It had to come, sooner or later – a threatened split in the GAFCON/ACNA conglommerate – on the specific grounds of a perceived violation of its own self-advertised affinity on the basis of claiming to be the solely ‘Orthodox’ face of world-wide Anglicanism.
Archbishop Foley Beach (ACNA) Chair of the GAFCON – of which ACNA s the North American face – stands with clergy and people of ACNA in North America who are protesting against GACFON’s African Primates; for allowing women to be ordained bishops in their Churches.
This may just be one of ACNA’s mis-steps in their relationship with the African Churches of GAFCON, whose Archbishops are now accepting the fact that women are fully part of God’s Church and, therefore – despite the opposition of ACNA’s people in North America, whose vision of a purely ‘orthodox’ Church does not include Women Bishops – able to make up their own minds about whom they will, or will not, admit into Holy Orders.
GAFCON, having separated themselves out from the LAMBETH-based World-Wide Anglican Communion on issues of gender and sexuality – on the specific gounds of ‘un-orthodoxy’, on account of the Anglican Communion Church’s acceptance of Gay and Lesbian clergy – is now suffering from a threatened home-grown schism, on account of ACNA’s claim that GAFCON’s African bishop’s are undermining GAFCON/ACNA’s claim to ‘orthodoxy’ by ordaining women as bishops in their local Churches.
The problem with claiming ‘Christian orthodoxy’ as the basis for their separation from the more liberal Churches of the Anglican Communion; leaves GAFCON open to the possibility of being accused of double-standards; not only on the grounds of gender/sexuality, but also on the issue of Women’s Ordination; which the African bishop in GAFCON have decided to explore for themselves without prior consultaion with their U.S. GAFCON/ACNA partners.
It has been said that “Schism can only lead to further schism”. Will this be the end of GAFCON?
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand
Here is the relevant article, published by the CHAIR of GAFCON/ACNA:
A Pastoral Message from Archbishop Beach Regarding Gafcon and Women in the Episcopate
From Archbishop Foley Beach
September 16, 2021
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I am writing to you today from Nairobi, Kenya at the close of the recent Gafcon Primates Meeting. I am thankful for our global fellowship that is providing encouragement for many, from those undergoing persecution in Nigeria to those grappling with theological innovations in Wales. I encourage you to read more from the press release here.
There is one matter coming out of our meeting that is a challenge for a number of us in the Anglican Church in North America, myself included. The Anglican Church of Kenya recently consecrated a female diocesan bishop, and there has been speculation about how this development might affect our fellowship. At our meeting, the Gafcon Primates agreed we have not come to a consensus on the issue of women in holy orders, and specifically women in the episcopate. At its founding, Gafcon articulated in the Jerusalem Declaration the centrality of the Gospel message of salvation while acknowledging differences in secondary matters and pledging “to work together to seek the mind of Christ on issues that divide us.” Such matters will certainly stretch our fellowship, but our unity in Christ remains strong.
I recognize that this decision will come as a deep disappointment to some. I share in that disappointment. I wish Gafcon were of a common mind on this topic, but the reality is that we are not. However, let us remember that Gafcon founded the Anglican Church in North America, and these orthodox leaders in the Anglican Communion sacrificially put their lives on the line for the Gospel of Jesus Christ every day. This decision does not change how our Province operates as our constitution and canons are clear. Gafcon is not an ecclesial jurisdiction; it is a conference. Nevertheless, we will continue to stand with these brothers and sisters to the greatest extent possible to maintain the Biblical Faith in the Anglican Communion and proclaim the saving Good News of Jesus Christ.
Please join me in praying for the Church:
Gracious Father, we pray for your holy Catholic Church. Fill it with all truth, in all truth with all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in anything it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of Jesus Christ your Son our Savior. Amen (Prayer for the Universal Church, pg 646, BCP 2019)
The Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach
Archbishop and Primate
The Anglican Church in North America