Category : GAFCON

Gafcon Chairman Archbp Nicholas Okoh’s Advent 2018 Letter

So we salute the courage of all those Anglicans around the world who sacrifice to proclaim Christ faithfully. Some live in contexts where Christians face attempts to very severely restrict their witness and our Gafcon 2019 Conference in Dubai next February is designed to encourage such brothers and sisters. Others continue to face persecution from within the Church itself, most notoriously in North America, and I commend especially to your prayers the Bishop of Albany, the Rt Revd Bill Love, who was present with us in Jerusalem for Gafcon 2018.

With effect from Advent, TEC (the Episcopal Church of the United States) has mandated that all its dioceses must permit same sex marriage rites, but Bishop Love has issued a pastoral letter in which he makes it clear that this will not be permitted in the Diocese of Albany because the Episcopal Church “is attempting to order me as a Bishop in God’s holy Church, to compromise ‘the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints’ (Jude 3) and to turn my back on the vows I have made to God and His People.”

It remains to be seen how Presiding Bishop Michael Curry will proceed, but TEC is relentlessly pursuing the faithful Dioceses of South Carolina and Fort Worth through the courts, as it has done with many others in the past.

Finally, let us ask Almighty God to continue his blessing upon us in this time of leadership transition.

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Posted in Church of Nigeria, GAFCON

Archbishop Glenn Davies’ Presidential Address to the Diocese of Sydney

The reason why GAFCON came into existence is that parts of the Anglican Communion had departed from the doctrine of Christ. While the presenting issue was concerned with human sexuality, the underlying problem was the authority of Scripture. Furthermore, the so-called Instruments of Communion failed to address this departure from the faith ‘once for all delivered to the saints’. It is for this reason that a vast number of bishops, including the Archbishop and Assistant Bishops of the Diocese of Sydney, did not attend the Lambeth Conference in 2008. The doctrinal bond that held the Anglican Communion together had dissolved. Whereas previous Lambeth Conferences had expressed their mind through resolutions, which at least had moral force for all Anglican Provinces, in 2008 the conference was resolution-free. The agreed tenets of our Anglican faith were no longer held in common. The lure of the world’s values and the accommodation to the world’s view of human sexuality had broken the bonds of affection and the ties that bind. Echoing Ezekiel’s explanation as to the coming judgment of God upon Israel,

…for you have not followed my decrees or kept my laws but have conformed
to the standards of the nations around you. Ezekiel 11:12

GAFCON is a reforming instrument of the Anglican Communion and calls all faithful Anglicans to stand firm for the teaching of Christ, explicitly recorded in Matthew 19:1-12. Yet it is not a single focus movement. The establishment of nine strategic networks last June, from theological education to ministry to children and youth, reflects the global reach of GAFCON in seeking to proclaim Christ faithfully to the nations. GAFCON is no threat to the Anglican Communion. It is only a threat to those who consider the Bible’s teaching on sexuality is outmoded and irrelevant, or to those who want to maintain a mere façade of unity, where no real unity exists. It is for this reason that the ‘Letter to the Churches’, overwhelmingly endorsed by the whole assembly of GAFCON 2018, expressed the view that attendance at the 2020 Lambeth Conference could not be contemplated, if bishops from those provinces who had departed from the teaching of Christ were invited. While I have a personal respect and affection for the Archbishop of Canterbury, he carries a grave responsibility upon his shoulders. If our Anglican Communion is merely defined by historical connections and heritage, rather than a doctrinally grounded commitment to Christ and the teaching of the Bible, then our koinōnia is not the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. GAFCON seeks to reform and renew the Anglican Communion by reclaiming its doctrinal foundations.

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Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, GAFCON, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Theology

Kendall Harmon’s reflections on Gafcon 2018: ‘our God is a global God and he calls us to go to the whole world which he has made’


I remember when Elizabeth and I visited the Grand Canyon (if you have not you should definitely go). At the end of the day in which it seemed at every single vantage point, in every possible way, there was more to take in, we came to a lookout and there was the sign: “it seems too grand a statement even for nature to make.”

That sentiment fits well with all epic events and visits—there are so many perspectives you can never take them all in, and then if you could the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Gafcon 2018, one of the largest international gatherings of Anglicans in the last 5 decades, was just such an epic event. So read widely, take in all the livestream daily and other videos, and then realize even for those of us who were there it was just so much more.

I offer only my vantage point, trusting you will drink deeply from the good well of all the resources out there to get a better sense of the whole.

Consider the people. There were those whom you did know, and those who were new, and the sheer joy on both of those scores for me personally was immense.

Imagine—there was Vaughan Roberts, who I first met in the early 1990’s at Saint Ebbe’s, Oxford, when he was a curate (he is now a distinguished preacher and author). And up one day came Bishop Ray Smith and his wife Shirley whom I hadn’t seen since the mid 1980’s! These kinds of joyous reunions went on all conference long.

Then there were new people, most notably me for my daily prayer group which consisted of 2 Americans, 2 Australians, 2 Ugandans and 2 Nigerians. What different contexts and yet what a common bond in Christ and what beautiful prayers were prayed!

I should also mention my roommate, Sam Ferguson, assistant pastor for research and teaching at The Falls Church Anglican in Falls Church, Virginia. We had so much fun talking together that by the end I had him conversing with my wife via Facetime so he could tell her I was indeed behaving. Sam is one of the promising up and coming leaders in North American Anglicanism and is at present pursuing a PhD at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where he is focused on the relevant and vital subject of biblical anthropology. (I am very pleased to say that when I was finalizing this reflection, Sam had been called to be the new rector of Falls Church, succeeding one of the true giants among the senior leaders of North American Anglican evangelicalism, John Yates).

The worship every morning was unforgettable in its contagious joy. We were led by a choir from Nigeria who wore different colors for each morning, all of which matched—and oh how they lifted us into the Lord’s presence. It was a chance to experience the rich embodiment of Psalm 122:1 ‘I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD!”

In terms of the plenary sessions, a number of elements stood out. Our theme all through the conference was proclaiming Christ faithfully to the nations and this was emphasized in many facets and ways–as for example when we welcomed continents and they would flash all the countries from a given continent who were at Gafcon 2018 up on the screen. By far the most moving moment of the whole gathering for me personally was when we were encouraged to pray the Lord’s prayer in our own language and nearby one could hear maybe 60-100 different dialects and languages. It was an awesome reminder that our God is a global God and he calls us to go to the whole world which he has made.

The authority of the Bible and the importance of letting the text speak on its own terms was another important feature of the major presentations. For myself I would highlight the presentations of Richard Coekin, David Short and Michael Raiter as excellent examples of people who were working hard to unearth the treasures of the text with theological depth and integrity.

As if all this was wasn’t enough, there were the individual seminar sessions, and I would like to say a word about the one I was asked to do. I was paired with evangelist Rico Tice, whom I had never met until we worked together in presenting on the Christian understanding of hell. It was Rico’s idea when we spoke over the phone before the conference to interview me as one who had devoted three years of his life to doctoral research on hell. This made for a very engaging format for the participants, especially when it was paired with Rico’s own evangelistic presentation on hell in which he went into detail about how he presents Jesus’ clear teaching on the possibility of missing one’s destiny to his own friends.

Of all the elements that emerged from the questions which came from the floor in the second half of our presentation, the one which seemed to have the most traction was the idea of practical universalism. This is the idea of the parish who says they take the clear New teaching on hell seriously but in practical terms they never present classes or sermons about it, or engage their friends in serious witness for the kingdom where hell features in a meaningful way. In such a case there is no difference between that parish and one which denies hell altogether in terms of the day to day life of the Christians in the community.

Our challenge is to reclaim the doctrine of hell in the twentieth century and lovingly warn people that rejecting Christ is a choice of eternal significance. It was of special interest in this regard that the doctrine of hell was regularly mentioned by a number of the plenary speakers at Gafcon 2018.

The mention of hell had a logical fit in the overarching structure of Gafcon2018. Because the unsearchable riches of Christ are the most precious gift in the universe, not to receive them would be the greatest loss. This was yet another reminder of the importance of proclaiming Christ faithfully to the nations, the conference theme.
–KSH.

Posted in GAFCON

(AAC) Mark Ellredge–Are you a Functional Universalist?

Somewhere in the midst of the presentation outlining some of the various reasons why Hell is often not talked about, even in our Biblically faithful churches, the term “Functional Universalism” was mentioned. I immediately thought, that is one of the saddest yet most accurate descriptions of many – not all, but many – Anglican churches.

Universalists don’t lead people to salvation through Jesus because they don’t believe people need to be saved through Jesus. If we, as Bible-believing Anglicans, don’t lead people to salvation through Jesus because maybe we’re too embarrassed to share, or too afraid to invite someone to pray a prayer to repent and believe in Jesus, or any number of other excuses, what is the difference? Isn’t that just functional Universalism? We’re achieving the same results, right?

It is particularly sad because so many of us are Anglicans specifically because we didn’t want to be a part of the Episcopal Church that largely adopted Universalism. As Anglicans, we actually believe all of the Bible is true. We believe where it says that Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life and no one comes to the Father except through” him. (John 14:6) Jesus is not “a” way but “the” way to salvation. Yet are unbelievers being saved in our churches? Are we bringing unbelievers into an eternal relationship with the Father through Jesus in our churches? Or do we just talk about local mission and evangelism and feel good about ourselves for not being those bad Universalists?

Now I’m not suggesting that we all start talking about Hell all the time and try to scare people into Heaven (although I personally have always held that I would rather be scared into heaven than blindly walk into Hell). However, I am suggesting that if we took the truth that Hell is real more seriously and that Jesus suffered Hell for us so we don’t have to, maybe we’d overcome our fear of evangelism and start doing it….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Eschatology, GAFCON, Theology

Peter Jensen reflects on the recent Gafcon 2018 Meeting–Experiencing the Anglican Future

My constant prayer before we met in Jerusalem was a simple one, ‘Lord, meet us in Jerusalem’.

I believe he did.

Together, we heard his word, we sought his face, we sang his praises, we listened to his servants, we shared his Supper. We heard teaching, we heard testimony, we heard prophetic words. We were so conscious of being in the godly tradition of the Church, from its foundations onward, singing ‘Faith of our Fathers’, heirs of the Catholic and Reformed tradition of our faith.

His Spirit was with us.

Many people have contacted me, moved and awed by the experience. I suppose that one of the chief elements of this sense of being blessed was the richness and comprehensiveness of the fellowship. We were seated with one person we knew and with six strangers. Each morning for twenty minutes we shared and prayed in these groups. Many of the people there testified to me that this was the best thing of all. In fact, you could see it, as groups migrated out of the hall into the corridors and stood together, listening then praying.

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Posted in GAFCON

Stephen Noll replies to Fulcrum’s response to Gafcon 2018

  1. Why discourage Bishops from attending the Lambeth Conference 2020, and others from meetings of the Instruments of Communion?….

Reply: Oh, please. Gene Robinson was not invited in 2008 only because he was a public relations disaster waiting to happen. Will Justin Welby invite all the practicing homosexual bishops in TEC, Canada, and elsewhere to Lambeth 2020? Will he invite all those who have laid hands on said bishops to consecrate them? As to the slaps on the wrist of TEC and SEC, how can “consequences” for violating the Word of God expire, conveniently in 2020?

We in Gafcon have our own proverb based on twenty years of experience: “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”

The “discouragement” of Gafcon bishops is principled and relational. I have put it this way, based on Psalm 55:12-14:

how can you sit in council in Jerusalem and enjoy sweet fellowship with brothers who have been expelled from their churches, sued out of their properties, defrocked from their ministries, and denied even the name of “Anglican” (as was stated in the latest Lambeth Primates’ Communiqué) and then turn around and sit at table in Canterbury with bishops of the Episcopal Church (and others) who have expelled these brothers?

Yes, some of the bishops at Gafcon will go to Lambeth, even though the “Letter to the Churches” urges them not to. And many more will not attend as in 2008. Is the Archbishop concerned about this division? Then let him deal seriously with the questions of biblical truth posed to him in the Letter. Perhaps he can surprise everyone by not ignoring these matters as he and his predecessors have done for twenty years. But I am not holding my breath on this one.

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Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, GAFCON

Martyn Davie–Gafcon, The Archbishop And Lambeth 2020

The first point to note is that the Archbishop is not being asked to do the impossible. Ever since Archbishop Charles Longley invited Anglican bishops to the first Lambeth Conference in 1867 it has been accepted that it is for the Archbishop of Canterbury to decide which bishops should be invited. He can invite who he likes and not invite who he likes and he is not obliged to have the agreement of any other person or body about the matter. The buck stops with the Archbishop.

This means that Archbishop Welby can fulfil the requests made in both the bullet points in the GAFCON letter. However, this still leaves the question of whether he should do so. To answer this question it is necessary to recall what has taken place in the Anglican Communion in the twenty years since the Lambeth Conference of 1998.

Two key things have happened.

First, in spite of being repeatedly urged not to do so, a number of provinces of the Anglican Communion (The Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church in Canada, the Episcopal Church in Brazil, the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in Aorateara, New Zealand and Polynesia) have acted in ways that go against Scripture and Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference by accepting, in terms of both doctrine and practice, the blessing of same-sex sexual relationships, same-sex marriages and the ordination of those in same-sex sexual relationships.

Secondly, in response to these developments, Anglicans in the United States, Canada and Brazil who have remained loyal to Scripture and Lambeth 1.10 have established the two alternative orthodox provinces mentioned in the first bullet point– the Anglican Church in North America and the Anglican Church in Brazil.

By acting in the way that they have, those Anglican provinces which have accepted same-sex sexual relationships have rejected the obligations that go with being a member of the Anglican Communion.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, GAFCON, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Fulcrum Response to GAFCON 2018

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, GAFCON

Gafcon Chairman Archbp Nicholas Okoh’s July 2018 Letter

In this ‘Jerusalem Letter’ we affirmed that ‘we dedicate ourselves afresh to proclaiming Christ faithfully to the nations, working together to guard the gospel entrusted to us by our Lord and his apostles’. We also set out how this commitment will be demonstrated. We are reforming by creating new global structures where necessary, such as the Synodical Council, and by commending biblically principled engagement with the old structures. We are also renewing by reaching out to the world with the good news of Jesus Christ in word and deed, and to facilitate this we have formed nine global networks.

In making these commitments, Gafcon claims no global jurisdiction. That is not the Anglican way. We are a family of independent Provinces, but we are not independent of the Lordship of Christ and we came together to seek the mind of Christ as we heard the Scriptures taught, as we prayed and as we worshipped. So although the commitments of the Jerusalem Letter do not have juridical force, they do have moral and spiritual authority. We have vowed to proclaim Christ faithfully. That is why we came to Jerusalem and ‘in the presence of all his people’ we have renewed our resolve to act together.

So I want to urge you to see the ‘Jerusalem Letter’ as a joyful yet solemn covenant commitment for the renewal and the reordering of the Anglican Communion. Our critics accuse of us of being schismatic and seeking to leave the Communion. Nothing could be further from the truth. The question is not staying or leaving, but will the leadership of the Anglican Communion be self-serving or gospel-serving? The spread of the gospel requires the authenticity of the gospel. We cannot separate mission from faithfulness. As I noted in my Chairman’s address to the conference, when I ask people around the world to tell me what the gospel is, I do not find different gospels, but the same gospel meeting different challenges in different contexts.

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Posted in Church of Nigeria, GAFCON

(CA) Stephen Noll–Bullying the Primates Across the Rubicon

In his report on the Africa meeting, Bishop Fearon notes the elephant in the Anglican living room, Lambeth Resolution I.10:

The Primates were honest and open and committed to holding on to Resolution I.10 (from Lambeth 1998) – but were willing to listen to other members of the Communion who find that Resolution restrictive. So there was a sense of brotherhood and belonging.

One can see here Lambeth teeing up the goal of the 2020 Lambeth Conference: to defang Lambeth I.10. If I may paraphrase:

Come to Lambeth. We shall not try to overturn your primitive attachment to the former Lambeth teaching on marriage. But you will meet some brilliant scholars and bishops who find that teaching “restrictive,” and you will hear touching stories of loving homosexual partnerships that have been blessed by the church. We can all go home then with a sense of brotherhood and belonging.

It seems that his appeal to choose Lambeth over Gafcon fell flat (one registered African Primate, to my knowledge, chose not to attend). So in what can only be seen as a desperation move (what we American footballers call a “Hail Mary pass”), the Secretary General sent out a confidential letter to the Primates four days before Gafcon began.

This letter perfectly represents what I have been calling the “Lambeth Establishment.” Bishop Fearon, a well-chosen mandarin of this Establishment, begins by flattering the Primates as “one of the four instruments that make up the smooth running of our Communion of churches.”

It is hard, frankly, to read this description of the “smooth running” bureaucracy with a straight face. It reminds me in an ironic sense of Ezekiel’s vision of the Divine Chariot, perfectly engineered with wheels within wheels and directed by the divine Spirit (Ezekiel chapter 1). Nothing could be further from the reality of current Instruments, in which the Canterbury and the Anglican Communion Office have neutered the Primates’ Meeting, manipulated the Anglican Consultative Council, and turned the Lambeth Conference into an indabafest (see Essays 4 and 8 of my book for detail).

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Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, --Justin Welby, Anglican Primates, Archbishop of Canterbury, GAFCON

(SA) Ed Loane–Will Gafcon 2018 be seen as a turning point in the history of Anglicanism?

As the invitations went out for the 2008 Lambeth Conference, those who remained faithful to the biblical doctrines which were the basis of Anglican unity found the Instruments of Communion were being employed to condone fundamental disunity. By including schismatics in fellowship with orthodox Anglicans and claiming that unity was a result of attending the same conferences the Instruments of Communion had become a conceited phantasm.

This was called out for the fallacy that it is and GAFCON was born. In 2008 the first GAFCON arrived at the Jerusalem Declaration which was a statement reaffirming what it means to be an orthodox Anglican. Paradoxically those who had betrayed the basis of Anglican unity began ridiculing the orthodox Anglicans as schismatics. Nevertheless, fidelity to the gospel compelled the GAFCON movement forward and a deep spiritual unity, the kind of unity the Instruments of Communion were supposed to foster, was cultivated. The GAFCON movement continued to call upon the Instruments of Communion to fulfil the mandate they had been created for. Unfortunately, in the decade since the first GAFCON there has been no indication that the Instruments of Communion will return from their usurpation of the basis of unity being in shared history, doctrine and mission. Rather, they continue to contend falsely that they are the basis of Anglican unity.

GAFCON 2018 marks a significant turning point in the history of Anglicanism. The conference was not only the largest international gathering of Anglicans in the last 50 years, it represented the majority of the Anglican Communion. In the final statement the movement reiterates its earlier calls for schismatics to submit to the authority of the Bible and the Instruments of Communion to return to the purposes they were established for. But the legacy of GAFCON 2018 will be more than a reiteration of orthodox Anglicanism and a call for schismatics to return. In a highly significant move the conference endorsed the establishment of several networks which will foster the fellowship between Anglicans who share a unity of history, doctrine and mission. Nine networks were established including networks for theological education, youth and children’s ministry and all importantly, mission and evangelism. In this way, GAFCON 2018 has effectively declared that the mission of the church is too urgent and important to indefinitely wait for errant churches and corrupt fellowship structures to fulfil their original purposes. These new global networks will deepen the fellowship and expand the mission of those who share unity in Christ.

Under God, the new communion structures that GAFCON has endorsed hold great promise and there is good reason to be hopeful about the future of Anglicanism. Of course, it is desired that the original Instruments and the errant churches will return to their purpose, but now whether they do or not is quite irrelevant to the future of global Anglicanism. Some within the GAFCON movement, out of love, will continue to engage with the old structures and call for repentance. Others will see participation as a validation of a false fellowship and will choose to not be involved. Either way, the fellowship and unity of global Anglicanism will grow as the majority of the church get on with mission and partner in the gospel through the newly established networks.

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Posted in Church History, GAFCON, Instruments of Unity

(CEN) Gafcon delegates told: “This is our family home”

During conference breaks delegates visited the Exhibitors’ stands including a stand from EFAC where the General Secretary Richard Crocker reported that delegates had been ‘like bees round a honeypot.’

He said the seam of goodwill “will take a long time for follow-up. Biblically faithful provinces want to establish EFAC, and places where EFAC has never been, want it.”

Before delegates left for the Temple Steps on 40 coaches, Archbishop Stephen Tan of Myanmar spoke of the unending 64-year civil war in his country. At the age of 24 he was imprisoned and tortured by the government. Although he was uninvolved, his two brothers had evaded capture so he was arrested.

Brought up as a Christian he lost his faith in prison. He was confined with no light and no toilet in his cell for six months. Contemplating suicide he prayed one last time and then saw a purple cross. He fainted and seemed to fall down a deep hole.

At the bottom he heard someone say: “My son, I am always with you.” He shouted, “Jesus is alive” and began to preach in the jail.

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Posted in GAFCON, Myanmar/Burma

(Irish Times) Tim Anderson responds to the Irish Allegations about Gafcon

Sir, – I was surprised to read that some clergy believe that Bishops Miller and Glenfield have broken their consecration vows by attending Gafcon III (Home News, June 25th).

If the Dean of Waterford is concerned about unity, then surely their attendance at the largest global Anglican gathering in more than 50 years, along with nearly 2,000 people from over 50 countries, representing over 70 per cent of the Anglican Communion, with the aim of Proclaiming Christ Faithfully to the Nations, should be applauded?

The Church of Ireland is part of the Anglican Communion and as such, all bishops vow to maintain unity, to guard “the faith” and “discipline of the church”, based on “God’s word written” (Article 20)….

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Posted in Church of Ireland, GAFCON

(Irish Times) Irish Bishops’ presence at Gafcon alleged to be an ‘absolute disgrace’

Attendance by two Church of Ireland bishops at the conservative Global Anglican Future Conference (Gafcon) meeting in Jerusalem last week has provoked deep anger among the church’s clergy.

They have described it as “an absolute disgrace”, “schismatic”, and as illustrating “how utterly out of touch some senior clergy” were with church membership.

Bishop Harold Miller of Down and Dromore and Bishop Ferran Glenfield of KilmoreElphin and Ardagh attended the meeting with other senior clergy from the Church of Ireland and members of Gafcon Ireland set up last April….

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Posted in Church of Ireland, GAFCON

Russell Powell on Gafcon 2018–‘The Spirit of God moved’

There was not a dry eye in the house on Friday as we farewelled Peter Jensen. The deadpan humour of the Chairman and Primate of All-Nigeria, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh showed he might have a future in stand-up when he hands over the reigns to Archbishop Foley Beach. His impression of Peter marching across the stage was a classic sight-gag. I was not surprised by the standing ovation – but by the length of it. At least two minutes of applause with everyone on their feet. Peter just wanted it to end, but the crowd was determined to give him his due.

The warm embrace of incoming secretary Archbishop Ben Kwashi and Foley Beach shows the unity of this new team. But it was the Letter to the Churches that glued the conference together. A gracious, firm and Godly statement that was worked out at the conference and passed without dissent. This is not some conference where the statement is worked out beforehand and the participants are window dressing….

Even so, I just loved it when Nicholas Okoh called out – ‘We shall proclaim’ and the crowd thundered back ‘Christ to the Nations!’. (Repeat x 3)

The Spirit of God moved at GAFCON. Hallelujah and Amen!

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Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, GAFCON