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Anglican Consultative Council in a snit over GAFCON III's success

Anglican Consultative Council in a snit over GAFCON III's success
Something is going very right in Jerusalem

By Mary Ann Mueller
VOL Special Correspondent
June 21, 2018

JERUSALEM --- Something is happening in the City of David. Nearly two thousand Anglicans from around the world have descended upon that ancient city to rejoice as Anglicans, to celebrate their unity in Common Prayer Book worship, to join together in prayer, praise, song and fellowship, to sit at the feet of some of the greatest teachers in Anglicanism today, to hear the Gospel preached and taught as the Apostles did in the First Century and to delight in traditional Anglicanism unspoiled by western cultural twists and misinterpretations.

They came. Some 1,966 came from 52 countries spanning the globe. Nigeria sent 472 Anglican sons and daughters; the United States sent 367; Uganda sent 232; Australia sent 218; and the United Kingdom, where Anglicanism was founded, sent 204. They also came from Argentina (2); Bermuda (4); Brazil (15); Burundi (1); Cambodia (1); Canada (58); Chile (15); the Congo (34);
Croatia (1); Denmark (2); Egypt (6); Ethiopia (2); Fiji (2); France (2); the Gambia (1); Germany (4); Ghana (9); Guinea (2); Hong Kong (2); India (2); Ireland (6); Israel (2); Jersey (1); Jordan (1); Kenya (75); Madagascar (6); Malawi (3); Malaysia (8); Mexico (2); Mozambique (1); Myanmar (10); Namibia (1); the Netherlands (1); New Zealand (56); Papua New Guinea (2); Paraguay (1); the Philippines (1); Rwanda (47); Seychelles (4); Sierra Leone (2); Singapore (9); South Africa (16); South Sudan (20); Tanzania (26); Turkey (1) the United Arab Emirates (2); Zimbabwe (1); and others from Iran, the Sudan, the Middle East wanted to come but could not get visas to enter Israel. But they came for one reason -- the unvarnished Gospel drew them to the land and the city that their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ once walked while on earth.

CAFCON III is reportedly the largest gathering of Anglicans since the 1963 Pan Anglican Congress held in Toronto, Canada, which drew more than 2,000 participants to Canada in what was described as a radical call for the "rebirth of the Anglican Communion."

The Toronto Congress was held at the time of Vatican II, which called together all 2,860 bishops of the Roman Catholic Church, but not all could attend. At the time it was reported that "several communist countries refused to allow bishops to attend, and some bishops living under repressive regimes were afraid that if they left their countries, they would not be allowed back in. As a result, at least 274 bishops could not take part in the Council."

GAFCON III has drawn together 993 clergy, 973 laity, 333 bishops, 38 archbishops, 10 active primates and six retired primates. By the sheer numbers, GAFCON III is a success and the powers-that-be in England have taken notice and are not happy.

Is not the purpose of evangelism and mission to proclaim the Gospel by any means necessary and available?

Jesus, Himself, sent the Apostles out to preach, teach and baptize.

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you," Jesus says in Matt. 26:19. He reiterated His Great Commission in Mark 16:15: "Go into all the world and proclaim the Good News to the whole creation."

Then, in Luke 24:47, He told them to "begin in Jerusalem."

Ten years ago, GAFCON began in Jerusalem and has spread to the uttermost parts of the earth, returning again to Jerusalem, ready to expand in response to the Holy Spirit's prompting.

The Holy Spirit, who cannot be contained, restricted or restrained, has prompted GAFCON to develop grassroots networks of ministry to help facilitate proclaiming the Gospel to all creation.

Bishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, the Secretary-General of the Anglican Consultative Council -- one of the four Instruments of Communion -- penned a scathing e-mail letter condemning GAFCON's network initiative.

Earlier in the week when the word leaked out there was such a letter, at Virtue Online contacted the Anglican Consultative Council for comment.

"Any letter from ++Josiah to the Primates is private communication. We would not make it public nor would we wish to comment on it," replied Adrian Butcher, Director for Communications at the Anglican Communion Office in London. "Sorry I can't be more forthcoming."

But by midweek, Bishop Idowu-Fearon's e-mail letter managed to become public.

"This appears to be a call to GAFCON members to endorse a parallel administrative organization to the existing one within our Anglican Communion," the secretary-general complained. "The office that I lead is active across all of these areas with dedicated and highly experienced Directors leading work in partnership with individual Provinces and with regional groups."

Rather than celebrating GAFCON's drive to proclaim the Gospel and expand its active ministry to bring others into a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, Bishop Idowu-Fearon's considers GAFCON's nine ministry networks as divisive.

"However, we must protect against both duplication and the setting up of rival bodies for influence, activity and impact. This route would be one of division and confusion and it should be questioned and avoided," he e-mailed. "Any structures that GAFCON might seek to establish that involve geographic representation on the model of the Anglican Consultative Council would be a further dangerous step."

Fearing that GAFCON can be an agent of Anglican schism, he continued: "Whilst it is a group that claims to champion 'renewal', it appears to be setting up what clearly looks like a rival structure that is clearly not in conformity with our understanding of what it means to be Anglican. I call for your prayers and wise counsel on how to avoid the potential for schism within our Anglican Communion."

Bishop Idowu-Fearon is himself African. He was born in Nigeria and was previously the Bishop of the Diocese of Kaduna and the Archbishop of the Province of Kaduna in the Church of Nigeria before becoming the secretary-general of the Anglican Consultative Council in 2015.

The Holy Spirit is alive and active in Africa as evidenced by the vibrancy of the Anglican church in Africa.

While at GAFCON, Archbishop Foley Beach (ACNA), explained that the June 10th enthronement ceremony for Archbishop Laurent Mbanda, the new primate of the Anglican Church of Rwanda, was six hours long. He had never before been in a church service which was six hours long.

"The people in Rwanda are so gracious, they're so excited about the Lord as well," the ACNA archbishop noted.

As a result of the Holy Spirit's activity on the Dark Continent, the Anglican Church is alive and growing in Africa.

Wikipedia reports: "The 11 Anglican provinces in Africa saw growth in the last two decades. They now include 36.7 million members, more Anglicans than there are in England."

GAFCON, a biblically-based worldwide global movement which is authentically Anglican with a Gospel mission, reports that there are more practicing Anglicans in the GAFCON movement than in the rest of the Anglican Communion.

According to Canon Charles Raven, there are approximately 80-85 million baptized Anglicans worldwide of which some 60 million who are practicing Anglicans and GAFCON represents the majority of those practicing Anglicans.

However, it didn't take long for GAFCON's secretary general to respond to the Anglican Consultative Council's secretary-general.

"The attempt by the Anglican Communion Office to challenge the GAFCON Primates for supporting new ministries is further evidence of how much the institutional form of Anglicanism is out of touch with spiritual reality," GAFCON's Secretary General Archbishop Peter Jensen shot back. "The launch of our networks is a sign of spiritual vitality which ought to be welcomed and applauded. Voluntary movements getting involved in much needed ministry has a long tradition within the Anglican Communion. This anxious missive suggests a fear that people are not under the control of some central organization."

In his Tuesday GAFCON teaching, retired Church of England Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali explained: "In our gathering together, whether in our provinces or indeed worldwide in the so-called Instruments of Anglican Communion, we have mistakenly thought that these gathering would be ordered by adopting a Western parliamentary-style of gathering. The Western parliamentary-style works on conflict. It's an adversarial system."

Bishop Idowu-Fearon's attack on GAFCON's expanding ministry more than proves Bishop Nazir-Ali's point. The Anglican Consultative Council is creating conflict.

"Had the institutions of the Communion been clearer in their theological stance, movements of reform and renewal like GAFCON may not have arisen," Archbishop Jensen continued in his defense of GAFCON's new ministry networks. "Now, however, the wisdom of God is displayed in that the work and the workers are adding to the ministry of the Gospel. Thanksgiving rather than criticism is surely the appropriate response."

It is GAFCON which helped birth the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and now GAFCON is helping to launch the Anglican Church in Brazil (ACB). However, Bishop Idowu-Fearon's refuses to accept either ACNA or ACB as truly "Anglican."

"To be part of the Anglican Communion requires being in 'communion with the See of Canterbury'," the bishop claims.

"We stand by the founding principles and doctrines of the church which are rooted in Scripture as affirmed in the Jerusalem Statement and Declaration which states: 'The doctrine of the Church is grounded in the Holy Scriptures and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures,'" GAFCON's website explains. "'In particular, such doctrine is to be found in the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal.'"

Both Anglican entities in The Americas were planted because the "established" Episcopal churches -- the American Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Church of Brazil -- had strayed from the pure Gospel and Apostolic Truth and refused to be reformed, so a purified Anglicism needed to be replanted in their countries to ensure that the continuation of the Anglican way of worshipping God, the understanding the Scriptures, the adherence to the Lambeth Quadrilateral, and the ordering and living out of the Christian life is unimpeded by the secularization of a false gospel.

Mary Ann Mueller is a journalist living in Texas. She is a regular contributor to VirtueOnline

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