ENGLAND: NEAC split over call to back GAFCON
By Toby Cohen
Church of England Newspaper
November 21 2008
ACCUSATIONS OF bullying, blackmail, and condemnation are being directed at Anglican evangelical leaders, after a revolt by attendees at the National Evangelical Anglican Consultation in
London last Saturday.
Evangelicals turned up to the meeting to find a draft resolution which asked them to express their support for the Gafcon movement and its Jerusalem Declaration.
This shocked many of those attending, and the meeting fell into disorder as members of the floor railed against the Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC), in particular the chair, the Rev Dr Richard Turnbull.
The editor of the Radical Evangelical website, Jody Stowell, spoke from the Fulcrum forum to describe Dr Turnbull's actions: "What he did expressed itself, without a doubt in my mind, in bullying, blackmail and condemnation."
A vote was called on whether the resolution should itself be put to vote, and 126 to 104 voted that it should be "not put". Dr Turnbull said that he would still be asking CEEC to declare its mind on the matter when it meets on December 4.
Ian Paul, Dean of Studies at St Johns' College, Nottingham, also spoke from the Fulcrum forum: "The question was put very clearly on Saturday afternoon: 'Does it matter to you that many people here feel excluded and that CEEC does not speak for them. Are you worried about this and do you plan to do anything about it?' Richard gave a resounding 'NO' to both halves of the question."
Many evangelicals are now claiming that CEEC is more conservative than the evangelical community it claims to represent and was trying to force Anglican evangelicals to sign up unilaterally to the Gafcon conservatives.
Dr Turnbull said: "It was most definitely a genuine attempt to take consultation. There were four people on the panel each of whom had a different view, two of whom voted one way, two of whom voted the other. This was a genuine part of, not the totality of, the consultation to gauge a range of opinions. I think the motion that was before the consultation was inclusive and generous.
"I imagine whatever we did on Saturday, and however we conducted the meeting, there would have been those who wouldn't have liked it. My commitment is to do everything I can, no matter how difficult it is, to enhance the profile of the ev angelical constituency, to gain as much unity as possible. I don't belong to any of the evangelical pressure groups, never have. I'm an independent person of independent mind. I think that's why I was elected chair of the CEEC. That makes you nobody's friend."
Dr Turnbull's style of leadership contrasts markedly with that of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, who has disappointed many in the Church by not imposing his own perspectives on it and leading in the direction his own mind dictates.
The Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, announced the Church had become too "wishy washy", and needed disciplined leadership. He said: "We are living at a time when the Church must be counter-cultural and strong. If we're not clear what we're about we haven't got a hope."
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