SYDNEY’s Role in GAFCON schismatic Church polity

Anglican Archbishop of Sydney Glenn Davies used his final Synod address to demand reformers leave the church.
Sydney’s Archbishop Glen Davies addresses his Synod in collar and tie

This item, from Journalist Andrew West (ABC Australia), discusses the role of the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney in the schismatic breakaway ethos of the GAFCON Churches of the Global South – from the authentic Provinces of the Anglican Communion:

“On issues of sexuality and women’s ministry, the Sydney diocese is increasingly out of step with the church in the rest of Australia and certainly in the US, Canada, New Zealand and much of the UK. But it has reached into the church’s growth areas – Africa, Asia and Latin America, known as the “global south”.

Sydney was the progenitor of an organisation called the Global Anglican Future Conference, or Gafcon, which enforces a strict reading of scripture. Most of Gafcon’s member churches remain within the official Anglican communion, recognised by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

But more ominously for the worldwide Anglican family, the Sydney diocese has a history of supporting schismatic churches, not endorsed by Canterbury. At the weekend (of 19 October 2019), several Sydney bishops flew to New Zealand to consecrate a bishop not recognised by the official NZ church. They have done the same with the breakaway Anglican Church of North America.

Most notoriously – decades before the controversies over sex, sexuality and even feminism – Sydney supported the Church of England in South Africa. It was a largely, if not officially, white breakaway movement from the official Anglican Church of Southern Africa. In 1997, CESA’s leader begged forgiveness before South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission for its inadequate response to the apartheid regime.

The Sydney diocese is also on the cusp of dominating the Australian church. Its evangelical theological college, Moore, is a powerhouse, churning out a couple of hundred graduates every year. These are the men – and increasingly women – who are ordained as priests and deacons, not just within the diocese but around the country.

Other colleges with more liberal or pluralist views of scripture, such as Ridley and Trinity in Melbourne, simply cannot match the numbers.

And with numbers comes power. At the 2017 national synod, Sydney and its allies in the dioceses of Tasmania, Armidale, North West Australia and segments of Melbourne and Adelaide, secured a narrow majority on the powerful standing committee.

• Andrew West is the presenter of The Religion & Ethics Report on ABC Radio National


The increasingly belligerent attitude of Sydney Anglican Archbishop Glen Davies – and other Australian Bishops who were present at the irregular recent ordination in Christchurch, New Zealand; of a schismatic Anglican Bishop to become head of the new sectarian ‘Church of Confessing Anglicans of Aotearoa, New Zealand’ – marks out a new chapter in the ‘Sola Scriptura’ intransigence of the GAFCON/Sydney sodality (pioneered by former Sydney Archbishop, Peter Jensen, who was present at the Christchurch Border-Crossing incident) – in their headlong rush to schism in the ACC.

Sydney Diocese – as was mentioned in the first article here – was materially supportive of the breakway ‘Church of England in South Africa’ (CESA), which was notable for its support of the Apartheid Regime, while the remaining Anglican Church in S.A.- under people like Archbishop Desmond Tutu – was strongly in opposition to that regime.

Will Sydney be allowed to get away with this new debacle? –

With its conservative fundamentalism in alliance with GAFCON, the Sydney Diocese has a lot to answer for in its support for other breakway GAFCON (former Anglican) Churches – notably: ACNA, the schismatic breakway Church from TEC, The official Episcopal Church in North America and the Anglican Church of Canada.

ACNA Archbishop, Foley Beach, joined the current and former Archbishops of Sydney in the consecration of a Bishop for CACANZ (the schismatic breakaway church from ACANZP) which the GAFCON/Sydney sodality first brought into being by this ceremony.

Sadly, in the mix of GAFCON supporters in this irregular consecration, were bishops from the local NZ Anglican Church, who both presented and helped in the episcopal ordination of this former ACANZP cleric. In doing so, they defied the polity and the authority of the local Anglican Church in which they held their episcopal licences.

One now is set to wonder what the ACC (the Anglican Communion Officials) and the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Lambeth Bishops will actually do to preserve the Polity and Discipline of the worldwide Anglican Communion? Will the presenting and consecrating ACANZP bishops who took part in this irregular ordination lose their licences in the local Anglican Church? We watch and wait!

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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