Thinking Anglicans

Middle East Presiding Bishop will not attend GAFCON

The Most Revd Mouneer Anis, Bishop of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa, and Presiding Bishop of Jerusalem and the Middle East will not be attending GAFCON.

He has explained why in a letter. The full text of the letter is below the fold.

Update Saturday evening

There are comments about this on many sites.

Covenant has Mouneer Anis explains his withdrawal from GAFCON.

babyblue asked Uh oh … Mouneer Anis jumps the shark?

08 May 2008

My very dear brothers in Christ,

Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

First I want to make it clear that this letter expresses my views as the Bishop of the Diocese of Egypt, not the views of the whole Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East. I count it a great honour to have been invited to GAFCON.

I appreciate the fact that GAFCON provides an important meeting place for leaders from the South and from the North. I very much understand the frustrations as well as the hopes that led to the organisation of this conference.

I do share your frustration in regard to what is going on in our Communion, as well as your hopes for strong and faithful Anglican church.

I am very disappointed with the direction taken by the Episcopal Church in the USA and the Anglican Church in Canada. This direction is not only about sexual ethics, which are contrary to Scripture, but also in regard to the fundamentals of the Apostolic Faith as we received it, like the Nature of Christ, the authority of scripture and God’s Salvation through Jesus Christ.

In addition they use very ambiguous language and contradictory phrases in their responses to the clear Windsor recommendation as well as the Dar es Salaam ones. It was shocking for me to hear that some now ask for the definition of ‘moratorium’ after four years of issuing The Windsor Report!

I am deeply concerned that The Windsor Report and Dar es Salaam recommendations were not followed through and now the very people who caused the Communion’s crisis are invited to the most important Anglican council which is the Lambeth Conference. It is wrong to sweep all these problems under the carpet!

I also share your hopes that we can go forward to advance the mission of the Gospel and be instruments in building the Church of Christ, founded on the Biblical truth.

Having said all this I am sorry that I will not be able to be with you at your Conference but I assure you that you will be in my prayers. Please accept my apologies. I also look forward to receiving your recommendations before going to Lambeth. My brothers I want to draw your attention to the following: 1) The unity of the Global South (GS) is our great concern.

As you know the Global South was established in 1997 and has been recognized by the whole Anglican Communion. It has been effective in strengthening the South to South links. The GS is composed of more than twenty provinces.

There is now increasing interest from Orthodox Bishops in the North to be affiliated with the Global South. This is because we use a moderate but form of language. In our last Steering Committee of the Global South in March we, in our statement, affirmed the importance of the Global South and its mission: We see an increasing conviction and confirmation of the prophetic and priestly vocation of the Global South in the Anglican Communion.

As Primates coming from different contexts, we were led into deep conversations and helpful clarifications on the challenges before us (Ps 133; Eph 4:1-6; Phil 2:1-5). We reaffirmed our total and collegial commitment to the solemn vocation of the Global South. We resolved, and urge all in the Global South and other orthodox constituencies of the wider Communion to strengthen our hearts and wills to work together for the fundamental renewal and transformation of the global Anglican Communion. ِ

We also stated: Through our conversations together and clarifications made, we are led to understand and appreciate the principled reasons for participation in GAFCON (June 2008) and Lambeth Conference (Jul 2008). Even if there are different perspectives on these, they do not and should not be allowed to disrupt the common vision, unity and trust within the Global South.

For this reason I appeal to you to take the above statements fully into your consideration and to be careful not to make binding decisions which may result in dividing Anglicans in the Global South and elsewhere. At the same time I would like to share with you a little more of my own thinking.

I believe that the best strategy for safeguarding orthodox faith and unhindered mission is to have parallel processes for building unity among those loyal to the biblical historic faith and ethics in both the South and the North. Orthodox leaders in the South and in the North need to continue to work together and support each other.

I would respectfully add that the Global South must not be driven by an exclusively Northern agenda or Northern personalities. The meeting of the Global South in ‘09 will be critical for the future, and the agenda will need careful preparation ahead of time.

The constitution of the Global South needs to be reviewed in such a way as to clarify representation and appointment of office bearers. The Global South has contributed much to the initiation of the Covenant process, and will need to consider how it is progressing.

If there is no prospect of a Covenant that safeguards orthodoxy and unhindered mission within a reasonable timescale, then the possibility of adopting a “holding covenant” may need to be considered. I urge you all to consider participating in the Lambeth Conference.

The absence of any of your voices will be a great loss. God has spoken to me through the Book of Jonah. So I decided not to withdraw but to go and speak the truth, and leave the rest to God. Please remember that there will be bishops who are not fully aware of the seriousness of the situation. They need to be alerted. Your presence would be a help, as indeed it was in 1998.

I am reminded by the words of Jesus that we continue to live in the world: “I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” John 17: 14-16 One last point: we need to combine steadfastness, a peaceable spirit and gracious language.

I believe that the language we use needs to be especially appealing to the “people in the pews” who may be confused or misled, having less understanding of the issues of the controversy, but who want to remain true Christians and Anglicans. “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” 1 Thess 5:24 May the Lord bless you.

Yours in Christ,

+Mouneer Egypt
The Most Rev Dr Mouneer H. Anis
Bishop of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa.

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Graham Kings
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This letter is very significant indeed. He maintains his strong criticism of recent actions of The Episcopal Church, but also appeals to the organisers of GAFCON : ‘For this reason I appeal to you to take the above statements fully into your consideration and to be careful not to make binding decisions which may result in dividing Anglicans in the Global South and elsewhere… I would respectfully add that the Global South must not be driven by an exclusively Northern agenda or Northern personalities. The meeting of the Global South in ’09 will be critical for the future, and the… Read more »

Davis d'Ambly
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Davis d'Ambly

“It is worth reading closely.” Graham Kings

Perhaps, but he gives no explanation as to why he will not attend a conference he seems to approve of so strongly.

JCF
Guest
JCF

“God has spoken to me through the Book of Jonah.”

Rather PB Anis had heard God speaking to him through the Book of Revelation? (specifically, Ch.3, v. 15-16. To be SPAT out, as “neither cold nor hot”)

Ah well. Perhaps it’s for the best that ++Anis IS going to Lambeth: quoth Sun-Tzu (via Michael Corleone!) “Keep your friends close, and your enemies CLOSER”! >;-/

Ford Elms
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Ford Elms

“There is now increasing interest from Orthodox Bishops in the North to be affiliated with the Global South.” Like Graham, I think this is a significant statement. Yet, the above irks me no end. Who are these “Orthodox”? I very sincerely doubt Metropolitan Seraphim has any interest in joining the Anglican Global South. These people need to be told in the strongest possible terms that their use of the word “orthodox” to imply some sort of Godliness lacking in those who disagree with them is insulting and, frankly, constitutes reviling. Not only that, it is simply not true. Even if… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

Yes I read it in the same way as Graham Kings. But he is also waiting for GAFCON recommendations.

http://pluralistspeaks.blogspot.com/2008/05/anis-to-lambeth-only.html

I must be missing a trick somewhere because, as I see it, a lot of these pressures are going into a kind of talk marshmallow. How is all this pressure going to emerge out of this Lambeth Conference?

Paul Bagshaw
Guest

The question seems to be – as Anglicanism is to divide anyway, how is it done in a way that doesn’t divide the conservatives rom one another?

Homosexuality was deliberately chosen as the kairos point of conflict because all conservatives could agree on it. As soon as they lose their common enemy all the other divisions – not least on the status of women – re-emerge with a vengeance.

drdanfee
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drdanfee

The difficulties with which the bishop grapples are surely those build into the foundations of the conservative realignment campaign. That campaign struggles implicitly, pierced through by the unavoidable dilemma that the grounds upon which it casts non-conservative believers outside of its gatherings and narratives and venues are quite similar – uncannily similar? – to the grounds upon which one conservative believer can be divided and polarized with another conservative believer. This vexation will hardly go away by being ignored, for one occasion of studiously looking the other way only will necessarily lead to another occasion, and another, and another, and… Read more »

Robert Ian Williams
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Robert Ian Williams

The retired bishop of Nelson, a vey gracious evangelical ( new zealand) works in the Egypt diocese…I wonder if he will be attending GAFCON?

Graham Kings
Guest

Davis, you say above that Mouneer Anis did not give an explanation as to why he is not attending GAFCON. The clue to the letter, it seems to me, is in the sentences I quoted earlier, particularly about ‘northern agenda and northern personalities.’ Some of the organisers of GAFCON are clearly planning a non-Canterbury centred Communion. The secretary of GAFCON, Chris Sugden, has written in ‘Not Schism but Revolution’: ‘In other words, since the Archbishop of Canterbury has not provided for the safe oversight of the orthodox in the United States, he has forfeited his role as the one who… Read more »

JPM
Guest
JPM

So why is he not going? He never got around to addressing that topic.

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“Homosexuality was deliberately chosen as the kairos point of conflict because all conservatives could agree on it.” Exactly. Before New Westminster voted for the third time to approve SSBs, the only thing the schismatics had to be upset over were the “Satanic” labyrinths some were using, and you can’t very well justify a purge because of that. “the Archbishop of Canterbury has not provided for the safe oversight of the orthodox” Excuse me? They are not safe? Why? Has the AbofC supported a bill to have them and their friends imprisoned for 5 years? Has the AbofC lied about them?… Read more »

Robert Ian Williams
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Robert Ian Williams

Don’t you understand Sugdenspeak. Some lessons “Gafcon IS not an alternative to the Lambeth Conference.”…means it actually is. However keep stating this and they will believe you. “orthodox “…any one who agrees with us, and this can include a wide divergence of contradictory views form lay presidency to Anglo-Catholic services of worshipping the eucharistic elements. This definition will get tighter later on, and SYdney are biting their tongues. “Sexual issues”…do not include divorce and remarriage..this issue is air brushed out of his Covenant definition of marriage. This will be the basis of the GAFCON Covenant and Declaration of Independence. ”… Read more »

EpfizH
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EpfizH

Several scenarios have been offered as to why +Mouneer Anis may have written what he did and why. Here is another that may meet the circumstances: +Jerusalem may have complained to him regarding the substance of the conference to be offered in Jerusalem and he wishes to remove himself from any ecumenical fallout in the Middle East that may result from GAFCON. Recalling +Jerusalem’s conversations with +Akinola, +Jensen and Sugden+, (http://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/uploads/gafconjerusalemminutes.html) an agreement seemed to have been reached that the “conference” portions of the event would take place outside of Jerusalem. A couple of days ago, the agenda for the… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

RIW, “perspicuity”, an odd Reformation era word, that I think means that Scripture explains itself, or is consistent with itself, or something. If that is in fact the way they are using it, then they are deluded, since Scripture is neither consistent nor self-explanatory. But, 500 years on, the need to have a well defined lLaw is so strong that no-one has been able to spot the obvious inconsistencies in Scripture? “Bible based” Christianity. Another meaningless Evangelical catch word, great when you want to feel more righteous than others, useless in any other sense. What are the reast of us… Read more »

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

Have you seen the new GAFCON logo…inclusive of a cross and a latin word.

Dean Jensen recently boasted ” we don’t have any crosses in our Cathedral.”

Also the use of latin in the motto…bit dubious when one considers the articles of religion on tongues not commonly understodod by the people.

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“Dean Jensen recently boasted ” we don’t have any crosses in our Cathedral.”” They usen’t have an altar either, having wheeled it out to place in the Sanctuary the real object of thier worship, the Bible. They also, falsely claiming some great risk of contagion from the common cup, started having individual communion cups, thus neatly doing away with any suggestion that they are consuming anything other than bread and wine by getting rid of the ablutions. This was on a trial basis, I don’t know if they are still insulting Jesus. The funny thing, of course, is that they… Read more »

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

DEAN JENSEN has just denounced the Church of Rome in the opinion column of the SYdney Morning herald.

Yet he is prepared to support GAFCON, where Anglo-catholic bishops, who have borrowed much Romanist ritual and theology are welcomed as partners in regaining Anglicanism for Orthodoxy.

It seems hypocrisy to me!

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“It seems hypocrisy to me!”

Well, yes, but how is this night different from all other nights?