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ACO Secretary General Rebukes GAFCON, calls them Intentionally "ignorant" of Polity

ACO Secretary General Rebukes GAFCON, calls them Intentionally "ignorant" of Polity
Idowu-Fearon accused Global South Primates of acting autocratically

By David W. Virtue, DD
April 30. 2019

A war of words has broken out in the Anglican Communion between the Primate of the ACNA and the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, with each publicly lashing out at the other over an "insulting" offer by the Archbishop of Canterbury to let ACNA Archbishop Foley Beach attend Lambeth 2020 as an "observer", treating him as a outlier and not an Anglican.

The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, the Rt. Rev. Dr. Josiah Idowu-Fearon, publicly rebuked the Most Rev. Archbishop Foley Beach in an address at the Anglican Consultative Council's 17th meeting in Hong Kong, in which he said the crisis in the Anglican Communion "is being caused by autocratic Primates and bishops in the Global South who do not behave as Anglicans."

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, had issued the invitation to ACNA Archbishop Beach, who called the invitation an "insult."

Welby issued an invitation to denominational heads across the globe to attend the Lambeth conference and included Archbishop Beach among the invitees as "ecumenical observers.".

However, an incensed Beach told VOL that the "news" source only furthered a partisan, divisive and false narrative by wrongly asserting that he had left the Anglican Communion when, in fact, he has not.

"I have never left the Anglican Communion, and have no intention of doing so." He said he had transferred out of The Episcopal Church because that church had abandoned the teaching of the Scriptures. "I have never left (the Anglican Communion)."

Idowu-Fearon, a Nigerian, (the most conservative province in the Anglican Communion) fell fowl of his own province for selling out to the increasingly liberal Anglican Communion Office and the Church of England. He accused the GAFCON leaders of "deliberate ignorance": "When you see a Primate, when you see a bishop, who knows that this is what it means to be an Anglican church...and he pretends that he doesn't, that's very frustrating. How do we handle this to prevent a schism in our Communion?"

"The Anglican polity involved consultation between bishops, clergy and laity. But I am sharing with you that, in a good number of our provinces and dioceses, particularly in the Global South, there are no debates...and where you have debates, they are not well informed. This is a major problem."

Fearon then accused Archbishop Beach of "snubbing" the Archbishop of Canterbury, who, he said, invited all new Primates to stay at Lambeth Palace. "It is disheartening to hear a Primate give one excuse or other to avoid this hospitality." (Primate Beach was never offered to stay at Lambeth Palace.)

In a backhanded compliment, Fearon said he welcomed GAFCON as "an influence for good and for the Kingdom," but quickly disparaged GAFCON for "building structures of the Communion in a way that caused confusion and potential division."

As well as duplicate structures, Fearon said he "had difficulty" with calls to invite, as full participants to the Lambeth conference, people "who are clearly not members of the Communion", and for calls to boycott the conference because of the disagreements with other provinces.

Primate Beach addressed this saying, "I did transfer out of a revisionist body (The Episcopal Church) that had left the teaching of the Scriptures and the Anglican Communion and I became canonically resident in another province of the Anglican Communion. I have never left. For the Anglican Church in North America to be treated as mere "observers" is an insult to both our bishops, many of whom have made costly stands for the Gospel, and the majority of Anglicans around the world who have long stood with us as a province of the Anglican Communion."

Fearon said the Global Anglican Fellowship of conservative Provinces had been acting increasingly independently in recent years.

Idowu-Fearon told ACC members that the last three years have "opened my eyes to see a major problem within our communion: ignorance."

"And then there is ignorance as a result of lack of knowledge," Idowu-Fearon said, adding that "within a good number of our theological colleges and seminaries, Anglicanism is not even taught; where it is taught, it is not Anglicanism, it is self-made Anglicanism." Different provincial contexts mean that "Anglicanism has many faces, but there are basic things," he said, particularly Anglican ecclesiology, meaning the Anglican understanding of the church.

"This is one the major reasons for the crisis we are facing today within this communion," the Secretary-General said.

Fearon painted a dire ecclesiastical and financial picture of the communion. He castigated provinces that were able to contribute to the Communion's finances, but were being "financially irresponsible". Nearly two-thirds of the Communion's budget comes from just two Provinces: England (41 per cent), and the United States (22 per cent), he said.

A warning of schism

Idowu-Fearon warned about a possible schism in the Anglican Communion as he discussed GAFCON, the 11-year-old organization formed in 2008 when "moral compromise, doctrinal error and the collapse of biblical witness in parts of the Anglican Communion" had reached a critical level.

The Secretary General told the ACC "the question is how should we respond to GAFCON?"

He balanced a warning of "schism" with stories which he said showed that "growth within the communion is very exciting." The latter included "hundreds" of converts in Ethiopia and Algeria, a program of evangelism and spiritual renewal in Melanesia, and an increase in young people joining the Church of England.

"Don't let anybody deceive you that, because of our crisis, the spirit of the Lord is not moving," he said. "The spirit of the Lord is moving even more because of the crisis. I believe it will move even more if we're able to get focused on discipleship."

He said Welby is working with "the members of his team" to find "a way out of this dilemma." However, he asked for the ACC's help "to prevent a schism within our communion."


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