JERUSALEM: GAFCON Leaders Call for Renewal of Anglicanism
Leaders Disavow Accusation of Schism
By David W. Virtue in Jerusalem
June 19, 2008
Leaders of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) reaffirmed the historic faith saying it is the actions of North American liberals that have caused the rift in the Communion. Archbishop Peter Jensen stated that the consecration of a homosexual bishop has made the situation "irreversible" in the Anglican Communion.
Jensen told a press conference that for some GAFCON will be an alternative to Lambeth. Some conservatives will go to one conference and some will go to both conferences (Lambeth and GAFCON). He said GAFCON is not a further cause for schism. "What has happened in the Anglican Communion has rocked us all."
Jensen said a newspaper report in "The Telegraph" newspaper that Anglican Communion leaders meeting in Amman had formally declared the end of the worldwide Anglican Communion was inaccurate. The report said GAFCON leaders would no longer be associated with liberals who tolerate homosexuality.
"If there is a rift, it was caused by the actions of The Episcopal Church in 2003 with the consecration of Gene Robinson. As a result, the Anglican Communion has been damaged. The response to that is that people have been crossing boundaries and consecrating bishops with orthodox people removing themselves from local Anglican churches while wanting to remain Anglicans. We are seeing a reshaping of the (Anglican) landscape, so now we have to work to see what that looks like.
"People talk about schism - breaking away - but as far as I am concerned I am not hearing about breaking up the communion. North Americans have rent the communion. We are trying to renew the communion. I want to see it better than ever before. It will be different, however.
"GAFCON is a movement, not just a convention. It will likely have a future life and the present leadership would take that life on." Jensen said that what that looked like is yet to be discussed.
Jensen said he had been in touch recently with the Archbishop of Canterbury to assure him of his prayers for Lambeth and for a successful outcome. "He has assured me of his prayers for a successful outcome for this conference as well.
"This is a different conference. It is a conference brought about in the last ten years by the monumental events which has changed the whole landscape and now we must work out what to do with the future."
Jensen said the conference would not focus on human sexuality, but will move beyond that discussion.
"We will study God's word pray and meet in small groups." He said that the Network of provinces has 27 different countries strengthening each other, "so the Anglican communion might be strengthened by this conference."
Jensen said the GAFCON pilgrimage is a response to what the American Church did in 2003 when they ripped the communion apart. "That's where it started and that where the response is. GAFCON recognizes that a new state of affairs has come into existence and the question is how can we live together and sustain the highest level of communion."
Nigerian Primate Peter Akinola, who was not given diplomatic clearance to attend the pro-GAFCON theological Consultation in Amman and who is accompanied by a bodyguard because of threats on his life, said "The lord sent me ahead of you. We have come together like this is critical. If we make a list of the things God has done in the last few weeks regardless of persecution we must acknowledge that we have come together...it has happened."
Akinola said that despite rumors and newspaper stories, "we should not dwell on those stories. If we look at the life before us we cannot be compared to the suffering of the Apostle Paul. We refuse to be intimidated and distracted."
The feisty Nigerian Archbishop reiterated what Sydney Archbishop Jensen said, that it is the North American church by their actions that had torn the fabric of the communion. "We must agree together as a family on the boundaries. We are encouraging you to stand firm on the authority of the Word of God and we want this conference to honor God. Let us remain focused. God is with us, His promise is sure."
The pre-GAFCON consultation will continue until Sunday when some 1,000 laity and clergy from across the Anglican Communion will gather at the Renaissance Hotel in Jerusalem. The conference will address such topics as the gospel and culture, Christian leadership, evangelism, church planting, theological education, biblical interpretation, family and marriage. The conference will also examine the Anglican identity and what the essence is of the Anglican identity. Pilgrims will also visit the great biblical sites to remind themselves of the historic nature of the Christian faith and where it all started.
At a press conference today, a document "The Way, The Truth and the Life" was introduced to reporters by GAFCON leader, the Rev. Dr. Vinay Samuel, who heads the theological Commission for GAFCON. "We are not running away we are engaging the issues. We are asking is truth accessible." This document can be seen in its entirety here: http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=8450
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