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GAFCON Leaders say no break with Canterbury

GAFCON Leaders say no break with Canterbury
Compromised Leadership and old Governance Structures have failed the Anglican Communion
New structures needed for Anglican Communion to go forward
Welby viewed as embracing morally compromised Western progressive churches

By David W. Virtue, DD
May 31, 2018

When some 2,000 orthodox Anglican leaders meet in Jerusalem two weeks from now, they will once again affirm that they will not break with Canterbury, but at the same time make absolutely clear that the Communion is broken and efforts to fix it by compromising on essentials will not work.

It will be a variation of a scene from the movie Fatal Attraction - the two groups will live unhappily under the one roof till Western progressive Anglicanism withers and dies.

The third Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) will be held in Jerusalem from Sunday June 17 to 22nd and will draw a record 2,000, up from 1,100 delegates in 2008 and 1,500 in 2013.

The old forms of governance within the Anglican Communion -- the Primates' Meeting, the Anglican Consultative Council and the Lambeth Conference of bishops, all of which the Archbishop of Canterbury is central in - are becoming increasingly compromised, say its leaders, a message that Archbishop Justin Welby certainly doesn't want to hear.

They say his leadership is "compromised". Looking back, it is clear that Archbishop Justin Welby's apparent success in gathering nearly all the Primates of the Communion in Canterbury in 2016 was short lived, say GAFCON leaders.

"The measures agreed by the Primates to distance The Episcopal Church (TEC) from Communion decision-making were completely undermined by TEC's full participation in the Lusaka meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council just three months later. It is not therefore surprising that the Global South Primates have concluded that the old governance structures are 'unable to sustain the common life and unity of the Anglican Churches worldwide', as they stated in the communique from their Cairo conference in October 2016."

By contrast, Welby is desperately trying to recover his role as the "Focus of Unity" in the Anglican Communion. He is doing so by calling GAFCON a "ginger group" -- a source of prayer and renewal, of spiritual life within God's family...but that is not how GAFCON delegates see themselves. Some might view this as a not so mild putdown. GAFCON leaders see western progressive Anglicans, "shrinking to nothing while the Bible based Gospel ministry that GAFCON engages, will bear more and more fruit. Eventually, it will be obvious even to the casual observer which path is life-giving!"

"People have asked if we are meeting in Jerusalem to declare a break with Canterbury. The answer is emphatically “No.” That would be declaring an unnecessary war."

GAFCON wants to change the communion from within by its: online presence and resources, training initiatives, standing with orthodox Anglicans marginalized in their own provinces and dioceses, pioneering mission and building global networks. "Our expanded 2018 meeting in Jerusalem will add further to this momentum," they claim. Now that's a far cry from prayer and tea at the old vicarage.

Welby is also set on replacing Lambeth 1998 with the three-way typology of sexuality as the Communion norm, with comfortable words of "walking together" with "good disagreement" for conservatives. He is prepared to deny the explicit teaching of Jesus in Scripture (Matthew 19:1--12), the tradition of the historic church and the moral teaching of former Lambeth Conferences, writes Dr. Stephen Noll. In 2008 GAFCON leaders wrote; “While acknowledging the nature of Canterbury as an historic see, we do not accept that Anglican identity is determined necessarily through recognition by the Archbishop of Canterbury.” The recognition of ACNA and now of the Anglican Church in Brazil should make clear that Gafcon does not accept the definition of Anglican identity in terms of being “in communion with the See of Canterbury.”

GAFCON leaders want renewal from within, and while they are not prepared to start a war with Welby, they will not compromise the gospel either.

"Right now, many of the leaders in the developed industrial Provinces in the Anglican Communion have abandoned Gospel ministry in favor of falling in step with the surrounding culture. That decision cannot bear fruit. In GAFCON, we have the Gospel, and the Gospel is life. Rather than declaring war, we need to build the structures and relational networks that can move Gospel ministry forward to do evangelism, discipleship, church planting, and business as mission.

"Jerusalem 2018 will be another great assembly where the Anglican Communion will be free to truly experience communion, speaking and acting as a united family of Churches centered on the biblical Gospel rather than a theologically confused institution which can find little common ground.

"In Jerusalem, we will build networks of relationships, and work on structures that will advance Gospel ministry around the world. In some places, there are terrible obstacles, but the Gospel will still prevail. GAFCON 2018 in Jerusalem will provide an opportunity to discern in concrete terms, how we are to carry the Gospel into the world. It will be one of the most exciting and fulfilling gatherings ever held in contemporary Anglicanism.

"Here we will see the vision of the Jerusalem Statement, formulated back in 2008 continue to unfold. As we stated then: 'The primary reason we have come to Jerusalem and issued this declaration is to free our churches to give clear and certain witness to Jesus Christ.'"


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