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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.

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Comments

1. Joe - May 13, 2011

Quote: “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.”

This is a remarkable quote. It is remarkable because it is spoken by those who have joined with others to promote a novel worldwide “Anglican Church” wherein each national church would be forced to submit to one strain of Anglican thought or lose the Anglican nomenclature. For those of us in the US, the Communion has always been viewed by most as a pleasant association of churches who share a similar beginning, worship tradition, and philanthropic endeavors. This is because that is what the Communion legally was and, clearly — given our current disputes, still is. It was well-named — a Communion, not a Church.

Archbishop Williams is in a no-win situation. Our confederation of Anglicans either loses large numbers of “traditional” African churches or else he loses the smaller number of people who use their Creator-given rational thought, in addition to tradition, when reading a human-wrought compilation of 2,000 and 5,000 year old texts.

My American slant is obvious, I know. I do thank you for the space to share.

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