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SC accepts Global South supervision: The Church of England Newspaper, April 11, 2014 May 10, 2014

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The 223rd annual convention of the Diocese of South Carolina has voted to accept an offer of temporary archiepiscopal oversight from the Global South Primates Steering Committee. On 15 March 2014 the delegates voted unanimously to accept the offer made in the February Cairo Communique of the GS Primates, while also aligning itself with the GAFCON movement. In his speech to the convention, the Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence said “this will give us gracious oversight from one of the largest Ecclesial entities within the Communion: one wihc includes Anglicans from a diverse body of believers from Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa, South America, the Indian Ocean and many, many others.” In 2012 the diocesan convention voted to quit the Episcopal Church in response to disputes over doctrine and disciple with the New York based national office, which led to moves to dismiss Bishop Lawrence from the ministry.

Episode 86: Anglican Unscripted, November 23, 2013 November 24, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican.TV, Church of England, GAFCON, Quincy, The Episcopal Church.
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Anglican Unscripted is the only video newscast in the Anglican Church. Every Week Kevin, George, Allan and Peter bring you news and prospective from around the globe.

Show Index
00:00 GAFCON and the ABC
09:56 Allan Haley and TEC Legal Fantasy
22:00 Raceophobic Church
28:56 GAFCON Down Under
42:52 Marriage
4719: Extinct COE
59:00 Closing and Bloopers

GAFCON to be ‘an Anglican province’ in all but name: Church Times, October 31, 2013 November 11, 2013

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THE Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) will effectively provide for Anglican traditionalists the fellowship and support that provinces give to dioceses, Dr Peter Jensen, a former Archbishop of Sydney, Australia, told the Church Times at the close of the GAFCON conference in Nairobi last week (News, 25 October).

The conference adopted by acclamation the Nairobi Commitment, pledging primatial support for an umbrella group for British traditionalists: the Anglican Mission in England. GAFCON would not legally be a province, Dr Jensen said, but “effectively, yes”.

In light of the impending release of the Pilling report, and of the expected endorsement by the Church of England’s General Synod of a Measure allowing women bishops, but offering no safeguards to those opposed to this, GAFCON decided to shift its energies from the US to the UK.

The Pilling report will not be released until later this year, but the view of many of those present at GAFCON was that, based on statements released so far, and the theological views of the Pilling panel, it would opt for rites for the pastoral blessings of gay civil partnerships.

The internal strength of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), and its acceptance by most provinces of the Anglican Communion, gave GAFCON the opportunity to redeploy its energies to the UK.

The Vicar of St Martin de Gouray, Jersey, Canon Gavin Ashenden, said steps had to be taken now to prevent conservative Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics from fragmenting into half a dozen groups, should the crisis occur. A “non-geographic” province would be an ecclesial Velcro, gathering the diaspora, he said.

Adopted on the closing day of the conference with little public dissent, the conference statement received strong support from participants. The Bishop of the Gulf Atlantic diocese of ACNA, the Rt Revd Neil Lebhar, welcomed the statement, calling it a “unity” document that would gather other Anglicans into the GAFCON fold.

The Vicar of St Matthew’s, Elburton, and chairman of Reform, Prebendary Rod Thomas, said: “It sets a clear gospel priority for GAFCON. It is designed to carry forward the work of encouragement and faithfulness. . . I’m delighted.”

A multi-national committee composed of delegates from Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, the Southern Cone, the US/Canada, and England produced the document from reports submitted by the nine “mini-conferences” that convened during the meeting. The committee chairman, the Bishop of the Mid-Atlantic diocese of ACNA, the Rt Revd John Guernsey, told delegates that the statement had not been pre-written, but was a product of the conference.

The conference received a draft copy of the statement last Friday, and was directed to break into national groups to offer substantive criticisms for review by the writing team. Over the course of the evening, eight revisions were produced, and the final document was presented for approval the next day.

Not all the delegates were pleased with it. The Bishop of Fort Worth, the Rt Revd Jack Iker, said that it showed the strength of the “Sydney contingent” at the meeting. He was “concerned” about the deletion of points that were important to Anglo-Catholics, and noted that GAFCON treated Anglo-Catholics as poor relations to the conservative Evangelical majority.

Within the English section, a debate over the degree of thanks to be given to the Archbishop of Canterbury arose. While some praised the Archbishop for his seeming endorsement of GAFCON, others were concerned about what they perceived as his indecisiveness.

The director of Christian Concern, Andrea Minichiello Williams, read to the group a part of Archbishop Welby’s address in the Lords on the Government’s Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act, arguing that his words had all but conceded the argument to those who supported gay marriage.

In the final document, words of commendation for the Archbishop became: “We appreciated that the Archbishop of Canterbury sent personal greetings via video, and gave us the assurance of his prayers, and we likewise pray for him.”

A behind-the-scenes fight over language describing the ministry of women also shaped the final document. It said: “We affirm the ministries of women and their vital contribution to the life of the Church: their call to the task of evangelism, discipling, and building strong marriages, families, churches, and communities. GAFCON 2013 upholds the Bible’s teaching that men and women are equally made in the image of God . . . excercising different gifts. We recognise that we have differing views over the roles of men and women in church leadership.”

Delegates from provinces that support women in episcopal leadership, however, fought for the inclusion of language in support of women bishops. The move was blocked by the dominant Nigerian bloc (almost 500 of the 1300 delegates), in alliance with conservative Evangelicals. When the final document was offered to the conference, a Ugandan woman clergy delegate voiced a lone “No” vote.

But the Nairobi Commitment was not a “Mosaic tablet”, Dr Ashenden said. It was “a fluid document,” produced by committee in a very short time, which addressed different audiences on different levels, while seeking also to express a vision for the future.

The confusion expressed in other areas was absent when addressing the situation in England. In the “Our Priorities” section, the document said GAFCON would continue to engage in cross-border support for Anglicans whom it believed were disowned by their ecclesial structures.

It stated: “In line with the Jerusalem Statement’s expectation that the Primates’ Council would intervene to provide ‘orthodox oversight to churches under false leadership’, the Primates’ Council will carefully consider working beyond existing structures as an obedient response to Jesus’s commission to take the gospel to all nations.”

The document spelled out where these cross-border actions might take place. “We commit ourselves to the support and defence of those who in standing for apostolic truth are marginalised or excluded from formal communion with other Anglicans in their dioceses. We have therefore recognised the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE) as an expression of authentic Anglicanism both for those within and outside the Church of England, and welcomed their intention to appoint a General Secretary of AMiE.”

Nevertheless, none of those questioned by the Church Times would say on the record who they thought would provide episcopal oversight for the AMiE, nor how it would be structured. But many, though not all, of the English conference participants agreed that GAFCON should focus on recognising that the problem existed, and that a solution needed to be reached before the crisis fragmented traditionalist Anglicans.

First printed in The Church Times.

Gafcon fears a fire over England: The Church of England Newspaper, November 1, 2013 November 5, 2013

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The fear of fragmentation over the Pilling report and women bishops has led the 2nd Global Anglican Future Conference (Gafcon) to adopt a statement pledging its members support to traditionalist evangelical and Anglo-Catholic members of the Church of England.

The Nairobi statement was adopted by the meeting on 26 October 2013 by acclamation, with only slight — but significant “no” voices raised. The Rev. Rod Thomas, vicar of St Matthew’s Elburton, Plymouth and chairman of Reform told The Church of England Newspaper he was very pleased. Mr. Thomas, a member of the writing committee that produced the document said “it sets a clear Gospel priority for Gafcon. It is designed to cary forward the work of encouragement and faithfulness … I’m delighted.”

The Rev. Dr. Gavin Ashenden,Vicar of St Martin de Gouray on Jersey, cautioned the document should not be read as a “Mosaic tablet. It is a fluid document” he explained that it was a multi-layered document written by committee for different audiences. However, the core principles enunciated were a reaffirmation for the 2008 Jerusalem Declaration and a shift of focus away from America to the U.K, he explained.

The Rt. Rev. John Guernsey, Bishop of the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic of the Anglican Church in North America and chairman of the writing team, told delegates the text was not written before the meeting, but arose from its proceedings. After the opening plenary sessions, conference participants broke into “mini-conferences” that addressed topical issues facing Anglicans. Gafcon 2 boasted no invited speakers, with all of the presentations and mini-conferences presented by delegates.

Each delegate participated in a single session over the course of the conference, choosing in his registration his group: The Challenge of Islam, The Work of the Holy Spirit, Marriage and Family, Children and Youth, Gospel and Culture, Being Women of God, Aid and Development, Theological Education, and Episcopal Ministry. Over the 11 hours of sessions, that were structured as seminars to allow each participant voice in the deliberations, the mini-conferences produced several hundred recommendations for issues and items to be included in a final statement.

A draft document was presented to  a plenary session of the conference on 25 October 2013. Gafcon general secretary Dr. Peter Jensen and Bishop Guernsey asked the conference to break into national or regional groups to offer substantive corrections and criticisms for review by the writing committee, which was composed of delegates from Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, the Southern Cone of South America, US/Canada and England. Eight drafts were needed to produce the final document from the several hundred submissions, and the final four page document was presented in the closing session of the meeting.

Divided into two sections — an extended preamble and the Nairobi Commitment — the document began with a recital of the highlights of the conference and a history of the formation of the Gafcon movement, now identified as the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (GFCA). The document thanked the Archbishop of Canterbury as “he gave us the assurance of his prayers, and we likewise pray for him.’

It  reaffirmed the GFCA’s evangelical theological principles and restated its denunciation of homosexual practices, affirmed the principle movements within the GFCA: Evangelicals, Anglo-Catholics and Charismatics, and recounted its support for the formation of the Anglican Church in North America.

The document went on to reaffirm its self-understanding as a fellowship of Anglicans, but noted at this stage in its life it needed to create institutional structures to support its work, asking delegates to provide funds for a staff and central/regional offices.

In the section entitled “Our Priorities” the document spoke to the core issues facing Gafcon and announced that it would provide support for embattled Anglicans whose provinces or dioceses had disowned them, or made their lives intolerable. Yet, the willy-nilly cross-border interventions of the past ten-years, which had been condemned in the Windsor Report, were ruled out. Future crossings of ecclesiastical boundaries by the Gafcon members would be taken only after the Gafcon Primates council came to a consensus on the need.

“Supporting genuine gospel initiatives, recognising that there are times when the maintenance of structures can constrain the proclamation of the gospel. In line with The Jerusalem Statement’s expectation that the Primates’ Council would intervene to provide ‘orthodox oversight to churches under false leadership’, the Primates’ Council will carefully consider working beyond existing structures as an obedient response to Jesus’ commission to take the gospel to all nations.”

Other priorities enunciated by the document included deepening “discipleship” as Christians, to the exclusion of “national, ethnic or tribal attachments.” Combatting the pernicious influence of secularism on the doctrines and discipline of the church, responding to the challenges of militant Islam and “work for the protection of the environment and the economic empowerment of those who are deprived of resources.”

These principles were then enunciated in the Nairobi Commitment, which included a specific pledge of support to traditionalists in the Church of England. “We commit ourselves to the support and defence of those who in standing for apostolic truth are marginalized or excluded from formal communion with other Anglicans in their dioceses. We have therefore recognized the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE) as an expression of authentic Anglicanism both for those within and outside the Church of England, and welcomed their intention to appoint a General Secretary of AMiE.”

It was his hope that Gafcon would become a “non-geographic province”, Canon Ashenden said. “Not legally, but spirituality, psychologically” supporting clergy and laity marginalized by the existing order, he said.

Steps had to be taken now, he explained, so that if there was a crack up within the church over recommendations from the Pilling Report to provide pastoral rites for the blessing of gay civil partnerships, and when Synod endorsed the appointment of women bishops but declined to offer enforceable safeguards to those who could not accept this innovation, there would be one place to gather the diaspora.

While covering a vast amount of ground, the Nairobi Commitment was a clear call to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the House of Bishops of the General Synod of the Church of England. “Bishops have to decide,” Canon Ashenden said.between “Biblical orthodoxy” and the spirit of the age. “You must choose,” he said.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 84 – Gafcon Edition: November 3, 2013 November 3, 2013

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Published on Nov 3, 2013

Anglican Unscripted is the only video newscast in the Anglican Church. Every Week Kevin, George, Allan and Peter bring you news and prospective from around the globe.

This weeks show is everything you wanted to know about GAFCON I, II, and III but were afraid to ask.

Anglican Unscripted: October 5, 2013 November 2, 2013

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Published on Oct 5, 2013

Anglican Unscripted is the only video newscast in the Anglican Church. Every Week Kevin, George, Allan and Peter bring you news and prospective from around the globe.

No ABC at GAFCON 00:00
Making a deal with the Devil 05:08
AS Haley on South Carolina 15:42
Not again? 22:01
Around the Anglican Globe 29:51
It is too late? 35:37
Closing and Bloopers 41:35

Encouragement for Gafcon from Archbishop Welby: The Church of England Newspaper, October 25, 2013 October 25, 2013

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The Archbishop of Canterbury offered his encouragement to the Gafcon conference in Nairobi this week, but stopped short of offering the endorsement of his office to the global Anglican renewal movement.

Speaking at two services on 20 October 2013 at All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi, the Most Rev. Justin Welby offered his vision of a “Biblically-centered, practically loving” Anglican Communion that pursued a deliberate programme of “witness, worship, evangelism, and a passion for the Holy Spirit.”

He also stated the “colonial structures” of the past that comprised the communion’s Instrument’s of Unity were no longer fit for purpose.

The archbishop’s multi-layered sermon evolved over its two presentations – after being all but silent about Gafcon in his first sermon, in its second reading the archbishop spoke five times about the forthcoming Gafcon conference, set for 21-26 October 2013, at All Saints Cathedral. While the Lambeth Palace Press Office had released a statement saying Archbishop Welby was visiting Kenya to stand in solidarity with its people in the wake of the Westgate Mall terror attack, he made no mention of terrorism in his sermons and his time in Nairobi was spent exclusively on Gafcon.

The sermons sparked mixed responses. Archbishop Welby’s sermon was “outrageous”, Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria said after the first presentation. The archbishop’s “softly softly” approach in seeking to reconcile the Episcopal Church with the Global South churches implied a degree of moral equivalence that the retired Nigerian archbishop found disheartening.

However, in his second presentation Archbishop Welby walked back his moral equivalency comments. The former Archbishop of Sydney, Dr. Peter Jensen welcomed Archbishop Welby’s admission the Communion was not work. Archbishop Welby’s statement “the old ways are no longer appropriate, the old structures no longer work, given on the eve of Gafcon, give us hope,” he said.

The archbishop spent only 18 hours in Kenya, arriving in the early hours of Sunday. Travelling without his minders, the archbishop stayed at the home of Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Primate of Kenya, before preaching before the 9:30 and 11:30 congregations at the Cathedral. Following his sermons he went into a closed door meeting with the primates’ council, before leaving for Ireland to attend the Porvoo Primates meeting that evening.

Participants at the luncheon described the atmosphere as being cordial, noting Archbishop Welby was seated next to Archbishop Robert Duncan of the ACNA and Archbishop Wabukala.  But the strength of the sentiments made in the presentations made by the Gafcon archbishops appeared to have stunned Archbishop Welby, who spoke for five minutes to the group.

One primate told the Church of England Newspaper no formal agreements were reached at the meeting, but he welcomed the start of a conversation with the English church leader.

In his sermons, the archbishop spoke of the centrality of Scripture in the life of the church, the “Bible must be at the heart of our study, our life, our walk with Jesus” he said, but a “church that only reads but does not act, disgraces the Bible.”

“There is a need for new structures in the Anglican Communion, “the archbishop said, adding the issues that divide us are “simple and complicated.”

To address them “we need a new way of being in communion, not the colonial structures” of the past, he said. But it was unclear as to what the solution was as each province offered its own solution to the problem, yet “we must find a way to live together, so the world will see” Jesus is Lord.

The Anglican world must be a sign to the world of the power of Christ and must engage in a deliberate program of “witness, worship, evangelism, and a passion for the Holy Spirit.”

“The more seriously we take the Bible” the more effectively we will be able to deal with our divisions, he said.

The archbishop also hinted the Communion may not be able to count upon the Church of England to hold the line on issues close to the heart of the Gafcon movement. Archbishop Welby recounted his strong public opposition to the British government’s same-sex marriage bill.  “In England, we in the church disagree with same-sex marriage because we honor marriage, not out of hate, or fear or anger.”

“I spoke at great personal cost” against the bill and received opprobrium and “hatred” from those who supported changing marriage. But as the Letter to the Hebrews said we must keep “the marriage bed undefiled”, the church could not support this change, just as it could not support “adultery or pornography.”

A “church that flourishes” is a church that is “based on the Bible” he said. “We all fail,” he said, because “we all sin,” but a “Biblically-centered, practically loving” church is what God wants Anglicans to be.

Gafcon looks to the future: Church Times, October 25, 2013 October 25, 2013

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AT THE second Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), held this week in Nairobi, the General Secretary of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, the Rt Revd Dr Peter Jensen, said that the “future” of Anglicanism had “arrived” – and it was GAFCON.

The sentiment was apparently shared by most of the 1352 delegates from 40 countries, including more than 100 from the UK. Women clerics from Africa and the United States worshipped with conservative Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics (Comment, 18 October).

“We believe the apostolic faith,” Dr Jensen said in the opening session, “and we do not believe the faith of those who contradict the Bible, and who deny the uniqueness and supremacy of Christ.”

The first day of the conference was devoted to worship, and to a preparatory talk given by Dr Jensen. The second day alternated between worship and presentations by the Archbishop of Kenya, Dr Eliud Wabukala, who hosted the conference, and the Principal of Oak Hill Theological College, the Revd Dr Mike Ovey.

Shorter presentations were offered by the Vicar of St Mark’s, Battersea Rise, the Revd Paul Perkin; the Archbishop of Sudan, Dr Daniel Deng Bul; the Bishop of Jos, Nigeria, the Rt Revd Ben Kwashi; Andrea Minichiello Williams, of Christian Concern; the Bishop of Nelson, New Zealand, the Rt Revd Richard Ellena; and the vice-chancellor of Uganda Christian University, Canon John Senyonyi.

Dr Jensen characterised the Church’s problem as a failure of commitment. “We have failed to make disciples through teaching the commands of Jesus found in the Bible at depth. That is why so much of the Church in the West has simply collapsed, capitulated, and compromised before a virulent, antagonistic secularism.”

Delegates did not agree, however, on the extent of the collapse. The chairman of Reform, the Revd Rod Thomas, said that it was possible to be a conservative Evangelical cleric in the Church of England, but one should not expect the hierarchy’s preference, support, or sympathy.

Bishop Henry Scriven, the SAMS-CMS South American director, painted a less bleak picture. “Four of the five senior bishops of the C of E are Evangelicals,” he said; and the majority of the House of Bishops were “solid, orthodox men”.

Dr Wabukala said that the Churches represented at GAFCFON were “committed to the Anglican Communion”, and to the reform of its structures. GAFCON promised that it would work with the Archbishop of Canterbury in this.

The Presiding Bishop of the Southern Cone, the Most Revd Tito Zavala, said: “What we seek is a new way of support and encouragement for one another. We want to keep this humble, simple.”

The old ways of the Anglican Communion were as “dead as the British Empire”, Dr Jensen said and a commonwealth of Churches would replace it.

First printed in The Church Times

Archbishop and Gafcon Leaders size each other up: Church Times, October 21, 2013 October 21, 2013

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ARCHBISHOP Welby’s attempts at shuttle diplomacy, holding private meetings with leading members of the Communion’s liberal and conservative wings, was met with scepticism in Nairobi.

The GAFCON leaders knew that, a week earlier, the Archbishop had breakfasted in London with the former Bishop of New Hampshire, the Rt Revd Gene Robinson, the first openly partnered gay bishop.

The office of Archbishop of Canterbury could not serve as an honest broker between the factions, conservatives warned Archbishop Welby, but must stand with or against them. The issues were not political, but spiritual, one archbishop said, and thus not amenable to compromise.

Archbishop Welby’s whirlwind visit to Nairobi on Sunday provided an opportunity for him to take the measure of six Primates and half-a-dozen other key leaders, including the General Secretary of GAFCON, Dr Peter Jensen, and the retired Nigerian Archbishop, the Most Revd Peter Akinola, in a private meeting at All Saints’ Cathedral.

The conservatives also had an opportunity to size up Archbishop Welby. All of those questioned after the meetings expressed a personal regard for the man, but were sceptical that his office could provide a solution to the divisions within the Church if it sought to take a neutral stance.

“Archbishop Welby’s statement ‘The old ways are no longer appropriate, the old structures no longer work,’ given on the eve of GAFCON, give us hope,” Dr Jensen said. Nevertheless, the future envisioned by Archbishop Welby “began with GAFCON 2008″, Dr Jensen said. “It’s time for him to catch up.”

First printed in the Church Times.

The BBC and the perils of press releases: Get Religion, October 21, 2013 October 21, 2013

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The BBC and the perils of press releases

October 21, 2013 By 0 Comments (Edit)

The BBC’s internet news division stumbled badly this week in its initial report on a major meeting of Anglican church leaders in Africa. The 20 October 2013 story entitled “Archbishop of Canterbury makes Kenya detour on way to Iceland” has already had one correction and substantial alteration but the underlying premise of the story remains flawed.

It demonstrates the perils of relying on a single source in reporting the news.

The opening paragraphs of the original version, reprinted by the London Evening Post, and the revised BBC version are identical. They begin:

The Archbishop of Canterbury has made a detour of more than 8,000 miles to visit Kenya – on his way to Iceland. Archbishop Justin Welby, who arrived on Saturday night, gave sermons at All Saints Cathedral on Sunday morning. He made the “last-minute” 24-hour trip to offer condolences after the Westgate centre attack, Lambeth Palace said.He is also meeting conservative Church leaders who are in Nairobi for this week’s conference of the traditionalist Anglican lobby group, Gafcon.

The story offers background on the trip to Iceland and the al-Shabaab terror attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi. And then more details about the trip are added:

Archbishop Welby delivered sermons at 09:30 and 11:00 before having lunch with the Archbishop of Kenya and five Kenyan bishops. GAFCON2013 – the second such conference – will starts today and runs till Saturday. The original conference – held in Jerusalem in June 2008 – was organised in response to the appointment of actively gay men and women as bishops, especially in the US.

The stories then diverge. The original version stated:

Through the GAFCON movement, conservative Anglican provinces – mostly in parts of Africa but some in South and North America, Asia and the Middle East- have begun to function independently of the official Anglican Communion.

The revised version states:

 

Through the Gafcon movement, conservative Anglican provinces – mostly in parts of Africa but some in South and North America, Asia and the Middle East – have begun to function outside the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

And at the bottom of the revision we read this correction:

Correction 21 Oct 2013: This story has been amended to clarify that Gafcon remains within the Anglican Communion.

The problem here is the correction still is incorrect. As the correction notes the Gafcon movement remains within the Anglican Communion. To say they are acting “independently” is false. The churches who comprise the Gafcon movement represent the majority of all Anglicans. The correction stating they are outside the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury misunderstands the role of the office of the archbishop. He is not a pope nor are Anglicans outside the Church of England under his authority — and within the Church of England his authority is over the Province of Canterbury. The Archbishop of York holds authority in the Province of York. In short, the Archbishop of Canterbury has no more authority over Anglicans outside England than I, or you, do.

I should also note the facts presented in the story are false. For example, the BBC reports the archbishop had lunch “with the Archbishop of Kenya and five Kenyan bishops”. Yes, he did have lunch with these six people, but he also had lunch with the British High Commissioner, six other archbishops and a dozen or so Anglican worthies. I don’t know where the BBC got this information, but it certainly didn’t come from Nairobi.

And, the statement that the archbishop flew to Nairobi to offer support to the Kenyan people in the wake of the Westgate Mall bombing is false. It is not false in the sense that this is what the Lambeth Palace Press Office reported, but what Lambeth Palace said was untrue. If the BBC had bothered to contact the Gafcon conference organizers they would have learned the archbishop asked if he could meet the primates before the Westgate bombing took place.

How do I know this? I am in Nairobi reporting on the conference and I asked.

I might also add that in his sermons to the congregation of All Saints Cathedral the archbishop did not talk about al-Shabaab or terror. He spoke of Kenya’s Heroes’ Day (20 Oct) that commemorates the struggle against British colonial rule. He then focused on the Anglican Communion and the Gafcon conference. Nor did he visit the Mall or meet with ordinary Kenyans outside the cathedral.

By relying upon a single source and not verifying the information independently, the BBC propounded a false narrative. By being one sided and repeating information uncritically, the BBC let down the side.

A caveat, I may be violating one of Get Religion’s rules by reporting on a story in which I am peripherally involved. I am covering the conference for the church press and also appeared on the BBC’s Sunday programme after Archbishop Wabukala of Kenya offering my take on the latest perils of the Anglican Communion.

Ronald Reagan was right: trust but verify.

First printed in Get Religion.

Interview: BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme, October 20, 2013 October 20, 2013

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Pay Day Loans; Christenings; Chief Rabbi

Duration:
45 minutes
First broadcast:
Sunday 20 October 2013

It’s four years since the first Global Anglican Futures Conference met in Jerusalem. This grouping of traditionalist Anglicans grew out of disaffection with the direction the Anglican church was taking in the USA and UK, particularly in relation to the issue of homosexuality. The second conference is taking place next week in Nairobi, and William Crawley will be hearing about its current agenda from its chairman, Archbishop Eliud Wabukala. l

The new Chief Rabbi has come under fire from ultra orthodox Jews for his decision to attend the educational Limmud conference in December. Does this decision mark a change in relationships between the Chief Rabbinate and ultra-orthodoxy?

Hear the broadcast at this link:

A new survey on loneliness suggests that religious people may be more likely to be lonely than those without a faith. Trevor Barnes considers whether the church’s focus on the family can alienate those who live alone.

And – to baptise, give thanks or simply to party? Guardians, godparents or “oddparents”? Prince George’s parents will give him a traditional christening next week , but what do the rest of us do?

Producers: Rosie Dawson
Annabel Deas

Guests:
Archbishop Eliud Wabukala
George Conger
Justin Cohen
Geoffrey Alderman
Stephen Evans
Bishop John Holbrook
Isobel Russo
Sheikh Mohammad Yacoubi.

Archbishop Welby to attend Gafcon primates’ meeting: The Church of England Newspaper, October 11, 2013 p 1. October 16, 2013

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The Archbishop of Canterbury has accepted an invitation to attend a meeting of the primates’ council of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans of the Gafcon movement.

The Most Rev. Justin Welby will attend part of the two-day gathering of archbishops at All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi, held immediately before the 21-26 October 2013 Gafcon Conference.

The general secretary of the FCA, Dr Peter Jensen, stated Archbishop Welby’s “decision to come to the Primates meeting is a recognition of the importance of such a large and significant gathering of Anglicans from around the world and he will be made very welcome.”

The FCA movement was birthed by the 2008 Gafcon conference in Jerusalem. It has since grown into a global reform movement within the Anglican Communion that seeks to strengthen the church by affirming the fundamentals of the Christian faith.  Leaders of the movement have also called for the reform of the current structures of the communion, expressing disappointment with what they believe to be the failures of the London-based institutions.

GAFCON Chairman the Most Rev. Eliud Wabukala, Archbishop of Kenya, had invited Archbishop Welby to address the 1200 delegates from around the Anglican world. However, the archbishop stated he was unable to attend as he had two prior engagements: a meeting of the Porvoo archbishops in Iceland, and the christening of Prince George of Cambridge at the Chapel Royal at St James’ Palace on 23 Oct.

The archbishop’s decision not to attend the meeting – made public last week – had disappointed conservatives. But writing in the current issue of the Churchman, Dr. Gerald Bray observed the archbishop had been placed in a difficult political position.

He noted that “although there will be a sizable contingent from England at GAFCON II, what authority will they have and who will they represent? It is a virtual certainty that none of the English diocesan bishops will be there, which will make it very difficult for the archbishop of Canterbury to attend on his own, even if he is invited. This is ironic, because the new archbishop is far more sympathetic to GAFCON than his predecessor was, and more in tune with it than most of his episcopal colleagues are.”

Dr. Bray observed that this “of course, is a large part of his problem. Even if he wanted to, Justin Welby cannot dismiss the bench of bishops and appoint men more in tune with his own way of thinking, and everyone knows that his eventual successor is almost certain to be of a very different persuasion. Banking on Canterbury’s support is therefore not a good long-term strategy for GAFCON, even if the present incumbent of the see is essentially on its side.”

The decline of the art of Anglican lying: Anglican Ink, October 7, 2013 October 8, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Church of England, GAFCON.
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Yes Minister

I do not mean to suggest that the custom of lying has suffered any decay or interruption,–no, for the Lie, as a Virtue, a Principle, is eternal; the Lie, as a recreation, a solace, a refuge in time of need, the fourth Grace, the tenth Muse, man’s best and surest friend, is immortal, and cannot perish from the earth … My complaint simply concerns the decay of the art of lying. No high-minded man, no man of right feeling, can contemplate the lumbering and slovenly lying of the present day without grieving to see a noble art so prostituted.

Mark Twain. “On the Decay of the Art of Lying” (1882)

It pains me to see the decline of lying. Our forefathers were unsurpassed in the gentle art of polite fiction, of the little white  lie. The feeble attempts of our debased modern age are insults to a grand and glorious tradition of obfuscation. We are midgets standing on the shoulders of giants.

The dulling of the craft is most pronounced within the ranks of the Church. Monday’s announcement that the Archbishop of Canterbury will make a flying visit to Kenya in solidarity with the victims of the Westgate Mall terror attack is not only witless but unproductive – this silly explanation will not convince the liberal wing of the Church of England (it’s intended audience), will cause the conservatives to chortle and will insult the Churches of Pakistan, Sudan, Tanzania, and Nigeria.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Unforced Anglican errors from the Telegraph: Get Religion, October 7, 2013 October 7, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, GAFCON, Get Religion, Press criticism.
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The Telegraph has waded into the waters of international Anglican affairs — and I’m afraid someone should toss a life line as it is about to go under. The article on the forthcoming meeting in Nairobi of Anglican leaders entitled “Challenge to Welby as traditionalist Anglicans stage ‘fragmentation’ summit” is not up to the newspaper’s usual standard. It has the story backwards.

As TMatt, the editor here at Get Religion, tells me, I sometimes wander off topic. — In my misspent youth I served my time in the salt mines of Wall Street. My first job out of college was as a floor clerk at the Commodities Exchange for Drexel Burham Lambert. It was the 1980’s, God was in his heaven, Reagan in the White House, greed was good and all was right with the world.

One of the memories I still have of those golden days was the Time cover theory of investing. In a nutshell, when Time magazine ran a cover story on the market or the economy, a smart investor would bet the other way. Paul Montgomery, an analyst with Legg Mason Wood Walker, had compared market returns to Time magazine covers going back to the early Twentieth century and found the trend profiled by Time would last on average for about a month, but a year after the cover story hit the streets the opposite conditions would prevail.

Montgomery’s theory held true (at least when I was playing the markets). Every time in the 1980’s Time featured Fed Chairman Paul Volcker on its cover, interest rates subsequently moved contrary to the sentiment of the story. On 4 July 1988 Time ran a story entitled “The Big Dry” that predicted higher bean prices as a result of a drought in the Midwest.  Bean prices had been rising sharply through May and June, but the rally died the week the magazine hit the newsstands. (The second story about the super future of Japan in that issue is just as off base.) But I digress.

These memories of a distant past led me to wonder if we are seeing the start of a trend in Anglican affairs. Bet against the predictions made by the daily newspapers and you are likely to come out the winner.

I should also add a disclaimer. I have written for the Telegraph as a freelancer, providing stories from overseas Anglican jamborees in years past. That having been said; the article is quite extraordinary. Below the headline and above the photo comes this statement:

The Archbishop of Canterbury is facing what could be the biggest challenge to his leadership so far as a more than 1,000 traditionalist clerics stage a summit expected to formalise the “fragmentation” of the of the worldwide Anglican church.

The story does not state its source for this claim. This may be due to this assertion not being true. The conference scheduled for 21-26 Oct 2013 at All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi is the second Global Anglican Futures Conference (GAFCON). The claim that this will be Archbishop Welby’s “biggest challenge” and may “formalise the ‘fragmentation'” of the Anglican Communion is ludicrous.

Let me put it another way — it is simply untrue. The article admits as much when it goes on to say the Anglican Communion has been fragmented for over five years.

I have been reporting on the preparations for this conference for over a year and if what the Telegraph says is true then half a dozen archbishops have been lying to me, or they are being misled by their staffers.The article starts of in high snark mode.

More than 1,000 bishops, archbishops and senior clergy, claiming to represent around 40 million Anglicans, are due to gather in Kenya later this month to discuss what they see as a liberal drift within the Church of England and other western branches of the church.

“Claiming”? The clergy and lay leaders representing churches that comprise over two-thirds of Anglicans will be present at the meeting. How is that a claim? “What they see as a liberal drift”? Way to telegraph your sentiments. These hot headed Africans and their knuckle-dragging troglodyte American allies see reds under the bed. The next line offers more assertions.

It comes five years after more than 200 bishops boycotted the once-in-a-decade Lambeth Conference, openly defying the then Archbishop Dr Rowan Williams over what they saw as his liberal stance on homosexuality. They staged a rival gathering in Jerusalem – the so-called Global Anglican Future Conference (Gafcon) – forming what has been widely characterised as a “church within a church”.

Now, the group is staging a second gathering, this time in Nairobi, where leaders from Africa, the Americas, Asia and Australasia hope to establish new, more permanent organisational structures, rejecting the existing Anglican Communion arrangements as a “colonial” relic.

The event is timed to mark 10 years since the consecration of the first openly gay bishop in the Anglican Communion, the Rt Rev Gene Robinson of New Hampshire in the US – the catalyst for the crisis which has divided the 77 million-strong Anglican Communion ever since.

Where to begin. Yes “more than 200 bishops” did not show up at Lambeth 2008. The exact number was 214 but there was no official statement from the Conference or the Archbishop of Canterbury’s office. How do we know this? I counted.

In 2008 the conference press officers declined to tell me how many bishops had skipped the meeting. With a straight face they said they were prevented by the “Data Protection Act” from saying who was at the meeting and who was not. (A creative way to avoid admitting to a fiasco.) So I counted heads and reported:

Of those identified as absent by CEN, 214 bishops from 10 provinces made an affirmative decision not to accept Dr. Williams’ invitation due to reasons of conscience: Australia 7; Southern Cone 1; Episcopal Church 1; Church of England 3; Uganda 30; Nigeria 137; Kenya 25; Rwanda 8; South East Asia 1; and Jerusalem and the Middle East 1. From Africa’s 324 dioceses, 200 diocesan bishops (61 percent) were identified as having refused Dr. Williams’ invitation.

The organizers of the 2008 conference were at great pains to stress theirs was not a rival to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s shindig — and many of the bishops present at the Gafcon conference went on to Canterbury.

And, the timing of the current meeting has nothing to do with the anniversary of Gene Robinson’s consecration — the conference organizers have been trying to put a conference together for some time and at the midpoint between the 2008 and the forthcoming 2018 Lambeth Conference finally have the money in hand to meet.

And, no, Gafcon II is not going to set up a parallel church. It has no authority or ability to do so. Some within the conservative movement may wish to see the existing structures reformed or removed, but no one is seriously suggesting what the Telegraph has implied. For one, the African-led churches do not have the money.

The article states the conference will draw up an “action plan” on marriage and sexuality, “which will be an uncompromising reassertion of a traditionalist interpretation of the Bible.” And then the Telegraph goes on to speculate:

That is likely to set them on a collision course with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, who has openly signalled that he is reassessing his own views on the subject.

Although Archbishop Welby comes from the born-again evangelical wing of the Church and voted against David Cameron’s Same-Sex Marriage Bill, he has recently spoken about wanting to get his “mind clear” on the issue.

He told a meeting in August that the Church needed to face up to the fact that most young people, including Christians, thought that its stance on gay marriage was “wicked”.

The problem with this assertion is that the archbishop has subsequently clarified his remarks, and is not climbing down or backing away from his traditional views. His signal flags are now flying the other way.

The story then notes:

Although Archbishop Welby was invited, he has signalled that he will not be attending because of a prior commitment meeting European church leaders.

Again we have a problem. The archbishop will be in Iceland for a meeting of Northern European Anglican and Lutheran archbishops on the first day of the conference, but he has a second conflict as well on the Wednesday — the little matter of the baptism of Prince George of Cambridge at the Chapel Royal at St James Palace. Christening the future King of England is an excuse to miss just about any engagement. He will, however, be addressing the gathering via video and will attend a private meeting with the archbishops organizing the meeting the day before the conference kick off.

The bottom line with this story is that it is repackaged conventional wisdom. There is no reporting here, only opinions. And dodgy ones at that.

And yes, wish me safe travels as I head on down to Nairobi for the fun.

First printed in Get Religion.

Justin Welby not going to Gafcon II: Anglican Ink, October 1, 2013 October 2, 2013

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The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will not be attending the GAFCON II Conference in Nairobi this month, a spokesman tells Anglican Ink, due to a schedule conflict.

A spokesman from the Lambeth Press Office said the Archbishop had been invited to address the 21-26 October 2013 meeting of centrist and conservative Anglican leaders set for All Saints’ Cathedral in Nairobi. However, he “is unable to attend because of a long-standing commitment on the same date. He will be sending a pre-recorded video greeting,” the spokesman said.

On 23 Oct, the Archbishop will baptize Prince George of Cambridge at the Chapel Royal at St James’ Palace in London.

Read it all at Anglican Ink.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 82: September 28, 2013 September 29, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Kenya, Anglican Church of North America, Anglican.TV, Church of England, Church of Pakistan, GAFCON, Property Litigation, The Episcopal Church.
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Gafcon II is a go: Anglican Ink, September 27, 2013 September 26, 2013

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Archbishop Eliud Wabukala of Kenya

Last week’s terror attack on the Westgate Mall will not derail the Gafcon II conference set for 21-26 October 2013 at All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi, the secretary of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans tells Anglican.TV.

In an interview recorded on 26 September 2013 with Anglican.TV’s Kevin Kallsen, Dr. Peter Jensen stated that he and Bishop Martyn Minns had flown to Kenya to meet with local conference organizers to discuss security arrangements. Dr. Jensen said he was satisfied with the precautions taken by conference organizers to forestall disruptions of the proceedings and noted the Kenyan government had matters well in hand.

The archbishop’s flying visit coincided with a special meeting of the Anglican Church of Kenya’s synod on 25-26 Sept 2013 at All Saints’ Cathedral to discuss the attack on the Westgate Mall by terrorists linked to the Somali Islamist group al-Shabaab and the Gafcon meeting.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 76, July 16, 2013 July 16, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, Church of England, GAFCON, The Episcopal Church.
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This Week’s Anglican Unscripted talks about itself? Well, it is the second anniversary of AU and George and Kevin are still bewildered by the shows success. Your Hosts also talk about the Summer of Egypt and the plight of Christian Brothers and Sisters in the Middle East. There has also been a shakeup at Lambeth Palace (per Kevin and George’s request? ) and this week’s AU talks about PR and bad PR.

Allan Haley discusses the Legal wranglings of the Opera and Peter talks about the problem with Sex, Decisions, and Timing in the Church of England.

Kevin and George close out the program talking about the Trayvon Martin and the George Zimmerman court decision. And, your hosts are still fundraising for a trip to GAFCON! Tweet: #AU76 Comments to AnglicanUnscripted@gmail.com

00:00 AU 2nd Anniversary
10:49 Egypt’s Sizzling Summer
16:37 Lambeth Press Relations
21:08 A Night at the Opera
29:00 Same Sex Sex
41:26 Gafcon in the News
48:29 Trayvon
52:15 George Health Update / Gafcon News

African rebuke for Justin Welby: The Church of England Newspaper, July 14, 2013 p 6. July 13, 2013

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The Archbishop of Canterbury has let down the wider Anglican Communion through his half-hearted defense of marriage in the House of Lords debates on the government’s same-sex marriage bill, the leader of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA), the Most Rev. Eliud Wabukala Archbishop of Kenya, said last week.

Justin Welby’s perceived lack of confidence in the Bible and his failure so far to exercise leadership on the international Anglican scene prompted the public rebuke — the first formal statement by the leader of the global South coalition of churches.

In a letter released last week to supporters of the FCA, a global Anglican renewal movement, Archbishop Wabukala said Archbishop Welby and the Archbishop of York, the Most Rev. John Sentamu, appeared to have compromised the Christian faith in an attempt to curry favor with secular Britain and with the liberal Anglican Churches of North America.

“We are painfully aware that the Episcopal Church of the United States and the Anglican Church of Canada continue to promote a false gospel and yet both are still received as in good standing by the Archbishop of Canterbury,” Dr. Wabukala wrote.

“Furthermore, the Church of England itself, the historic mother church of the Communion, seems to be advancing along the same path. While defending marriage, both the Archbishops of York and Canterbury appeared at the same time to approve of same-sex Civil Partnerships during parliamentary debates on the UK’s ‘gay marriage’ legislation, in contradiction to the historic biblical teaching on human sexuality reaffirmed by the 1998 Lambeth Conference,” he said.

The Church of England and the North American churches have been in decline, with some branches of “the Church of Christ … being claimed by the world through compromise and false teaching.”

At the same time the evangelical Anglican churches in the developing world had seen explosive growth with millions converted to the Christian faith, even when “tested by violent persecution” from without and challenged internally by “nominalism and tribalism, he noted.

In 1970 the number of Anglicans in Africa stood at 7.7 million. African Anglican Church membership grew through conversions from Islam and indigenous faiths to 50.8 million in 2010 and is expected to reach 65 million by 2020, a report published last month by Gordon-Conwell Seminary in the U.S. predicted.

“In these circumstances, attempts to achieve unity” among Anglicans across the globe “based merely on common humanitarianism and dialogue, without repentance,” was doomed to fail as it sacrifice “the transforming power of the gospel.”

The “seeds of the East African revival transformed a cold were planted through years of faithful bible teaching and were brought to life by the Spirit of God, with deep conviction of sin and the irrepressible joy of sins forgiven,” the archbishop said.

“This is the core of the transforming power of the gospel and in this we delight.”

GAFCON II set for Nairobi: The Church of England Newspaper, May 12, 2013 p 7 May 14, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, GAFCON.
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The Second Global Anglican Future Conference will be held in Nairobi, Kenya, 21-26 October 2013, the General Secretary of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, Dr. Peter Jensen the Archbishop of Sydney announced last week.

“God is establishing new churches creating new believers and transforming lives. Our hope for the future is in him. Our aim is to move forward confidently, to plan and experience in fellowship a future for Anglicans in which his Word is honoured and our witness is clear,” Dr. Jensen said

“We are looking forward with great expectation to seeing God at work as we meet in Nairobi. The focus will be on our shared Anglican future, as we engage with the missionary theme, ‘Making Disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ’,” he added.

Lay, clergy and episcopal delegates will be invited to attend the gathering at All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi to “proclaim and defend the apostolic gospel within and beyond the Anglican Communion and to recognise and share fellowship with orthodox Anglicans globally, especially those who have been disaffiliated by false teaching and behaviour.”

The conference organizers said the Christian world faces the “triple challenge of sceptical secularism, militant religion and compromised Christianity. GAFCON 2013 has been summoned so that GFCA can help both plan for and experience the future of the Communion of which we, with many others, are part.”

Anglican Unscripted Episode 70 April 28, 2013 April 28, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, Church of the Province of the West Indies, GAFCON, Property Litigation, South Carolina, Virginia.
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In Episode 70, your hosts talk about their experiences from the New Wineskins Global Conference held in Ridgecrest, NC. Kevin and George also discuss (in depth) the Boston Bombing and the new hobby terrorist. In our legal segment Allan Haley tries to redeem his years of Unscripted Legal Commentary by demanding that judges follow the D**n law. Oh… and much more including Gafcon news. #AU70 AnglicanUnscripted@gmail.com

African boycott expected at this week’s Primates Meeting: The Church of England Newspaper, March 24, 2013 p 7. March 26, 2013

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Leaders of the Global South coalition of Anglican archbishops will not attend a special primates meeting to be held after the 21 March 2013 installation of Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury.

While African and Asian church leaders will attend the services at Canterbury Cathedral, they will not attend a private meeting scheduled to take place after the ceremony.

“Nothing has changed since Dublin,” one leader told The Church of England Newspaper.

Only 23 of the Communion’s 38 provinces were represented at the 24–30 January 2011 “rump” primates meeting in Dublin. In a 21 January 2011 statement published on the Global South Anglican website, a spokesman said the decision to stay home was “not a sudden or knee-jerk reaction.”

In the course of several conversations and in a group meeting at the All Africa Bishops Conference in 2010, the Global South Primates “indicated that it would be extremely difficult – and in fact, quite pointless – for them to be present at the planned Primates’ Meeting 2011.”

They told Dr. Rowan Williams unless the American Church was prepared to honour its past undertakings and the decisions of the Lambeth Conference and Primates’ Meetings, they believed it was a waste of time and resources to attend. In 2011 the Primates also voiced frustration with the lack of communications coming from London.

“What is most disturbing and difficult is that given the intractable miry situation the Communion is already in and being further driven into, there was hardly any timely and intentional prior consultation and collegial engagement of all concerned, or at least as many as reasonably possible, in preparing for the Meeting to ensure certain degree of significant and principally legitimate outcome to hold and move the Communion together.

“As it stands, the Meeting is almost pre-determined to end up as just another gathering that again cannot bring about effective ecclesial actions, despite the precious time, energy and monetary resources that Primates and Provinces have invested in attending the Meeting,” the GS Primates concluded.

“With the disappointing lack of serious transparent planning and leadership beforehand to prepare the Primates for a genuine meeting of minds and hearts to face the very real and obvious issues before us, it will be strenuous to expect any significant, meaningful, credible and constructive outcome of the Dublin Meeting,” they argued.

The presence of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori the Episcopal Church of the USA at this week’s meeting was one of a number of reasons the Global South primates decided not to attend the special meeting, CEN was told. Nor has the situation that helped by the December decision by the Church of England plans to allow gay clergy in civil partnerships to become bishops.

Until the structures are reformed the communion remains broken, one leader said.

Additional Complaints Filed in Tanzania: Anglican Ink, March 7, 2013 March 7, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of North America, Anglican Church of Tanzania, Anglican Ink, Corruption, GAFCON, The Episcopal Church.
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Three complaints have been lodged with the Anglican Church of Tanzania (ACT) by members of the church’s general synod alleging misconduct and fraud in the conduct of last month’s election of an archbishop.

On 3 March 2013 Dr Dickson Chilongani, Provincial Secretary of the ACT, released a statement announcing the election of the Rt. Rev. Jacob Erasto Chimeledya “as the new Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Tanzania.”

However supporters of the sitting archbishop, Valentino Mokiwa of Dar es Salaam, cried foul. A 27 Feb 2013 complaint seen by AI has alleged eight constitutional irregularities in the voting, including the casting of four more ballots than electors present. The claim put forward by Dr. Chilongani was ingenuous, they added, stating that while the House of Bishops may have endorsed the election, the Lay and Clergy Houses of Synod had not.

Read it all in Anglican Ink

Gafcon II set for Nairobi: Anglican Ink, January 8, 2013 January 8, 2013

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The second Global Anglican Futures Conference – Gafcon II – will be held in Nairobi this October, the chairman of the primates’ council of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, reports.

In his New Year’s Day message to the Anglican Church of Kenya, Dr. Wabukala stated that he was “very happy” to report that “in October this year, we are expecting the second Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON II) to be held here in Nairobi and we look forward to welcoming Anglican leaders from around the globe. I believe this will be a strategic moment in the reshaping of the Anglican Communion to fulfill our vision for global mission and a time when we will experience a foretaste of that glorious gathering of the people of God which Isaiah prophesied.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

GAFCON II set for Athens: The Church of England Newspaper, November 11, 2012 p 6. November 13, 2012

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The second Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) has been set for October 2013 in Athens, a spokesman for the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA) in Sydney tells The Church of England Newspaper.

The church renewal movement spokesman said they were “aiming” for October in Athens, but plans for a second gathering had not yet been finalized.

At their meeting in Dar es Salaam last month, the FCA primates council discussed holding the meeting in Jerusalem, but bowed to pressure from Arab Anglicans not to seek a different site.  One of the participants at the meeting told CEN that undertaking a pilgrimage to Jerusalem held special importance in African Anglican church life.  Given the heightened tensions around the Temple Mount between Muslims and Jews, and the deteriorating political situation, it would be inadvisable to hold a large gathering in Jerusalem at this time, they were told.

The suggestion of holding the meeting in Nicosia was discussed, but the archbishops settled on Athens instead.  One person present at the discussion said the criteria used by the primates in selecting the site that it be related to a place in the Bible, that Anglicans from the developing world be able to obtain visas to attend the meeting, and that the costs not be prohibitive.

 

Anglican Unscripted Episode 55, November 3, 2012 November 3, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Ordinariate, Anglican.TV, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, GAFCON, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Marriage, Property Litigation, Virginia.
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Anglican Unscripted Hosts Kevin and George talk about Gafcon II and the need for a global Anglican Congress to protect the Communion. You will also learn about Rome’s desire to bring Protestants into the ever expanding Ordinariate. AU also asks you to pray for the victims of Hurricane Sandy and we bring you perspective from skyscraper based storm landfall.

Canon Ashey talks about the dummying down of Scripture and other news from ACC-15. Peter has the latest rumors about the Crown Nomination Committee and Allan Haley discusses the second state to refute the validity of the Dennis Canon. Comments to AnglicanUnscipted@gmail.com #AU54 Please Donate to http://www.anglican.tv/donate

Global Anglican Future Conference planned for 2013 in Athens: Anglican Ink, November 2, 2012 November 3, 2012

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The second Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) may be held in October 2013 in Athens, sources in the primates council of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA) tell Anglican Ink.

A spokesman for the FCA  Secretariat in Sydney confirmed the global Anglican renewal movement was “aiming” for next October in Athens, but plans for a second gathering had not yet been finalized.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Has Time printed the worst Anglican article ever?: Get Religion, May 18, 2012. May 18, 2012

Posted by geoconger in GAFCON, Get Religion, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, New Hampshire.
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How Will Anglicans React if New Hampshire Episcopalians Elect Another Gay Bishop?” Time Magazine asks in a 17 May 2012 article printed on its website.

To which this Anglican responds, “Why don’t you ask them?”

Question headlines are often a flag of trouble ahead for an article — a signal that the article will be weak. The question is usually a rhetorical one — the answer is given by the editorial voice of the article. Or it is some sort of “come on” — an exaggerated statement to attract the reader’s attention.

No, this is not the worst Anglican article ever printed. There have been silly Anglican articles, wrong Anglican articles, dumb Anglican articles, partisan/hack job Anglican articles, and egregiously cruel and ignorant Anglican news articles printed over the past few decades, so it is false and unkind of me to say this is the worst Anglican article ever. Nor can the author be blamed for the silly headline, as reporters seldom write their own headlines.

But this article on the forthcoming episcopal election in the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire is a wreck. While the editorial voice of this ill-informed story supports the progressive agenda in the Episcopal Church, it does so by treating the actors in this drama as one dimensional creatures — cartoons who represent issues rather than people whose lives are not exclusively driven by issues in human sexuality.

The lede of this story begins:

In the summer of 1992, an Episcopalian priest in Baltimore officiated at the wedding of two female congregants. Though he had been “careful to obtain all the necessary permissions,” it wasn’t long before the Rev. William Rich found himself on the front page of the Baltimore Sun and at the center of a religious controversy. Rich was criticized by many in the community and church for performing a gay wedding ceremony, but he’s never regretted the move. …

First problem — the claim that Fr. Rich performed a wedding for two women is false. The 1992

Baltimore Sun article reported that a blessing ceremony took place — but also stated this ceremony was not a marriage and should not be construed as being a marriage.

Father Rich, who is a chaplain at Goucher College, says the ceremony he devised at the request of the women involved was not a wedding but “the blessing of two people committed to each other.”

The Bishop of Maryland told the Sun:

Bishop Eastman said he was assured by the priest “that the liturgy in question was not in any sense intended to be a marriage as Christians understand that sacrament.”

“It was meant to be a private event addressing personal, pastoral needs,” the bishop added. “Neither the two women involved nor Father Rich desired to advance a cause or make a public statement of any kind.”

There is a difference between marriage in a church and the blessing of two people in a same-gender relationship. It is a gross error to conflate the two.

The article then transitions into the story that Fr. Rich is one of three candidates standing for election as Bishop of New Hampshire. It reports that he is an “openly gay man” and and notes that delegates to the diocesan electoral convention:

… will cast their vote by secret ballot to choose a replacement for the current bishop, the retiring Gene Robinson, who is also gay. If a second gay man is elected to the post, the selection will likely reverberate through the staunchly conservative arms of the Anglican Communion, a global network of churches to which the Episcopalians belong. It could also widen a fissure in the network that’s been forming for quite some time.

Second problem — the analysis offered here is just plain dumb. Gay and lesbian clergy have stood for election in several dioceses of the Episcopal Church since Gene Robinson was elected in 2003, and one was elected suffragan or assistant bishop in the Diocese of Los Angeles in 2009. The news that a gay clergyman is standing for election as bishop of New Hampshire is hardly shocking to anyone who has any knowledge of the Episcopal Church or the wider Anglican Communion.

The assertion that the election of Fr. Rich would widen a “fissure in the network” is an equally silly statement. The Anglican Communion is not a network of churches but a communion of churches — this is a theological term. The Lutheran World Federation is a network of churches. The Roman Catholic Church is a single church — it would say it is the church. Anglicans like the Orthodox are in between. They see themselves as part of a single catholic church whose members reside in autonomous national churches — one of the battles being waged within the Anglican world is on the nature of this autonomy. Is it absolute or conditional?

To call Anglicans a network of churches implies Time has decided that it backs one side in the dispute — or is an indication of ignorance.

I suspect it is ignorance on Times’ part, as the impending fissure has already happened. Approximately 22 of the 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion are in some form of impaired communion with the Episcopal Church. This rupture has taken many forms, but the break has already occurred.

(Last October the Episcopal Church’s national office released talking points disputing the figure of 22 of 38 cited by GetReligion’s Mollie Ziegler Hemingway in an article she wrote for the Wall Street Journal. However, a little checking showed the Episcopal Church’s claim to be false.)

The current state of play is of a broken communion. One where some bishops will not attend meetings if other bishops, whom they regard as apostate, are present. A communion where its leaders can no longer worship together as they cannot all receive the Eucharist, Holy Communion, in the same service. As the former primate, (the archbishop or presiding bishop of a province) of the Province of the Southern Cone (the southern half of South America) told me in 2009, the traditionalists do not believe the leaders of the Episcopal Church are “Christians as we understand it.”

The article attempts to place what it thinks might be the impending split in historical context, stating the:

… crack in the Anglican community began to appear about nine years ago when Robinson became the first openly gay (and not celibate) man to be ordained as bishop.

Problem three — The crack has been around for almost 40 years and has been steadily widening. The consecration of Gene Robinson was a significant event, but hardly the first event in the splintering of the Anglican Communion. GetReligion’s tmatt has written extensively on this point and I need not restate the accurate Anglican timeline here.

The language used by this article is biased and ill-informed and full of questionable assumptions and conclusions. The story of Gene Robinson wearing a bullet-proof vest to his consecration is shared. And yes, it is true he wore such a vest. Yet the article does not go further in developing this point and the claims repeated over the years of physical danger. The only clergyman whose murder so far can be laid at the feet of the Anglican wars is Canon Rodney Hunter of Malawi. Popping in the death threat business without context speaks to the lack of knowledge of the subject under review.

Ignorance continues to drive this story to its end. It notes:

It doesn’t look like the issue is dying down, either. Last month, an ultra-conservative Anglican offshoot group, the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, held a conference in London to address the gay bishop question.

Problem four — The FCA conference was not held to address the gay bishop question. The FCA seeks to reform and renew the Anglican Communion from within and by doing so, win souls for Christ. It is also laughable to call the FCA an “ultra-conservative Anglican offshoot group” as it leaders represents the majority of members of the Anglican Communion. One might was well say the Diocese of New Hampshire is an “ultra-liberal Anglican offshoot group”.

The article continues with silly statements and assertions about the structure of the Anglican Communion, why Archbishop Rowan Williams announced his retirement, but returns to New Hampshire for its close.

When asked about the potential for controversy if the diocese were to elect another gay bishop, Reverend Adrian Robbins-Cole, the president of the Standing Committee, insisted that the committee only felt excitement about Rich, as well as the other two candidates, Rev. Penelope Maud Bridges, and Rev. A. Robert Hirschfeld. “What we really focus on is trying to be guided by God to elect the bishop who we need in New Hampshire and whom we think is going to thrive and grow,” Robbins-Cole says. “That’s our real focus.”

A grammar point here. It should be “the Rev.”, never  “Rev.”

I do feel sorry for Fr. Rich, Time is touting his candidacy in such a vulgar way that it might well trigger a backlash among New Hampshire voters. It also does a disservice to Fr. Rich’s candidacy as it turns him into a one dimensional figure whose only merit is that he is gay. Being classified as a novelty candidate, or a one issue priest, treats him as a token and implies the Diocese of New Hampshire sees only that aspect of his  life and work.

What then can one say about this wreck? It is factually incorrect, ill-informed about the issue, dismissive and disparaging of one side, and condescending towards the other. It asks a question of Anglican conservatives, but goes for answer to a white Australian conservative — when the majority of voices arrayed against the liberal wing of the church are African, Asian and Indian.

This may  not be the worst Anglican article ever written, but it comes close.

First printed in GetReligion.

Doctrinal fisure opens over African aid: The Church of England Newspaper, March 30, 2012 p 7. April 3, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Kenya, CAPA, Church of England Newspaper, GAFCON.
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Eliud Wabukala

The Archbishop of Kenya has criticized idolatry of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) saying faith in Christ, not works performed in his name, is the path of salvation.

The 22 February 2012 letter written by Archbishop Eliud Wabukala on behalf of the Gafcon primates chastised Christians who in the pursuit of social and economic change, lost sight of the centrality of the cross and the primacy of repentance and amendment of life.  “While it is obvious that such good things as feeding the hungry, fighting disease, improving education and national prosperity are to be desired by all, by themselves any human dream can become a substitute gospel which renders repentance and the cross of Christ irrelevant,” he said.

While the archbishop’s letter stands in contrast to recent Western church endorsements of the MDGs – a series of 8 initiatives adopted by the U.N. member states that seek to address education, healthcare, and poverty issues – the African church, not America is the focus of concern The Church of England Newspaper has learned.

An Anglican African theological divide has arisen whose point of conflict is the agenda of the Western-financed staff of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA) and the archbishops of the Gafcon movement.  At issue are disputes over ecclesiology — understanding of the purpose of the church — and the doctrine of justification, sources tell CEN.

In a summary of the international scene given to the Church of Uganda’s standing committee last month, Archbishop Henry Orombi warned the diverging viewpoints on human sexuality coupled with a different ordering of priorities was leading to a “massive clash of worldviews” amongst Anglicans, “and if we as leaders are not aware of what’s going on at this international level, then our sheep may be eaten by wolves in sheep’s clothing.”

In his Lenten letter, Archbishop Wabukala wrote in Kenya the church seeks to “equip God’s people to transform society with the gospel.”  Such a transformation is far “more lasting” than the work of governments or NGOs because the Gospel “addresses our deepest need, that of a restored relationship with the God.”

When believers stop placing their full trust in God, they become “vulnerable to taking short cuts that lead us away from the truth of the gospel. Some church leaders seem to think that the transformation of society will simply come through commitment” to the MDGs.

“While it is obvious that such good things as feeding the hungry, fighting disease, improving education and national prosperity are to be desired by all, by themselves any human dream can become a substitute gospel which renders repentance and the cross of Christ irrelevant,” Archbishop Wabukla said.

Archbishop Wabukala also questioned the philosophical rationale for the Western aid industry.  The MDGs “have grown out of a secularised Western culture which is pushing Christianity to the margins and uses the language of human rights and equality to promote irresponsibility in social life and diminish personal responsibility.”

At its 11th council meeting held 4 – 8 Feb 2012 in Bujumbura, Burundi the CAPA staff presented a strategic plan for the future of the African church. “Embodied in this strategy document are CAPA’s intentions, dreams and aspirations with regard to improving the quality of life of the people and all creation on the African continent (John 10.10),” the document stated.

However, critics from the Church of Uganda told CEN Jesus’ words “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full” were now being construed to mean “quality of life” rather than “eternal life.”

The new agenda for CAPA is based in part on a paper prepared by a Belgian scholar, Marguerite Peeters entitled “The new global ethic: challenges for the Church” that gives a theological justification for the globalist world view adopted by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the coalition government of Prime Minister David Cameron.

Critics of the “new global ethic” paper note the words “sin, repent, repentance, cross” were absent from the paper.  By taking on board the new globalist mindset “CAPA unfortunately has retreated from the distinctiveness of its Biblical heritage and a Biblical worldview,” East African Anglicans tell CEN and has “chosen the path of the ‘new global ethic’ to reach the noble destination of addressing poverty and oppression.”

The transformation of the world will not come from governments or aid agencies, he said, but from the “good news of the gospel” that transforms “ordinary men,” Archbishop Wabukala said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Church leaders defend China’s record on religious rights: The Church of England Newspaper, May 27, 2011 p 8. May 28, 2011

Posted by geoconger in China, Church of England Newspaper, GAFCON, Persecution.
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Wang Zuo'an, Director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs in China

The China Christian Council has challenged the conclusions of a US government report that found the Communist regime in Peking engaged in “ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom” against its citizens.

These “irresponsible remarks” were “strongly subjective, full of prejudices and not true to reality” said the leaders of the country’s state sponsored Protestant Church—the China Christian Council/Three-Self Patriotic Movement (CCC/TSPM)—in a statement joined by representatives of the other state sponsored religious groups: Buddhists, Taoists, Muslims and Catholics.

The US critique of the lack of religious freedom comes at a fluid moment in China.  While émigré groups report heightened government pressure on congregations and arrests of religious leaders, the CCC/TSPM has also been strengthening ties with Christian groups in countries that are of growing international interest to the Chinese state.

On May 13, the government minister for the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA), Mr. Wang Zuo’an, met in Nairobi with the leader of the Gafcon movement, Archbishop Eliud Wabukala.  According to a statement released by the Anglican Church of Kenya, the Chinese delegation met with the Gafcon leader to learn about the relationship between church and state in Kenya and to forge links with the Global South coalition in the Anglican Communion.

In its April 28 report, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) attacked China, saying it found violations of religious freedom in the country.

“Unregistered religious groups or those deemed by the Chinese government to threaten national security or social harmony continue to face severe restrictions,” the USCIRF report stated.

“Religious freedom conditions for Tibetan Buddhists and Uighur Muslims remain particularly acute,” while “over five hundred unregistered Protestants” have been jailed in the past year, and there have been “stepped up efforts to destroy churches and close illegal meeting points.”

“Falun Gong adherents continue to be targeted by extralegal security forces and tortured and mistreated in detention. The Chinese government also continues to harass, detain, intimidate, disbar, and forcibly disappear attorneys who defend the Falun Gong, Tibetans, Uighurs, and unregistered Protestants,” the report found.

However, the state church leaders said “what has been described about China in the report is entirely different from what we have observed and experienced.”

“China is a country under the rule of law and its citizens fully enjoy the freedom of religious beliefs. The development of various religions in China is now better than ever,” the CCC said, adding that “religious people in China have not been suppressed nor been restricted from normal religious activities.”

While it was true the government had taken action in some cases, there were “evil cults that are against society and humanity are a desecration to religion. Separatist activities under the disguise of religions have nothing to do with religious freedom,” it said.

“The Chinese government has dealt with evil cults and cracked down on separatist forces according to law, and such actions are in line with the aspiration of the Chinese religious community,” the state church leaders said, justifying the government’s crackdown.

However, the CCC and other state religious groups said they would be “willing to conduct further exchanges on issues of common concern with people from the religious community in the United States on the basis of equality, friendship and mutual respect.”

In his trip to Nairobi, Mr. Wang told reporters that while “Christianity was treated as a foreign religion” in the past, now “we treat it as ours.”

Gafcon throws down gauntlet to Dr. Williams: The Church of England Newspaper, May 11, 2011 May 11, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ordinariate, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England Newspaper, GAFCON.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The formation of the Anglican Ordinariate was a natural consequence of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s mismanagement of the crisis facing the Anglican Communion, the leaders of the Gafcon movement said in a statement released on May 10.

In a strongly worded communiqué summarizing the work of their April 25-28 meeting in Nairobi, the archbishops of the Gafcon movement, representing a majority of the church’s members, voiced their displeasure with the usurpation of authority by Dr. Williams and the staff of the Anglican Consultative Council and laid upon their door responsibility for the de facto schism within the communion.

While the 13-point communiqué touched on administrative issues for the Anglican reform movement, including the creation of a Nairobi and London offices, the appointment of Bishop Martyn Minns as Deputy Secretary, and the calling of a second Jerusalem conference in 2013, the heart of the letter came in a sustained attack on the actions taken by London-based instruments of the Anglican Communion.

While Pope Benedict XVI’s offer of an Anglican Ordinariate was “a gracious gift” to those Anglican clergy and congregations “alienated by recent actions in the Communion,” it should not have been necessary, the archbishops said.

“Our own Communion has failed to make adequate provision for those who hold to a traditional view of the faith. We remain convinced that from within the Provinces that we represent there are creative ways by which we can support those who have been alienated so that they can remain within the Anglican family,” they said.

The tone of the Nairobi statement from the Gafcon archbishops: Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania, West Africa, the Southern Cone, Rwanda, Sydney and Archbishop Robert Duncan of the ACNA, speaks to the mounting frustration the reform movement’s leaders feel with the course of events taken by the London-based instruments of the communion, one insider told The Church of England Newspaper.

Given the African church’s historic deference to the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and their cultural predisposition not to air their differences in public, the Nairobi letter was a remarkably frank document, CEN was told.

In their communiqué, the archbishops objected to the hijacking of the church’s agenda by Western interests in the face of natural disasters and political upheavals facing the world.  They urged all Christians to join them in “prayer for our world and especially for those who are suffering because of natural disasters as well as those who struggle to live under violent and oppressive governments.”

“We are distressed that, in the face of these enormous challenges, we are still divided as a Communion,” they said, adding that until the issues that divide the church are addressed full on “we will remain weakened at a time when the needs before us are so great.”

The bishops were frustrated and “disappointed that those who organized the Primates meeting in Dublin not only failed to address these core concerns but decided instead to unilaterally reduce the status of the Primates’ Meeting.”

Such a move was taken in “complete disregard” of the organizing resolutions for the primates conference set down by Lambeth 1978 and 1988 that gave the primates an  “enhanced role in ‘doctrinal, moral and pastoral matters’.”

Those who wrote the script for Dublin that gelded the primates “were seriously misled and their actions unacceptable,” the Gafcon archbishops said.

The modernist “promotion of a shadow gospel that appears to replace a traditional reading of Holy Scriptures and a robust theology of the church with an uncertain faith and a never ending listening process” was “troubling,” they said.

Such a “faith masquerades as a religion of tolerance and generosity and yet it is decidedly intolerant to those who hold to the ‘faith once and for all delivered to the saints’.”

The ecclesiological principle of concentrating authority into the hands of the Archbishop of Canterbury and an unaccountable bureaucracy were un-Anglican.  The basic unit of the church in Anglicanism was not a London-based curia, but the local church.  “We were mindful of the importance of letting scripture speak directly to the nature of the church and not simply let our current experience delimit our doctrine,” they said.

The Scriptural witness and the Anglican formularies held that the “local church is the fundamental expression of the one true church here on earth and is bound together with other local churches by ties of love, fellowship and truth.”

“From such networks have come denominations, national churches and global communions,” they said, adding that “we believe, however, that we are fully the church in our various settings, created and sustained by Word and Sacrament, and marked by obedience that results in faith, hope and love.”

The archbishops urged a return to the Scriptural and doctrinal principles enunciated in the 2008 Jerusalem Statement, and called for the renewal and reform of the church.  “The Lord’s call to discipline demands from us a commitment to unity, holiness, apostolicity and catholicity. All of these are aspects of what it means to be church,” they said.

Gafcon elects Archbishop of Kenya as its new chairman: The Church of England Newspaper, May 6, 2011 p 6. May 9, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, GAFCON.
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Archbishop Eliud Wabukala of Kenya

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Archbishop of Kenya, Dr Eliud Wabukala, has been elected chairman of the Gafcon primates’ council at a meeting of archbishops in Nairobi.

In a statement released on 28 April, the new leader of the global Anglican reform movement said he was honoured by the trust given him by his colleagues. “I recognise that we have set ourselves a truly monumental task but we serve God for whom nothing, not even overcoming death itself, is impossible,” the Archbishop said.

The Rt Rev Bill Atwood, Suffragan Bishop of All Saints Diocese in Kenya and a leader of the Anglican Church in North America, told The Church of England Newspaper the “meeting was like the new chairman: resolute, clear and gracious.”

Dr Wabukala succeeds the Bishop Gregory Venables as chairman of the primates’ council. Two new archbishops also joined the primates’ council in Nairobi: Bishop Tito Zavala of Chile, the Primate of the Southern Cone, and Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje of Rwanda.

Formed at the 2008 Global Anglican Futures Conference (Gafcon) held in Jerusalem, Gafcon gathered over 1,200 bishops and church leaders drawn from the Evangelical and Anglo-Catholic wings of the Church. The conference released a confessional statement, the Jerusalem Declaration, at the end of the meeting that reaffirmed the Church’s traditional beliefs as found in the Articles of Religion, Prayer Book and historic creeds.

The organisation has also taken on political overtones, as it has emerged as a communion within the Anglican Communion, filling the vacuum left by the collapse of authority of the existing instruments of Communion: the Lambeth Conference, Primates’ Meeting, the Anglican Consultative Council and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

In his 28 April letter, Dr Wabukala said he was excited about the opportunities the Gafcon movement presented for the Church. “It reminds me of my roots in the East African Revival when the renewing Spirit of God permeated the Church leading to a confession of sins, a thirst for God’s Word filling the converts with humility, a simple lifestyle and an unquestionable desire for evangelism.

“It is my conviction that this same Spirit is at work in Gafcon,” he said.

The Anglican Communion after Dublin: The Church of England Newspaper, Feb 18, 2011 p 11-12 February 18, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, GAFCON, La Iglesia Anglicana del Cono Sur de America.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The divisions within the Anglican Communion are theological, not political, and can be resolved only through an appeal to providence and Scripture, the chairman of the Gafcon Primates Council meeting, Bishop Gregory Venables has said.

In an interview recorded by AnglicanTV and broadcast on February 5, Bishop Venables outlined the Gafcon group of Churches’ disquiet with the innovations made by the Archbishop of Canterbury. However, appeals to diversity, conversation or political compromise to fix the Anglican Communion will not save it, if the Gospel is not preached.

ATV: What’s the most important issue going on in the Anglican Communion today?

GV: The vast majority of Anglican leaders worldwide, together with Anglicans in general, want to get on with preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ: the fact that there is a message of hope, and love and forgiveness and new life in Jesus Christ.

But we’ve hit a problem. And the problem is that within what we call the Anglican Communion there is a significant group, which unfortunately seems to dominate much of the public life of our church, which is suppressing the truth.

The reason why we feel this urgency is because it is clearer than ever, even within our own Church, that we are under the wrath of God. Now that is not something that people like to talk about very much, and it’s not a very pleasant subject, but it is an important one.

Back in the 1960s when I was a teenager, I remember Archbishop Michael Ramsey saying that the one place where we could all engage with God and identify God at that time, within the world situation, was under his judgment. And that was a shocking thing to say, but it was true.

He was saying that because of our behaviour, because of the fact that in the West we turned our back on God, the one place where we can identify the presence of God in our lives and our society in the world we’re living in is where we see his judgement. And this is true about the wrath of God.

And we’re under the wrath of God and we need to preach the gospel into that situation.

Although we’ve received the truth, although we know about God, although we know about this Gospel, people have chosen to go down the path of the pride of human wisdom … of seeking to find answers that are satisfactory to our own self-sufficiency and self-satisfaction … to go down the path of delighting in wickedness. Doing the things that God has forbidden, yet thinking that they are good and wonderful and lovely.

We’ve become darkened in our thinking. And you can see it in the situation with which the Anglican Communion has been grappling for the past 15 years. You can see that many have become darkened in their understanding. Paul says they become foolish and that’s why there’s no dialogue.

We are talking from completely different perspectives. In some cases it’s because the blindness and the ignorance, which is there if we’ve never known God personally. But sometimes, sadly, it’s because people have turned their back on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And that’s far worse.

We have this urgency of preaching the Gospel. Of saying that there is a way out. But the way out is not in human wisdom, it is not in human self-sufficiency. It is in the Gospel of Jesus Christ which he has revealed to us. God has spoken and we cannot block our ears and pretend we haven’t heard it.  And that is a situation which has to be addressed.

ATV: Is the Anglican Communion under God’s judgment?

GV. I believe we are under God’s judgement —- having received a revelation of truth which we are suppressing, as Paul writes in Romans chapter 1. Many of us believe that.
It’s not something we feel happy about. We feel devastated and we all share in the guilt. But we can’t go on as if nothing has happened. The gospel has to be preached.

ATV: What are your thoughts on the Dublin Primates’ Meeting?

GV: A large number of Primates just simply didn’t want to go because of the lack of trust and because the certainty that it was not going to go anywhere. What’s happened is that a small group is undoubtedly pushing a false gospel, a gospel which does not proclaim the need for salvation, which does not proclaim that Jesus is the one and only path back to God.

The sad thing is that although we spent years trying to get this thing right as a Communion, suddenly that crisis is put on one side. Suddenly the urgency has gone and we’re told no, that all we have to do is sit and talk.

If my house is on fire, I am not just going to sit and talk to my family, we’re going to get up and we’re going to something about it.

ATV: Is it true the Primates have no authority any more?

GV: That was coming. You could see it coming. You could see it coming by the fact that in spite of everything that has been said, suddenly now that all goes into some dusty file somewhere. Suddenly we have no authority, apart from this little standing committee of Primates —- and only time will tell with what’s going to happen with that.

If that proves to be a little centralised group of authority, then we have moved away from the very spirit of Anglicanism —- which is about teamwork, which is about bishops being first among equals, which is about us listening together to the voice of God and discerning the voice of God together.

Nowhere in the New Testament do you find one or two people making decisions. It is always the body discerning God’s voice together. It seemed right to us and the Holy Spirit. We’ve come to the very place where we were told for years we couldn’t go. We were told there is no authority and now suddenly there is, and that’s very, very, concerning.

ATV: Are we moving away from a Canterbury-led Communion?

GV: We never had to go to Canterbury to get to Jesus. There never was a centre of the church in one place. That was very, very, clear from the beginning … for the first few hundred years of the church until 1065, when the authority was centred on the Bishop of Rome after the Great Schism.

But up until then we never located authority in one place. There were always patriarchs, but never one who was in charge of everything except at the moment of presiding in council. While Canterbury is a wonderful part of our history and although there is tremendous amount of affection … a tremendous amount of respect for the role of the Archbishop of Canterbury, (and the same is true of the persons we been thinking about over recent years including Archbishop Rowan at the present moment, there is tremendous respect and love for him and for the people who were there before him) we cannot allow one person and a small group around that person to assume authority over the Anglican Communion. That was never within Anglicanism and it should never be within Anglicanism because it’s not in Scripture.

ATV: Would you support the calling of an Anglican Church council?

GV: I think if somehow that as a whole body we could come to the conclusion that it would be good to call together a council of the Church, to come to some resolution about the present crisis, that would be a good thing to do. But it would have to be a joint decision made by the whole of the Anglican Communion and with the whole of the Anglican Communion being represented.

At the moment it’s very clear that we have slipped into a Western, almost colonialist leadership. We have to ask the question if this have been the other way round, if this sinful behaviour had been promoted and sought to be lifted up as something God approves of in a part of the world that did not have the money and the power and the place that the United States has [how would it have been received?] It would be very interesting to see what would happen after everything unfolded.

ATV: Has the Primates’ Meeting been changed forever?

GV: The fact that such a large number didn’t go and made it very clear that they weren’t interested in going says that it’s gone. But it wasn’t just because things weren’t dealt with now.

We sought to deal with them constantly and it hadn’t gone anywhere. Things go on and people are still going on as if nothing has happened. And there is the terrible silence. The silence which now is so loud, as we heard it in the Dublin meeting.

ATV: Who controls the agenda for a Primates’ Meeting?

GV: The agenda turns up. There were moments, because I was attending Primates’ Meetings, I was elected Primate in 2001, so between then and last year when I was attending meetings, there were times when we were given very important papers just a few moments before we were told to consider them.

That can’t be. We have to know what’s on the agenda and more than that we have to control what’s on the agenda. It has to be a joint decision, not another decision made by a small group that has been selected by a group of people that were not selected to make that decision by the Anglican Communion.

ATV: Do you think the Global South if it had its own resources, would call its own Primates’ Meeting?

GV: So long as we remain submitted to God and seeking to do what God wants, God will provide us with everything we want.

Believe me, the vast majority of the Anglican Communion are in love with God the Father, are in love with Jesus Christ the son, in love with the Holy Spirit and want to get on with the will of God and do what he wants. To be dependent on him —- that is a wonderful place to be, but it has given us an enormous responsibility.

The answer is not to move out, to form another Communion or go to another Church —- although we respect those who have done it. Anglicanism has got a lot of life left because it’s something God has created. There’s an awful lot to be done yet and we can come through this.

But we will not come through this situation sitting in meetings where we consistently and apparently deliberately refuse to engage with the very crisis which has broken us up.

ATV: What is the hope for the Communion?

GV: The Global South and Gafcon are planning very important activities in the coming days. The reason why so many did not attend [the Dublin meeting] is because there are other things that need to be done. The reasons why they chose not to go were not simple reasons. They were reasons that were expressed very clearly, both verbally and in writing.

It was quite incorrect to present the absence of some people as being secondary matters. That was not the case. People made it very clear that they were not going … [however] there’s a lot going on and there will be a lot to be involved in the coming.

We are not ashamed of the Gospel. If we’re not ashamed of it we have to proclaim it, which is the principal activity in the Anglican Church worldwide. We just have to get on with it and that is what both the global South and Gafcon together are planning on doing: working together, working in unity, working in love and working in collegial community to do what God wants us to do.

ATV: Have you been in touch with Bishop Mouneer Anis of Egypt?

GV: It’s a desperate situation. It’s a part of the anarchy going on in the world. It’s true here in Latin America. It’s true now in Europe. It’s true in North America. It’s true in other parts of the world.

We are in a situation of anarchy because we are first of all in ignorance and blindness. Not living the way God wants us to. But even worse in the case of those of us who have received the Christian revelation of truth in Jesus Christ — we are living in a rebellious way, suppressing the truth which is our only hope of salvation.

So it is no surprise and it’s not getting any better until there is repentance and people turning back to this wonderful loving God. A God who loves us so much that he’s not going to let us live in darkness.

He is going to insist and insist and insist until people turn back to him.

Gafcon primates vote of no confidence in the Covenant: The Church of England Newspaper, Dec 3, 2010 p 1 December 2, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Covenant, Church of England Newspaper, GAFCON.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Anglican Covenant is too little and too late, to hold the Anglican Communion together, the leaders of the Gafcon movement said last week.

Revisions to the document adopted last December by the Anglican Communion’s Standing Committee were unacceptable, the Gafcon primates’ council said on Nov 24, and urged the communion to adopt “new initiatives to more effectively respond to the crises that confront us all.”

Seven primates along with Archbishops Robert Duncan of the ACNA and Peter Jensen of Sydney acknowledged as “well intentioned” the “efforts to heal our brokenness through the introduction of an Anglican Covenant,” but concluded the “current text is fatally flawed and so support for this initiative is no longer appropriate.”

The primates further rejected the Dr Rowan Williams’ plea for business as usual. “We can no longer maintain the illusion of normalcy,” they said, and “join with other Primates from the Global South in declaring that we will not be present at the next Primates’ meeting.”

Questioned about the statement, a spokesman for Lambeth Palace told The Church of England Newspaper ACC Secretary General Kenneth Kearon “has said the following: ‘The decision whether to come remains a matter for the Primates. The meeting is being organised and will be going ahead in Ireland next January. We are still receiving acceptances and hope as many Primates as possible we be able to attend’.”

Crafted at a meeting in Oxford held Oct 4-7, the statement crystallizes months of discussions among the reform minded leaders of the communion.

Frustrated with the course adopted by Dr. Williams in addressing the crisis of doctrine and discipline in the communion, and openly scornful of the integrity of the ‘Anglican Communion Office’, the Gafcon primates reiterated their call to ditch a church whose primary principle was the paramount importance of its London organs for one that espoused common doctrines

The communion needed to reform or it would die.  “New ways of living out our common life” were “emerging as old structures are proven to be ineffective in confronting the challenges of living in a pluralistic global community,” they said.

They offered the 2008 Jerusalem Declaration as a way forward, saying the “unique character” of the communion’s reform movement “with its diversity of cultures and its embrace of the Jerusalem Declaration as a common theological confession is a vital contribution to the future” of the communion.

While the statement was released on the same day as General Synod debated the covenant, the timing of the release was not intended to sway discussion in England, a spokesman told CEN.

The “Oxford Statement” required weeks of refining and was passed from archbishop to archbishop before it was ready for release, a Gafcon secretariat spokesman said.

Sources within the Gafcon movement tell CEN, the Oxford Statement should not be read as an outright rejection of the covenant, but as a vote of no confidence in the current draft that vests authority in the Anglican Communion “Standing Committee”.

On Nov 1, Bishop Michael Nazir Ali encapsulated the thinking of many of the Gafcon leaders, telling CEN the new section IV of the covenant was “quite different” from what had been prepared by the covenant design team, and “produces a new kind of ecclesial animal” in the Standing Committee.

“We have had a spate of resignations” from the Standing Committee “that calls into question its on-going credibility,” he noted.  Yet the Standing Committee will “make recommendations” about discipline.”

The Ridley draft of the covenant “was much better and stronger,” Dr. Nazir Ali said. It provided “due safeguards and allowed the primates to make the final decision,” he observed.

Anglican Covenant and the Jerusalem Declaration offered for study to the Anglican Church of Australia: The Church of England Newspaper, Oct 8, 2010 p 6. October 8, 2010

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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Anglicans have been asked to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest the Anglican Covenant and the Jerusalem Declaration by the 15th General Synod of the Anglican Church of Australia.

The votes by General Synod meeting from Sept 18-23 at Melbourne Grammar School came as a surprise to observers as the degree of support for the Covenant was weaker than expected, while support for the Jerusalem Declaration produced by the 2008 Gafcon conference was stronger than anticipated The Church of England Newspaper has learned.

On Sept 20, the General Synod adopted a resolution asking Australia’s 23 dioceses to offer its views on whether the church should adopt the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Anglican Covenant.  Synod asked the dioceses to give their decisions to the church’s Standing Committee by December 2012, for debate at the next meeting of General Synod in 2013.

The proposer of the covenant resolution, Archbishop Jeffrey Driver of Adelaide, told Synod this vote was not about accepting or rejecting the covenant, but initiating a three year listening process.

Bishop Andrew Curnow of Bendigo explained the Covenant was not “envisaged as an instrument of control” over the member churches of the Anglican Communion, but as a “tool for mission” and a mechanism for resolving the disputes of doctrine and discipline that had weakened the church.

However, Bishop Garry Weatherill of Willochra stated he believed the covenant was not up to the job of dealing with the communion’s divisions, while Bishop Brian Farran of Newcastle stated he was concerned that disciplinary provisions of section 4 of the document were “particularly dangerous” to the good order of the communion.

After an amendment was adopted that said General Synod “receives” instead of “welcomes” the covenant, the resolution was adopted.

The following day a motion proposed by the Rev. Mark Thompson of Moore College, Sydney on the Jerusalem Declaration was placed before Synod.  Dr. Thompson outlined the background of the orthodox nature of it’s the declaration’s 14 points and spoke to its genesis within the Global South coalition within the Anglican Communion.

Liberal critics objected to the declaration’s claim to represent ‘orthodoxy’, and argued the genius of Anglicanism in the modern era was that it did not stand for any particular truth or require adherence to religious tests such as the Articles of Religion.  Others argued the declaration was “radical” and not “worthy of being called Anglican.”

However, Archbishop Roger Herft of Perth, who had moved an amendment at the start of the debate, rose at the end of debate and told Synod that while he did not agree with all that the declaration said, the document was worthy of study as it represented the considered views of a large portion of Anglican thought in the developing world.

The motion as amended was carried, and stated: “That General Synod notes the publication of the Jerusalem Declaration and acknowledges the particular context in which it has arisen. The General Synod encourages its study by dioceses and parishes in this Church to assist our understanding of some of the current issues facing the Anglican Communion.”

The Archbishop of Sydney Dr. Peter Jensen stated he was pleased with the vote, stating the Jerusalem Declaration was “one of the most important church statements to come out in the last ten years.”

It was “not a question of do you agree with it,” Dr. Jensen said, but a request for “studying it.”

The Jerusalem Declaration “expresses the heart and mind for millions of Anglicans” across the globe, he said.  “It is important that we study it and come to our own mind about it,” the archbishop observed.

Orthodox Anglicans must act now to survive, Sydney Archbishop says: The Church of England Newspaper, May 7, 2010 p 8. May 12, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Australia, Church of England Newspaper, GAFCON, Global South.
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The Archbishop of Sydney

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Anglican Communion has passed its tipping point, the Archbishop of Sydney said last week, as the Global South coalition within the Anglican Communion has come to believe that the reform of the communion will no longer be led from London.

Writing in response to the Fourth Global South to South Encounter in Singapore, on April 28 Dr. Peter Jensen said he was not surprised the meeting had not garnered much of a reaction.  The statement from Singapore “simply confirms the obvious. The crisis moment has now passed,” he said.

He explained that many Anglican provinces had “given up” on the US and Canadian “official” churches “and regard themselves as being out of communion with them. They renew the call for repentance but can see that, failing something like the Great Awakening, it will not occur.”

The gathering was also “unresponsive” to Dr. Williams’ plea for patience, he said.  “I don’t think that what [Dr. Williams] said was obscure. It just seemed to be from another age, another world. His plea for patience misjudged the situation by several years and his talk of the Anglican covenant was not where the actual conference was at.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury “seemed to suggest that the consecration of a partnered lesbian Bishop will create a crisis. In fact the crisis itself has passed. We are now on the further side of the critical moment; the decisions have all been made; we are already living with the consequences,” he said.

Dr. Jensen noted the Encounter endorsed an Anglican Covenant, but were concerned with the current draft’s lack of disciplinary authority and the “monitoring power to the Standing Committee when it should belong to the Primates.”

He noted the “very appearance of the body called ‘The Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion’ was the cause of much private comment,” in Singapore.

“Even if it is a totally innocent development, it seems to fit with the frequent experience of the Global South that they are neither consulted nor listened to and that the deck is always stacked against them,” he said, adding that there was “now a very considerable breakdown in trust” within the communion.

The communiqué’s praise for Archbishops Mouneer Anis, Henry Orombi and Ian Ernest in their “determination no longer to attend meetings with representatives of the North Americans is a further indication that the crisis point has been passed and that we are now in the era of consequences.”

“Right action demands that we understand our own times accurately,” Dr. Jensen said, and at present the communion is in “the post-crisis phase, we need to know what such a moment requires. Action in this phase is no less demanding. One thing is for sure: those who wait and do nothing will be playing into the hands of ideologues who have had such a triumph in the west,” he said.

The remaining orthodox in the “churches in the west” must act now, “if they wish to survive,” the archbishop said.

Bermuda meeting for Gafcon primates: The Church of England Newspaper, April 16, 2010 p 7. April 23, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, GAFCON, Global South.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Anglicanism isn’t working, the leaders of the Gafcon movement said last week at the close of the Primates Council of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (GAFCON/FCA).

Meeting from April 5-9 in Bermuda, the Archbishops of Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, the Southern Cone, Sydney, Tanzania, West Africa as well as Archbishop Robert Duncan of the Anglican Church in North America and a representative bishop from the Church of Uganda released a statement of highlighting their concern with the direction taken by the Archbishop of Canterbury in resolving the splits within the Communion.

“We recognise that the current strategy in the Anglican Communion to strengthen structures by committee and commission has proved ineffective. Indeed we believe that the current structures have lost integrity and relevance.”

The way forward for Anglicanism was to pursue a “theologically grounded, biblically shaped reformation such as the one called for by the Jerusalem Declaration that God’s Kingdom will advance. The Anglican Communion will only be able to fulfill its gospel mandate if it understands itself to be a community gathered around a confession of faith rather than an organization that has its primary focus on institutional loyalty.”

The meeting discussed common areas of interest concerning Christian education, mission and evangelism, and also discussed the rise of persecution faced by many Christians. “We are mindful of those who live with the threat of violence because of their Christian faith, such

as Nigeria, Iraq and Sudan,” and noted that in a “number of nations, such as Kenya, Uganda and now the United Kingdom” the voice and views of Christians were “marginalized or ignored. We stand with all those in such circumstances and assure them of our continued prayers,” they said.

The primates also observed the election of a partnered lesbian priest as suffragan bishop of Los Angeles had made “clear to all” the Episcopal Church was not serious about being part of the Communion and had “formally committed itself to a pattern of life which is contrary to Scripture.”

The election of Mary Glasspool ended “any pretence that there has been a season of gracious restraint,” they said, urging “all orthodox biblical Anglicans, both in the USA and around the world, to demonstrate a clear and unambiguous stand for the historic faith and their refusal to participate in the direction and unbiblical practice and agenda” of the Episcopal Church.

The primates thanked Archbishop Peter Akinola for his leadership of the Gafcon movement and wished him well in retirement. The Presiding Bishop of the Southern Cone, Bishop Gregory Venables of Argentina was elected chairman of the primates’ council, and Archbishops Emmanuel Kolini of Rwanda and Eliud Wabukala of Kenya were elected as vice-chairmen. The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr. Peter Jensen continues as General Secretary.

Gafcon leaders speak out against centralisation: CEN 4.23.09 April 23, 2009

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Political and ecclesiastical authority should reside within the provinces of the Anglican Communion and not the “instruments of unity,” eight archbishops concluded last week at the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA) Primates’ Council meeting in London.

In a statement released after three days of talks, the eight archbishops stated that the third province movement in North America should seek recognition first from the provinces of the Communion, bypassing the Anglican Consultative Council.

On April 16 the Primates of Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, the Southern Cone, Tanzania, Uganda, and West Africa, along with the Archbishop of Sydney released a statement endorsing the formation of the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA), saying it was “authentically Anglican.”

The primates affirmed the desire of their churches, representing over two-thirds of the active churchgoers in the Communion, to preserve the integrity of the Anglican Communion, but gave a muted vote of no confidence to the current draft of the Anglican Covenant and the communion’s administrative structures.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Gafcon leaders speak out against centralisation

GAFCON primates back new North American province: TLC 4.15.09 April 17, 2009

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First published in The Living Church magazine

Following three days of closed-door talks in London, the primates of Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, the Southern Cone, Tanzania, Uganda, and West Africa, along with the Archbishop of Sydney, have endorsed the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) as being “authentically Anglican.”

The eight members of the GAFCON primates council met with the Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan, Bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh under the jurisdiction of the Southern Cone, and other ACNA leaders and said “careful consideration was given to the new ‘province in formation’ in North America.” Their April 16 communiqué endorsed the formation of the new province, saying “we celebrate the organization and official formation of ACNA,” and recognized it as “genuinely Anglican.”

The council said that recognition of the ACNA as a province will first come from the other provinces of the Communion, sidestepping the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC). They recommended that “Anglican provinces affirm full communion with the ACNA,” adding that they looked “forward in real hope to a positive response amongst the churches and diocese and provinces of the Communion.” By going first to the provinces for support, rather than approaching the ACC, the primates suggested a lasting structural and political base of support for the ACNA would be established that will end “cross-border incursions” and restore a “measure of peace” to the church.

The council’s statement comes as a challenge to Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, who has sought to confine debate to the structures of the four “instruments of unity”: the ACC, the Primates Meeting, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Lambeth Conference. These instruments were first articulated in 1997 by the Inter-Anglican Doctrinal and Theological Commission’s Virginia Report, but they have not yet gained official status. The ACC declined to endorse the report at its 1999 meeting, and individual provinces are bound by the report’s statements only to the extent that they adopt them within the terms of their constitutions and canons.

The primates’ council also gave a tepid response to the current draft of the proposed Anglican Covenant. While they supported the covenant concept in theory, they noted that the adequacy of the final document “depends on the willingness to address the crisis” dividing the Communion. They restated their commitment to the Communion, however, and to its reform, renewal and “to being a faithful and creative voice within it to recapture focus on mission.”

North American Bishops Meeting with GAFCON Primates in London: TLC 4.14.09 April 14, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of North America, GAFCON, Living Church.
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First published in The Living Church.

Eight archbishops are meeting in closed-door session at a London hotel this week to review plans for the creation of a new Anglican Communion province to be known as the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA).

Seven primates: Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya, Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini of Rwanda, Presiding Bishop Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone, Archbishop Valentino Mokiwa of Tanzania, Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda, Archbishop Justice Akrofi of West Africa; along with the Most Rev. Peter Jensen, Archbishop of Sydney (Australia) began talks on April 14 at hotel near Heathrow airport.
Joining the archbishops in the three-day meeting are the Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan, Bishop of Pittsburgh in the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone and the archbishop-designate of the ACNA; the Rt. Rev. Jack L. Iker, Bishop of Fort Worth in the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone; the Rt. Rev. Charles Murphy; the leader of the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA); the Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns, Bishop of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America and one of his bishops suffragan, the Rt. Rev. David Anderson; the Rt. Rev. John Guernsey, Provincial Bishop Suffragan for the Anglican Church of Uganda; the Rt. Rev. Bill Atwood, Bishop of All Saints Diocese in the Anglican Church of Kenya; and the Rt. Rev. Don Harvey, leader of the Anglican Network in Canada.

Details of the meeting will be made public at a press conference on April 16, according to a spokesman for the archbishops, but participants told The Living Church the group, which is meeting as the GAFCON (Global Anglican Futures Conference) primates’ council, will discuss the formation and strengthening of the Fellowship of Confession Anglicans (FCA), the formation of the ACNA, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s proposed Anglican Covenant, and the on-going divisions within the Anglican Communion.

A Lambeth triumph for Dr. Williams, but the splits go on: CEN 1.02.09 p 8. January 5, 2009

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Lambeth, Gafcon and the American church’s legal wrangling topped the international church news in 2008.

Designed to avoid controversy, Lambeth 2008 set out to make no statements, take no stands, and avoid provoking new conflict within the Anglican Communion. By its own lights, the July 14 to Aug 3 meeting at the University of Kent in Canterbury was a triumph for its organizer and host, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, for during those three weeks the oft foretold crack up of the Anglican Communion did not happen.

While Lambeth was not by schisms rent asunder or heresies distressed—no anti-Popes set up residence in Abuja to preside over rival Communion as a result of the July gathering—functionally the tear in the fabric of the church begun in 2003 was all but completed. A third of the bishops—representing over two thirds of the communion’s active members—refused Dr. Williams’ invitation, even as the Bishop of New Hampshire, Gene Robinson was prevented from defending himself before the assembled bishops in Canterbury.

The plan for Lambeth was that if the bishops “just kept on talking”, while avoiding discussion of the underlying issues dividing them—the person of Christ, the efficacy and nature of the sacraments, the place of Scripture within the church—-a ceasefire would emerge giving time for healing.

However, “the miracle hasn’t happened,” Bishop Gregory Venables of Argentina said on Aug 2. “It was a good try,” but Lambeth did not prevent the crack up of the Anglican Communion.

“We talk but nothing is decided. People are frustrated,” and Lambeth did not address these needs.

Lambeth 2008 drew 617 bishops from the communion’s 722 dioceses, 5 missionary districts, and 2 ecclesial jurisdictions. In protest to the presence of the bishops who consecrated Gene Robinson, 214 bishops boycotted the conference. From Africa’s 324 dioceses, 200 diocesan bishops (61 percent) refused Dr. Williams’ invitation.

Three Roman Catholic cardinals also attended the Conference and offered a harsh critique of Anglican-Catholic relations. The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor urged the bishops to put their house in order, and decide what they believed. “If Anglicans themselves disagree” over contentious issues like women priests “and find yourselves unable fully to recognize each other’s ministry, how could we?” he asked.

The Russian Orthodox Church’s representative to Lambeth was blunt. Women or homosexual bishops would exclude “even the theoretical possibility of the Orthodox churches acknowledging the apostolic succession” of Anglican bishops, Bishop Hilarion of Vienna told Dr. Williams on July 28.

On August 3, the conference released a statement that noted the broad desire for a “season of gracious restraint” marked by abstentions from further gay bishops and blessings, and a halt to foreign incursions into the jurisdictions of the North American provinces.

In the closing press conference, Dr. Williams said “the pieces are on the board” for the resolution of the Anglican conflict. “And in the months ahead it will be important to invite those absent from Lambeth to be involved in these next stages.”

Yet by year’s end, Dr. Williams had yet to contact the boycotting bishops to take part in the “next stages” nor was he able to honor his promise that “within the next two months” a “clear and detailed specification for the task and composition of a Pastoral Forum” to support embattled traditionalist would be delivered to the communion.

The Lambeth call for restraint was soon rejected by left and right. On Dec 3, traditionalists in the US and Canada ratified a draft constitution for the Anglican Church in North America, institutionalizing the cross-border violations denounced by Lambeth. By mid-December five Canadian dioceses announced plans to begin work on rites for the blessing of same-sex unions, while 9 American dioceses issued formal calls for the US church to end its self-imposed ban on further gay bishops.

“We have gotten this far without formally announcing our division, but we [just] haven’t announced it” yet, Bishop Venables said on the closing day. “I hoped we would be able to talk about very serious things [at Lambeth]. We tried to but were unable to,” he said.

Standing in contrast to Lambeth’s indecision, was the June Gafcon Conference in Jerusalem. The gathering of Anglo-Catholics, Evangelicals and Charismatic Anglicans formed a confessing movement centering upon common doctrinal beliefs rather than a common historical heritage or tie to the Archbishop of Canterbury.

On June 29, the 1200 delegates-including 291 bishops representing two thirds of the communion’s members—endorsed the “Jerusalem Declaration”: a 14-point manifesto that set the foundations of a “confessing movement” to provide a haven for traditionalists.

The Jerusalem Declaration “is really calling us back to our roots,” Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda said, and states “as Anglicans were we really belong.”

Nor was the Jerusalem Declaration was a mark of schism. We are “not saying we are the only faithful Anglicans,” Sydney Archbishop Peter Jensen said, nor were we forming a “church within a church.” Gafcon provided a bulwark against “Western revisionist” theology by preparing a “fellowship” of Christians to “support each other in truth,” while “charting the way forward for a Gospel-centered future,” Dr. Jensen explained.

It also “creates order out of chaos,” he said. The church splits and lawsuits that had arisen since the Episcopal Church consecrated a gay priest as Bishop of New Hampshire were spiraling out of control, Dr. Jensen said.

With an estimated $5 million spent in litigation, the American church news was all but consumed with lawsuits and parish and diocesan secessions. Eleven breakaway parishes that formed the nucleus of the Nigerian backed Convocation of Anglican Churches in America (CANA) won their legal fight to quit the Diocese of Virginia and to keep their property—while lawsuits waged in New York, Florida and half a dozen other states saw the national church prevail over the parishes.

Three dioceses: Pittsburgh, Quincy and Fort Worth quit the Episcopal Church, joining the Diocese of San Joaquin in affiliating with the Province of the Southern Cone, prompting litigation in the church and secular courts. As a result of their secessions the US House of Bishops expelled the Bishops of San Joaquin, Fort Worth and Pittsburgh from their ranks—while the Bishop of Quincy took early retirement.

Litigation over parish secessions was the order of the day in Canada as well—as dioceses brought suit to gain possession of parishes that had quit the church to affiliate with the Anglican Network in Canada—a partner in the new Anglican Church in North America. Complaints by the Archbishop Fred Hiltz in January about the intrusion of the Southern Cone into Canada received a sympathetic hearing, but Dr. Williams explained that he had no power to do anything about it.

The Diocese of Sydney synod reiterated its long standing support for diaconal presidency at the Eucharist, and embarked on a campaign to offer a Bible to every home in the region. The Dioceses of Perth and Melbourne appointed the first women bishops in the country, while Adelaide continued to dig out from under the financial burden brought on by clergy abuse scandals in the 1990’s.

New Zealand elected the former bishop of Edmonton, Canada, the Rt. Rev. Victoria Matthews as Bishop of Christchurch—and witnessed a division over how best to proceed over the gay issue at its meeting of General Synod.

The Church of Ireland continued its push toward breaking with the island’s sectarian past, and early in the year issued a statement confirming that the pope was not the anti-Christ.

Politics, persecution and pogroms drove the church news for the majority of Anglicans in the developing world.

A “silent genocide” underway in the Eastern Congo, church leaders claimed, has killed thousands and driven over 100,000 from their homes as rival war lords clash with government forces. The Archbishop of Burundi along with other church leaders in East Africa has sought to mediate between the Congolese government and rebel leaders-even as tensions in Burundi between Tutsis and Hutus remain high.

The shadow of genocide still hangs over neighboring Rwanda, with the Anglican Church taking the lead in providing a moral witness to combat the “genocide ideology” that led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands almost 15 years ago.

Across the border in Uganda church leaders lamented the collapse of peace talks to end the 23 year old war with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Archbishop Henry Orombi has called upon the LRA to lay down its arms, but church leaders in the north of the country warn that military force will not bring an end to the conflict.

Peace has broken out across South Sudan, as the political settlement that ended the decades old civil war between the Islamist government in Khartoum and the predominantly Christian government of South Sudan appears to have taken hold. However, the crisis in Western Sudan’s Darfur region continues to sap the efforts at rebuilding the country.

Stung by the country’s post-electoral violence, Kenya’s bishops have joined with other Christian leaders in seeking constitutional reforms for the government, and an end to the tribal jealousies that all but closed the country down in January.

The Anglican Church in Ghana, however, has celebrated their country’s break with the past, applauding an apparently successful presidential and parliamentary election. Plans for division into a Ghanaian Church and a Province comprised of Liberia, Sierra Leone, the Gambia, Guinea, and Cameroon are also underway.

The Church of Nigeria continued its tremendous growth throughout 2008, adding almost three dozen new dioceses and continuing to play a prominent role in the social and intellectual life of the country. However, tensions with the Muslim minority remain high with continued bouts of sectarian violence plaguing the country. In December fresh riots broke out in Jos, leaving hundreds dead and over a dozen churches burnt to the ground.

Attacks by Hindu militants upon Christians in Orissa opened the year in India, while Islamist terrorists closed the year with terror attacks on Mumbai. Christians in Pakistan continued to live and work under legal and social pressures. The future for the country’s Christian minority was grim, the Bishop of Raiwind warned, unless the government took firm steps to control Islamist aggression.

With hundreds of thousands dead and millions left homeless by Cyclone Nargis in May, the Church in Myanmar (Burma)’s focused on rebuilding and reaching out to the those afflicted by the worst natural disaster to strike the country in the modern era.

Zimbabwe’s natural disaster, however, has been man-made by the regime of Robert Mugabe. Fraudulent elections, a complete collapse in the country’s economy and infrastructure—and by year’s end outbreaks of cholera and starvation in what was once the bread basket of Africa, have left the country all but bereft of hope. Mugabe crony Dr. Nolbert Kunonga, the former Bishop of Harare who quit the province of Central Africa to form his own Anglican Church of Zimababwe maintains a hold over most the church properties in the diocese, but has the support of only a handful of worshippers.

Dr. Sebastian Bakare, who came out of retirement to lead the embattled Anglican Church in Harare, has risen to become one of the leading moral voices in the country—and has won international accolades for his pursuit of justice and freedom in the country.

The scandal over the Church of Papua New Guinea’s former primate, Archbishop George Ambo, joining a “cargo cult” and in the process, being sought by the police for questioning in the theft of typhoon relief supplies, ended after the archbishop sought the pardon of the church and received absolution for his sins before his death in July.

Crime was also the focus of much of the work of the Church of the West Indies, with debates over the reinstitution of capital punishment, as well as a call for self-examination over the moral corruption of society.

Canterbury won’t block or bless new province: CEN 12.12.08 p 5. December 11, 2008

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The Archbishop of Canterbury will not block the creation of a third Anglican province in North America, sources familiar with Dr. Rowan Williams’ Dec 5 meeting with five traditionalist archbishops, tell The Church of England Newspaper.

However, the archbishop will not give it his endorsement either, arguing his office does not have the legal authority to make, or un-make, Anglicans.

On Dec 5, five members of the Gafcon primates council: Archbishops Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya, Peter Akinola of Nigeria, Emmanuel Kolini of Rwanda, Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone, and Henry Orombi of Uganda met with Dr. Williams in Canterbury for approximately five hours to discuss the current state of affairs within the Communion.

In a half day meeting interspersed with prayer and lunch the archbishops had a “full and frank” discussion of the issues, sources familiar with the proceedings said. “There was no indaba-ding on Friday,” one senior Gafcon bishop told CEN, referring to the ‘Indaba’ process of directed listening used at the 2008 Lambeth Conference. The Gafcon bishop said the conversation was a direct and forthright discussion of all of the presenting issues.

According to several sources familiar with the proceedings, the archbishops discussed the boycott of Lambeth 2008 by 214 bishops, the on-going ramifications of the election of Gene Robinson, and the disquiet many Global South leaders felt with the innovations of doctrine and discipline advocated by the Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada. While the idea of an Anglican Covenant was sound in theory, fears that the elastic interpretation given to language and law by the American Church would render the document meaningless, some conservatives said.

Dr. Williams sounded several familiar themes in his remarks, the sources said, stressing the need for on-going dialogue amongst the disparate parties. He shared his disquiet over ecclesiastical border crossings, saying that it implied that the trespassing bishops were stating that Christ was absent from the ecclesiastical structures who were their unwilling hosts.

The third province movement and the Wheaton constitution was presented to Dr. Williams as well—and was offered as a resolution to the archbishop’s concerns over border crossings. However, the gafcon primates did not ask Dr. Williams for his formal blessings of the project.

Legal advice given to the Archbishop of Canterbury held that his office had no role in the creation of provinces independent of the primates meeting and Anglican Consultative Council, sources told CEN.

However, Dr. Williams was able to come away with an undertaking by the primates who boycotted Lambeth 2008, that they would attend the Jan 31 to Feb 6 primates meeting in Alexandria.

Following their meeting, the Gafcon archbishops released a statement affirming their support for the third province. “The steps taken to form the new Province are a necessary initiative,” the primates said, as a “new Province will draw together in unity many of those who wish to remain faithful to the teaching of God’s word, and also create the highest level of fellowship possible with the wider Anglican Communion.”

By freeing the church from its seemingly intractable legal wrangling, a new province “releases the energy of many Anglican Christians to be involved in mission, free from the difficulties of remaining in fellowship with those who have so clearly disregarded the word of God,” they said.

The genesis of the Canterbury meeting came in October, when the Gafcon primates requested a consultation with Dr. Williams, and a date was scheduled to take place shortly after the founding convocation of the Anglican Church in North America constitution convention in Wheaton, Illinois on Dec 3. Last month Archbishop Nzimbi told CEN the purpose of the meeting was to present to Dr. Williams the ACNA constitution and to discuss the third province movement in North America.

On Dec 4, the Lambeth Press office released an unsigned press note stating that it was unofficially unaware of any request for a third province in North America, but also said that it believed that new provinces must follow a formal process of incardination to join the Anglican Communion.

“There are clear guidelines set out in the Anglican Consultative Council Reports, notably ACC 10 in 1996 (resolution 12), detailing the steps necessary for the amendments of existing provincial constitutions and the creation of new provinces. Once begun, any of these processes will take years to complete. In relation to the recent announcement from the meeting of the Common Cause Partnership in Chicago, no such process has begun,” the statement said.

However, it is unclear to what regulations Lambeth Palace was referring as under the constitution of the ACC there is no “necessary” process for the creation of provinces. In 1996 ACC legal advisor John Rees said the ACC10 guidelines were not intended to be a legal requirement but a flexible aid in provincial formation.

Canon Rees noted that in many cases provincial formation had taken place without input from the ACC. “In a number of instances in recent years, although the ACC has been ready and willing to offer advice and assistance to Provinces in process of formation, it has not in fact been consulted until the process has become so far advanced that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to incorporate any of its suggestions into the proposed constitutional documents.”

In 1996 the Anglican Communion News Service said the guidelines would “ensure new Provinces the opportunity to benefit from the advice of the ACC and the experience of other Provinces” but were not necessary steps for creating new provinces.

New American Province looms: CEN 12.05.08 p 1. December 4, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Canada, Church of England Newspaper, GAFCON, Secession, The Episcopal Church.
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The Third Province movement in North America will be the topic of a special meeting at Lambeth Palace today (Dec 5). The Archbishop of Canterbury is scheduled to meet with the Gafcon primates’ council and will be briefed on plans to form a province for traditionalist Anglicans in the United States and Canada.

On Nov 11, Kenyan Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi told The Church of England Newspaper that a meeting had been tentatively set with Dr. Rowan Williams in London for Dec 5. He said the timeline under which the Gafcon primates were working was that on Dec 3 the leaders of the Common Cause Partnership would gather in Wheaton, Illinois to endorse a draft constitution for the emerging province.

The Gafcon archbishops: Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya, Peter Akinola of Nigeria, [Emmanuel Kolini of Rwanda] Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone, Valentino Mokiwa of Tanzania, Henry Orombi of Uganda, Justice Akrofi of West Africa would then meet on Dec 4 in London to receive and endorse the agreement and bring it to Dr. Williams the following day.

Speaking to the congregation of Truro Parish in Fairfax, Virginia on Nov 30, Bishop Martyn Minns publicly confirmed the proposed timeline adding that the Gafcon primates were also planning on briefing the primates standing committee the day before the start of the Jan 31-Feb 6 Alexandria Primates meeting-however, US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will likely miss the pre-conference session as she is scheduled to attend the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council meeting from Jan 29-31.

A Lambeth Palace spokespersontold CEN that Dr Williams would meet Archbishops Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya, Peter Akinola of Nigeria, Emmanuel Kolini of Rwanda, Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone and Henry Orombi of Uganda at the Old Palace in Canterbury today. The meeting had been set “at their request” the spokesperson said. However, she declined to describe the proposed agenda.

A senior member of the Gafcon leadership team said it would be a mistake to assume they were waiting upon Dr. Williams’ word before work began on the Third Province. He told CEN the Gafcon primates would not adopt a confrontational approach over the Third Province and would be happy for Dr. Williams to sign on to the plan. However, he noted that under the existing legal structures of the Anglican Communion, Dr. Williams’ endorsement was not a prerequisite for their creation of the new Common Cause province in North America.

Membership in the Anglican Consultative Council determines membership in the Anglican Communion. Article 3 of the Constitution of the Anglican Consultative Council vests the authority to make members with the primates: “With the assent of two-thirds of the Primates of the Anglican Communion, the council may alter or add to the schedule” of members.

While it is technically possible for a vote on a third province to come before the primates’ meeting in Alexandria, and then be forwarded to ACC-14 in May for action, it is unlikely as the necessary constitutional work in forming a CCP-based North American province will not be completed.

Final approval within North America could take up to two years as the synods of the four breakaway Episcopal dioceses: San Joaquin, Pittsburgh, Quincy and Fort Worth will have to endorse the constitution over two meetings of their convention, while the Reformed Episcopal Church, the Anglican Mission in the Americas, the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, and the Kenyan and Uganda overseen churches in North America and other CCP members must ratify the constitution and amend their own governing documents so as to bring its terms into force.

Should the primates agree to the creation of a Third Province at their 2011 meeting, the matter would be brought before ACC-15 in 2012. While special meetings of the ACC and the primates can be called on the initiative of their standing committees, no such meeting has ever been called, and the current political climate within the Anglican Communion does not favor expedited action.

The status of the members of the Third Province within the Anglican Communion during the interval between Dec 3, 2008 and final approval by the ACC, would likely be under dispute. However, under custom established in the case of the Church of South India and existing church canons the status of the individual churches would be determined by its relationship to one of the existing primates of the Anglican Communion. The four breakaway US dioceses, the Anglican Network in Canada, and the African-overseen parishes and jurisdictions would continue in their present form as de facto members of the Communion—while ecclesial entities such as the Reformed Episcopal Church would be outside the Communion.

While in the 20th century, many came to assume that Anglicanism was cotemporaneous with the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the governing constitutions and canons of a number of provinces affect their link to the Communion through fealty to the Book of Common Prayer, or to shared doctrine. The “muddiness” of Anglicanism ecclesiastical structures, the Gafcon senior source tells the CEN, prevents decisive or speedy action in resolving the disputes.

Legal framework set for new Third Province in North America: CEN 12.04.08 December 4, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Canada, Church of England Newspaper, GAFCON, Secession, The Episcopal Church.
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Leaders of the Third Province movement sidestepped the contentious issue of women clergy last night, and have endorsed a provisional constitution and canons governing the emerging Third Province in the Americas.

“God did a great work today,” Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan told supporters at a church service in Wheaton, Illinois at the end of the Dec 1-3 gathering, as the disparate members of the Common Cause Partnership (CCP) of Anglican traditionalists in the US and Canada “came together with the proposed draft of the constitution and canons” and after discussing each proviso, “adopted unanimously” each article of the code.

This was “staggering considering who was around the table” said Bishop Duncan — the moderator of CCP and now the interim primate and archbishop of the provisional province.

Comprised of approximately 700 congregations with an average Sunday attendance of 100,000, the newly created Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) boasts Anglo-Catholics, Evangelicals, Charismatics, and a variety of traditionalists at odds with the Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Legal framework set for new Third Province in North America

Summit will not debate Gafcon: CEN 11.28.08 p 7. November 30, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Consultative Council, Church of England Newspaper, GAFCON.
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Members of the Joint Standing Committee [JSC] of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council are scheduled to meet this week, Nov 25-27 at St. Andrew’s House in London to prepare for the May 2009 meeting of the ACC in Jamaica.

Senior Communion sources tell The Church of England Newspaper the “agenda is largely preparing for ACC-14 next year, and trying to build on the lessons learned from the [2008] Lambeth [Conference].” No formal discussion of the Gafcon call for a third province in North America has been planned for the gathering, sources report.

The JSC will look into the current state of the ACC’s finances as well as receive an update on the attempts to pay off the million pound cost overruns from the 2008 gathering of bishops in Canterbury. Personnel issues at the ACC will be addressed, along with a status report on the proposed Faith and Order Commission and the Anglican Covenant Design Group’s works.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams will also address the gathering, offering his reflections on the state of affairs within the Anglican Communion.

Questions of a third province in North America proposed by the Gafcon movement will not likely come before the meeting as no formal request has been made by the primates on this issue. Conservative church leaders have called for the creation of a third province in North America as a haven for traditionalists which would also gather up the disparate Anglican groups that have broken with the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada over the past hundred and twenty five years.

However, the third province movement is bitterly opposed by the leaders of the US and Canadian churches, who have argued that overlapping jurisdictions based upon theology, race and politics are foreign to the Anglican ethos. While overlapping jurisdictions are far from ideal, they are not strangers to Anglican history, as past divisions over doctrine and discipline have led to the temporary creation of rival jurisdictions such as the dioceses of Natal and Maritzburg in Nineteenth century South Africa.

In the modern era, a province becomes a member of the Anglican Communion not through communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury but by virtue of its membership in the ACC—the Archbishop of Canterbury is in communion with the Lutheran Porvoo Churches, but they are not members of the Anglican Communion.

Membership in the ACC for a new province comes after two-thirds of the primates have given their assent, and the full ACC assents by majority vote. No formal procedure for the creation of a province is specified, though Resolution 21 of ACC 1 asks that “before the creation of a new province there should be consultation with the Anglican Consultative Council or its Standing Committee for guidance and advice, especially in regard to the form of constitution most appropriate.”

Members of the Primates Standing Committee are from elected by regional blocks during votes taken at the primates meetings. The roster of the current committee includes Dr. Rowan Williams, Archbishops Philip Aspinall of Australia, Mouneer Anis of Jerusalem and the Middle East, Barry Morgan of Wales, Henry Orombi of Uganda, and Katharine Jefferts Schori of the United States.

Aides to Archbishop Orombi tell CEN he will not be attending this week’s meeting, and that Archbishop Justice Akrofie of West Africa will attend in his place.

Members of the ACC’s standing committee are elected at its regular meetings. The current roster includes the chairman, Bishop John Patterson of New Zealand, and vice-chairman Dr. George Khoshy of South India, as well as regular members: Mrs. Philippa Amable of West Africa, Mrs. Jolly Babirukamu of Uganda, Mr. Robert Fordham of Australia, Bishop Kumara Illangasinghe of Ceylon, Canon Elizabeth Paver of the Church of England, Bishop James Tengatenga of Central Africa, and Ms. Nomfundo Walaza of Southern Africa.

“Gafcon leaders are unrepresentative”: CEN 11.28.08 p 6. November 29, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Canada, Church of England Newspaper, GAFCON.
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The hard-line views of the Archbishops of Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, the Southern Cone, Tanzania, Uganda and West Africa are unrepresentative of the views of many Anglicans in the developing world, Archbishop Fred Hiltz of Canada has claimed.

In a Nov 17 interview the Canadian primate denounced plans for a third province in North America as being un-Anglican, and argued it was a “huge assumption” to claim that the Gafcon primates’ support for a traditionalist province for North America was universally shared by their brethren.

A third province in North America was a non-starter, Archbishop Hiltz said, arguing “the creation of provinces, as I have always understood it, is based on mission. It is based on a commitment to embrace and give flesh to an expression of the gospel in a particular context. There is a geography associated with that context, there is a set of cultural needs, a set of social needs.”

While the ideal of provincial formation expressed by Archbishop Hiltz is shared by a number of Anglican leaders, no rules exist governing the formation of provinces within the Anglican Communion, save that they must be approved by a two-thirds vote by the primates.

His rejection of the third province movement came two days after the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC), the breakaway group overseen by the Province of the Southern Cone, held its first synod in Burlington, Ontario. ANiC adopted an interim constitution, endorsed the Jerusalem Declaration of the Gafcon meeting, and asked Archbishop Gregory Venables to appoint up to three suffragan bishops to assist the growing traditionalist movement.

Archbishop Hiltz said ANiC and Archbishop Venables’ actions violated the call for a season of “gracious restraint” suggested by the 2008 Lambeth Conference, and were bent on destabilizing the Anglican Church of Canada. “It has become more and more clear that those associated with GAFCON are not so committed to building bridges and keeping in conversation but rather to separation,” he said.

He also questioned the depth of support the Gafcon primates enjoyed among their own churches. “The experience that I had at Lambeth and that lots of other Canadians had at Lambeth was that the primates speak, but they don’t necessarily represent the views of all the people,” Archbishop Hiltz told the Anglican Journal. “And they don’t in every case represent the views of their bishops.”

Questioned by The Church of England Newspaper on Nov 11, Archbishops Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya and Justice Akrofi of West Africa stated the Gafcon movement had the full backing of their provinces.

Lambeth faces Chicago test: CEN 11.21.08 p 1. November 21, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Ecclesiology, GAFCON.
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Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

The leaders of the Common Cause Partnership (CCP) are set to endorse a draft constitution to govern the loose coalition of breakaway dioceses, congregations and Anglican jurisdictions in the United States.

In a statement released on Nov 17 by the American Anglican Council on behalf of the CCP, AAC spokesman Robert Lundy said the “the draft constitution of an emerging Anglican Church in North America” will be released on Dec 3. The leaders of the CCP will “formally subscribe to the Jerusalem Declaration of the Global Anglican Future Conference (Gafcon) and affirm the Gafcon Statement on the Global Anglican Future.”

The Dec 3 ceremony will not launch a new province, CCP moderator Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh said, but will be an “an important concrete step toward the goal of a biblical, missionary and united Anglican Church in North America.”

Speaking in Boston on Nov 15 in a sermon broadcast by Anglican.TV, Bishop Duncan said the CCP leaders will “receive and god-willing commend a draft constitution” for the “Anglican Church in North America.”

We want to “bring Jerusalem to American” and “claim our place as members of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans,” he said.

A final draft of the CCP constitution was completed on Oct 31 following meetings in Northern Virginia. The CCP Council is scheduled to meet Dec 1-3 in Wheaton, Illinois at the Billy Graham Center and is expected to ratify the constitution and governing documents of the coalition of American and Canadian Anglican churches that draw over 100,000 worshippers every Sunday. Statistics released by the national offices of the Episcopal Church state that in 2007, the average Sunday attendance for the Episcopal Church was 727,822.

Once the CCP constitution is ratified, it will then be forwarded to the Gafcon primates’ council comprising Archbishops Peter Akinola of Nigeria, Henry Orombi of Uganda, Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya, Justice Akrofi of West Africa, Emmanuel Kolini of Rwanda, Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone, and the group’s secretary, Archbishop Peter Jensen of Sydney.

[Archbishop Valentino Mokiwa of Tanzania is also a member of the Gafcon primates' council and his name was inadvertently omitted from this list in the print edition.  GC]

The primates are expected to formally accept the CCP proposals and begin the process of creating a Third Province in North America for the Anglican Communion. Meetings have been tentatively scheduled with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams before the Jan 31 to Feb 5 primates meeting in Alexandria.

However, Dr. Williams’ approval is not a prerequisite for creating a new Province for the Anglican Communion. Article 3 of the Constitution of the Anglican Consultative Council vests this authority with the primates: “With the assent of two-thirds of the Primates of the Anglican Communion, the council may alter or add to the schedule” of members.

The Gafcon primates are expected to bring the matter of the Third Province to the Alexandria meeting in February, where a majority already exists sympathetic to the aspirations of Bishop Duncan and the CCP. Should the primates endorse the request, it will then be forwarded to the ACC’s May meeting in Jamaica for implementation.

Gafcon leaders dismiss ‘futile’ covenant draft: CEN 10.31.08 p 7. October 30, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Covenant, Church of England Newspaper, GAFCON.
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The proposed Anglican Covenant is an “exercise in futility,” theologians affiliated with the Gafcon movement tell The Church of England Newspaper, and the current draft is beset with “a considerable degree of theological confusion.”

On Oct 22, the Anglican Covenant Design Group chaired by Archbishop Drexel Gomez of the West Indies released a commentary on the proposed pan-Anglican agreement drawn from comments made by bishops attending this summer’s Lambeth Conference. The 33-page “Lambeth Commentary” has been distributed to each of the Communion’s 38 provinces, with the request that they offer their comments on the commentary as well as the underlying draft of the covenant by March 9, 2009.

The Design Group said it hoped the Lambeth Commentary “will stand alongside the St. Andrew’s Draft [released in February 2008] as a critique and as a stimulus for study and response.”

The Covenant Design Group will meet in March 2009 to develop a new draft based upon the provincial responses and submit the final report to the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) at its May 1-12 meeting in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

The Lambeth Commentary suggests the Anglican Communion adopt a form of alternative dispute resolution to resolve its divisions over doctrine and discipline, citing the examples of conflict mediation, South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Chinese community centres,’ and the racially segregated Anglican churches of New Zealand.

The Commentary also urged the Design Group to permit dioceses to endorse the Covenant. During the Lambeth Conference, ACC Deputy Secretary General Canon Gregory Cameron said the St Andrew’s Draft did not envision dioceses being the primary signatories of the Covenant.

However, the Lambeth Commentary urged a reconsideration of this view, noting if “the canons and constitutions of a Province permit, there is no reason why a diocesan synod should not commit itself to the covenant, thus strengthening its commitment to the interdependent life of the Communion.”

US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori told members of the church’s Executive Council on Oct 21 that she would “strongly discourage” consideration of the Covenant at the July meeting of General Convention.

“The time is far too short before our General Convention for us to have a thorough discussion of it as a church and I’m therefore going to strongly discourage any move to bring it to General Convention. I just think it’s inappropriate to make a decision that weighty,” she said. However, critics note the 2003 decision by General Convention to affirm the election of Gene Robinson was made in less time.

However, Sydney theologian Dr. Mark Thompson, Dean of Moore Theological College argued the covenant process would not resolve the problems before the Anglican Communion. The actions of Bishop Schori and New Westminster Bishop Michael Ingham since Lambeth “have made clear that the covenant idea simply will not deal with the real issues

The “Lambeth Commentary itself refuses to deal with the real issues,” he noted, observing that the covenant was “entirely irrelevant” and would “make no difference to the current situation and will be unable to prevent future challenges of the same magnitude,” Dr. Thompson said.

The present draft of the Anglican Covenant made a “simplistic appeal to the biblical covenants ” in support of its agenda, yet the biblical covenants “were instituted by God as a gift which provided a framework for understanding Israel’s relationship with him. At the heart was hearing, believing and obeying God’s word. They ought not be confused a covenant between human beings,” he said.

The Lambeth Commentary was also unclear as to what it understood the Covenant to be describing it both as a “central text” while also “speaking about it as a ‘foundational document’.”

Dr. Thompson added that there was an “ecclesiological confusion when the ‘local church’ is described as ‘that portion of God’s people gathered around their bishop, usually I the form of a territorial diocese’,”—a description of the church not supported by the Articles of Religion.

It was “simply untrue” to say that the Windsor process and the Anglican Covenant were the “only game in town,” Dr. Thompson said. “It is the unwillingness of the current leadership of the Communion to deal directly and biblically with the crisis created by the American and Canadian revisionists, its prevarication and personal compromise that has radically deepened the crisis and ensured that the covenant as it is proposed simply will not work.”

Prof. Stephen Noll, Vice Chancellor of Uganda Christian University told CEN the “most important requirements of a workable covenant are doctrinal substance and disciplinary efficacy. The drafts to date have fallen short on both counts.”

Both Dr. Thompson and Prof Noll argued that the exclusion of theologians and leaders of the Gafcon movement weakened the credibility of the document. “If the Covenant Design Group truly wishes to be inclusive, it needs to sit down with the leadership of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans and seek to incorporate the principles of the Jerusalem Declaration into the Covenant,” Prof Noll said.

“Any hope” for the future of the Anglican Communion, Dr. Thompson said, ” lies with those faithful bishops and other leaders whose voices could not be heard at Lambeth because they had chosen to gather in Jerusalem. “

“The St Andrews Draft of An Anglican Covenant, and the Lambeth Commentary on that draft, are institutional responses to a situation that can only be resolved by much, much more,” he concluded.

Diocese signs up to Gafcon movement: CEN 10.03.08 p 6. October 3, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand & Polynesia, Church of England Newspaper, GAFCON.
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The Fellowship of Confession Anglicans (FCA) has added its first New Zealand diocese to its list of supporters. At its annual synod on Sept 26 the Diocese of Nelson adopted a resolution commending the Jerusalem Declaration of the June Gafcon conference, and affirmed its place within the orthodox wing of the Anglican Communion.

In his presidential address, the Bishop of Nelson, the Rt. Rev. Richard Ellena urged the diocese to use creative strategies for growing God’s kingdom. He cited examples from the “Fresh Expressions” project of the Church of England where one ministry had opened a cafe in a disused church building, while another opened a coffee bar to serve and witness to patrons after the nightclubs had closed.

Projects such as a “cyberchurch” on the internet could also be added to the ministry of the diocese, he said, reaching people where they were in their communities. “The one thing [these ministries] will have in common is the desire to reach out to people unreachable within our current structures of the church,” he said.

During its business session, the synod adopted a resolution noting the holding of the Gafcon conference in Jerusalem and received the final statement of the conference along with the Jerusalem Declaration, commending it to the diocese “for general study and reflection.”

It further confirmed “the Diocese of Nelson upholds the orthodox faith and practice of the Anglican Church as represented in the Jerusalem Declaration and continues to look for ways to be in relationship with those represented at Gafcon.”

Last month FCA—the new name for the Gafcon movement—announced that its administrative offices would be housed at the Diocese of Sydney.

The theological principles of the reform movement within the Anglican Communion received a fine tuning this week, Prof Stephen Noll, Vice Chancellor of the Uganda Christian University reported, with a meeting of approximately “forty Anglican theologians from around the world, more than half of them from Africa” at the university in Mukono.

“We are working on a commentary on the Jerusalem Declaration, the basic theological statement that emerged from Gafcon,” Prof. Noll said in a letter to mission supporters.

Prof. Noll added the future for FCA was bright. “Even as I write these things, I am uplifted with hope. There are dark days ahead for Anglicanism in many ways. Coupled with the economic meltdown, times will be tough for Anglicans everywhere. But we have the resources in the Scriptures and in our God to see beyond the immediate darkness and to know that God has a bright future for us,” he said.

Gafcon primates say there can be no going back on the gay issue: CEN 9.05.08 p 4. September 4, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, GAFCON, Lambeth 2008.
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The Anglican Communion has been broken and it is an “illusion” to believe things can ever be the same again, the archbishops of the Gafcon movement said last week following their first organizational meeting in London.

The leaders of the conservative wing of the Anglican Communion, representing more than half of the church’s active members, on Aug 29 released a statement affirming the aims of the movement—now known as the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA)—and restated its commitment to the reform and renewal of the communion.

However, they disagreed sharply with the course taken by Archbishop Rowan Williams in avoiding a full and frank airing of the issues, with one insider telling The Church of England Newspaper the Anglican Communion’s sex wars had taken on a Dickensian quality, and like “Jarndyce and Jarndyce” was still dragging its “dreary length before the court, perennially hopeless.”

The Primate of Nigeria, Archbishop Peter Akinola, the Primate of Uganda, Archbishop Henry Orombi, the Primate of Rwanda, Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini, the Primate of Kenya, Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi, and the Primate of the Southern Cone, Presiding Bishop Gregory Venables—later joined by the Primate of Tanzania, Archbishop Valentino Mokiwa also offered a critique of suggestions made by the Windsor Continuation Group (WCG) that another committee such as a “Pastoral Forum” might successfully address the issues dividing the church.

While applauding the aims of the “Windsor Process” and the intent of its supporters, the premise underlying the WCG’s argument was flawed, the FCA archbishops said. The WCG had argued that unless all parties agreed to moratoriums on gay bishops and blessings, as well as cross-border incursions “the Communion is likely to fracture.”

However, the “Communion fractured in 2003, when our fellowship was ‘torn at its deepest level’,” by the consecration of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire.

The response to the Robinson ordination had been a series of hapless committees that pour forth jejune words and useless empty phrases that achieve nothing. We are “continually offered the same strategies which mean further delay and unlikely results. Indeed, delay itself seems to be a strategy employed by some in order to resolve the issue through weariness,” they said.

Sadly, the archbishops observed, there were now three realities that “must be faced,” and are “past the time when they can be reversed.”

“First, some Anglicans have sanctified sinful practices and will continue to do so whatever others may think.” Second, those “affected by this disobedience have rightly withdrawn fellowship while wishing to remain authentic Anglicans. So-called ‘border-crossing’ is another way of describing the provision of recognition and care for those who have been faithful to the teachings of Holy Scripture.”

And, third: “there is widespread impaired and broken sacramental communion amongst Anglicans,” the archbishops said, noting that the “hope that we may somehow return to the state of affairs before 2003 is an illusion.”

The way forward for the communion lay not through committees but through spiritual revival, the archbishops said. “We believe that the Jerusalem Declaration provides for a viable way of helping to deal with the crisis in the Anglican Communion brought about through the disobedience to Scripture by some in North America and elsewhere.”

The Aug 29 communiqué stated the primates had created a Secretariat and an Advisory Board, “which will work with them on fulfilling the aims of the movement.”

The FCA “isn’t a new church, nor is it an alternative power [bloc]” within the Anglican Communion Bishop Venables told CEN. “It is about the survival of Biblical values within the communion.”

“What is being worked out” in the formation of the FCA “is the Gospel. Gafcon [FCA] is a proclamation of the ‘truth’,” he said.

Anglicanism “need not be unclear. We are seeking to say what God says,” Bishop Venables explained.

Archbishop Orombi told CEN “Gafcon is a movement of hope for the Anglican Communion members who love Jesus and live in obedience to his Word. We are full of passion for Gafcon’s future,” he said.

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