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SINGAPORE: Anglican Chaplain Reflects on GSE4 Deliberations in Singapore

SINGAPORE: Anglican Chaplain Reflects on GSE4 Deliberations in Singapore
Gratitude, Caution and Hope, he says

By The Rev. Phil Ashey, J.D.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Upon my return from Singapore I had to plunge immediately into the organizational Synod of the newly forming Anglican Diocese of the South-a new diocese in the AC-NA that the AAC has helped to launch through our organizational work and our conference on "Sharing your Faith."

I hope that the following observations are neither untimely nor redundant of what others have written and observed of the Fourth Anglican Global South to South Encounter at St. Andrew's Cathedral, Singapore. My observations come from a time of reflection and distance from the events and conversations in which I participated, and can be summed up in three words: Gratitude, Caution and Hope.

Gratitude: I am grateful for the privilege and honor of representing the AC-NA with Archbishop Duncan, Bishop Guernsey and Mr. Hugo Blankingship, chancellor of the AC-NA. I am grateful for the opportunities to fellowship with Communion Partner Bishops Mark Lawrence and John Howe.

I am grateful for the exceptional organization and hospitality extended by Archbishop John Chew, the clergy and the people of the Diocese of Singapore. I am grateful for the anointed Bible studies by Bishop Rennis Ponniah, assisting Bishop of Singapore, from Isaiah on a new vision for God, the Church and leadership. The Bible studies and prayer times brought us daily into the presence of the Lord and the power of the Holy Spirit. I am grateful for the special meeting called by the primates to hear the concerns of the AC-NA and Communion Partners and better understand the situation we face in North America.

I am grateful for the mutually supporting words offered by Archbishop Duncan and Bishop Howe in response to their questions. I am grateful that the primates recognized the flaws in the current version of the Anglican Covenant, insisted upon compliance with Lambeth Resolution 1.10 as a precondition for signing the Covenant, called for the primates to review and enforce the Covenant rather than the ersatz "Standing Committee," and thereby reaffirmed the authority and responsibility of the primates regarding faith and order in the Anglican Communion.

Caution: The Global South is not a monolithic entity. As someone in my small group remarked, it is made up of many voices and many interests. During the debate over the language of the final communiqué, some of those voices echoed the same refrains we heard 20 years ago when The Episcopal Church (TEC) and the Anglican Church of Canada (ACoC) placed sexual freedom above the authority of scripture. Even in my small group someone remarked, "And how can one define orthodoxy?"

Fortunately, those voices were not able to stop the strong language of the communiqué condemning the innovations of TEC and the ACoC, reaffirming the authority of Holy Scripture and its call to corporate and personal holiness, and encouraging every (orthodox) province to declare full communion with AC-NA and Communion Partners. But the question remains: how will the Global South choose to order itself in the years ahead? Up to now, the Global South has enjoyed congruence between geography, history and theology.

When TEC and the ACoC ignore the communiqué and show up at the next meeting of the instruments of unity, who will stand with Archbishops Anis, Ernest and Orombi in boycotting those meetings? As Archbishop Duncan wisely observed in his closing remarks, building an association based on geography or history, rather than the "faith once delivered to the saints" is the same trajectory TEC and the ACoC followed in the 20th century.

If the association rests on nothing more than common prayer and common mission, it will suffer the same "glorious failure" that the Archbishop of Canterbury declared in his closing address at ACC-14. If the Global South chooses to build on such foundations, what future does the Communion have?

Hope: In view of the trajectories that TEC and the ACoC have followed, it is evident that the "gathering power" in the Communion must shift from institutional mandates and history to theological agreement. In the words of Archbishop Peter Jensen, we are no longer in a time of crisis. The crisis has passed; the Archbishop of Canterbury's video plea for restraint and further dialogue fell on deaf ears. We are living in a time of consequences. The communiqué used the strongest possible language to condemn "those who continue to claim the name Anglican but who pursue an agenda of their own desire in opposition to historic norms of faith, teaching and practice." (para. 20)

The Global South cited the GAFCON gathering and the Anglican formularies contained in the Jerusalem Declaration as a point of theological clarity and agreement. In conversations with delegates, I heard time and again that it is a gathering like that around the Jerusalem Declaration which will pave the way for an Anglican future undeterred by false gospels-a Communion committed to fulfilling the Great Commission, and profoundly missional in reaching the world with the transforming love of Jesus Christ.

The American Anglican Council will continue to work with our friends in GAFCON/FCA and the Global South to ensure such a future for the Anglican Communion. We give thanks for the recognition of faithful Episcopalians in the Communion Partner dioceses and congregations. I ask your prayers as we build upon the recognition by 80 percent of the Anglican Communion that the Anglican Church in North America is a faithful expression of Anglicanism.

Yours in Christ,


----Rev. J. Philip Ashey is Chief Operating and Development Officer for the American Anglican Council

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