GAFCON offers itself as "an important and effective instrument of Communion"
By Chris Sugden
Church of England Newspaper
November 1, 2013
"We shall continue to work within the Anglican Communion for its renewal and reform." So ends the GAFCON2013 Communique and Commitment
Speaking for over 300 bishops and archbishops around the Anglican Communion it recognizes "times when the maintenance of structures can constrain the proclamation of the gospel. In line with The Jerusalem Statement's expectation that the Primates' Council would intervene to provide 'orthodox oversight to churches under false leadership', the Primates' Council will carefully consider working beyond existing structures as an obedient response to Jesus' commission to take the gospel to all nations.
Commenting on this statement in the Communique Bishop Michael Nazir Ali told the CEN: "Many orthodox Anglicans and their friends beyond have been grateful to the orthodox Primates and bishops who have been able to assist people and churches who were left in great distress by moral and doctrinal compromise in their own provinces and dioceses. The continuation of such a relationship through GAFCON remains an important element as the struggle for the soul of the Communion continues. GAFCON is a major means of fellowship among orthodox Anglicans - evangelical, charismatic and catholic - allowing them to play a significant role in a biblical future for Anglicanism."
Anglican Mission in England
For the Church of England the Nairobi Commitment states: "We commit ourselves to the support and defence of those who in standing for apostolic truth are marginalized or excluded from formal communion with other Anglicans in their dioceses. We have therefore recognized the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE) as an expression of authentic Anglicanism both for those within and outside the Church of England, and welcomed their intention to appoint a General Secretary of AMiE. " [ For AMiE see http://anglicanmissioninengland.org/ ] The Conference "appreciated that the Archbishop of Canterbury sent personal greetings via video and gave us the assurance of his prayers, and we likewise pray for him."
The statement claims "We believe we have acted as an important and effective instrument of Communion during a period in which other instruments of Communion have failed both to uphold gospel priorities in the Church, and to heal the divisions among us."
Archbishop Stanley Ntagali of Uganda told me that the Conference affirmed that "this is where the Church of Uganda belongs" and that "we need to be strong ourselves so that we can shine". Many of the 120 invited participants from the UK and Ireland expressed admiration for the excellent organization of the conference by the Church of Kenya and the inspiration the Conference had given them. It was an international conference with a clearly African face.
Evangelical / Anglo-Catholic relationships
The Statement embraces major Anglican traditions: "As a response to the crisis, we adopted The Jerusalem Statement and Declaration which commits us to biblical faithfulness, and has since provided the framework for renewed Anglican orthodoxy to which we - Evangelicals, Anglo-Catholics and Charismatics - are committed.."
Canon Dr Gavin Ashenden who led a workshop on Anglo-Catholic and Evangelical relationships commented "Anglicanism comprises of the Reformed renewal of Catholic structure and identity. "Repentance and the primacy of unity in John 17 kept emerging from our bible exposition - In our coming together we needed to express our repentance for our antipathy and our caricaturing of one another; it was accompanied by our determination through our commitment to the Jerusalem Declaration to reconstitute a renewed Anglican orthodoxy within the dynamic of GAFCON."
Marriage and same-sex attraction
GAFCON grieves "that several national governments, aided by some church leaders, have claimed to redefine marriage and have turned same-sex marriage into a human rights issue.....We want to make clear that any civil partnership of a sexual nature does not receive the blessing of God. We continue to pray for and offer pastoral support to Christians struggling with same-sex temptation who remain celibate in obedience to Christ and affirm them in their faithfulness."
"More than a Network"
While light on ecclesiology, the Communique announced:"We have resolved to be more than a network. We are an effective expression of faithful Anglicanism and therefore, we must organise ourselves in a way that demonstrates the seriousness of our objectives: proclaiming and contending for the gospel of Jesus Christ, building the fellowship, authorising and affirming faithful Anglicans who have been excluded by their diocese or province...discerning the need for new provinces, dioceses and churches - and then authenticating their ministries and orders as Anglican."
"We shall organise around a Primates' Council, a Board of Trustees, an Executive Committee and regional liaison officers, who will be involved in fostering communication among FCAs."
"We invite provinces, dioceses, mission agencies, local congregations and individuals formally to become contributing members of the GFCA. We ask provinces to reconsider their support for those Anglican structures that are used to undermine biblical faithfulness and contribute instead, or additionally, to the financing of the GFCA's on-going needs."
The statement names the following priorities: evangelising areas of the world where gospel witness has been obscured or lost, to unreached people and children and young people; supporting genuine gospel initiatives; publicly exposing any false gospel not consistent with apostolic teaching; deepening discipleship; engaging graciously in the public square; working for the transformation of society; working for the protection of the environment and economic empowerment of those deprived of resources, and attending to the marginalised and oppressed; affirming the vital contribution of women in the life of the church while differing over the roles men and woman have in church leadership; repudiating all violence against women and children; calling on governments and leaders of religions to respect human rights, protect Christians from violent attack and take effective action to provide freedom of religious expression for all.
The GAFCON Jerusalem cross that was brought to Nairobi from the first 2008 conference will now remain.
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