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JERUSALEM: GAFCON Launched with 2,000 delegates from 53 countries

JERUSALEM: GAFCON Launched with 2,000 delegates from 53 countries
GAFCON defies "Ginger Group" classification by Archbishop Justin Welby
African Archbishop Promotes Gospel,Blasts Prosperity Gospel
Jerusalem Archbishop Suheil Dawani makes token appearance

By David W. Virtue in Jerusalem
June 18, 2018

In what is being billed as the largest international gathering of Anglicans in 50 years, the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) kicked off a week of gospel celebration with nearly 2,000 delegates from 53 countries meeting under the theme "proclaiming Christ faithfully to the nations."

The occasion here in Jerusalem is the 10th Anniversary of GAFCON, a global movement of Bible-based Anglicans who profess the orthodox apostolic faith and work together in Gospel Mission.

The Africans are clearly the lead players in this global movement; their presence is overwhelming indicating that the future of Anglicanism lies squarely with orthodox Africans with the most delegates here. The Australians are taking the lead in Western pan-Anglicanism diaspora.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who regards this movement as a "ginger group", now faces the reality that in the minds of GAFCON leaders, that it is not the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury that defines what it means to be Anglican, but the gospel. "It is either the gospel or no gospel at all," said Archbishop Okoh. The Archbishop of Canterbury is only a privilege and a position, nothing more, he said.

Okoh blasted the notion made by the ABC about "walking together" and "good disagreement. "Amos asked can two walk together, when people deny orthodox faith and then make orthodoxy optional." GAFCON spokesman, Canon Charles Raven, said there are 80-85 million baptized Anglicans worldwide with some 60 million practicing Anglicans of which GAFCON represents the majority of practicing Anglicans.

"GAFCON is refocusing the Anglican Communion to a great awakening to the truths of the Gospel which comes before historical ties," he said.

"We are here to defend and proclaim the gospel," said Sydney Anglican, the Rev. Alan Lukabyo, in opening comments.

In a rousing address to the delegates, the Rt. Rev. Alfred Olwa, a Ugandan bishop, said that "in our communion today some people reject Jesus because they won't make a stand and avoid taking a stand for Jesus. The line is drawn by Jesus, you are either in or you are out, there is no sitting on the fence. Not to embrace Jesus is to reject Jesus. We must proclaim Christ faithfully to the nations."

The bishop publicly repudiated the prosperity gospel sweeping Africa especially among Pentecostals, and said it was not Christian. "They ignore texts when Jesus talks about the poor and focus on those texts that proclaim wealth," he said. Archbishop Nicholas Okoh echoed similar words in his address to delegates saying that the prosperity gospel was short-lived with many who had left Anglicanism for prosperity teaching and were now returning when they found it did not meet their expectations.

In a ringing denunciation of colonialism, Olwa said, "There is no Jesus for the Africans, No Jesus for the British, no Jesus for the Americans, just one Jesus from one story, from one God.

"You may feel isolated from brethren and partnerships in the Communion, but stand firm - Jesus said "Lo I am with you always to the very end of the age".

The Uganda bishop said there had been a heavy cost to pay for those upholding the faith. "At GAFCON One, people took a stand for Jesus, in proclaiming Jesus faithfully to the nations. You may feel isolated from other people in the communion but stand firm, Jesus is always with you."
Addressing delegates in his opening address GAFCON chairman, Nicholas Okoh said, "...preaching must not be compromised, but is to be discharged faithfully in every generation, as Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever."

In his keynote address, Okoh said the theme of the conference to proclaim Christ to the nations was central as it is God's gospel and not ours. He cited Romans 1:1

"Gods gospel is the life transforming message of the gospel. God is the source behind the message and the gospel of God satisfies fully his love and justice. God is the source behind the message.

Okoh blasted the West's capitulation to secularity and said England was now one of the most secular nations on the planet. The Church of England still has many fine churches, but the Gospel has been virtually lost in the nations of the West. He said the West had tragically become lost because the churches have lost the essence of the gospel.

He said much of the NT letters talked about guarding the truth of the gospel, with St. Paul warning against preaching "another gospel".

"The biblical gospel recognizes that human nature is radically forming an optomistic view of human nature and he condemned the Church of England for the present national, spiritual and moral consciousness which has become a substitute morality for society that has taken sides against Judeo-Christian society that had imbibed the sexual revolution of the 60s.

He said North America had succumbed the materialism, idolatry, evil spirits, sex, other religions and success. He described it as a false gospel of inclusion that needed repentance.

"Any discussion of the scriptures, includes a decision of the gospel of God. Any gospel not derived from the Bible is a false gospel."

Okoh condemned what he called the outright false teaching by TEC, the Anglican church of Canada and the Scottish Episcopal Church, saying if there no orthodoxy on morals, there is no orthodoxy at all. "There actions have wakened the sleeping giant of orthodoxy around the world."

"Good disagreement is like a slow solvent where orthodoxy is optional. We must be ready to challenge the denial of the gospel where it is manifested in word or deed. If they do not proclaim the gospel then they are not orthodox. Our assignment from God is to present the gospel of god as transcultural. The Anglican Communion must return to the old path of God's gospel. There is no place for sexual politics in the Anglican Communion."


A surprise appearance by Jerusalem Archbishop, Suheil Dawani, brought gasps from delegates. In 2008, at GAFCON II, Dawani was not permitted to attend, at the behest of then Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori. She sent Colorado Bishop Rob O'Neill to Jerusalem to make sure he did not attend. Apparently, Dawani felt no such constraint from Michael Curry and appeared on the stage here, led by CANA East Bishop Julian Dobbs.

In his remarks, Dawani said it was always a great honor to welcome Anglicans from around the globe to this city; the city of resurrection. He said his diocese had 32 parishes and some 30 institutions providing health care and education. Though small in number, the diocese carried out vital ministry of missions.

He said the diocese faced existential threats. "We are the most ancient Christian community in the world. Gospel message came from our matriarchs and patriarchs through their own blood and sacrifice. Today the church is facing one of its greatest challenges. In 1948, once 27 % of the population was Christian, it is now less than 1%. "We need a ministry that restores human dignity in the human person. We need unity, communion and fellowship. We are a united holy land coming under pressure from forces we don't quite understand. The Christian presence is intrinsic to the fabric of the wider community, bringing together the three Abrahamic religions."

At a press conference, GAFCON General Secretary Peter Jensen said GAFCON's reason for being was to both defend the gospel against secularism and to proclaim the gospel.

The Rev. Alan Hawkins said a series of network leaders was being set up to train church planting networks which would have three thrusts.

The first was to share resources and best practices. North America needs Africa and vise versa, he said. We want to maintain that GAFCON is a movement of God's people with gospel of Jesus Christ being taken to the ends of the earth. Thirdly, we will see the world as our message field.

During a question and answer session, Okoh said that ten years ago GAFCON was not like it is today. The old paradigm of Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals working together had "crystalized" into something else.

Asked by VOL if GAFCON would establish a bishop for England if Welby remained intransigent over sexuality issues, Okoh indicated that it would be a possibility if a permanent breach had been crossed on sexuality issues. Anglicanism is not a particular office, Welby and his office is not what defines being Anglican, he said.

Asked if GAFCON is a "ginger group" as Welby has described GAFCON. Okoh replied that it all depends on the direction Welby wants to go. "He definitely has something to worry about. We are not a ginger group. We are very committed Anglicans. We are die hard Anglicans, we are not looking for power."

IN OTHER NEWS, GAFCON will launch nine networks to bishops in a training institute.

Egyptian Archbishop Mouneer Anis was denied an exit visa from Cairo and could not attend GAFCON III. A source told VOL that it had to do with the recent move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem which has outraged Palestinian Arabs.

A TEC bishop is also present here and asked not to be named for fear of reprisal by TEC's House of bishops.


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