GAFCON in the Midst of Missional crisis

“We’ve looked at how GAFCON came to be and why it matters. Here we’ll unpack the challenges GAFCON and orthodox Anglicans face as we seek to be a missional movement to win people for Christ.

In what kind of landscape does the GAFCON movement now find itself? In what kind of environment do Orthodox Anglicans find themselves living day to day and doing ministry? To steal a phrase from the General Secretary of GAFCON, we find ourselves in the midst of a missional crisis. That is, in 2017 we are faced with a decision: how will we relate to the culture of our times and do mission within this culture?…”

– At The Australian Church Record, Caitlin Hurley concludes her brief series on GAFCON.

Hard truth about soft power

“How has the Anglican Communion managed to more or less stay together and even at times give the appearance of growth despite nearly twenty years of doctrinal and ethical chaos?

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s presence in Khartoum, Sudan, for the inauguration of the 39th Province of the Anglican Communion on July 30th illustrates the point. …”

– Charles Raven, Membership Development Secretary of GAFCON, takes a look at some of the ways power is used within the Anglican Communion.

What’s the go with GAFCON?

“In November last year, the date and location of the next GAFCON conference were announced – 17-22 June 2018, in Jerusalem. It is expected that over 2000 will attend.

But how did GAFCON start? What is it and what does it do? And why is it such a big deal? …”

– At The Australian Church Record, ACL Council member Caitlin Hurley begins a short series on GAFCON. Worth passing on to church members.

The Mythical Middle


“It has not worked. It cannot work. It will not work.

I mean the idea that we will be able to find a middle ground, where we will be able to be quietly or relatively conservative, while allowing for a denominational variety which blesses sexual relations outside the bonds of traditional marriage.

The present tactic of those looking for a change is to say that there is a middle way…”

– Archbishop Peter Jensen examines the idea that you can hold a ‘middle ground’ position when the Bible’s teaching is clear. At the GAFCON General Secretary’s blog.

A Tale of Two Communions

“Whenever a church leader makes an important decision, takes a strong stand and then explains their action, they not only reveal their own priorities and convictions but also, more significantly, shape the future of the church they serve and represent. For good reason, such steps are often called ‘defining moments’ and, with the passing of time, are frequently shown to be, what might be called, ‘determining moments’. A series of such moments seems to have taken place in recent days.

On June 30, 2017, Canon Andy Lines was consecrated as the Missionary Bishop of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) to provide spiritual oversight to Anglican churches in Europe that exist outside the current Anglican structures.

As well as the principal consecrator, The Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach (Archbishop of the ACNA), 11 Primates, 3 Archbishops, and 13 other GAFCON-linked Anglican bishops were involved in Lines’ consecration. …”

– Here’s a must read article from Rob Smith, in which he examines allegations made by the Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia concerning participation in the consecration of Bishop Andy Lines. See it at The Australian Church Record.

Key recent posts — 6 July 2017

Here are some key posts which may be of interest from the last week or so –

Archbishop Glenn Davies speaks from Andy Lines’ consecration in Wheaton, Illinois:

“This is not ‘a border-crossing enterprise’, that’s a misunderstanding of the ministry. …

Anyone who proclaims Christ is where I want to be, and to have my support.”

Earlier, the Archbishop wrote to Australian bishops explaining his decision to take part in the consecration:

“I believe that my participation is an act of solidarity with those who contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints.”

Archbishop of Melbourne and Primate of Australia Philip Freier wrote to Australian bishops:

“I have deep concerns that the participation by our Episcopal colleagues in the consecration of Canon Lines, with or without the support of their respective dioceses, is contrary to the spirit of the canons of the Council of Nicaea and, most importantly, outside of the authority of our National Constitution.”

‘Loose Canons? Andy Lines and the Canons of Nicaea’ – Dr Mark Smith at Church Society:

“the claim is made that the consecration of Andy Lines, and the episcopal ministry he would exercise, would be contrary to Canons 15 and 16 of the Council of Nicaea.”

President of the Anglican Church League, the Rev. Andrew Bruce, issued this statement on behalf of the ACL’s Council:

“While an Australian Primate is always free to give advice within the bonds of Christian fellowship, there is no constitutional provision for formal advice, nor is there any sense of hierarchy in the position of the Australian primate in relation to the other 22 diocesan bishops. No Australian diocesan bishop is obligated to follow the ‘advice’ of a primate.”

Gafcon events in England and USA

“The last week of June has seen a number of high profile events marking the life of Gafcon, the global movement for renewal of the Anglican Communion according to biblical orthodoxy. …”

– Anglican Mainstream’s Andrew Symes summarises what’s been happening.

Anglican Church League statement in support of the consecration of Andy Lines

The Anglican Church League has noted with disappointment the novel developments that have occurred within the Scottish Episcopal Church. Their departure from the faith stands in direct opposition to the clear teaching of the Scriptures and prescribed Church order, so as to have a detrimental effect upon the wider Anglican Communion.

In light of this, we wholeheartedly support the consecration to Bishop of Canon Andy Lines, by GAFCON Bishops, including our own Archbishop the Rt Rev Dr Glenn Davies, the Bishop of Tasmania Dr Richard Condie and the Bishop of North West Australia Gary Nelson, to provide biblical faithful oversight for those European parishes that have been abandoned at this time.

We encourage our members to continue to pray for the consecration and the ongoing ministry of Andy Lines and GAFCON in the face of these significant challenges.

Andrew Bruce

President – Anglican Church League, 29 June 2017.

(Photo: Canon Andy Lines, courtesy GAFCON.)

Archbishop Glenn Davies writes in support of Andy Lines’ consecration

The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr. Glenn Davies, has written to the College of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Australia, explaining his decision to participate in the consecration of Canon Andy Lines as a Missionary Bishop.

Read the full text of Archbishop Davies’s letter below, or click the image of the letter to download it as a PDF file (2.2MB).

“26 June 2017

Letter to the College of Bishops

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ

Many of you will know of the recent decision of the Scottish Episcopal Church which amended their canons so as to change the definition of marriage, and hence endorse the marriage of same-sex couples within the Church. This amounts to another significant and sad moment in the life of the Anglican Communion, akin to the consecration of Gene Robinson in 2003.

As you will all know, I consider such an action to be a travesty of the rule of Christ, of the doctrine of the Book of Common Prayer, and therefore abandonment of the principles of Anglican doctrine to which we have committed ourselves in the Fundamental Declarations and Ruling Principles of Sections 1-6 of the Constitution. I consider that such a departure from the teaching of Scripture, ‘the ultimate rule and standard of faith’, casts doubt upon the nature of our communion with the Scottish Episcopal Church, since such communion needs to be consistent with the Fundamental Declarations (Section 6). In time, given the decisions of the Anglican Church of Canada and The Episcopal Church, which are yet to be translated into canon law, we shall see a similar disparity of communion with these two provinces.

The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) was formed in 2008, after painful court cases and loss of property, because they believed that the truths of the gospel could not be compromised for the sake of conforming to society’s obsession to normalise homosexual behaviour as part of Christian discipleship. Although I recognise that some members of our Church are open to considering a change in our doctrine at this point, our General Synod has on more than one occasion affirmed the importance of marriage as being defined as a life-long union, to the exclusion of all others, of a man and a woman. This is the doctrine of our Church. This is the doctrine of Christ. We depart from this at our peril.

In response to the decision of the Scottish Episcopal Church, the bishops of the Anglican Church in North America, in consultation with many Primates of the Global South and of Gafcon have decided, upon the request of Anglican Christians in Britain, to consecrate a missionary bishop to those who have left the Church of England, or will soon leave the Scottish Episcopal Church, because they cannot abide the ineffective and errant leadership of their synods and some of their own bishops. That the General Synod of the Church of England could not even bear ‘to note’ a unanimous report from the House of Bishops, which reaffirmed the Bible’s teaching that marriage does not include same-sex relationships, is indicative of the challenges to orthodoxy that the Church of England faces. They need our prayers.

The decision to consecrate a missionary bishop does not come lightly. It is very different from the decision of the parish of Jesmond in Newcastle, UK, where an assistant minister of the parish was consecrated a bishop hoping, I believe, to minister within the Church of England, despite the lack of canonical process and the agreement of either the Bishop of Newcastle or the Archbishop of York. Rather, the consecration of the Reverend Canon Andy Lines at the end of this month is for the purpose of providing episcopal oversight to those faithful Anglicans who can no longer in good conscience remain under their bishop or be a part of the church they once cherished. As a missionary bishop to Europe, Canon Andy Lines would not be ministering within the Church of England (which extends to continental Europe) or within the Scottish Episcopal Church, but rather to those who have left these churches. Since the Anglican Consultative Council has not declared ACNA to be a part of the Anglican Communion, such a ministry can no more be called ‘border crossing’ than the ministry of other Christian denominations in the UK. 1

As it turns out, I shall be in Wheaton, Illinois, at the time Canon Lines is to be consecrated as a bishop in the church of God. I have been invited to participate in this consecration and after consulting the Standing Committee of the Synod of the Diocese of Sydney, our Primate and the Archbishop of Canterbury, I have decided to do so.

From the Primate’s response to this decision and his counsel not to participate, I understand that some of you will disagree and disapprove of my participation. I do not make the decision lightly, nor do I wish to cause division among our episcopal ranks. However, I believe that my participation is an act of solidarity with those who contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints. Not to participate, since I shall be present, would send a signal of a different kind, and one which I do not believe would bring honour to Christ and his gospel.

In February 1984, my predecessor, Donald Robinson faced a similar situation when he was asked to consecrate the Reverend Dudley Foord to be a bishop in the Church of England in South Africa (as it was then known). He consulted widely and decided that to consecrate a bishop for a church not technically in communion with Canterbury was a gospel imperative. In that case the consecration took place in Sydney at St Andrew’s Cathedral and several bishops from around Australia participated, including the Primate and a bishop of the Church of the Province of South Africa (as it was then known).

I cannot see, from this distance in time, that Archbishop Robinson’s actions caused any ongoing division in our national Church, and it is my hope that my participation in a consecration on the other side of the world will likewise cause no stumbling block to our fellowship. On the contrary, it is my hope that we would all rally to defend the Bible’s teaching on marriage, not merely for the sake of correct doctrine, but that we might preserve the message of the gospel for the salvation of all.

As we celebrate 500 years of Martin Luther’s brave efforts to withstand those whose teaching was contrary to the gospel, new days bring fresh challenges for defending the truth.

Grace and peace

Glenn N Davies
Archbishop of Sydney

______________

1 In response to the suggestion that such a consecration would be prohibited by the Canons of Nicaea, Dr Mark Smith, whose area of expertise is theological development from AD 381-451 has written the following article: http://churchsociety.org/blog/entry/topical_tuesday_loose_canons_andy_lines_and_the_canons_of_nicaea/

______________

Update

See also: Primate admonishes Archbishop Glenn Davies and Bishop Richard Condie — Anglican Church League statement, 5th July 2017.

Bishop Richard Condie writes in support of Andy Lines’ consecration

Bishop of Tasmania, Dr. Richard Condie, has written to the Bishops of the Anglican Church of Australia, explaining his decision to participate in the consecration of Canon Andy Lines as a Missionary Bishop –

“I have been invited to participate in the consecration of Canon Andy Lines as a missionary bishop to faithful Anglicans in the UK and Europe. His consecration, by the GAFCON Primates and other bishops, will take place while I am in Chicago attending the Anglican Relief and Development Fund global council meeting at the end of this month. This consecration is in direct response to the Episcopal Church of Scotland’s decision to change their canon on marriage to include same sex unions. This decision is a departure from the scriptures, the teaching of the church, and the consensus of the majority of Anglicans in the communion. It leaves faithful Anglicans in Scotland in a vulnerable position, and has brought schism to the global Anglican fellowship.

The consecration is an emergency measure to protect the precious gospel of Jesus Christ, his authoritative word in the scriptures, and faithful Anglicans who have been marginalised by this schismatic behaviour. …”

Read the full letter from the Bishop of Tasmania, The Rt. Rev. Dr. Richard Condie, to the Bishops of the Anglican Church of Australia. (300kb PDF file.)

______________

Update

See also: Primate admonishes Archbishop Glenn Davies and Bishop Richard Condie — Anglican Church League statement, 5th July 2017.

Nine years after the first Global Anglican Future Conference

Nine years ago today, the first Global Anglican Future Conference concluded in Jerusalem with the adoption of the GAFCON Final Statement and the Jerusalem Declaration.

Today would be a good day to give thanks, and to pray for all involved in preserving and declaring the gospel of Jesus Christ around the world.

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