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FT. WORTH: Anglo-Catholic Bishop Berates GAFCON Primates over Sudanese Appointment

FT. WORTH: Anglo-Catholic Bishop Berates GAFCON Primates over Sudanese Appointment

By David W. Virtue, DD
March 3, 2018

The Anglo-Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Ft. Worth, the Rt. Rev. Jack Iker, berated the GAFCON Primates over the appointment of Elizabeth Awut to the office of Bishop.

"We write to express our deepest concerns over the actions taken by the Episcopal Church in South Sudan in consecrating Ms. Elizabeth Awut to the office of Bishop.

"Firstly, we raise the concern of the mixed messages between "a senior member of GAFCON who asked not to be named" declaring this consecration to be akin to a "wartime expediency" and the quote attributed to the Most Rev. Daniel Deng that "he had long hoped to be able to appoint a woman as bishop and was pleased with the innovation." Indeed, it is difficult to maintain the thought that both sentiments can be true. While we recognize that the moratorium against the consecration of women to the episcopate established by the GAFCON Primates is of a voluntary nature, yet the disparate and conflicting pubic statements being made concerning her consecration are deeply troubling. To speak plainly, which is it, some kind of anomaly or a theological conviction?

"Moreover, we struggle to understand why it is that the consecration of Ms. Awut had been seemingly kept as a secret within the GAFCON community for over a year. If it is the belief of the South Sudanese that women are rightly consecrated to the episcopacy, why was that not more openly celebrated from the start?

"Given that her consecration is an innovation within GAFCON, it would seem that this news would naturally be much more public than it has, yet it is not. Why is it only now -- over a full year after the fact -- being made so public and widely distributed? Why is it that a senior member of GAFCON is making public statements only on the condition of anonymity? Is there something to hide within the broader GAFCON community? If so, what and why? Are we not called to live in the Light?

"Having now fought our way through decades of precisely these kinds of trials and tribulations, where various groups have acted unilaterally in similar fashion, not only within The Episcopal Church in the United States, but elsewhere in the Anglican Communion, as is well-known, we find the divergency of public statements being made over this issue distressing. We find that seemingly veiled nature of the consecration for over a year, along with the accompanying questions it raises, deeply disconcerting in the Diocese of Fort Worth, and particularly troublesome in light of the trust we are all trying to establish among us, which is foundational to our common life as brothers and sisters in Christ."

Bishop Iker said he was in agreement with a statement made by the Most Rev. Peter Jensen in February in which he stated "... this issue poses a threat to the unity we prize ...," not only on the basis of our biblical and traditional theological convictions, but also as it concerns the events surrounding Ms. Awut's consecration.

Bishop Iker called the action by the Sudanese archbishop an "unhelpful irregularity" and hoped that it would be dealt with "swiftly" in a way that honors the nature of the Body of Christ and the interdependency of what it means to be a Communion.


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