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JERUSALEM: "I will continue to rescue Episcopal Dioceses" - Archbishop Venables

JERUSALEM: "I will continue to rescue Episcopal Dioceses" - Archbishop Venables
Southern Cone Leader Hopes GAFCON Statement will be dealt with at Lambeth

By David W. Virtue

The Archbishop of the Southern Cone, the Most Rev. Gregory Venables says he will go to the Lambeth Conference. He hopes Lambeth leaders and Dr. Williams will confront the GAFCON statement, but he will, meantime, continue to rescue orthodox Episcopal dioceses who request it.

Speaking at a press conference at the Renaissance Hotel in West Jerusalem today, the Evangelical archbishop said about attending Lambeth, "after consulting with a large number of people, each of us decided to make our own personal decision, not a group decision and to honor each other's decision. I felt it was right for me to be there."

Asked if he was delivering an ultimatum to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Sydney Archbishop Peter Jensen said, "I believe, no, the very existent of the conference has got to be taken into account. It is not a parallel or rival to the Lambeth Conference. The sheer existence of GAFCON poses a challenge now and to others in the Communion."

On the outcome of Lambeth, Venables said he hoped Lambeth would deal with the situation and that those going to Lambeth would talk about today's business, not yesterday's.

"I personally would like everyone to be at Lambeth, but I respect those who don't go. We must respect each others' consciences."

Asked if he would go to the communion table at Lambeth with American bishops, Venables said he spoke with Rowan Williams and said in October 2003 that he could not take communion. "I cannot take communion from people who do not believe Jesus is the Son of God. We are in a state of broken communion. In 2008 those same people have continued to walk away from the gospel. I have to show that what they have done is seriously wrong. We need to help to understand where we are coming from."

Venables said that the Anglican Communion is going on. "We are an important part of the Anglican Communion. I hope people listen."

Venables praised those who pulled GAFCON together saying it was done on a short notice. "My reactions have been very good. We have had great networking here. There has been a good level of sharing. We have been quick to listen."

Asked if he would try and persuade the Archbishop of Canterbury of GAFCON's validity, Venables said at this stage the ABC "knows what we think, we have had many conversations, no one has any doubt about what we are all about. There is not much need to listen any more. There is need to dialogue. We need to connect and listen to each other and really hear each other."

Asked by VOL if a working paper by Bishop John Rodgers, suggesting that a GAFCON decree be in place by early 2009 for a reformed Global Anglican Family, Jensen said that Rodgers is a respected theologian, but his statement represents his own point of view and is not an official document.

Jensen blasted The Episcopal Church. "The American revisionists committed a strategic blunder in 2003. I don't think they believed there would be consequences. It was a horrific strategic blunder they committed and there are consequences. The consequences are unfolding and our churches are divided."

"Our churches are now divided and a permanent division exists around the world. The sleeping giant of evangelical and orthodox Anglicanism has been roused in Canada and the US. It was an act of folly."

Asked by VOL if there would be a formal ratification of a new North American province, Jensen said, "We'll know on Sunday."

Questioned about Dr. J.I. Packer's call for the Archbishop of Canterbury to resign because he had failed to uphold Lambeth Resolution 1:10, Venables replied, "What Packer said is a clear paradox of the situation."

Jensen described GAFCON as something of a ramshackle airplane. "It is one of the most extraordinary spiritual experiences I have ever had. Is the plane going to land? I see no landing place, but I believe the plane is going to make a successful landing. GAFCON is bringing light into the darkness."

The two Primates will share a platform in London next week with Dr. Packer and Ugandan Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi at All Souls' Langham Place in London to bring English Evangelicals up to speed with the statement and the GAFCON conference that has met for the past week in Jerusalem.

Asked by VOL if he would continue to take orthodox Episcopal dioceses under his ecclesiastical wing if called upon to do so, Venables said yes. "I will do this as long as there is a need in this transitional emergency period and a true fellowship of believing Christians is intact."

American theologian Dr. Edith Humphrey, who chaired the Marriage and Family workshops, said there is a great need to strengthen Christian families. Questioned by VOL if homosexuality was on the agenda, Humphrey said that it was talked about as a subset issue, led by the Rev. Mario Bergner, a recovered homosexual now married with five children. He is an Episcopal priest in the Diocese of Massachusetts. Bergner talked about the issue, but it occupied about one tenth of the time in conversation.

"We asked what the major crisis in Christian families was and we saw it as a crisis of authority. We were concerned about where children fit in."


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