our thanks ascend
To God, who has given us another Saint in Canterbury.’
‘Blessed Thomas, pray for us.’


Wholly Innocent

Today, the fourth day of Christmas, the Church remembers an incident recorded in Matthew’s account of the birth of Jesus. The evangelist tells us how Herod, warned that a ‘new king of the Jews’ had been born in Bethlehem, gave orders for the massacre of all the boys aged two years or under in and around Bethlehem. The evangelist notes that this is a fulfilment of the words of Jeremiah. Later legend puts the number involved in the thousands, or even in the hundreds of thousands, though it has been estimated that the likely number of boys of that age in a town the size of Bethlehem might have been around twenty.

Scholars doubt the historical accuracy of this story, and we do not need to take it literally to commemorate today all who are wrongly persecuted and betrayed by those who should be protecting them.

The young boys in the story know nothing of Jesus, nor indeed of the politics and powers of this world. They cannot by any stretch of historical or theological imagination be described as Christians. Just babies or toddlers with a few words, they are the epitome of powerlessness and vulnerability, still dependent on others for all their needs. Primarily they depend upon their parents, but secondarily they depend on their neighbours, and on the earthly powers-that-be for protection from the evils and disasters that can strike at any time.

And despite their ignorance of Jesus, the Church has from ancient times commemorated them: a reminder that God’s love is for all; a reminder of the sufferings endured by so many; and a reminder of our responsibilities towards those who depend upon us, and those who are weaker than we are. And a reminder too of the need to hold the powerful to account, and to ensure, so far as we are able, that they too remember their responsibilities to the weak and powerless, and not abuse their power for their own ends.

It is a sad fact that such abuse of power and responsibility not only still exists, but also that it is not just confined to the obviously evil. From terrorists exercising power without responsibility, not caring about the suffering of the innocent, through politicians convinced of the ‘greater good’, to religious leaders who fail to use to the utmost their moral power and influence, we still see connivance, deliberate and thoughtless, in the persecution of those who have every right to expect the protection of the more powerful.

The best way in which we can commemorate this feast today of the Holy Innocents is to speak out against and to work towards the end of the tyranny of evil. Not just this day, but every day.


GAFCON: first news reports

Religious Intelligence had Rival Lambeth Conference announced by Nick Mackenzie.

The Living Church had Traditionalists Plan June Conference in Holy Land.

Christianity Today had Global Anglicans Face Test of Strength.

The Washington Post in being the first mainstream media outlet to report this event, unfortunately got the date of it wrong by a whole month.

Earlier the Daily Telegraph had predicted all this accurately, in Second Lambeth Conference a blow to Williams.

Archbishop Peter Jensen of Sydney has written about his involvement here.


Telegraph supports bishops

In a surprising move, the Daily Telegraph has published a leader comment in favour of Church of England bishops. Commenting on a news article by its own Religious Affairs Correspondent, Jonathan Petre, headlined One in five C of E bishops faces sack, the leader says:

Don’t knock the Church of England’s bishops

When, in 1942, Winston Churchill nominated William Temple for Canterbury, he remarked that he had chosen the only half-crown article in a sixpenny bazaar.

That was too harsh on the bishops of the time, but how does the bishops’ bazaar compare today?

In monetary terms, their services are less valued now. A diocesan bishop receives £36,230 a year, and an auxiliary suffragan bishop only £29,560.

That is less than a teacher, though we expect great things of bishops.

But, as we report today, instead of finding ways of attracting better candidates, perhaps by increasing the amount they receive to a level where they might no longer wonder how to pay for the children’s shoes, the Church Commissioners, in a secret document, have recommended that more than a fifth of bishops should simply be abolished.

Some dioceses might also go, or be merged. There is talk of selling off historic palaces.

No one is underestimating the difficulties facing the Church of England. Its full-time clergy have diminished in the past century from 24,000 to 9,000. Parishes are amalgamated, and churches crumble and are closed.

The apparent decline reflects lay secularisation, but also a reduced status for clergy. This leads to a diminished pool of talent from which bishops may be drawn.

The solution is not to bash the bishops once more. Real savings should come from trimming a proliferating bureaucracy, not from cutting bishops’ incomes.

As for selling off historic palaces, that is an abdication of trust and a pointless transfer of historic property to unreliable custodians.

A success story for the Church of England has been its cathedrals: well attended and able to draw in those previously little interested in Christianity.

One model for the C of E’s future is the building of central teams in dioceses, flexible and mobile enough to meet local needs. This is no time to weaken episcopal vigour.


In the Beginning was the Word

‘In the beginning was the Word’. So begins the gospel according to John, and it is John that is commemorated today: John the apostle, and John the gospel-writer or evangelist — perhaps the same person, perhaps not, but apostle and evangelist commemorated as one today.

In this prologue to the good news of Jesus of Nazareth, the evangelist writes in poetic language and connects the eternal Word of God with this living person, Jesus of Nazareth, whom he had known.

In the beginning was the Word

The universe is something that we observe, and in particular something that scientists observe and try to understand. And one of the things that they observe is that there is something about the universe that tends towards what might be called ‘creativity’. At one level this can be explained as a result of electro-magnetic and nuclear forces acting at infinitesimally small distances or of gravity acting over unimaginably large distances. It is these forces that create galaxies and stars, that cause the creation of the elements within these massive stars and the dispersal of these elements around a galaxy to enable younger stars and planets to be formed. At another level it is the creation of localized negative entropy systems (though there is net gain of entropy in the larger closed system) which enables life to exist here on Earth.

This ‘creativity’ seems to be built in to the universe that we inhabit and observe, and to the scientist this can be described by formulations such as the weak anthropic principle (that if the universe were not pretty much like it is then we wouldn’t exist and so wouldn’t be here to observe that it is like this).

In the biological and social spheres we can observe similar tendencies towards creativity — in biological reproduction, and in the care that we as humans try to take towards the young and to those responsible for them, and towards each other. And we see it in our own attempts at creativity — in the arts and in the sciences.

As Christians we can associate this ‘tendency towards creativity’ with the divine creativity. In John’s gospel, following the lead of Greek philosophers, this creativity is called the Word, (the ‘Logos’ in Greek), and the writer reminds us that everything was made through this creativity, nothing was made without it, and that it was there from the very beginning. This can be compared with the poetry of Genesis, in which it is similarly the word of God that brings the universe into existence.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us

And then, says the evangelist, ‘the Word became flesh and dwelt among us’. This creativity, this divine spark, was uniquely focussed in a particular human being, the human being we know as Jesus.

This creativity is revealed in Jesus to be at one with the divine love — love for the creation, love for our fellow creatures, and love for the divine creator. This profound religious truth is revealed to us in the incarnation, in the message of Christmas, and recorded for us by the evangelist, John. And as we struggle towards understanding we can understand too that the creativity and love that is at the heart of our own human existence is also part of that divine creativity, the divine inspiration or inbreathing of the Spirit of God.

We saw his glory, such glory as befits the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth

The glory of God, the glory of creation, is revealed in human love, shown to us in the life and teaching of Jesus who cared about all who suffered, and shown to us today by all who follow that same path.


On the Feast of Stephen

‘Good King Wenceslas looked out,’ we sing in the popular carol, ‘on the feast of Stephen’. Today is the feast of Stephen, perhaps the most under-observed feast in the calendar. Its proximity to the feast of the Nativity is intended to honour Stephen, the first person to suffer death for their faith in Jesus of Nazareth — but in practice this proximity means that most people, even seasoned churchgoers, are taking the day off.

Stephen, though, deserves more than a passing commemoration.

Stephen was a Greek-speaking Jew, described as ‘full of faith and the Holy Spirit’. In the earliest period of the development of the Church, when it had become too large for the Twelve to manage by themselves, he was chosen as one of seven men to look especially after the Greek speakers in the Church, and particularly to ensure that the widows received their share of daily bread.

The initial description of the role of Stephen and his six fellows is a servant ministry, and although not described as such, they are accounted as the first deacons.

But Stephen and the others were not limited to ensuring that the widows received their daily bread. Stephen did great wonders and signs, and disputed with other members of the synagogue. And so he was brought before the Council, and stoned to death.

In the Acts of the Apostles the author tells us two more things about Stephen. First, Stephen is given a lengthy speech in which he describes the great sweep of Jewish history, from Abraham onwards, all pointing towards the birth of Jesus, and in which he criticizes the leaders of the Jews for resisting the Holy Spirit, persecuting the prophets, and not keeping God’s law.

Secondly, the description of Stephen parallels that of Jesus in many ways: being filled with the Holy Spirit; seeing the Son of Man at the right hand of God, as Jesus promised he would be; commending his spirit to Jesus, as Jesus commended his to the Father; kneeling as Jesus did in Gethsemane and asking forgiveness for his persecutors.

Witnessing to Jesus by acting like Jesus in every way is thus seen by the author of Acts to be essential to the Christian life.



Boxing Day or Christmas Eve, depending on your source, was chosen by the organisers of this event as the day to issue a press release:


The press release (below the fold) is followed by:

Frequently asked Questions

1. Who is sponsoring the Conference?

The Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) is being called by those who took part in the Nairobi Consultation:

Archbishops Peter Akinola (Nigeria), Henry Orombi (Uganda), Emmanuel Kolini (Rwanda), Benjamin Nzimbi (Kenya), Donald Mtetemela (Tanzania), Archbishop Peter Jensen (Sydney) Archbishop Nicholas Okoh (Nigeria). Bishop Don Harvey (Canada) and Bishop Bill Atwood (Kenya) who also represented Archbishop Greg Venables (Southern Cone). Bishop Bob Duncan (Anglican Communion Network and Common Cause USA.), Bishop Martyn Minns (Convocation of Anglicans in North America), Canon Dr Vinay Samuel (India and England), Canon Dr Chris Sugden (England)
Bishop Michael Nazir Ali (Rochester, England) and Bishop Wallace Benn (Lewes, England) were consulted and also form part of the Leadership Team.

These bishops and their colleagues represent over 30 million Anglicans out of the 55 million active Anglicans. ( Nigeria 18m , Uganda 8m Kenya 2.5m Rwanda 1 m Tanzania 1.3 m plus Southern Cone, US, Sydney, England). The notional total of the Communion is 77m. The active membership is nearer 55 m, since of the 26m notional members in CofE 3.7m attend at Christmas Services)

2. Whom do you expect to come?
We will be inviting bishops and their wives, senior clergy, church planters, and lay people including the next generation of young leaders. We aim to make it a Global Anglican Conference with its eye on the future and future leadership.

3. Is this a Global South Initiative?
Not quite. Many of the Primates at the Nairobi Consultation are in the Global South, but it also included Anglican leaders from parts of the world beyond the geographic Global South.

4. Why a pilgrimage?
We are looking to the future of the Global Anglican Communion, which is itself a pilgrimage.

Those who want to hold on to the Biblical and Historical faith need to come together to renew their faith and develop a fresh vision for our common mission. The way we have chosen to do this is to undertake a pilgrimage to a land whose heritage we all share, the land where Jesus Christ was born, ministered, died, rose again, ascended into heaven and sent his Holy Spirit, and where the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out. We believe this will strengthen us for the difficult days ahead.

The conference will outline the mission imperatives for the next 25 years for orthodox Anglicans. It is important therefore to reconnect with our roots in the biblical story.

5. Is not Israel/Palestine a controversial venue?
Israel/Palestine has been a place of conflict for decades. That should not keep us from making pilgrimage to a land that is our common heritage. We want to bring fellowship and bear testimony to the Christian communities in Israel/Palestine. Those of us from Africa are no strangers to the pressure that Christian communities are put under from other religious groups and communities.

6. Why call it in June?
The pilgrimage is to strengthen bishops at a crucial time in the life of the Anglican Communion. Many bishops will not be able to accept the invitation to the Lambeth Conference as their consciences will not allow it. Some will attend both gatherings. The purpose of the consultation is to strengthen them all spiritually.

7. Is it not really an alternative to the Lambeth Conference?

It is not at the same time or in the same region as the Lambeth Conference. So there will be some who will attend both conferences and thus be able to consult with the Archbishop of Canterbury and others there.

As Archbishop Gregory Venables has said: “While there are many calls for shared mission, it clearly must rise from common shared faith. Our pastoral responsibility to the people we lead is now to provide the opportunity to come together around the central and unchanging tenets of the central and unchanging historic Anglican faith. Rather than being subject to the continued chaos and compromise that have dramatically impeded Anglican mission, GAFCON will seek to clarify God’s call at this time and build a network of cooperation for Global mission.”

GAFCON is a call to vision and action for mission based firmly on the “faith once delivered to the saints” and revealed in Scripture, to reform the church and transform persons, communities and societies through the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. African Bishops had this focus at their Lagos 2004 conference. The Episcopal church’s agenda has recently overshadowed it. We now need to develop this gospel agenda for all like-minded in the communion.

It is to outline the mission imperatives for the next 25 years and how to begin to respond to them.

It is a pilgrimage to the places of the Biblical story to renew our faith and commitment. It is to envision the Global Anglican Future.

The Lambeth Conference has a different agenda.

8. Is this all over a gay bishop?

GAFCON is about churches being grouped by what they have in common. We’re for growth, we’re for being passionate about the truth. We want to look to the future. That’s what the conference is about – Global Anglican Future.

9. Aren’t you splitting the church?
No. Communion depends on having something in common. Churches in the Global South are growing. They’re passionate about the truth and their faith. We are building on this strength.

As the Anglican Communion develops, some of the old bonds are loosening, and some new bonds are being formed. That’s a good thing. These bonds involve churches which are growing, and which have something distinctive to say to the world. GAFCON is enthusiastic about mission. Its focus is the future.



Rowan Williams: Christmas Sermon

The full text of the sermon preached by the Archbishop of Canterbury in his cathedral on Christmas Day can be found here.


CANA/Nigeria claims to have divided the Communion

BabyBlue published a long article concerning the Virginia property trial,The Division of The Episcopal Church: First Post-Trial Briefs Filed Today.

Mark Harris distilled from that article the following: CANA argues for two Anglican entities, affirms schism. The key paragraph seems to be this one:

As a result of these recent changes, the Anglican Communion is now divided into two “branches”—those that relate to all provinces that relate to the See of Canterbury, and those that relate only to those who are understood as adhering to the historic faith, doctrine, and discipline of the Anglican Communion. See Sept. 14, 2007, Tr. 41 (directing the parties to address the branch issue at the Anglican Communion level). The Church of Nigeria, with which the CANA Congregations have affiliated, is the principal leader of this new branch. Tr. 363-64, 372-74 (Minns); Tr. 639-40 (Yisa). Indeed, TEC Presiding Bishop Schori herself referred to CANA as a distinct “part” or “branch of the Anglican Communion” repeatedly in her deposition. Schori Dep, Designations 54-56, 79, 83. The evidence at trial thus independently satisfied the “branch” requirement of § 57-9 at the Anglican Communion level.”


bb helpfully comments that

The post-trial briefs from both parties are now up and can be downloaded from here:

Scroll down that page for the full set of legal documents. For the post-trial briefs in PDF format:


opinions and more

Geoffrey Rowell writes in The Times that The Christmas story allows us to behold God’s glory.

Ruth Gledhill reports: Make every Sunday a Christmas Day, churches told.

Earlier, The Times also had Top ten Carols and things you didn’t know about them.

Despite the seasonal humbug, Christmas has not become ‘content-free’ just yet, writes Judith Maltby in the Guardian.

And also in the Guardian Mark Lawson writes about Victorian intolerance.

The Associated Press reports on what an astrophysicist thinks about “the star in the East”.

In the Telegraph Christopher Howse writes about The shepherds’ dog and the angel.

Giles Fraser wrote in the Church Times about Learning to spot a fading pleasure.

And the Church Times had this leader: Prepare to meet thy maker.


San Joaquin developments

Updated again Wednesday afternoon

See here for previous update.

Religious Intelligence has a report by George Conger that says:

THE DIOCESE of San Joaquin has welcomed the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Advent letter to the Primates, seeing it as a validation of its secession from The Episcopal Church to the Church of the Province of the Southern Cone.

“I find it difficult to imagine any other reading of Canterbury’s Advent letter than the intent to recognize — or maybe I should say, to allow San Joaquin to be recognized as a legitimate member of the Anglican Communion,” Diocesan spokesman the Rev Van McCalister (pictured) told The Church of England Newspaper…

Read ‘Letter backs our move’. Another CEN story was Prayer ‘will be the only change in San Joaquin’.

The Church Times report is not available until next week, except to subscribers.

The Living Church has a report by Steve Waring of an interview with Bishop Schofield, see Bishop Schofield: ‘Not My Wish to Leave’:

“You are talking to someone who loves the tradition of the church. It is my heritage,” Bishop Schofield said during an interview with a reporter from The Living Church. “I don’t have any personal antagonism toward The Episcopal Church or its leaders, but day by day they seem to depart more and more from what is asked of us in scripture.

“It is not my wish to leave The Episcopal Church. If I saw signs that they were returning [to the historic faith] it is possible I would approach my convention about revisiting this decision.”

And an earlier Living Church report is titled San Joaquin Vicar Questions Bishop Schofield’s Visitation.

Episcopal News Service reports that Central, Southern California newspapers will carry Episcopal Church advertisement.

The advertisement itself can be seen as a PDF file here. The section on the San Joaquin diocese reads as follows:

The Diocese of San Joaquin

The Episcopal Church continues in Central California amid a current change in diocesan leadership. Assisting in this transition are members of Remain Episcopal ( and Holy Family Parish in Fresno (

Resonating with the season of the Nativity, the Fresno parish’s name recalls Mary and Joseph’s faithfulness in overcoming their challenges in welcoming the Christ Child into the world. The Church’s historical tradition holds that Mary’s own parents, Joachim and Anne, also responded uniquely to God’s call during their lifetimes. It is for Joachim that California’s San Joaquin Valley and the local Episcopal diocese is named.

Earlier, Episcopal News Service had this report: SAN JOAQUIN: Atwater vicar asks bishop to clarify planned visit:

The vicar of St. Nicholas Episcopal Church in Atwater, California, in the Diocese of San Joaquin has written to Bishop John-David Schofield questioning his plan to visit the congregation December 23 and asking for clarification about his status as a bishop in the Episcopal Church…

…”We would like you to state to us your pastoral and canonical relationship with St. Nicholas Episcopal Church, and myself,” Risard wrote in his letter. “You publicly stated at our diocesan convention that you no longer are the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, and instead you are a Bishop within the Province of the Southern Cone. As such, we understand your visit is simply to worship with us; there will be no liturgical role for you, neither celebrating nor preaching. The Episcopal Church welcomes all, and you are most welcome to worship, with the purpose of seeking transformation and reconciliation.”

Update Saturday evening
Bishop Schofield’s letter in reply to this one from the Presiding Bishop is published at TitusOneNine. Read it all here. Here is one bit:

…Furthermore, I understood the Convention’s actions as a request that I provide episcopal oversight of the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin under the Province of the Southern Cone of South America. Accepting such an invitation to be a part of the Southern Cone’s House of Bishops may not necessarily define my relationship with The Episcopal Church particularly since this may only be a temporary arrangement. This is true in light of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Advent Letter in which he proposes facilitated conversations not only between us but among others in the Anglican Communion.

The purpose of December 8th’s vote, then, was not to change anything within the Diocese but quite to the contrary. With the status of The Episcopal Church’s member-ship in the Anglican Communion looking more and more precarious, the people of San Joaquin simply wanted to remain what we have always been, namely Anglican…

Update Monday morning

Fr Jake reports: Early Reports from St. Nicholas, Atwater
What happened when Bishop Schofield visited.

Update Monday afternoon
Rebecca Trounson has a report in the Los Angeles Times Bishop at forefront of Episcopal divide.

Update Wednesday afternoon
Another report from St Nicholas Atwater.


church press reports on the Advent Letter

Pat Ashworth reports in the Church Times Williams wants to see main antagonists face to face.

George Conger reports in the Church of England Newspaper Archbishop’s warning to conservatives.

The Living Church had Archbishop of Canterbury Addresses Communion Tensions in Letter to Primates.

The Tablet has a report by Victoria Combe which is not yet available online but is headlined Williams unveils plan to save Anglican Communion and starts out:

The Archbishop of Canterbury delivered a master plan for the survival of the Anglican Communion last week, warning the opposing sides that refusing to meet was “a refusal of the Cross and so of the Resurrection”.

In his Advent letter, sent to 38 primates across the world, Archbishop Rowan Williams sought to offer strong leadership to his increasingly fractured Church…”


more on Hereford recruitment policy

My news report on this, published in the Church Times last week, is now available here.

The statement that the diocese issued to me while I was preparing that article was previously published here and is below the fold.

The full context for that statement was unfortunately not included in the Church Times article as published. I reproduce below a longer version of my report.

Priddis now regrets but remains impenitent

THE Bishop of Hereford, the Rt Revd Anthony Priddis, has said he now regrets “a lot of what has happened” in the case of unlawful discrimination against John Reaney. He lost the case (News, 20 July), but he has not changed his opinion, he said last Friday.

Bishop Priddis said in a witness statement: “I am very sorry for all the hurt and pain my decision not to appoint [him] has caused”, but he went on: “my opinion was, and still is, that at the time of the interview [he] did not have sufficient stability of life to give the assurances the Tribunal have found I was entitled to require of him.”

An employment tribunal at Cardiff last week adjourned before deciding on financial compensation and other remedies, which the parties had failed to agree privately in the four months since judgment was given in July. During the hearing, the chairman repeatedly urged the parties to seek agreement. No decision will now be issued until at least mid-January. A Stonewall spokesman said afterwards: “It is deeply regrettable that John has been forced to come back to endure further unnecessary cross-examination, which has been deeply distressing”.

Counsel for the diocese interrogated Mr Reaney as to why he did not apply for two similar posts recently advertised by Worcester and Guildford dioceses. Mr Reaney said that he lacked the confidence to seek any other church position after the way the bishop had treated him.

When asked whether or not the diocese would in future insert a reference to the employment regulations in its advertising, the bishop was hesitant: “We wouldn’t want to be in a position where we discourage people of homosexual, lesbian or bisexual orientation to apply for posts”. Later a diocesan spokesperson explained: “Given the judgement of the tribunal the only “safe” option to avoid future discrimination claims is for the Diocese to express a Genuine Occupational Requirement… This we do not wish to do… We are therefore seeking advice on how we can maintain the teachings of the Church without transgressing the law.”

The bishop took strong exception to adverse press reports, saying: “The media attention has, in my opinion, made matters worse for myself, the claimant and the Church of England as a whole.” He insisted the coverage had been “driven by Stonewall” particularly the Bigot of the Year Award. He said: “when they make derogatory statements about me personally, then that’s clearly hurtful to me”. Responding to this, Stonewall said: “The only person responsible for the media coverage is the bishop himself, who was found to have acted unlawfully”.



two more items from the Chicago Consultation

The grace of communion, spelled with a small “c” is a talk given at the consultation by Dr Jenny Te Paa.

A new way in the wilderness is a sermon by the Very Revd Tracey Lind, Dean of Trinity Cathedral, Cleveland, delivered upon her return from the consultation.


Authority in the Episcopal Church

Two major articles have been published at Daily Episcopalian:

“Our Constitutional Heritage: Why Polity and Canon Law Matter” by the Rt. Rev. Stacy F. Sauls, Bishop of Lexington, was presented at the Chicago Consultation at Seabury-Western Seminary, December 5, 2007.

Read it at The wisdom of the Constitution.

In February, the Dar es Salaam Communique from the Primates of the Anglican Communion created uncertainty in the Episcopal Church about what individuals or bodies had the authority to respond to the Primates’ recommendations. The Episcopal Church’s response has been made, but the nature of authority in our Church remains poorly understood. Sally Johnson, chancellor to Bonnie Anderson, president of the House of Deputies, lays out her opinion:

Discussion of Authority in the Episcopal Church and the Dar es Salaam Primates Communiqué of February 2007 (PDF file)

or read the short version here:
Summary of Authority in The Episcopal Church as it Relates to the Demands of the February 2007 Primates Communiqué


CANA update

Several reports from Northern Virginia:

The recent legal proceedings are discussed by Robert L. McCan in As we await a decision, at Daily Episcopalian.

The Fairfax Times published CANA split on issue of women priests

The Falls Church News-Press had Defectors from Episcopal Church Revert to Ban on Women Priests.

Julia Duin wrote on her blog about Chasing Archbishop Akinola.