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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.

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.


1. Graham Lawn - December 3, 2010

As an ex- Anglican I believe that the Gafcon Primates are being too nice. They should simply cut all ties with the non-Biblical church led by Rowan Williams and get on with the church’s primary task.

2. Kurt - December 3, 2010

Well, Graham, as an American Episcopalian I believe that we don’t need any ties with neo-Puritans, African or otherwise. So, from our different perspectives, we’re in agreement (kind of).

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

3. more about GAFCON and the Covenant | Kiwianglo's Blog - December 4, 2010

[…] more about GAFCON and the Covenant Posted on December 4, 2010 by kiwianglo George Conger writes in the Church of England Newspaper today: Gafcon primates vote of no confidence in the Covenant. […]

4. Joe Romanowski - December 5, 2010

Perhaps it is only our American perspective, but the idea that the Anglican Communion is a “Church” is a rather novel thing to us (and, in historical fact, is). Most Episcopalians – to now – have viewed the Communion as a pleasant historical association of the Church of England’s off-spring. Philanthropies, good communal deeds, and periodic exhortations to “do right” are what we had seen was the main purpose of the Communion.

If the choice we are to be given is that we continue bigotry based on a specious reading of the Bible or we are no longer associated with a new international “church” that wants to further the bigotry, the choice is more than rather clear to the majority here.

5. Andy - December 6, 2010

Graham and Kurt, unfortunetly it is both of your attitudes that are continuing this split. I am a conservative Episcopalian in America and I do not believe the answer to our problems is to stomp out of the room in a huff. Both liberals and conservatives are guilty of this and it only reinforces to the secular world the idea that the Gospel is a fairy-tale pipe-dream.

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