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Monthly Archives: June 2008
Audio from the final press briefing in Jerusalem. Questions answered by Archbishops Henry Orombi of Uganda, Peter Jensen of Sydney, and Emmanuel Kolini of Rwanda.
(ACNS) The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has responded to the final declaration of the Global Anglican Future Conference with the following statement:
The Final Statement from the GAFCON meeting in Jordan and Jerusalem contains much that is positive and encouraging about the priorities of those who met for prayer and pilgrimage in the last week. The ”˜tenets of orthodoxy’ spelled out in the document will be acceptable to and shared by the vast majority of Anglicans in every province, even if there may be differences of emphasis and perspective on some issues. I agree that the Communion needs to be united in its commitments on these matters, and I have no doubt that the Lambeth Conference will wish to affirm all these positive aspects of GAFCON’s deliberations. Despite the claims of some, the conviction of the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as Lord and God and the absolute imperative of evangelism are not in dispute in the common life of the Communion
However, GAFCON’s proposals for the way ahead are problematic in all sorts of ways, and I urge those who have outlined these to think very carefully about the risks entailed.
A ”˜Primates’ Council’ which consists only of a self-selected group from among the Primates of the Communion will not pass the test of legitimacy for all in the Communion. And any claim to be free to operate across provincial boundaries is fraught with difficulties, both theological and practical ”“ theological because of our historic commitments to mutual recognition of ministries in the Communion, practical because of the obvious strain of responsibly exercising episcopal or primatial authority across enormous geographical and cultural divides.
Two questions arise at once about what has been proposed. By what authority are Primates deemed acceptable or unacceptable members of any new primatial council? And how is effective discipline to be maintained in a situation of overlapping and competing jurisdictions?
No-one should for a moment impute selfish or malicious motives to those who have offered pastoral oversight to congregations in other provinces; these actions, however we judge them, arise from pastoral and spiritual concern. But one question has repeatedly been raised which is now becoming very serious: how is a bishop or primate in another continent able to discriminate effectively between a genuine crisis of pastoral relationship and theological integrity, and a situation where there are underlying non-theological motivations at work? We have seen instances of intervention in dioceses whose leadership is unquestionably orthodox simply because of local difficulties of a personal and administrative nature. We have also seen instances of clergy disciplined for scandalous behaviour in one jurisdiction accepted in another, apparently without due process. Some other Christian churches have unhappy experience of this problem and it needs to be addressed honestly.
It is not enough to dismiss the existing structures of the Communion. If they are not working effectively, the challenge is to renew them rather than to improvise solutions that may seem to be effective for some in the short term but will continue to create more problems than they solve. This challenge is one of the most significant focuses for the forthcoming Lambeth Conference. One of its major stated aims is to restore and deepen confidence in our Anglican identity. And this task will require all who care as deeply as the authors of the statement say they do about the future of Anglicanism to play their part.
The language of ”˜colonialism’ has been freely used of existing patterns. No-one is likely to look back with complacency to the colonial legacy. But emerging from the legacy of colonialism must mean a new co-operation of equals, not a simple reversal of power. If those who speak for GAFCON are willing to share in a genuine renewal of all our patterns of reflection and decision-making in the Communion, they are welcome, especially in the shaping of an effective Covenant for our future together.
I believe that it is wrong to assume we are now so far apart that all those outside the GAFCON network are simply proclaiming another gospel. This is not the case; it is not the experience of millions of faithful and biblically focused Anglicans in every province. What is true is that, on all sides of our controversies, slogans, misrepresentations and caricatures abound. And they need to be challenged in the name of the respect and patience we owe to each other in Jesus Christ.
I have in the past quoted to some in the Communion who would call themselves radical the words of the Apostle in I Cor.11.33: ”˜wait for one another’. I would say the same to those in whose name this statement has been issued. An impatience at all costs to clear the Lord’s field of the weeds that may appear among the shoots of true life (Matt.13.29) will put at risk our clarity and effectiveness in communicating just those evangelical and catholic truths which the GAFCON statement presents.
At historic Trinity Church, located in Boston’s Back Bay, …[Mary Conroy] had no car and essentially walked everywhere.
The outgoing, personable pastor adopts a laissez-faire attitude to what has become a central and divisive issue within Episcopalianism: The ordination of an openly gay man as bishop and the resultant hassle as some churches and even dioceses abandon the Episcopal Church USA in favor of some sort of affiliation with bishops and dioceses in other parts of the world, principally in Africa.
The U.S. church fights any attempt by parishes and dioceses to carry away churches and/or their property, even as the anti-gay dissenters react as though those who support or accept gay ordination are spawn of the devil.
“The Episcopal Church once passed a resolution stating that gays and lesbians have full rights to pastoral care. Bishop Robinson was totally above board in this matter, never hiding or denying his sexual orientation, and he was chosen by his (New Hampshire) diocese and confirmed by the nationwide convention. So, there’s this huge split in the church now.”
Conroy turned very serious as she pronounced, “I’m not sure than the unity of churches is the goal of Christianity. In fact, we’re all covered by the love of God, and forcing people to be united – to accept this position or its opposite- is not a good idea.
“Nothing in my ministry here or elsewhere has changed over this conflict. People want the basics, their weddings, The Word preached to them, baptism. It’s still all the same in my work here or wherever I am.
“As for Ascension, the issue really hasn’t really surfaced. I’ve heard a few comments, but I think that overall, it’s not an issue here – certainly not a divisive one.”
The Rt. Rev. Andy Doyle’s election in May to lead the Houston-based Episcopal Diocese of Texas came as a surprise to many, including him.
For one thing, he is young ”” at 41, he’ll be the second-youngest bishop in the country when he takes over in 2009. For another, his initial support in the election process came overwhelmingly from the laity. One of his opponents, the Rt. Rev. Dena Harrison, a suffragan, or assistant bishop, covering the Austin area, drew more clergy votes.
After several ballots, though, Doyle prevailed. He succeeds the Rt. Rev. Don Wimberly who, according to church policy, is retiring next year at age 72.
Some observers in the church cited an “Obama factor,” a combination of youth and enthusiasm for change, as a reason for Doyle’s win.
“The message I feel I have is really one of hope and excitement about our future and joy,” Doyle said.
Bishop [Allan] Ewing says he is disappointed about the boycott because he believes any rifts should be discussed in the wider Anglican community.
But he says this latest development does not have to lead to a permanent schism.
“At its heart the Anglican Church is a reforming church, that is, it doesn’t breakaway and create new churches so much as tries to reform, always from within,” he said.
“So the challenge of what’s happened in Jerusalem , and the Archbishop’s involvement in that, is a challenge to how we might order ourselves and form ourselves as church in the future.
“The Lambeth Conference will be another important part of that discussion.
“I think what it will mean for us in Australia is that those of us who go to Lambeth will need to redouble our efforts with those who have not been there to establish a close understanding of each other.”
The new council of primates (highest-level bishops) would be able to “consider matters calmly” and to decide if “fairly drastic action should be taken.”
Five of the six primates are from African provinces of the church — Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda and West Africa — and the sixth is from the church’s southern Latin American branch. The majority of Anglicans lives in Africa and adhere to traditional church teachings.
[Archbishop Peter] Jensen acknowledged that the move was unusual, “but then the times we are in are unusual.”
Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria said that the conservative Anglican leadership wants those who are following the “false gospel” to repent.
Jensen went a step further and said Christians need to take action to counter the liberal influences.
“The revisionist agenda, which you can see came into its fruition with the same-sex union … is a missionary one and it is going to spread it’s theological views as far as it can,” he said.
“That means that the rest of us have to be alerted to this and have to give ourselves to very strong theological work to make sure we can defend the gospel,” he said.
[Traditionalists]…have set up what amounts to a church within a church in order to organise for a long struggle against the ordination of gay clergy, the blessing of gay relationships, and what they claim is a drift towards accepting other religions as offering “equal access to God”.
The Rev Rod Thomas, of the conservative Church of England group Reform, helped to formulate the organisation’s strategy.
He claimed that traditionalists had been forced to create a new alliance to prevent the Bible being rewritten by liberal Anglicans to suit their current lifestyles.
“The Anglican Church is being destroyed by false teaching of the Bible on issues such as homosexuality”, he said.
“We are gong to stand against this trend, and spread the true message of the Bible with confidence.”
A Melbourne sociologist, Professor Gary Bouma, said the movement would have little support beyond Africa and some conservative parishes in Canada and the US, and the prospect of losing property and superannuation would bind leaders such as Peter Jensen to the fold.
Despite the “overheated rhetoric” of a church within a church, Dr Bouma from Monash University doubted the movement would amount to more than a vocal sub-caucus within the communion.
“What they are talking about is a group within the Anglican communion. They haven’t left it. If they do, there are consequences. Anyone who does leave would lose their property and their superannuation. Instead, they talk of being a sub-caucus within the communion. There’s more or less sub-caucuses there now. It’s a self-appointed group of people that are arrogating authority to themselves ”¦ Where it has some traction is in Africa where ”¦ a large part of the Anglican population lives. What’s more, these people are a whole lot younger than Anglicans in other parts of the world. In 50 years’ time, this smaller group demographically might be dominant.”
Dr Bouma said the Archbishop of Canterbury’s best option was “to sit quiet and let it happen”. If he gave any more ground he risked losing the support of those moderates and liberals who remained in the church.
The Australian Primate of the Anglican Church, Phillip Aspinall, declined to comment.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has been sidelined by a new orthodox movement which claims to represent almost half of the world’s 80 million Anglicans.
Leaders of the organisation, that styles itself as a fellowship of confessing Anglicans, said Dr Rowan Williams would just be “recognised for his historic role” as the head of the worldwide Communion.
They added that in the “post-colonial reality” of a Church dominated by traditionalists in developing countries rather than England, he would no longer be the sole leader.
Organisers of the movement, which was formally announced at the end of the Gafcon summit in Jerusalem, also failed to mention the Archbishop of Canterbury in their declaration of the 14 central tenets.
It couldn’t be clearer. The GAFCON fellowship is a reform movement within the Anglican Communion, but rather than simply calling for change, or asking the Archbishop of Canterbury to bring about change (a request that has been made repeatedly, and refused), the GAFCON movement is prepared take concrete action to make a difference. As the Statement proceeds, what this means in practice is spelled out””such as recognizing the need for the formation of a new province for North America, and urging the GAFCON Primates’ Council to act accordingly.
It is a remarkable statement””a rescue plan for the Anglican Communion, and a vision for a positive, growing, gospel future. Given the different streams of orthodox, Bible-believing Anglicanism represented at GAFCON, and the horse trading that is always involved in crafting these sorts of statements, it is stronger in its Scriptural and doctrinal affirmations, and bolder and wiser in its practical measures, than many of us had dared to hope.
In their “Statement on the Global Anglican Future” released today, participants in the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) declared that they see the Jerusalem conference as the beginning of “a spiritual movement to preserve and promote the truth and power of the gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ as we Anglicans have received it.”
Dr [Peter] Jensen said the organisation aimed to rescue those who supported the old rather than modern ways of the church.
“The homosexual crisis is only symbolic of a whole way of looking at the world, which many in the church had taken on as well, I call this post-modernity,” he told ABC radio.
“We have decided to rescue people in the West who want to stand for the old ways, who want to stand on the Bible.
“Secondly, we’ve decided to protect ourselves against this post-modern and relativistic world view that will come our way through the internet and other communicational revolutions.”
On Sunday, the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) concluded with the launch of a new missionary movement within the Anglican Communion. There is no split, say the organisers, though they question the importance of the Archbishop of Canterbury as the arbiter of who is an Anglican.
There are three components in the GAFCON final communiquÃ©, which was formally released after final ratification by participants at a signing session on Sunday morning: the designation of GAFCON as a “fellowship of confessing Anglicans”; a 14-point Jerusalem Declaration described as “the basis of that fellowship”; and a newly formed Primates’ Council, which is likely to meet in the next two months.
Each of the three suggestions is radical. The transformation from a conference to a fellowship makes GAFCON an enduring element in the Anglican Church. The 14-point Declaration is largely doctrinal, though it contains a section on sexuality, and another on relations with more liberal dioceses. On sexuality, the document does not name homosexuality, and instead speaks of “marriage between one man and one woman as the proper place for sexual intimacy”, and it calls for “a renewed commitment to lifelong fidelity in marriage and abstinence for those who are not married”.
The Global Anglican Future Conference has overwhelmingly endorsed the Jerusalem Declaration and final communique, a document Archbishop Peter Jensen says will help bring order out of chaos.
The GAFCON leaders were at pains to point out that they were not withdrawing or splitting from the Anglican Church, despite media reports constantly describing ”˜split’ or ”˜schism’.
“We have not moved, and churches who support this have not moved, from the position of historic Christianity,” says Archbishop Jensen. “But the actions of the North Americans in 2003 went too far and something needed to be done”.
The response is three-fold. In the opening part of the statement GAFCON leaders said:
“GAFCON is not just a moment in time, but a movement in the Spirit, and we hereby: launch the GAFCON movement as a fellowship of confessing Anglicans, publish the Jerusalem Declaration as the basis of the fellowship and recognise the GAFCON Primates’ Council.
In a revolutionary move bordering on schismatic, African archbishops unilaterally announced Sunday in Jerusalem that they have taken over the leadership of the Anglican Church from England and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.
Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Southern Cone, Uganda and West Africa and, later, the Anglican Church of Tanzania, will form a new Council of Primates purporting to provide new leadership for the Anglican Communion, according to press release published at the end of a seven-day conference held in Jerusalem.
“The uniqueness of the Jerusalem Declaration is that the Africans are sending out a clear message to England saying in essence that this is our church,” said Rev. Dr. Arne H. Fjeldstad, Head of Communications for the Global Anglican Future (GAFCON) conference, which ended Sunday.
The announcement came at the close of an unprecedented meeting in Jerusalem by conservatives, who contend that they represent a majority of the 77 million members of the Anglican Communion.
They depicted their efforts as the culmination of an anti-colonial struggle against the church’s seat of power in Britain, whose missionaries first brought Anglican Christianity to the developing world. The conservatives say that many of the descendants of those Anglican missionaries in Britain and North America are now following what they call a “false gospel” that allows a malleable, liberal interpretation of Scripture.
After more than 1,000 delegates to the meeting at a Jerusalem hotel affirmed their platform statement, African women, Australians, South Americans and Indians danced and swayed to a Swahili hymn and shouted full-throated hallelujahs.
Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, who leads the largest province in the Communion, said at a news conference afterward: “It’s quite clear we have been in turmoil. With this decision we have a fresh beginning.”
The Jerusalem meeting was called after several African leaders said they would boycott the Lambeth Conference, the once-a-decade global gathering of more than 800 Anglican bishops hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Lambeth, which is scheduled for July 16-Aug. 3, has traditionally involved passage of resolutions on major issues facing the Anglican churches. In 1998, a conference resolution reiterated that homosexual practice is not compatible with Christian teachings.
This year, Lambeth has been restructured to focus on small-group discussion and will not involve resolutions.
“You have a family in crisis … and they structured the meeting so that the crisis will not be addressed,” says Dr. [Kendall] Harmon. “They basically want to punt the ball down the field for another 10 years, but that never works.”
The Rev. Ian Douglas of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass., who is on the Lambeth planning committee, counters that, “Bible study and groups which call for genuine discussion on difficult issues provide much greater opportunity to deal with the question than passing resolutions in a body of 800.”
The Christian leaders declared that they would remain in the Anglican Communion, but be independent of Canterbury, the seat of Anglicanism currently under the leadership of Dr. Rowan Williams.
“Our fellowship is not breaking away from the Anglican Communion. We, together with many other faithful Anglicans throughout the world, believe in the doctrinal foundation of Anglicanism. We intend to remain faithful to this standard and we call on others in the Communion to reaffirm and return to it,” they declared.
The conference, which ended yesterday, was aimed at deliberating on the crisis that had divided the Anglican Communion. It brought together over 1,140 lay and clergy, including 291 bishops representing millions of faithful Anglican Christians, mainly from developing nations. A total of 107 delegates represented Uganda.
The Conference adopted the 14-point Jerusalem Declaration to offer future guidance to the movement.
The meeting called for the formation of another Anglican Province in North America. This would include the 44 churches in the US, which are now part of the Church of Uganda.
The plan for a fellowship of confessing churches and a council of primates was adopted yesterday, the final day of the Global Anglican Future Conference, which had been called by dissenting Anglican leaders from Africa and parts of North America and Australia.
When the final communique was signed, the conference broke out in spontaneous applause and singing. Speaking to the Herald from Jerusalem, Dr Jensen said the development was “groundbreaking” and would likely help preserve Anglican unity, rather than destroy it, by providing an ecclesiastical structure by which breakaway dioceses opposed to liberal thinking could remain within the Anglican fold.
“We are in a battle for ideas between the liberal wing who want to export their ideas to the rest of us and the Biblical Anglicans. These 1000 leaders are standing for the Bible and the Gospel of Jesus Christ and reasserting that He is the way to God. It’s a moment of huge spiritual impact.”
Conservative Anglicans will declare a split from the U.S. Episcopal Church on Sunday, but will stop short of schism with the archbishop of Canterbury, the head of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
”There will be permanent division, one way or the other,” said Archbishop Peter Jensen of Sydney, Australia, one of the organizers of the weeklong Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), adding that he expected “long-term consequences” for the Anglican Communion.
Archbishop Jensen pinned the blame for the schism on the Episcopal Church, calling its 2003 consecration of a practicing homosexual as bishop of New Hampshire “an extraordinary strategic blunder” that has divided the church.
In a statement to be released here Sunday morning, the GAFCON churches, mostly from Africa and elsewhere in the developing world, are expected to form a “church within a church,” breaking with the liberal churches of North America that also have permitted the blessing of same-sex unions.
Relations with the office of the archbishop of Canterbury will not be severed, but it appears likely that they will be qualified in some form.
A new church representing almost half of the world’s 80 million Anglicans has been officially formed, posing a serious challenge to the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The organisation created by traditionalists – called the Gafcon movement after the Global Anglican Future Conference which led to its creation – will retain ties with Dr Rowan Williams and will technically remain within the global Anglican Communion.
But it is also likely to lead to orthodox Anglicans severing all links with the main churches in America and Canada, whose liberal leaders are blamed for sparking the current crisis by breaking with the Bible’s teaching and by consecrating openly gay clergy and blessing gay “marriages”.
The movement’s leaders will include at least two Church of England bishops as well as the heads of leading African, South American and Australian churches, and it is said to represent 35 million worshippers worldwide and so spell an end to the “colonial” domination of Canterbury.
I do not read this as the break up of the Anglican Communion. I expect that many of the attendees at GAFCON will be attending Lambeth but I do see this conference and its statement as an important breakthrough in the impasse of the communion crisis. In the game of chess I believe there is a term called tempo. It has to do with which player is the one to which the other must respond. One player has the upper hand and then there is an exchange and the player who was setting the tempo is now the one who must respond. Until this meeting in Jerusalem the tempo was in the hands of the North American churches. They acted and the rest of the communion was in the position of responding to their actions. The existing instruments of communion including the Archbishop of Canterbury have in part by inaction and in part by intention, continually moved the tempo back to TEC and The Anglican Church of Canada. The emergence of GAFCON as a confessing group within the Anglican Communion which is willing to take bold action, though at this point action short of a formal break with Canterbury, changes the tempo. It is now the rest of the communion including its existing instruments of communion which must respond. It is the consensus of the emerging confessing majority in the communion which is now setting the agenda. If the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Lambeth conference do not respond to this initiative in a meaningful way they are likely to become irrelevant to the future of global Anglicanism. Irrelevancy for Canterbury, Lambeth and the Anglican Consultative Council seem a greater risk at the moment than the risk of a formal break or repudiation of these instruments by members of GAFCON.
Jerusalem: Conservatives will declare a split from the Episcopal Church but will stop short of schism with the Archbishop of Canterbury.
“There will be permanent division, one way or the other,” Dr. Peter Jensen (pictured), the archbishop of Sydney told the media, as the decision by the Episcopal Church to consecrate a practicing homosexual as a bishop in 2003 was “an extraordinary strategic blunder” that had divided the church.
However, the Anglican Communion will continue, the Primate of the Southern Cone, Bishop Gregory Venables of Argentina said. “This is not a shutting of doors. We are not walking away,” he said, but were forming a movement that would reform and renew the Anglican Churches.
An “awful lot of people are waiting for a bit of light,” he said, and Gafcon will provide that light. The church was ripe for the message of Gafcon as “there is still an intact fellowship of believing Christians” who will be drawn to this confessing movement, Bishop Venables said.
Anglican leaders representing a clear majority of the world’s practising Anglicans, joyously affirmed the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) Statement and the Jerusalem Declaration at the end of the conference on Sunday June 29. The document addresses the crisis gripping the Anglican Communion over scriptural authority. It calls for the creation of a new council of primates overseeing a volunteer fellowship committed to mission and biblical Anglicanism as well as a new structure of accountability based on the Jerusalem Declaration. It also signals the move of most of the world’s practicing Anglicans into a post-colonial reality, where the Archbishop of Canterbury is recognized for his historic role, but not as the only arbiter of what it means to be Anglican.
The primates’ council will initially be formed by the six Anglican primates participating in the GAFCON from Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Southern Cone, Uganda and West Africa. Also the Anglican Church of Tanzania delegation to GAFCON is in agreement with the statement but will need the endorsement of their House of Bishops before their archbishop join the council. The primates council is tasked with recognizing and authenticating “confessing Anglican jurisdictions, clergy and congregations and to encourage all Anglicans to promote the gospel and defend the faith.” From the outset, the statement recognizes the “desirability of territorial jurisdiction for provinces and dioceses of the Anglican Communion except in areas where churches and leaders have denied the orthodox faith or are preventing its spread.” Speaking specifically to Anglican Christians in North America, the statement goes on to say that GAFCON believes “time is now ripe for the formation of a province in North America for the federation currently known as Common Cause Partnership to be recognised by the Primates’ Council.”
The statement describes those participating in this new movement as “A fellowship of confessing Anglicans.” It asserts the intention of all those involved to remain Anglican. “Our fellowship is not breaking away from the Anglican Communion. We, together with many other faithful Anglicans throughout the world, believe the doctrinal foundation of Anglicanism, which defines our core identity as Anglicans, is expressed in these words: The doctrine of the Church is grounded in the Holy Scriptures and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said
Scriptures. In particular, such doctrine is to be found in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal.”
Finally, the statement makes clear that worldwide Anglicanism has now entered a post-colonial phase. Instead of continuing to rely solely on the colonial structures that have served the Anglican Communion so poorly during the present crisis, it states the movement’s intent to accept all those as Anglicans who affirm the Anglican standard of faith. “While acknowledging the nature of Canterbury as an historic see, we do not accept that Anglican identity is determined necessarily through recognition by the Archbishop of Canterbury.”
The GAFCON Statement concludes: “The primary reason we have come to Jerusalem and issued this declaration is to free our churches to give clear and certain witness to Jesus Christ. It is our hope that this Statement on the Global Anglican Future will be received with comfort and joy by many Anglicans around the world who have been distressed about the direction of the Communion. We believe the Anglican Communion should and will be reformed around the biblical gospel and mandate to go into all the world and present Christ to the nations.”
The Jerusalem Declaration was produced at GAFCON with the participation of all 1148 delegates who came on pilgrimage to Jerusalem June 22 ”“ 29. They represent more than 35 million of practicing Anglicans worldwide.
In their official statement, conservatives said they “do not accept that Anglican identity is determined necessarily through recognition by the archbishop of Canterbury” ”” a direct challenge to his leadership. And they called the current setup for the communion, with the archbishop of Canterbury at its center, “a colonial structure.”
As part of their new fellowship, conservatives said they would continue to take oversight of breakaway churches in the U.S. and other Anglican territories who reject their liberal leaders. Conservatives hope to eventually form a North American province ”” counter to the Anglican tradition that archbishops oversee parishes only in their own provinces.
“We reject the authority of those churches and leaders who have denied the orthodox faith in word or deed,” they wrote.
Conservatives are a minority in the 2.2 million-member Episcopal Church. Still, the denomination is fighting several legal battles to bar secessionists from leaving with church assets. On Friday, a judge in Virginia said state law allows 11 breakaway parishes to hold onto their property worth tens of millions of dollars. An appeal is expected.
Update: For the record, this was approved, as written, by the GAFCON delegates in their final plenary session this morning, Sunday June 29th. The final official version of the Communique can be read online at the GAFCON site here. Or keep reading below.
(Please read it thoroughly and post comments which respond to the actual language of the text of the Communique itself–KSH).
(Also note, there was confusion about when this was cleared for release but now that it is all over the blogosphere and the Internet I have no choice but to put it out there. There is an important textual correction in the final version which comes with the phrase” Encourage the GAFCON Primates to form a Council”in the first section–KSH).
STATEMENT ON THE GLOBAL ANGLICAN FUTURE
Praise the LORD!
It is good to sing praises to our God; for he is gracious, and a song of praise is fitting. The LORD builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel. (Psalm 147:1-2) Brothers and Sisters in Christ: We, the participants in the Global Anglican Future Conference, send you greetings from Jerusalem!
The Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), which was held in Jerusalem from 22-29 June 2008, is a spiritual movement to preserve and promote the truth and power of the gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ as we Anglicans have received it. The movement is global: it has mobilised Anglicans from around the world. We are Anglican: 1148 lay and clergy participants, including 291 bishops representing millions of faithful Anglican Christians. We cherish our Anglican heritage and the Anglican Communion and have no intention of departing from it. And we believe that, in God’s providence, Anglicanism has a bright future in obedience to our Lord’s Great Commission to make disciples of all nations and to build up the church on the foundation of biblical truth (Matthew 28:18-20; Ephesians 2:20).
GAFCON is not just a moment in time, but a movement in the Spirit, and we hereby:
– launch the GAFCON movement as a fellowship of confessing Anglicans
– publish the Jerusalem Declaration as the basis of the fellowship
– Encourage the GAFCON Primates to form a Council.
The Global Anglican Context
The future of the Anglican Communion is but a piece of the wider scenario of opportunities and challenges for the gospel in 21st century global culture. We rejoice in the way God has opened doors for gospel mission among many peoples, but we grieve for the spiritual decline in the most economically developed nations, where the forces of militant secularism and pluralism are eating away the fabric of society and churches are compromised and enfeebled in their witness. The vacuum left by them is readily filled by other faiths and deceptive cults. To meet these challenges will require Christians to work together to understand and oppose these forces and to liberate those under their sway. It will entail the planting of new churches among unreached peoples and also committed action to restore authentic Christianity to compromised churches.
The Anglican Communion, present in six continents, is well positioned to address this challenge, but currently it is divided and distracted. The Global Anglican Future Conference emerged in response to a crisis within the Anglican Communion, a crisis involving three undeniable facts concerning world Anglicanism. The first fact is the acceptance and promotion within the provinces of the Anglican Communion of a different ”˜gospel’ (cf. Galatians 1:6-8) which is contrary to the apostolic gospel. This false gospel undermines the authority of God’s Word written and the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as the author of salvation from sin, death and judgement. Many of its proponents claim that all religions offer equal access to God and that Jesus is only a way, not the way, the truth and the life. It promotes a variety of sexual preferences and immoral behaviour as a universal human right. It claims God’s blessing for same-sex unions over against the biblical teaching on holy matrimony. In 2003 this false gospel led to the consecration of a bishop living in a homosexual relationship.
The second fact is the declaration by provincial bodies in the Global South that they are out of communion with bishops and churches that promote this false gospel. These declarations have resulted in a realignment whereby faithful Anglican Christians have left existing territorial parishes, dioceses and provinces in certain Western churches and become members of other dioceses and provinces, all within the Anglican Communion. These actions have also led to the appointment of new Anglican bishops set over geographic areas already occupied by other Anglican bishops. A major realignment has occurred and will continue to unfold. The third fact is the manifest failure of the Communion Instruments to exercise discipline in the face of overt heterodoxy. The Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada, in proclaiming this false gospel, have consistently defied the 1998 Lambeth statement of biblical moral principle (Resolution 1.10). Despite numerous meetings and reports to and from the ”˜Instruments of Unity,’ no effective action has been taken, and the bishops of these unrepentant churches are welcomed to Lambeth 2008. To make matters worse, there has been a failure to honour promises of discipline, the authority of the Primates’ Meeting has been undermined and the Lambeth Conference has been structured so as to avoid any hard decisions. We can only come to the devastating conclusion that ”˜we are a global Communion with a colonial structure’. Sadly, this crisis has torn the fabric of the Communion in such a way that it cannot simply be patched back together. At the same time, it has brought together many Anglicans across the globe into personal and pastoral relationships in a fellowship which is faithful to biblical teaching, more representative of the demographic distribution of global Anglicanism today and stronger as an instrument of effective mission, ministry and social involvement.
A Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans
We, the participants in the Global Anglican Future Conference, are a fellowship of confessing Anglicans for the benefit of the Church and the furtherance of its mission. We are a fellowship of people united in the communion (koinonia) of the one Spirit and committed to work and pray together in the common mission of Christ. It is a confessing fellowship in that its members confess the faith of Christ crucified, stand firm for the gospel in the global and Anglican context, and affirm a contemporary rule, the Jerusalem Declaration, to guide the movement for the future. We are a fellowship of Anglicans, including provinces, dioceses, churches, missionary jurisdictions, para-church organisations and individual Anglican Christians whose goal is to reform, heal and revitalise the Anglican Communion and expand its mission to the world. Our fellowship is not breaking away from the Anglican Communion. We, together with many other faithful Anglicans throughout the world, believe the doctrinal foundation of Anglicanism, which defines our core identity as Anglicans, is expressed in these words: The doctrine of the Church is grounded in the Holy Scriptures and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures. In particular, such doctrine is to be found in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal. We intend to remain faithful to this standard, and we call on others in the Communion to reaffirm and return to it. While acknowledging the nature of Canterbury as an historic see, we do not accept that Anglican identity is determined necessarily through recognition by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Building on the above doctrinal foundation of Anglican identity, we hereby publish the Jerusalem Declaration as the basis of our fellowship. Global Anglican Future Statement, 29 June 2008 3 The Jerusalem Declaration In the name of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit: We, the participants in the Global Anglican Future Conference, have met in the land of Jesus’ birth. We express our loyalty as disciples to the King of kings, the Lord Jesus. We joyfully embrace his command to proclaim the reality of his kingdom which he first announced in this land. The gospel of the kingdom is the good news of salvation, liberation and transformation for all. In light of the above, we agree to chart a way forward together that promotes and protects the biblical gospel and mission to the world, solemnly declaring the following tenets of orthodoxy which underpin our Anglican identity.
1. We rejoice in the gospel of God through which we have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Because God first loved us, we love him and as believers bring forth fruits of love, ongoing repentance, lively hope and thanksgiving to God in all things.
2. We believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God written and to contain all things necessary for salvation. The Bible is to be translated, read, preached, taught and obeyed in its plain and canonical sense, respectful of the church’s historic and consensual reading.
3. We uphold the four Ecumenical Councils and the three historic Creeds as expressing the rule of faith of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
4. We uphold the Thirty-nine Articles as containing the true doctrine of the Church agreeing with God’s Word and as authoritative for Anglicans today.
5. We gladly proclaim and submit to the unique and universal Lordship of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, humanity’s only Saviour from sin, judgement and hell, who lived the life we could not live and died the death that we deserve. By his atoning death and glorious resurrection, he secured the redemption of all who come to him in repentance and faith.
6. We rejoice in our Anglican sacramental and liturgical heritage as an expression of the gospel, and we uphold the 1662 Book of Common Prayer as a true and authoritative standard of worship and prayer, to be translated and locally adapted for each culture.
7. We recognise that God has called and gifted bishops, priests and deacons in historic succession to equip all the people of God for their ministry in the world. We uphold the classic Anglican Ordinal as an authoritative standard of clerical orders.
8. We acknowledge God’s creation of humankind as male and female and the unchangeable standard of Christian marriage between one man and one woman as the proper place for sexual intimacy and the basis of the family. We repent of our failures to maintain this standard and call for a renewed commitment to lifelong fidelity in marriage and abstinence for those who are not married.
9. We gladly accept the Great Commission of the risen Lord to make disciples of all nations, to seek those who do not know Christ and to baptise, teach and bring new believers to maturity.
10. We are mindful of our responsibility to be good stewards of God’s creation, to uphold and advocate justice in society, and to seek relief and empowerment of the poor and needy.
11. We are committed to the unity of all those who know and love Christ and to building authentic ecumenical relationships. We recognise the orders and jurisdiction of those Anglicans who uphold orthodox faith and practice, and we encourage them to join us in this declaration.
12. We celebrate the God-given diversity among us which enriches our global fellowship, and we acknowledge freedom in secondary matters. We pledge to work together to seek the mind of Christ on issues that divide us.
13. We reject the authority of those churches and leaders who have denied the orthodox faith in word or deed. We pray for them and call on them to repent and return to the Lord.
14. We rejoice at the prospect of Jesus’ coming again in glory, and while we await this final event of history, we praise him for the way he builds up his church through his Spirit by miraculously changing lives.
The Road Ahead
We believe the Holy Spirit has led us during this week in Jerusalem to begin a new work. There are many important decisions for the development of this fellowship which will take more time, prayer and deliberation.
Among other matters, we shall seek to expand participation in this fellowship beyond those who have come to Jerusalem, including cooperation with the Global South and the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa. We can, however, discern certain milestones on the road ahead. Primates’ Council We, the participants in the Global Anglican Future Conference, do hereby acknowledge the participating Primates of GAFCON who have called us together, and encourage them to form the initial Council of the GAFCON movement. We look forward to the enlargement of the Council and entreat the Primates to organise and expand the fellowship of confessing Anglicans. We urge the Primates’ Council to authenticate and recognise confessing Anglican jurisdictions, clergy and congregations and to encourage all Anglicans to promote the gospel and defend the faith. We recognise the desirability of territorial jurisdiction for provinces and dioceses of the Anglican Communion, except in those areas where churches and leaders are denying the orthodox faith or are preventing its spread, and in a few areas for which overlapping jurisdictions are beneficial for historical or cultural reasons. We thank God for the courageous actions of those Primates and provinces who have offered orthodox oversight to churches under false leadership, especially in North and South America. The actions of these Primates have been a positive response to pastoral necessities and mission opportunities. We believe that such actions will continue to be necessary and we support them in offering help around the world.
We believe this is a critical moment when the Primates’ Council will need to put in place structures to lead and support the church. In particular, we believe the time is now ripe for the formation of a province in North America for the federation currently known as Common Cause Partnership to be recognised by the Primates’ Council.
Conclusion: Message from Jerusalem
We, the participants in the Global Anglican Future Conference, were summoned by the Primates’ leadership team to Jerusalem in June 2008 to deliberate on the crisis that has divided the Anglican Communion for the past decade and to seek direction for the future. We have visited holy sites, prayed together, listened to God’s Word preached and expounded, learned from various speakers and teachers, and shared our thoughts and hopes with each other.
The meeting in Jerusalem this week was called in a sense of urgency that a false gospel has so paralysed the Anglican Communion that this crisis must be addressed. The chief threat of this dispute involves the compromising of the integrity of the church’s worldwide mission. The primary reason we have come to Jerusalem and issued this declaration is to free our churches to give clear and certain witness to Jesus Christ.
It is our hope that this Statement on the Global Anglican Future will be received with comfort and joy by many Anglicans around the world who have been distressed about the direction of the Communion. We believe the Anglican Communion should and will be reformed around the biblical gospel and mandate to go into all the world and present Christ to the nations.
Feast of St Peter and St Paul 29 June 2008
Here’s the metaphor that I’m working with.
Suppose you’re one of several adult siblings in a family that has an alcoholic Dad. Dad’s alcoholism has steadily worsened over the years. He’s driving drunk with the grandkids, spending all of his money into the ground, has a looming liver disorder that will likely someday kill him, and the list grows. Your Mother has always been an enabling co-dependent, and still thinks that if only Dad would just “ease back a bit on the bottle” things would improve. One of your adult siblings is well on her way to being just like Dad, only the Young Energetic Version. And the rest of you don’t know what to do.
At any rate, yet another family meeting is called, this time to deal with Dad’s latest drunk-driving event. The meeting goes terribly wrong. The Dad is surly and unrepentant. The Mother bursts into tears and says that her children “don’t love Dad to treat him this way.” Dad throws a glass at your second-born brother, and a general melee is barely averted. What you had hoped to gain — taking away the car keys from your Dad, with your Mother’s support — is not granted, since your Mother turns on all of you and support Dad.
You leave that meeting conscious that things cannot go on as they have. You dearly love your family, including your Dad. But life as you have known it has changed. In the old days, your childhood was one of deep shame, as all of your family struggled to contain and hide your Dad’s bouts with the bottle. But suddenly, in a strange sense, after this latest disaster of a “family gathering” you feel . . . free.
You are still a part of the family, of course. But short of a miracle, Dad — and your own beloved, kind, enabling Mother — will not change. They are trapped, and they are carrying the rest of the clinging family down with them.
You call your siblings and let them know that you will not be attending family meetings as they are presently structured in the future. You are . . . done. You still love the family, you care about the family, and you will do all in your power to help your family . . . but it will be from a distance. You are moving on, to establish a new family, a new household . . . and you are determined that by God’s grace you will not carry your family’s dysfunction and sickness into this new family. You will allow the old dyad of your Mother and Father to carry the consequences of their behavior. When Dad gets drunk and convicted of another DUI, you will not help with another lawyer, another bailout. When your Mother calls you — after she’s forgotten or forgiven you for the latest “family meeting” — to complain about Dad’s latest outrages, you will love her, commisserate with her . . . . and gently disengage from the conversation at the appropriate time. She is unwilling to help establish order. And life goes on. Your heart breaks for her, for your sister, for your Dad, and for the other comparatively healthy siblings . . . but there is nothing further that you can do for your family.
You now focus on what you can do. You can stop helping your Mother to enable Dad’s behavior. You can try to engage in good relationships with your current healthy siblings. You can love Dad, even . . . from a healthy distance. You can pray, and work on your own behavior. And even though you disagree with some of your own siblings — who wish to maintain involvement in the family dynamic to a greater extent than you — you can encourage them and advise them as best you can. And recognizing just how sick you yourself have become in trying to engage with the family on your parents’ terms, you determine to repent and retreat for the time being, to learn how to best combat what you have experienced in childhood and adulthood from the dysfunctional and sinful behavior of your family, which you in fact are a part of.
It seems to me that that is the current state of the FedCons and the Gafcon movement in the Anglican Communion.
With that as my controlling metaphor, let me move on with what actions and attitudes that I think would be most helpful to come out of Gafcon.
Let us wait and see what develops and let us pray””really pray””for a genuinely evangelical and catholic outcome that moves the Anglican Communion forward for the gospel at the beginning of the twenty first century””KSH.
Please do read it all. And can we remember: many early reactions will be wrong or will cartoon one element of what is said such as to miss its place in the context of the whole. Let’s let God and history be the judge and understand we see as in a mirror, dimly.
Reporting on the preliminary draft and comments from GAFCON leaders, the Church of England Newspaper reports that the final communiquÃ© will likely call for formation of a “church within a church,” in which formal ties with the Archbishop of Canterbury would be maintained while ties with the progressive wings of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada would be severed. The final communiquÃ© may also introduce new instruments of unity unrelated to four existing ones: the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the primates’ meeting and the Anglican Consultative Council.