The ACC, Lambeth and GAFCON
By Vinay Samuel and Chris Sugden
Church of England Newspaper
April 15, 2016
As the Anglican Consultative Council meets in Lusaka, two forces are contending in the Anglican Communion today: the progressive/revisionists and the orthodox. Lambeth and the ACC are trying to contain these two forces in the one communion. The only reason currently for the orthodox to remain in, to agree to the decisions at the January Canterbury meeting, is that Lambeth is orthodox. We hope that the ACC can be evenhanded, honest and even generous to the orthodox. However, if the status quo ante returns that ACC is to be seen as a counterpoint to Lambeth, then that makes Lambeth's orthodox stand untenable. The orthodox will lose patience and be unwilling to put up with being constantly misled and betrayed. Our sincere hope is that ACC abides by the formulations of Lambeth and the Primates Meeting in January rather than the agenda of the revisionists.
It is important to keep the identities of the ACC and Lambeth separate. ACC is representative and 'democratic'. Lambeth and the Primates are chosen by the discernment of the Spirit in the Church and consecrated to office. They have promised to be the guardians of the faith as understood and expressed in the creeds and formularies. ACC on the other hand has no such guardianship role, is political and therefore can be subjected to economic and political power: those with money and power have the edge. That is why the Global South Primates are suspicious of Anglican representative organisations.
GAFCON Primates meet in Nairobi from April 18th. It was never launched as a divisive movement. We were both in the room when the decision was made to hold the inaugural conference in Jerusalem. The overriding concern was to secure a place for orthodox Anglicans to stand, in line with the agreed teaching of the communion.
GAFCON, in spite of its nonwestern leadership, is seen by some as a western organization serving the concerns of western conservative Anglicans. We ourselves have been concerned that the theological insights and gifts of non-western Anglicanism have not flourished as they should in GAFCON. Instead it appeared to represent primarily a western conservative Anglican theology.
However, it can be confidently asserted that the actions of GAFCON Primates at the January Primates gathering in Canterbury demonstrably showed that they were acting for the whole communion and not representing some western interests.
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