The Second Global Anglican Future Conference will be held in Nairobi, Kenya, 21st-26th October 2013. The focus will be on our shared Anglican future, as we engage with the missionary theme, ‘Making Disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.’
The first conference, GAFCON 2008, was held in Jerusalem. GAFCON gave birth to a movement, the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans. The aims of the GFCA are to proclaim and defend the apostolic gospel within and beyond the Anglican Communion and to recognise and share fellowship with orthodox Anglicans globally, especially those who have been disaffiliated by false teaching and behaviour.
We continue to face the triple challenge of sceptical secularism, militant religion and compromised Christianity. GAFCON 2013 has been summoned so that GFCA can help both plan for and experience the future of the Communion of which we, with many others, are part.
The invited delegates, laity, clergy and bishops, are united by their commitment to the Jerusalem Declaration and Statement as well as the aims of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans. They will assemble to listen to God, to pray, to deliberate, and to plan about the Anglican future, seeing it as a great spiritual and missionary fellowship, energised by the defence and proclamation of the gospel.
The General Secretary of the GFCA, Archbishop Peter Jensen said, ‘God is establishing new churches creating new believers and transforming lives. Our hope for the future is in him. Our aim is to move forward confidently, to plan and experience in fellowship a future for Anglicans in which his Word is honoured and our witness is clear. We are looking forward with great expectation to seeing God at work as we meet in Nairobi.’
So now we have it – the Second Great Missionary Conference of the (mainly African) GAFCON Primates, calling on the Anglican World to take note of their selective ‘orthodoxy’, their litmus test of Anglicanism as they would like it to become. I notice that ‘militant religion’ is one of those features they claim to be fighting against in their proclamation of ‘orthodox’ religion. One wonders whether GAFCON considers its own sectarian views might yet be viewed by most mainline Anglicans around the world as being just that: ‘Militant Religion’.
What is being profoundly misunderstood here, is the fact that their own protestation of sole ‘orthodoxy’ is a blatant claim to exclusivity in the propagation of the Gospel – which is supposed to be Good News to the modern world; but has been proved, so far in its juvenile life-time, to be nothing more than a mean-spirited, conservative attempt to claim the moral high-ground on matters of gender, sexuality, and interpretation of the Bible on these and other issues.
There are those amongst us – even in my own Church of Aotearoa/New Zealand – who express their sympathy with the GAFCON Primates, while yet seemingly ‘yearning for unity’ within our world-wide Communion. This, despite the fact that it is the GAFCON Primates who have knowingly and ruthlessly cut themselves off from Provinces of the Church that are trying to engage with a modern world understanding of the Scriptures, and their relevance to the Mission of God – in the light of social and scientific knowledge of the human condition that was unavailable to the writers of the Scriptures.
If there is to be a larger schism in the Anglican Communion Churches, it cannot be laid at the feet of those who still remain within the structures of ACC, whose last meeting in New Zealand has been described by some GAFCON enthusiasts as irrelevant and useless. The fault must lie fairly and squarely with GAFCON, and those elements in the Anglican Communion that have deliberately set themselves apart from the established koinonia of the Anglican Consultative Council and the traditional Lambeth Conference Bishops.
It should not be surprising to learn that dissident, ex-Anglicans in North America have been encouraged by some of the Primates of GAFCON to ‘walk apart’ from their parent Anglican Churches – in TEC and The Anglican Church of Canada. Their excuse for this piratical activity in provinces different from their own, has been their desire to ‘rescue’ those former Anglicans who have rebelled against their own provincial Churches’ lawful determination, through their general Synods, to ordain Gay Bishops and to authorise the Blessing of Same-Sex Relationships. This has been the basis on which the GAFCON Primates have carried out their calculated series of border-crossing interventions, setting up their own quasi-Anglican churches in opposition to the parent churches.
The announcement of this upcoming conference will draw the attention of the Anglican world to the distinct possibility of a two-way split in the Communion – between the self-styled ‘orthodox’ GAFCON provinces (and their satellite churches in other provinces) and those Provinces of the Communion that are undertaking to follow the way of Inclusion, rather than sectarian Exclusion, in their pursuit of the Gospel outreach to ALL people.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand