The Melbourne Anglican has a major article this month about Bishop Suheil Dawani’s recent visit to Australia, titled Bishops’ meeting will send ‘wrong signals’.
Another senior bishop has signalled his intent to be involved in the controversial Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) gathering to be held in the Diocese of Jerusalem before the Lambeth Conference this year. This surprising participant is the Bishop of Jerusalem himself, who pleaded with GAFCON organisers last month to hold the event elsewhere.
“It’s happening, they are coming,” said Bishop Suheil Dawani during a visit to Australia in February. “I will be there. I cannot ignore such a gathering. But I’ll give them our message of unity, of how the church must also be united, and of the importance of our ministry in Jerusalem and all over the world.”
Bishop Dawani told TMA that he is nervous about the impact of such a controversial conference in an area which is already beset by violent disputes and hardship. The Diocese of Jerusalem, made up of twenty-nine parishes, covers five countries – Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, and Palestine, all of which are familiar with division and hostility. Thirty-four institutions of the Anglican Church provide vital health care, education, aged care and disability care to the region, as well as care and hope to people who are traumatised by the uncertainty and violence around them, par-ticularly in Palestine…
…The GAFCON gathering, he believes, may undermine the Anglican Church’s credibility in setting this example, and he said he was disappointed that the GAFCON organisers did not seem to listen to his concerns, although GAFCON organisers have since split the conference between Jordan and Jerusalem, with the Jerusalem component called a “pilgrimage”.
“In Jerusalem, we face so many problems, we are challenged on a daily basis to be with each other, and that’s why we are so involved in ecumenical and interfaith activities. These things [at GAFCON] will be misunderstood by people, and will give the wrong signals to people in Palestine and Jordan. It is very controversial, it is the wrong time and the wrong place.”
“I hope that at Lambeth we can witness a new era of coming together and put our differences aside,” he said. “If we have differences, we have to discuss it internally in good spirit, because our people are looking to us. If our people see division, and we are not coming with a good spirit, it will affect their spirit, and their lives. We don’t want to be an obstacle for our people. I hope that Lambeth will get a new spirit for Anglicans all over the world.
See also Arrogant Archbishop’s protest conference ignores own advice from the Canberra Times.