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LAMBETH: Orthodox Bishops on GAFCON and Liberalism

LAMBETH: Orthodox Bishops on GAFCON and Liberalism

By Hans Zeiger by Canterbury
July 31, 2008

CANTERBURY-Two orthodox bishops-one American, one Ghanian-sat down this afternoon in the grass at the University of Kent and called the Anglican Communion back to Scripture and tradition. Liberalism in the Anglican Communion sends the impression to Christians in Africa that "the devil has come into the church," said Bishop Matthias Medadues-Badohu of the Diocese of Ho in Ghana, who was joined at the sit-down press conference by Bishop Keith Ackerman of the Diocese of Quincy in The Episcopal Church.

Ackerman reminded his audience about the bishops who chose to remain home during Lambeth. "Those who are absent are absent not just because it is convenient," he said. "It would be very unfortunate if we did not note the number who are not here." For one thing, he said that The Episcopal Church has neglected the task of welcoming back members of the 53 denominational groups that have left the church over the years.

Furthermore, Ackerman said that the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) is "the elephant in the room."

Ackerman recounted his participation in GAFCON in the Holy Land last month, saying that it was filled with "the joy of Jesus." GAFCON and Lambeth "are both attempts at being able to bring into light things that are being exposed in a variety of places," he said.

Matthias said that Lambeth has been helpful for him as he seeks to keep up the reputation of Anglicanism in his western African diocese. "When I was coming to Lambeth, my people had the perception that the church in America is full of homosexuals." While at Lambeth, Matthias has received calls from home asking whether he has yet compromised and joined with The Episcopal Church. "What is happening is seen as an abomination....The moment they see things going this way, they think that the devil has come into the church."

But Matthias will bring some good news when he returns to Ghana. "The Americans themselves are divided," he said. "It is heartwarming to go back and say that it is not over for them."

There have been disappointments too. Matthias spoke of a female bishop who said that she did not understand why the Africans were so concerned about American issues. Matthias provided the answer: when it comes to the African struggle against polygamy, the Christian response is clear-"one man, one wife." "We must actually believe what is in Scripture," said Matthias.

Matthias concluded his remarks with a word about Gene Robinson, the openly gay Bishop of New Hampshire. "We are just trying to find a way where we can ask Gene Robinson to step aside," he said, but he is troubled "with Gene Robinson parading himself everywhere" at Lambeth.

While Robinson goes on insisting that his lifestyle has a place in the Anglican Communion, "Some of my people are ready to die hungry," said Matthias.

Ackerman also challenged Anglicans to renew their previous commitment to ecumenical dialogue with Roman Catholics, Orthodox Churches, evangelicals, and others, but he warned that many Christian leaders of other denominations are disappointed by the Communion's recent performance. "We are now in an ecumenical crisis," said Ackerman.


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