JERUSALEM: ANGLICAN COMMUNION FACES SPLIT
North American Province Will Become a Reality
By David W. Virtue in Jerusalem
June 28, 2008
Believing that God has called them to a "new work", Primates at the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) announced tonight that they have launched a movement of Confessing Anglicans that will, in effect, be a rival Anglican Communion.
Tomorrow, when orthodox Anglicans meet for their final day of pilgrimage, 1,200 representatives including 303 bishops of the Anglican Communion representing more than 70% of the Communion, will announce the formation of a new Anglican body that will affirm "'the faith once for all delivered to the saints"' as a bulwark against the growing and rampant liberalism in the mostly Western church.
While the word "schism" is not found in the text, it is, to all intents and purposes, a formal split from the Archbishop of Canterbury and the four Instruments of Unity.
The new global Anglican fellowship will act, for a time, within the present organization, but many see fragmenting synodical boundaries of the Church of England. In North America, a new North American Anglican Province will be set up to draw together members of Common Cause Partnership and various Anglican evangelical and Anglo-Catholics jurisdictions, setting it on a collision course with the liberal (some believe revisionist) Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in Canada.
Coming as it does, just two weeks before some 600 bishops representing only 30% of the Anglican Communion meet in Canterbury, this fellowship meeting in the land of Jesus' birth, poses a direct challenge to the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, as well as to the Primate of The Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori and to Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church in Canada. Most of the Anglican bishops here will not attend Lambeth.
This momentous decision, the likes of which we have not seen in 500 years of Anglican history, made by representatives from all 38 provinces, will directly affect nearly half the total number of provinces in the communion including, Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, India, Sydney, and the Southern Cone, which makes up two-thirds of all worshipping Anglicans.
Years of endless talking and listening have come to an end over a number of issues including the acceptance of pansexuality within the Episcopal Church, the Canadian and now the Church of England. These "pilgrims" want nothing more to do with the liberalism that has penetrated and bankrupted the Anglican Communion. Whole dioceses and parishes are now in serious decline. There is litigation against orthodox parishes wanting nothing more to do with liberalism.
The action taken by these mostly Evangelical Anglicans is the most devastating blow to the unity of the Anglican Communion in the West since the 16th Century Protestant Reformation.
These Anglicans will now forge ahead to meet the challenges by planting new churches among unreached peoples and to restore authentic Christianity to compromised churches.
The GAFCON theological leaders laid out a 14-point statement of theological orthodoxy which includes, among other things, affirming the Old and New Testaments as the Word of God, upholding the four Ecumenical Councils and the three historic Creeds as espressions of the rule of faith of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church. They uphold the Thirty-nine Articles as containing the true doctrine of the Church agreeing with God's Word and as authoritative for Anglicans today.
The conveners say they want a "federation of provinces" which Dr. Rowan Williams has repeatedly resisted. He has staked his job on trying to keep the worldwide Communion together. Some believe his job might now be in jeopardy, as he has singularly failed to do this.
The orthodox Province of Nigeria has deleted all reference to Canterbury from its constitution. It appears other provinces will now follow. One Episcopal diocese (San Joaquin) has already fled The Episcopal Church. Three more dioceses are expected to make the break following Lambeth. Some 300 churches have left The Episcopal Church and attached themselves to a number of African jurisdictions. They argue that it is the liberals, not them, who have adopted innovations leading to the breakdown of the communion. They say liberals have abandoned the biblical faith and the teachings of Christianity.
It is unclear what the legal implications will be in England, where the Queen is Supreme Governor of the Church. In the U.S. and Canada, where parishes are fleeing The Episcopal Church, millions of dollars are being spent on litigation to keep properties in TEC. Most must close, once the parishioners have fled. Many have simply left their properties. Others are fighting to keep them.
It is expected that the new fellowship will include those churches that have separated from TEC since 1977 over such issues as Women's Ordination and other doctrinal matters.
Here at GAFCON, in Jerusalem, are bishops from the Church of England, Sydney, South Africa, the Southern Cone, US, India, TEC, Canada and the Reformed Episcopal Church in the US. There are also representatives from the American Anglican Council, Anglicans for Life, Anglican Relief and Development, and the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC). US representatives from CANA, the Anglican Missions in the Americas, Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda are also present. None of these latter bishops have been invited to Lambeth.
One report from the "London Times" says that more than 600 Church of England clergy, representing almost as many parishes, are expected to swear allegiance to the new body when they meet on Tuesday at All Souls, Langham Place, which is regarded as Britain's evangelical flagship.
The fellowship was given a boost in North America on Friday when a Virginia judge ruled that a group of 11 breakaway parishes could keep their property. Lawyers from the Episcopal Church will appeal. The case is being watched closely by dozens of other parishes. There are at least three dioceses also planning to break away, observed the Times.
One of the lightning rod issues for the new movement is the 2003 consecration of the non-celibate homogenital Bishop of New Hampshire, Gene Robinson. In addition to this, another issue has been the authorization of same-sex blessings in the ultra-liberal Diocese of New Westminster in Canada.
The key players in this new fellowship include the Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali; the Archbishop of the Southern Cone, the Most Rev. Gregory Venables; the Archbishop of Uganda, Henry Luke Orombi; the Archbishop of Sydney, Dr. Peter Jensen; and the Archbishop of Kenya, the Most Rev Benjamin Nzimbi, who led the committee drawing up the final communique in Jerusalem. Archbishop Venables says he will be at the Lambeth Conference.
Dr Jensen said, "American revisionists committed an extraordinary strategic blunder in 2003 . They did not think that there would be any consequences.
"Now, if they did not believe that there would be consequences, that is an arrogant thing, I have to say. But I don't know them, so I really cannot say. The consequences have been unfolding over the last five years. Now their church is divided. It looks as though there will be permanent division, one way or the other.
"All around the world, the sleeping giant that is evangelical Anglicanism and orthodox Anglicanism has been aroused by what happened in Canada and the United States of America. It was an act of folly."
The fellowship will draw up its own Book of Common Prayer,using the original formularies as outlined by Thomas Cranmer, and incorporated into the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.
FULL STATEMENT ON THE GLOBAL ANGLICAN FUTURE
Praise the LORD! It is good to sing praises to our God; for he is gracious, and a song of praise is fitting. The LORD builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel. (Psalm 147:1-2) Brothers and Sisters in Christ: We, the participants in the Global Anglican Future Conference, send you greetings from Jerusalem!
The Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), which was held in Jerusalem from 22-29 June 2008, is a spiritual movement to preserve and promote the truth and power of the gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ as we Anglicans have received it. The movement is global: it has mobilised Anglicans from around the world. We are Anglican: 1148 lay and clergy participants, including 291 bishops representing millions of faithful Anglican Christians. We cherish our Anglican heritage and the Anglican Communion and have no intention of departing from it. And we believe that, in God's providence, Anglicanism has a bright future in obedience to our Lord's Great Commission to make disciples of all nations and to build up the church on the foundation of biblical truth (Matthew 28:18-20; Ephesians 2:20).
GAFCON is not just a moment in time, but a movement in the Spirit, and we hereby:
* launch the GAFCON movement as a fellowship of confessing Anglicans * publish the Jerusalem Declaration as the basis of the fellowship * Encourage GAFCON Primates' Council.
The Global Anglican Context
The future of the Anglican Communion is but a piece of the wider scenario of opportunities and challenges for the gospel in 21st century global culture. We rejoice in the way God has opened doors for gospel mission among many peoples, but we grieve for the spiritual decline in the most economically developed nations, where the forces of militant secularism and pluralism are eating away the fabric of society and churches are compromised and enfeebled in their witness. The vacuum left by them is readily filled by other faiths and deceptive cults.
To meet these challenges will require Christians to work together to understand and oppose these forces and to liberate those under their sway. It will entail the planting of new churches among unreached peoples and also committed action to restore authentic Christianity to compromised churches.
The Anglican Communion, present in six continents, is well positioned to address this challenge, but currently it is divided and distracted. The Global Anglican Future Conference emerged in response to a crisis within the Anglican Communion, a crisis involving three undeniable facts concerning world Anglicanism.
The first fact is the acceptance and promotion within the provinces of the Anglican Communion of a different 'gospel' (cf. Galatians 1:6-8) which is contrary to the apostolic gospel. This false gospel undermines the authority of God's Word written and the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as the author of salvation from sin, death Global Anglican Future Statement, 29 June 2008 2 and judgement.
Many of its proponents claim that all religions offer equal access to God and that Jesus is only a way, not the way, the truth and the life. It promotes a variety of sexual preferences and immoral behaviour as a universal human right. It claims God's blessing for same-sex unions over against the biblical teaching on holy matrimony.
In 2003 this false gospel led to the consecration of a bishop living in a homosexual relationship.
The second fact is the declaration by provincial bodies in the Global South that they are out of communion with bishops and churches that promote this false gospel.
These declarations have resulted in a realignment whereby faithful Anglican Christians have left existing territorial parishes, dioceses and provinces in certain Western churches and become members of other dioceses and provinces, all within the Anglican Communion.
These actions have also led to the appointment of new Anglican bishops set over geographic areas already occupied by other Anglican bishops. A major realignment has occurred and will continue to unfold.
The third fact is the manifest failure of the Communion Instruments to exercise discipline in the face of overt heterodoxy.
The Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada, in proclaiming this false gospel, have consistently defied the 1998 Lambeth statement of biblical moral principle (Resolution 1.10). Despite numerous meetings and reports to and from the 'Instruments of Unity,' no effective action has been taken, and the bishops of these unrepentant churches are welcomed to Lambeth 2008.
To make matters worse, there has been a failure to honour promises of discipline, the authority of the Primates' Meeting has been undermined and the Lambeth Conference has been structured so as to avoid any hard decisions. We can only come to the devastating conclusion that 'we are a global Communion with a colonial structure'.
Sadly, this crisis has torn the fabric of the Communion in such a way that it cannot simply be patched back together. At the same time, it has brought together many Anglicans across the globe into personal and pastoral relationships in a fellowship which is faithful to biblical teaching, more representative of the demographic distribution of global Anglicanism today and stronger as an instrument of effective mission, ministry and social involvement.
A Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans
We, the participants in the Global Anglican Future Conference, are a fellowship of confessing Anglicans for the benefit of the Church and the furtherance of its mission. We are a fellowship of people united in the communion (koinonia) of the one Spirit and committed to work and pray together in the common mission of Christ. It is a confessing fellowship in that its members confess the faith of Christ crucified, stand firm for the gospel in the global and Anglican context, and affirm a contemporary rule, the Jerusalem Declaration, to guide the movement for the future. We are a fellowship of Anglicans, including provinces, dioceses, churches, missionary jurisdictions, para-church organisations and individual Anglican Christians whose goal is to reform, heal and revitalise the Anglican Communion and expand its mission to the world.
Our fellowship is not breaking away from the Anglican Communion. We, together with many other faithful Anglicans throughout the world, believe the doctrinal foundation of Anglicanism, which defines our core identity as Anglicans, is expressed in these words: The doctrine of the Church is grounded in the Holy Scriptures and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures. In particular, such doctrine is to be found in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal. We intend to remain faithful to this standard, and we call on others in the Communion to reaffirm and return to it.
While acknowledging the nature of Canterbury as an historic see, we do not accept that Anglican identity is determined necessarily through recognition by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Building on the above doctrinal foundation of Anglican identity, we hereby publish the Jerusalem Declaration as the basis of our fellowship.
The Jerusalem Declaration
In the name of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit:
We, the participants in the Global Anglican Future Conference, have met in the land of Jesus' birth. We express our loyalty as disciples to the King of kings, the Lord Jesus. We joyfully embrace his command to proclaim the reality of his kingdom which he first announced in this land. The gospel of the kingdom is the good news of salvation, liberation and transformation for all. In light of the above, we agree to chart a way forward together that promotes and protects the biblical gospel and mission to the world, solemnly declaring the following tenets of orthodoxy which underpin our Anglican identity.
1. We rejoice in the gospel of God through which we have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Because God first loved us, we love him and as believers bring forth fruits of love, ongoing repentance, lively hope and thanksgiving to God in all things.
2. We believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God written and to contain all things necessary for salvation. The Bible is to be translated, read, preached, taught and obeyed in its plain and canonical sense, respectful of the church's historic and consensual reading.
3. We uphold the four Ecumenical Councils and the three historic Creeds as expressing the rule of faith of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
4. We uphold the Thirty-nine Articles as containing the true doctrine of the Church agreeing with God's Word and as authoritative for Anglicans today.
5. We gladly proclaim and submit to the unique and universal Lordship of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, humanity's only Saviour from sin, judgement and hell, who lived the life we could not live and died the death that we deserve. By his atoning death and glorious resurrection, he secured the redemption of all who come to him in repentance and faith. 6. We rejoice in our Anglican sacramental and liturgical heritage as an expression of the gospel, and we uphold the 1662 Book of Common Prayer as a true and authoritative standard of worship and prayer, to be translated and locally adapted for each culture.
7. We recognise that God has called and gifted bishops, priests and deacons in historic succession to equip all the people of God for their ministry in the world. We uphold the classic Anglican Ordinal as an authoritative standard of clerical orders.
8. We acknowledge God's creation of humankind as male and female and the unchangeable standard of Christian marriage between one man and one woman as the proper place for sexual intimacy and the basis of the family. We repent of our failures to maintain this standard and call for a renewed commitment to lifelong fidelity in marriage and abstinence for those who are not married.
9. We gladly accept the Great Commission of the risen Lord to make disciples of all nations, to seek those who do not know Christ and to baptise, teach and bring new believers to maturity.
10. We are mindful of our responsibility to be good stewards of God's creation, to uphold and advocate justice in society, and to seek relief and empowerment of the poor and needy.
11. We are committed to the unity of all those who know and love Christ and to building authentic ecumenical relationships. We recognise the orders and jurisdiction of those Anglicans who uphold orthodox faith and practice, and we encourage them to join us in this declaration.
12. We celebrate the God-given diversity among us which enriches our global fellowship, and we acknowledge freedom in secondary matters. We pledge to work together to seek the mind of Christ on issues that divide us.
13. We reject the authority of those churches and leaders who have denied the orthodox faith in word or deed. We pray for them and call on them to repent and return to the Lord.
14. We rejoice at the prospect of Jesus' coming again in glory, and while we await this final event of history, we praise him for the way he builds up his church through his Spirit by miraculously changing lives.
Global Anglican Future Statement, 29 June 2008 4
The Road Ahead
We believe the Holy Spirit has led us during this week in Jerusalem to begin a new work. There are many important decisions for the development of this fellowship which will take more time, prayer and deliberation.
Among other matters, we shall seek to expand participation in this fellowship beyond those who have come to Jerusalem, including cooperation with the Global South and the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa. We can, however, discern certain milestones on the road ahead.
We, the participants in the Global Anglican Future Conference, do hereby acknowledge the participating Primates of GAFCON who have called us together, and encourage them to form the initial Council of the GAFCON movement. We look forward to the enlargement of the Council and entreat the Primates to organize and expand the fellowship of confessing Anglicans.
We urge the Primates' Council to authenticate and recognise confessing Anglican jurisdictions, clergy and congregations and to encourage all Anglicans to promote the gospel and defend the faith.
We recognise the desirability of territorial jurisdiction for provinces and dioceses of the Anglican Communion, except in those areas where churches and leaders are denying the orthodox faith or are preventing its spread, and in a few areas for which overlapping jurisdictions are beneficial for historical or cultural reasons.
We thank God for the courageous actions of those Primates and provinces who have offered orthodox oversight to churches under false leadership, especially in North and South America. The actions of these Primates have been a positive response to pastoral necessities and mission opportunities. We believe that such actions will continue to be necessary and we support them in offering help around the world.
We believe this is a critical moment when the Primates' Council will need to put in place structures to lead and support the church. In particular, we believe the time is now ripe for the formation of a province in North America for the federation currently known as Common Cause Partnership to be recognised by the Primates' Council.
Conclusion: Message from Jerusalem
We, the participants in the Global Anglican Future Conference, were summoned by the Primates' leadership team to Jerusalem in June 2008 to deliberate on the crisis that has divided the Anglican Communion for the past decade and to seek direction for the future. We have visited holy sites, prayed together, listened to God's Word preached and expounded, learned from various speakers and teachers, and shared our thoughts and hopes with each other.
The meeting in Jerusalem this week was called in a sense of urgency that a false gospel has so paralysed the Anglican Communion that this crisis must be addressed. The chief threat of this dispute involves the compromising of the integrity of the church's worldwide mission. The primary reason we have come to Jerusalem and issued this declaration is to free our churches to give clear and certain witness to Jesus Christ.
It is our hope that this Statement on the Global Anglican Future will be received with comfort and joy by many Anglicans around the world who have been distressed about the direction of the Communion.
We believe the Anglican Communion should and will be reformed around the biblical gospel and mandate to go into all the world and present Christ to the nations.
Feast of St Peter and St Paul
29 June 2008
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