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GAFCON UK responds positively to Primates' Communique

GAFCON UK responds positively to Primates' Communique
They warmly welcome missionary bishop to UK
Scottish Episcopal Church Primus says action is "regrettable"

By David W. Virtue, DD
May 3, 2017

GAFCON UK thanked the GAFCON Primates for their courageous spiritual leadership, consisting of clear re-statement of the essentials of the faith, and practical action to take forward the mission of global Anglicanism in the 21st century, in the recent GAFCON communique.

"We appreciate the way in which the Communique both looks back -- to the witness of those who brought about the Reformation of the Church in the 16th century; and looks forward -- to the exciting vision of multicultural and united Anglicanism which will be celebrated at the third GAFCON conference in Jerusalem, 2018," said the GAFCON-UK leaders.

"The statement also reminds us of the serious suffering experienced in many parts of the world, where Anglicans minister sacrificially with only a fraction of the necessary resources, yet they remain faithful, trusting in God to provide. As affluent Westerners, we repent of our complacency and lack of compassion, and commit ourselves to partnering more intentionally to support the church where it serves in contexts of desperate need.

The Primates go on to talk about the challenges in the Global North, "the increasing influence of materialism, secularism, and the loss of moral foundations" which are "spiritually dangerous". We recognize the need to repent of our participation in a weak version of the Christian faith which has too often failed to point out these dangers or even made accommodation with them.

"This accommodation and 'cultural captivity' is seen in the failure by many Anglican leaders in the UK to hold to the key principles of Holy Scripture as speaking clearly to God's will for human flourishing, and of requiring unequivocal obedience whatever the cost. It is shown, for example, in unwillingness to be clear about the uniqueness of Jesus and the authority of the Bible, and rejection of clear biblical teaching God's gift of sex and marriage, and of celibate singleness.

"This has contributed to the increasing concern that many faithful clergy and lay people in the Church of England, the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Church in Wales feel about the revisionist trajectory of these churches. As the Communique points out clearly, some Anglicans are already outside of these structures and need Episcopal oversight; others may do so soon.

"We warmly welcome the decision of the Primates to consecrate a missionary Bishop who will fulfil this function. We appreciate the way GAFCON has recognized that this intervention is giving global support to one of a number of initiatives being taken by biblically orthodox Anglicans in Britain; others include the work being done to strengthen the Free Church of England. Meanwhile the Primates have generously expressed respect for and continued warm fellowship with those who for the moment are choosing to remain within the official structures and contend for orthodox biblical faith there, while warning that inaction in the face of revisionist pressure is not a faithful option.

We understand that more will be revealed about the plans for the consecration in due course. We commit ourselves to prayer about this and invite all who hold to the historic and trustworthy teaching of our faith to join us.


By contrast, The Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Most Rev. David Chillingworth, said the actions of the GAFCON primates was "regrettable" and said the action lacked respect for the territorial integrity of each province. "This move is a breach of that understanding."

"In June, the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church will reach the final stage of consideration of changes which would make possible same-sex marriage in our churches," he wrote in response to the GAFCON primates.

The news that GAFCON intends to send a missionary bishop to Britain is regrettable, he said.

"The outcome of the synodical process which will take place in June is not a foregone conclusion. The voices of clergy and lay people from across Scotland will be heard both in debate and in the voting process. The Scottish Episcopal Church is working closely with those who find this proposal difficult to accept. Whatever the outcome may be, it is our intention to be and to remain a church which honors diversity."

Chillingworth repeated that commitment to honoring diversity and difference in an interview with the BBC's Good Morning Scotland program, in which he declared himself saddened, but not surprised, by the GAFCON announcement. He said that he hoped the appointment of a missionary bishop would not sharpen divisions within Scottish church.


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