Thinking Anglicans

GAFCON has funds now

Updated Thursday evening

Only a month ago, GAFCON issued an appeal for funds. The costs involved are estimated in this official GAFCON page.

Now, it seems, the response has been such that at least in Nigeria all the costs will be met from outside the dioceses. According to this Pastoral Letter (original as PDF here) signed by The Most Rev Peter J. Akinola, Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria (emphasis added):

The Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) was introduced in our earlier pastoral letter written from the Bishops retreat in January. The planning of this conference, coming up in Jerusalem in the month of June, has reached an advanced stage. The choice of Jerusalem as the venue is to take us back in a pilgrimage to the biblical and historical roots of our faith to draw inspiration in the face of major attempts to undermine the sufficiency of Scripture by some of our brother and sisters in the West. Knowing that this is not merely a cultural or theological struggle alone, but more importantly a spiritual battle, we urge earnest and concerted prayers that the Spirit of the Lord will show us the way ahead for our beloved Anglican Communion.

When the proposal was first discussed in January, we were staggered by the enormity of the cost, but we trusted that if God[’s] hand was in it, He would provide. Indeed the Lord has gone beyond our expectations by raising up from among us those who have felt sufficiently committed to the need to preserve the sanctity of our historic faith that they have committed huge resources to cover all the cost of the conference. May our gracious God reward these people abundantly and may they never be confounded as they continue to trust in Him and give themselves to His glad service.

The Bishops also resolved that Dioceses that had paid the required amount but have an outstanding balance in their Endowment Fund commitment should have their accounts credited with the money meant for the travel costs. This should enable us to make further progress in our desire to resource our Seminaries and other major projects in our vision. This will be a tremendous blessing to the seminaries where our clergy are trained. We have made resources available to meet their most critical needs so that our candidates for ordination and the future shepherds of our church will be well prepared for their ministry without being subjected to the usual handicaps in their training. We hope our postulants and the staff of the seminaries will reward this gesture.

This Pastoral Letter has also been published as a web page by both ACNS and ENS.

In a Communique of the Standing Committee of the Church of Nigeria issued at the same time (PDF original here), there is further material about GAFCON:

10. The Primate addressed the proposal for the Church of Nigeria to take part in the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) and Pilgrimage in Jerusalem from June 22nd through June 29, 2008. The goals of this conference are to:

a. Provide an opportunity for fellowship to continue to experience and proclaim the transforming love of Christ.

b. Develop a renewed understanding of our identity as Anglican Christians within our current context

c. Prepare for an Anglican future in which the Gospel is uncompromised and Christ-centered mission a top priority.

11. This decision to participate in GAFCON received unanimous support from the Standing Committee and also from the Mother’s Union Executive. It is a decision that has a long history and we were reminded that it has arisen out of a decade-long struggle within the Anglican Communion. Ten years ago at the 1998 Lambeth Conference a decision was made concerning the teaching of the Church as it applies to issues of human sexuality. The essential elements of the teaching have been enshrined within Resolution 1.10. An overwhelming majority of the bishops adopted this resolution. It led, however, to a very negative and defiant response from the leadership of the Episcopal Church in the USA – now known as The Episcopal Church (TEC). This led to their decision to approve the consecration of Gene Robinson, a homosexual priest living in a same-sex partnership, as bishop of New Hampshire. This, in turn, led to the unprecedented meeting of all the Primates of the Anglican Communion in October 2003 at which they called for what became known as “The Windsor Report”. Sadly the ominous words of their final communiqué, that ECUSA’s intransigence would “tear the fabric of the communion at its deepest level,” have proved to be true.

12. We were reminded again of the enormous efforts undertaken by the Primate and many of his colleagues to find a way to bring the necessary healing and reconciliation to our beloved Communion. These efforts have included innumerable meetings that have been held around the world and countless communiqués that have been issued at an enormous cost in both time and money. Time and time again TEC was given the opportunity to repent and embrace the scriptural teaching of the Communion but to no avail. One report, “The Road to Lambeth” commissioned by CAPA and endorsed by the Standing Committee of the Church of Nigeria concluded that: “We Anglicans stand at a crossroads. One road, the road of compromise of biblical truth, leads to destruction and disunity. The other road has its own obstacles because it requires changes in the way the Communion has been governed and it challenges our churches to live up to and into their full maturity in Christ. But surely the second road is God’s way forward. It is our sincere hope that this road may pass through Lambeth, our historical mother. But above all it must be the road of the Cross that leads to life through our Saviour Jesus Christ.”

13. It is this second road that is leading us to Jerusalem and the call by Primates and senior leaders of the Communion, representing more than thirty million active Anglicans, for the bishops and their wives together with clergy and lay leaders to meet for prayer, study and pilgrimage in the Holy Land. It is the shared conviction of the GAFCON leadership team that this will provide a unique opportunity for those who hold to the historic teachings of the Church to meet and discern God’s call for our common future as Anglican Christians. The Primate reported that in the last few days God has shown his favor on these plans by sovereignly providing the funds necessary for all of the Bishops, their wives, the clergy and lay delegates of the Church of Nigeria to attend.

Thursday evening update

Some further articles related to the above:

Martyn Minns has written a Report on CofN Standing Committee Meeting 2008. It includes this paragraph:

He talked about the Global Anglican Future Conference (affectionately known as GAFCON) that he is leading in Jerusalem later this year. He carefully explained the long history behind the decision to gather with other provinces of the Anglican Communion that refuse to spend any more time agonizing about sex but instead want to get on with the work of the Gospel and celebrate transformed lives. He announced that everyone going from Nigeria has already been paid for – and here’s another funny thing – paid for by generous Godly people in Nigeria! They have raised all the money from inside their own country!

Ruth Gledhill has republished on her blog the article she wrote for the Church of England Newspaper which is about GAFCON. See Anglicanism’s hectic summer.

And for those who want to understand Nigerian culture better, this article in the Guardian yesterday, though it does not mention religion at all, may nevertheless be illuminating, see Nigeria’s immorality is about hypocrisy, not miniskirts by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

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Justin Lewis-Anthony (3 Minute Theologian)
16 years ago

And once again the important question is “who follows the money?”

When the Pastoral Letter (precious little pastoral in it, but a lot of crowing) says “by raising up from among us” does it mean within the Church of Nigeria, or does it mean from within global GAFCON-ism, and if the latter, is it the usual suspects bankrolling schism and culture-wars?

16 years ago

Yep, it looks like rich, American conservatives have bought themselves a Communion.

Marshall Scott
16 years ago

From the Communique: “For the past five years the Church of Nigeria has become known around the world as a champion for Biblical Sexual Morality. We recognize that we cannot simply ask others to conform to biblical norms if we ourselves are unwilling to look inward especially on the issue of the sanctity of marriage. At this meeting we took time to reflect upon the issue of polygamy, a practice that is still present in Nigerian culture.” Well, let’s give credit where due: for once, rather than simply proclaiming their moral superiority (which, of course, they don’t deny), they publicly… Read more »

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
16 years ago

“in the face of major attempts to undermine the sufficiency of Scripture by some of our brother and sisters in the West.”

What? Give me a break! “I disagree with your innovative approach to Scripture” is not undermining the “sufficiency of Scripture”. How self-righteous, not to mention defamatory.

“preserve the sanctity of our historic faith”

Interesting, the things the Church of Nigeria thinks are sanctified!

Aboki Wazobia
Aboki Wazobia
16 years ago

One would do well to follow the money. Ten years ago when the Church of Nigeria did attend and participate at Lambeth there was also a “corporate sponsor” for the Nigerian delegaation. In this case generous funds reportedly came to Archbishop Akinola from a Nigerian, the late head of state, General Sani Abacha through one of his lieutenants/bagmen. Abacha who had a well deserved reputation for cruel tryrany thus purchased strategic silence if not archepiscopal commendation. In 2008 despite the Primate/Metropolitan’s claims of self-sufficiency the funds most likely have come from plutocrats in his new missionary territory across the Atlantic.

16 years ago

[“God has shown his favor on these plans by sovereignly providing”: Simon, are you—or somebody—cleaning up the syntax here? Because I’ve seen it reported “sovereignty providing”]

“the 1998 Lambeth Conference a decision was made concerning the teaching of the Church as it applies to issues of human sexuality. The essential elements of the teaching have been ***enshrined*** within Resolution 1.10.”



16 years ago

Surely I’m not the only one to note the irony of these words attributed to the pen of the Most Reverend Peter Jasper Akinola, DD, Archbishop of Abuja, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria, Vice-President and Past President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, &c., &c., whose suffragans are required to swear personal obedience to him as Primate? “Leadership in the Church has often reflected the leadership style of the gentile rulers who lord it over their subjects rather than the standard of servant leadership commended and modelled by our Lord Himself. We have become so obsessed with an endless… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
16 years ago

No, and you can check that by going back to the PDF originals that I provide links to.
I did make one change of what appears to be a typo and that is denoted by square brackets and the use of italics.

16 years ago

Global South says, “Archbishop Peter Akinola presided over a remarkable meeting of the Standing Committee of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), but nobody from the world media noticed.”

Right, that what I thought will happen. There is no Archbishop in the world who can command the status and respect of the Archbishop of Canterbury and do what he does, however much they want to. Those who are so interested in separating themselves will eventually end up as one of the many Protestant Fundamentalist Churches.

Aboki Wazobia
Aboki Wazobia
16 years ago

Mr. Myms, your report from Nnewi rivals Pollyana in its optimism. As a missionary bishop who has only spent “ceremonial” time in Nigeria, let me assure you that the truth is somewhat different. I pray that the scales will fall from your eyes. Come and spend a bit of time in the trenches (on the actual salary of a missionary bishop not what passes for a living wage in Falls Church) in Abakaliki or Mubi or even the outskirts of Abuja. Yes, the Church of Nigeria is a vibrant and vital part of the kingdom of God but our Primate… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Christopher Shell
16 years ago

A very true point is the one about innumerable meetings at unjustifiable cost. There comes a point where visionary leadership must trump committees and meetings. For example: out of our most recent Prime Ministers, those often rated the best were precisely those who provided strong and clear leadership as individuals rather than endlessly trying to incorporate all opinions/wants.

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