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Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans Leaders Conference Statement and Commitment

Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans Leaders Conference Statement and Commitment

April 27th, 2012

In 2008 the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) was held in Jerusalem, drawing together more than 1100 Anglicans from around the world, including bishops, clergy and laity.

GAFCON recognized that the conflict in the Anglican Communion since 1998 was a crisis of Gospel truth, not only regarding matters of human sexuality, but the authority of Holy Scripture as God's inspired Word and the unique Person and Work of Jesus Christ for salvation. In view of this crisis, the Conference unanimously affirmed that

our core identity as Anglicans is expressed in these words: 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. In particular, such doctrine is to be found in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal. We intend to remain faithful to this standard, and we call on others in the Communion to reaffirm and return to it.

Claiming that GAFCON was "not just a moment in time but a movement in the Spirit", the 2008 Conference gave birth to a contemporary statement of faith, the Jerusalem Declaration (JD) [http://fca.net/resources/the_jerusalem_declaration] and to a society, the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA) led by a Council of Primates. The movement has become a family and fellowship with increasing trust and affection. The goals of the FCA are twofold: to proclaim and defend the gospel throughout the world, and to strengthen the church worldwide by supporting and authenticating faithful Anglicans who have been disenfranchised from their spiritual homes.

Since 2008 the Primates of those Anglican Provinces who endorsed the Jerusalem Declaration have met regularly and recognized the Anglican Church in North America as a legitimate Province in the Anglican Communion. Many dioceses, parishes and individuals have also endorsed the Jerusalem Declaration. National and regional branches of FCA have been formed in South Africa, UK and Ireland. The Primates have also endorsed Being Faithful: The Shape of Historic Anglicanism Today as a helpful commentary on the Jerusalem Declaration.

From 23-27 April 2012, the FCA held its first conference for Anglican leaders, addressing the theme of Jesus the Christ, Unique and Supreme. Over 200 leaders from 30 countries and 25 provinces, including bishops, clergy and laity, shared in our fellowship in the Gospel and recommitted ourselves to the goals of the FCA. We gathered in a remarkable spirit of joy and unity as we affirmed the lordship of Christ, his uniqueness and sufficiency.

We received from Anglican leaders accounts of terrorism leading to death and destruction in Nigeria, and of persecution and ostracism of believers in Islamic and Hindu societies; we heard from a Christian prolife and pro-marriage advocate who has been maligned by the secular media in England, with precious little support from the Church establishment. We heard numerous accounts from Anglican leaders around the world who have been harassed by their own bishops and fellow clergy for their Gospel witness, yet have been grateful for the stance of the FCA. We note that The Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada are proceeding post-haste to approve same-sex blessing rites with total disregard for the conscience of their own members, for the moratoria mandated by the official Instruments of the Anglican Communion, and for the broken state of communion where more than half the world's Anglicans are represented by the FCA.

The chairman of the FCA, the Most Rev. Eliud Wabukala, Primate of Kenya, opened the Conference with a keynote address on the identity of confessing Anglicans in the light of the current crisis, highlighting the fact that "The heart of the crisis we face is not only institutional, but spiritual." We were also reminded that we are not wrestling against flesh and blood but against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Eph 6:12).

Bible studies from Paul's letter to the Colossians were delivered each morning. The Conference theme of the supremacy of Christ over all creation, including his church and our very lives, was powerfully presented to the gathered leaders. In light of the twofold goals of the FCA, special attention was given in workshops to the nature of the gospel and the nature of the church. Other workshops addressed major concerns of the GAFCON movement as articulated in the Jerusalem Declaration: leadership (clause 7), the family (clause 8), evangelism (clause 9) and economic empowerment (clause 10).

The Conference recognized the gospel as the life-transforming message of salvation from sin and all its consequences, through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is both a declaration and a summons: announcing what has been done for us in Christ and calling us to repentance, faith and submission to his lordship. Any compromise of the gospel is a compromise of the authority of Christ as King.

The second major goal of the Conference had to do with the nature of the church as an expression and vehicle of the gospel. The Rev. Dr Ashley Null reviewed the history of Anglican polity over five centuries and concluded:

Effectiveness in mission is the highest historic priority in Anglicanism, for the church derives its existence, purpose and power from the faithful proclamation of the gospel in word and sacrament. Because of this divine call, the church has God's assurance of his abiding presence among his people. Nevertheless, since the church as a human institution can err, adapting the proclamation of the gospel to a specific culture can all too often lead to the culture adapting and changing the gospel to its own human idolatries. Therefore, a global fellowship is necessary to help individual national churches to discern whether a specific gospel proclamation is adapting to the culture or capitulating to it.

In a plenary address on "Jesus, the Lord of the Church and his Mission," Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali noted that St Paul presents the church as an exalted communion known to God, the Jerusalem above (Gal 4:26), and also as an earthly community of believers gathered together for the preaching of God's Word, the sacraments duly administered, and effective church discipline (Article XIX; Second Book of Homilies).

Applying this pattern to the current Anglican situation, Bishop Nazir-Ali concluded that the Anglican "Instruments of Unity" have failed dramatically and that the FCA is called to model a biblical way for the churches of the Anglican Communion to gather and relate to one another so as to carry out the Great Commission in the coming decades. This way needs to address different forms of missional leadership, gathering the church with traditional episcopal leaders as well as leaders exercising oversight in parochial and non-parochial ministries. The Primates' Council will have responsibility for planning, directing and driving this agenda.

Conference participants formed networks that will pursue ongoing work in areas vital to the movement, including:
* episcopal leaders - a forum for bishops to encourage one another, improve communication and welcome new members, including those not yet a part of the FCA
* pastors - a forum for FCA pastors to provide mutual encouragement and develop Christian discipleship
* evangelists - a forum to equip lay evangelists and church planters to proclaim the gospel, edify the church and serve society
* women in ministry - a forum for women in ministry to share challenges, resources and prayer
* theological educators - a forum to encourage and train theological educators in developing biblical patterns of theological education, to resist revisionist intrusions and to share theological resources
* cross-cultural workers - a forum for cross-cultural workers to share their needs and to connect people to available resources and networks
* aid and development workers - a forum to promote a biblical theology of development, which includes economic empowerment and self-sustainability
* lawyers - a forum for lawyers to assist the FCA in the pursuit of its mission and to offer members counsel in matters of civil and canon law.

It is vitally important for the FCA to activate these networks, as they represent the outworking of the gospel in the daily lives of millions of believers and their neighbours. They also represent areas of need where revisionist organizations, both secular and Anglican, lure orthodox people with offers of aid, invitations to conferences, scholarships and the like.

Archbishop Wabukala concluded his opening address with these words, echoing Micah 6:8 So what does the Lord require? He has called us to a great prophetic purpose at this critical point in the life of our Communion.

After some 450 years it is becoming clear that what some have called the 'Anglican experiment' is not ending in failure, but is on the verge of a new and truly global future in which the original vision of the Reformers can be realized as never before. We do not need to repudiate or belittle our history, but learn from it and set ourselves now to walk humbly with our God into the future and the hope that he has planned for us.

In response, Archbishop Jensen, the FCA General Secretary, challenged participants to agree on a "statement in the form of a commitment." In affirming this statement, we commit ourselves to the following:
* to reaffirm the Jerusalem Declaration and Statement
* to commend the Jerusalem Declaration to others as the basis for resolving the spiritual crisis currently besetting the Anglican Communion
* to invite Anglicans around the world to join FCA in order to serve Christ and his mission
* to promote and fund the networks in their various aims to strengthen the Church
* to create a network for ministry among young people * to pray for the work and ministry of FCA and for each other.

At the conclusion of the Leaders Conference, it was announced that a second Anglican Future Conference will be held in May 2013. This Conference will further the work of the FCA to renew and reform the Anglican Communion.

This leads to a further specific commitment from leaders and their churches:
* to gather for GAFCON 2 in May 2013
* to obtain funding and resourcing for GAFCON 2.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Eph 3:20-21)

St Mark's Church,
Battersea Rise
London, UK

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