JERUSALEM: Archbishop Peter Jensen Refutes Charges that GAFCON is Schismatic
By David W. Virtue in Jerusalem
Dr. Peter Jensen, one of the leaders of the GAFCON leadership team, refuted charges by the British press that leaders of this gathering of Global Anglican leaders are planning 'schism'.
In remarks at a press conference, the Australian Archbishop said that the actions of the Canadians and the Americans in 2003 have ripped the communion.
"If we're talking about schism and the breakup of the communion - that's where it starts and that is where the responsibility is. What GAFCON is doing is saying that given that new state of affairs, how now can we live together and how can we sustain the highest level of communion and work well together. My way of putting it is to say that the British Empire has now ceased to be and the British commonwealth of nations has come into existence or the nuclear family has turned into an extended family. This is the new reality. I don't hear GAFCON saying or GAFCON being a further cause for schism."
The London TELEGRAPH newspaper blasted headlines around the world saying that a rival communion was in the works led by pan-Anglican African leaders bent on destroying the Anglican Communion, as it now exists. Jensen threw cold water on the idea of an immediate break with Canterbury arguing that it is North American liberals who have broken with the Anglican Communion by consecrating an avowed homosexual living in sexual sin with his male partner in 2003. We are simply acknowledging the existence of that rift, he said.
Speaking about the GAFCON meeting, the Evangelical Sydney Archbishop had this to say: "We're looked forward to this immensely. Already the gathering of the initial team has been an extraordinary, bracing occasion and one which we have enjoyed thoroughly. I am looking forward to an extraordinarily interesting and rather exciting conference I have to say and you may be interested to know that I personally, speaking for myself now, personally wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury just a couple of weeks ago to assure him of my prayers for Lambeth and for the successful outcome of the Lambeth conference and he has now written to me and assured me of his prayers for us and his prayers for a successful outcome of this conference as well. So I think that's worth knowing when we talk a great deal about things like schism and so forth."
All the leaders from the Global North and South have echoed this in private plenary sessions reiterating that it is not this conference, but that it is the actions of liberal and revisionist bishops, an Anglican archbishop and the American Presiding Bishop, who have broken away from Anglican norms and biblical authority, that have been 'schismatic'. They resent the notion that they are doing and saying anything other than what Anglicans have always believed and held onto including the authority of Scripture, the 39 Articles, The Articles of Religion and the Lambeth Quadrilateral. Said another Anglican Primate to VOL, "We have not moved, they have."
More than one thousand Anglicans from 25 nations, including 300 bishops, are on their way to Jerusalem to attend the Global Anglican Future Conference. The meeting, which will be held June 22 - 29, includes daily addresses from key Anglican pastors, teachers and leaders.
The Most Rev. Peter Akinola, primate Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), will formally welcome pilgrims to GAFCON on June 22. There are over 22 million Nigerian Anglicans in church every Sunday, making the Church of Nigeria the largest church of the Anglican Communion.
After a pilgrimage to the Mount of Olives and Gethsemane on Monday morning, the Most Rev. Henry Orombi, primate of the Anglican Church of the Province of Uganda, will deliver the keynote address, "Jesus Christ as Lord" on Monday afternoon.
On Monday, Dr. Os Guinness, a reknown scholar and author of more than 25 books, will speak on "The Gospel and Secularism."
On Tuesday afternoon, pilgrims will be invited to a discussion addressing the HIV/AIDS crisis. Mr. Daniel Muvengi, the Rev. Aaron Mwesigye, the Rev. Noel Bewarang, and the Rev. Canon Vinay Samuel will lead the session. . The Rt. Rev. Michael Nazir-Ali, Bishop of Rochester in the United Kingdom, will be speaking on "The Nature and Future of the Anglican Communion."
Pilgrims will have the options of participating in a walking tour of the Old City (of Jerusalem) or of the Ophel Gardens on Wednesday. That evening, Professor Lamin Sanneh of Yale University, Dr. Salim Munayer, and Mr. Evan Thomas will lead a session on "The Gospel and Religion."
Pilgrimages and sessions will continue throughout the remainder of the week. On Thursday, Mr. Kim Tan, Mr. Andrew Tanswell, Mr. Jerry Marshall and Daniel Muvengi will offer a session on "Enterprise Approaches to Poverty." On Saturday, June 28, Archbishop Elias Chacour, Palistinian Israeli Archbishop of Galilee for the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, will give an address near the Mount of Beatitudes on the theme "Jesus the Galilean - Jesus Teaches."
A series of small group workshops will also be available to pilgrims. Daily workshop topics include "Gospel and Leadership," "Evangelism & Church Planting," "Anglican Identity in the 21st Century," and many others. All pilgrims will share in discussions about the conference statement during the week.
GAFCON will draw to a close on Sunday, June 29 with a final Eucharist. Archbishop Greg Venables, Province of the Southern Cone, will deliver the keynote address, entitled "Jesus Christ is Lord."
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