CAIRO: A Tale of Two Anglican Conferences
By David W. Virtue in Cairo
October 4, 2016
In his gently given opening address, Global South Chairman, President Bishop Mouneer Anis, spoke powerfully about the need for the Global South to bring Gospel engagement to the many desperate areas in the world. In order to do this, he called for a new treaty to provide theological agreement.
An Anglican Covenant proposed and drawn up by Dr. Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, was never adopted. Liberals didn't like it because it was too Biblical. Conservatives didn't like it because it was toothless. Recognizing that, President Bishop Mouneer here in Cairo, has called for a new agreement for Global South Provinces that would be substantive. Likely, some Provinces would not approve such a thing, but an agreement like that by the majority would be a powerful means to build consensus, just as GAFCON's Jerusalem Declaration has done.
He also called for new structures through which Global South Provinces could cooperate for undiluted Gospel ministry. This would not require a break from Canterbury, but it would allow for ministry without having Western Liberals dominate the agenda with their "progressive" views and plans.
Bishop Bill Atwood (GAFCON Ambassador) said, "It is likely that the implications from Bishop Mouneer's comments tonight will reverberate for two hundred years. I expect to see great strength going forward with both fellowship and theological agreement uniting practically all of the Global South with all of GAFCON."
At the same time as this week's 6th trumpet Global South meeting in Cairo, the Archbishop of Canterbury gathered a group from around the Communion to go to Rome to celebrate the anniversary of the Anglican Centre in Rome. It appears that the visit to Rome was set for the same time as GS6 in Cairo, after the Global South announced it was meeting in Cairo. Perhaps there was a desire to have a competing agenda to try to make it appear that things are going well in the Anglican Communion, when in fact, they are not. When VOL enquired if Welby would be attending the GS conference, we were told he had begged off, saying he was going to be in Rome seeing the pope.
Thirty-six Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops from 19 countries were in Canterbury this week at the start of a historic week-long summit marking closer ties between the two traditions. A service in Rome on Oct. 5 will be jointly led by the Archbishop of Canterbury and Pope Francis, at which the bishops will be formally commissioned to work together in pairs. VOL was told that the ABC is taking the chair of Canterbury with him.
VOL has learned that US Presiding Bishop Michael Curry was seen boarding a plane and flying first class to Rome to join Welby. The presence of Curry is in direct violation of the Primates' communique in January that the US Presiding Bishop would not be invited or permitted to attend any ecumenical council for three years, because the Episcopal Church had allowed and embraced homosexual marriage. The Anglican Church of Canada has also done the same thing.
This will come as a shock to Global South primates. This suspension is clearly not being taken seriously. If Welby argues that this is not strictly an "ecumenical event", then the word represent has lost all meaning.
Here is how the communique read; "It is our unanimous desire to walk together. However, given the seriousness of these matters, we formally acknowledge this distance by requiring that for a period of three years The Episcopal Church no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity."
But the effects of Welby's prevarications, twists and faux evangelical management skills is not being bought by the Church of England's leading evangelicals, many of whom have started a movement that could lead to a formal separation in the Church of England. The Anglican Mission in England (AMIE) has taken root and all indications are that it will, in time, bear fruit. The immediate call has gone out to start 25 churches and 250 more in time. ReNew held its first 'Shoulder to Shoulder' conference in 2013 and is in a partnership with Reform and the Church Society. Both evangelical networks within the Church of England, and the Anglican Mission in England function outside the institutional structures.
Church of England bishops recently set up a new body to "take forward work on sexuality", which will be chaired by Graham James, the Bishop of Norwich. If what has happened in TEC in the setting up of such bodies, it will be just another step in the push for full acceptance of homosexual practice and same-sex marriage. That ship has now set sail.
Only those who are blind to history can see where all this is going. TEC is fast fading, its numbers tell the story, even as the Anglian Church in North America rises and its numbers grow. Sticking one's head in the sand ostrich-like in the hope that it will go away or simply disappear, is sheer blindness and a form of madness. The Anglican Communion remains in a place of theological and moral confusion that is not going away, and in time, the differences will inevitably lead to separation and perhaps harden into divorce.
The only person who can call a halt to this moral slide is the Archbishop of Canterbury and he steadfastly refuses to do. He ducks and weaves, dodging theological and moral bullets, hoping against hope that he can hold it altogether.
This week in Cairo, a new and different story is being told, even as Archbishop David Moxon, of the Anglican Center in Rome, plays up growing Anglo and Catholic unity. It is a fiction. The two churches are moving further apart, owing to the ordination of women to the priesthood and now women to the episcopacy, along with the growing acceptance and normalizing of homosexual behavior.
A new day is dawning in the Anglican Communion with a near total commitment by the Global South for a new direction. "Choose ye this day whom ye will serve," is the cry, and there is little doubt who is really heeding it.
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