Disappointed’ Primates announce GAFCON 2
by Ed Thornton
Delegates at the first GAFCON conference in Jerusalem in 2008 CHURCH TIMES
|THE leaders of GAFCON, a global network of conservative Anglicans, said this week that the decision to “reduce the status” of the Primates’ Meeting in Dublin earlier this year (News, 28 January) was “unacceptable.” Those who organised the meeting had been “misled”. The GAFCON leaders announced plans for a second conference in 2013, and the opening of new offices in London and Nairobi.A 13-point communiqué, issued on Wednesday after a meeting of GAFCON Primates in Nairobi last month, said: “The fabric of our communion life has been torn at its deepest level and until the presenting issues are addressed we will remain weakened at a time when the needs before us are so great.”
It said that the Primates were “disappointed” that the organisers of the Dublin meeting “not only failed to address these core concerns but decided instead to unilaterally reduce the status of the Primates’ Meeting.
“This action was taken in complete disregard for the resolutions of both Lambeth 1978 and 1998 that called for an enhanced role in ‘doctrinal, moral and pastoral matters’. We believe that they were seriously misled and their actions unacceptable.
After reflecting on “issues regarding Anglican ecclesiology”, the Primates concluded that “the local church is the fundamental expression of the one true church here on earth and is bound together with other local churches by ties of love, fellowship and truth.”
The communiqué stated that “we are fully the church in our various settings, created and sustained by Word and Sacrament, and marked by obedience that results in faith, hope and love.”
It outlines plans for a leadership conference in April 2012, and “an international gathering of Primates, bishops, clergy and lay leaders” in “the first half of 2013 . . . provisionally designated ‘GAFCON 2’”.
To “offer adequate support to our member provinces, sustain our various initiatives, and strengthen our communications capabilities”, the Primates have also decided to establish a “GAFCON/FCA Chairman’s office” in Nairobi and a “global co-ordination office” in London “under the direction of the Rt Revd Martyn Minns, Missionary Bishop of the Church of Nigeria”.
‘The communiqué stated that “we are fully the church in our various settings, created and sustained by Word and Sacrament, and marked by obedience that results in faith, hope and love.” ‘ – GAFCON Meeting –
What the GAFCON Prelates seem to forget is that the very same situation applies to every Province of the world-wide Anglican Communion – not just them! Every Anglican Province is independently constituted, with its own hierarchy, statutes and ordinances; and is a legitimate part of the Body of Christ. GAFCON provinces are only individual entities in that body – they do not constitute the whole, or even the major part, of that enterprise which we call the Anglican Communion.
To attempt to assert some privileged position within the Communion is not only un-Christian but also against the whole tradition of plurality which has existed within the Communion from its early beginnings. The Anglican ethos of ‘Scripture, Tradition and Reason’ cannot be subverted by a fundamentalist movement back to ‘sola scriptura’. We live in a modern world, which needs new perspectives and actions which will meet with the call for Gospel truth and justice for ALL people – not just the so-called ‘respectable’ of society. The Church is a hospital for sinners, not a mausoleum for saints.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch