GAFCON Accuses Anglican Head Office of Deceit Over 'Consequences' For Gay-Affirming Episcopal Church
By Harry Farley
February 6, 2017
The global Anglican head office is being accused of deception in a row over the role of the gay-affirming Episcopal Church in the USA.
The Episcopal Church allows same sex marriage and consecrates gay bishops and as a result worldwide Anglican leaders at the last primates meeting in January 2016 imposed "consequences".
As part of those consequences, which the primates insist are not "sanctions", The Episcopal Church (TEC) was barred from decision making in matters of doctrine for three years.
But GAFCON, a conservative grouping within the Church, accused Anglican officials of half-truths, manipulation and compromise in a dispute over whether TEC delegates voted at a recent meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), a decision making body in the wider Anglican Communion.
Bureaucrats at the Anglican Communion Office insist TEC did not officially vote because the decisions were agreed by consensus, not by ballot.
GAFCON's head, former Archbishop of Sydney Peter Jensen said this was "sophistry" in a statement on Friday.
"The Primates agreement in January was never limited to the narrow issue of the method of voting," he said.
"Whether a meeting uses a consensus model, or a voice vote, or paper ballots, or electronic ballots is of no relevance. The Episcopal Church was not to take part in decision making on issues pertaining to polity or doctrine. They did."
TEC representatives Rosalie Simmonds Ballentine, Ian Douglas and Gay Clark Jennings attended the meeting in Lusaka, Zambia, in April last year and insist they voted on every resolution that came up, including those on doctrine and polity.
"As the duly elected ACC members of a province of the Anglican Communion, this was our responsibility and we fulfilled it," they said in a statement.
They added they were dismayed by a report on the Anglican Communion News Service that suggested they did not vote on those key matters.
"It could be inferred from today's ACNS story that we did not fulfill our voting responsibilities at ACC-16 to comply with a communique issued by the primates of the Anglican Communion in January 2016," they said.
"The communique sought to impose consequences on the Episcopal Church for its adoption of marriage equality at our 2015 General Convention. Such an inference would be incorrect."
A prominent member of The Episcopal Church added on Facebook: "The intent here is to show that the top bishops of the communion have the power to discipline churches for allowing same-sex couples to marry, and have done so. But they have no such power, and the Episcopal Church's reps voted on every issue at the meeting in question. I know those reps personally and have spoken with them about this."
The GAFCON affiliated primates added: "The future of the Anglican Communion does not lie with manipulations, compromises, legal loopholes, or the presentation of half-truths; the future of our Communion lies in humble obedience to the truth of the Word of God written."
The Anglican Communion has been contacted for comment on this story.
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