“Letter to the Churches” encapsulates authentic Christianity with clarity, firmness and grace

“The Conference in Jerusalem which has just ended was an extraordinarily rich experience. Not just the dynamic worship, outstanding teaching, and cross-cultural fellowship in small groups and one to one.

A huge amount of information has been presented formally from up front and informally in the form of interviews and blogs. Much of this will be lost in time; the life-changing experience of delegates may fade, but what remains is the Conference Statement. …”

– At Anglican Mainstream, the Rev. Andrew Symes provides some initial reflections on GAFCON’s ‘Letter to the Churches’.

GAFCON Announces New Leadership

“As the 2018 Gafcon Jerusalem conference came to a close on Friday, the Primates’ Council announced the election of Archbishop Benjamin Kwashi, Province of Jos (Nigeria), as the next General Secretary, and Archbishop Foley Beach, primate of the Anglican Church in North America, as the next Chairman of the movement. The announcement was received with roaring applause from the nearly 2,000 delegates in attendance.

Kwashi will replace current General Secretary, Archbishop Peter Jensen of Australia, who has served Gafcon in the role since its inception 10 years ago. After the announcement, Jensen was recognized by the conference in an emotional moment including a presentation culminating with a standing ovation. …”

– Story and photo from GAFCON.

See also: GAFCON Leadership transition announced.

GAFCON 2018 in 90 seconds

From SydneyAnglicans.net: A slideshow designed for churches to show during services as a way of informing people about GAFCON 2018. Download here.

GAFCON a ‘subversive movement’, Irish bishops who attended, ‘an absolute disgrace’

“Attendance by two Church of Ireland bishops at the conservative Global Anglican Future Conference (Gafcon) meeting in Jerusalem last week has provoked deep anger among the church’s clergy.

They have described it as ‘an absolute disgrace’, ‘schismatic’, and as illustrating ‘how utterly out of touch some senior clergy’ were with church membership.…”

– A very unhappy reaction to GAFCON reported in The Irish Times.

See also:

Trevor Johnson and Tim Anderson from Gafcon Ireland react to the ‘Letter to the Churches’. Video.

GAFCON Ireland.

A good reminder to pray for Ireland. (Image: from the launch of GAFCON Ireland.)

GAFCON 2018 Final Statement – read here

Read the GAFCON 2018 Final Statement – Letter to the Churches.

Reactions to the Gafcon 2018 Conference Statement from leaders in Europe, Africa, North and South America and Australia

The GAFCON Media Team have been busy, and have now uploaded this compilation of reactions from Anglican leaders in Europe, Africa, North and South America and Australia.

Most encouraging.

Amazing Grace – a most fitting hymn

The John Newton Project’s Marylynn Rouse points out the appropriateness of the singing of Amazing Grace (watch here, 13:43 into the recording) by the GAFCON 2018 attendees on the Temple steps.

The words for Amazing Grace were drawn from 1 Chronicles 17, and were written to accompany Newton’s New Year’s Day sermon in 1773.

1 Chronicles 17 speaks of God’s covenant with David (who desired to build the Temple), and the promise of the everlasting Kingdom of David’s Greater Son.

We also note that John Newton was key in sending the first Chaplain, Richard Johnson, to Australia, and in the founding of CMS, which brought the gospel to so many parts of the world.

Read the fascinating background to that most beloved of hymns – at The John Newton Project.

Photo: GAFCON Media.

Australian Diocesan Bishops speak on the Gafcon 2018 conference statement

Archbishop Glenn Davies of Sydney, and Bishops Richard Condie of Tasmania, Gary Nelson of Western Australia and Ian Palmer of Bathurst, speak of their experience of #Gafcon2018, and reaction to the ‘Letter to the Churches’.

Bishop Richard Condie mentions the National Anglican Future Conference, coming up in September. Read about it here.

New Zealand church leaders react to the GAFCON 2018 Statement

Dominic Steele speaks with Michael Hewett, Dave Clancy & Jay Behan, and tell something of their story.

GAFCON Leadership transition announced

As GAFCON 2018 ended in Jerusalem yesterday, leadership of the nine new ministry networks was announced, as well as news about the transition to a new Chairman of the Primates Council and a new General Secretary:

“The conference gave thanks for the extraordinary leadership of Archbishop Nicholas Okoh (Nigeria), Gafcon Primates Council Chairman, and Archbishop Peter Jensen (Australia), Gafcon General Secretary.

At the close of the conference, the beginning of a leadership transition was announced as both will be retiring in 2019.  Archbishop Okoh will be succeeded by Archbishop Foley Beach (North America) in April of 2019, and Archbishop Peter Jensen will be succeeded by Archbishop Ben Kwashi (Nigeria) in January of 2019.

The four leaders will serve together during the coming months to ensure a smooth transition.”

– Many will give thanks to Almighty God for the leadership of Archbishop Nicholas Okoh and Archbishop Peter Jensen.

Read the full news release, “Largest International Gathering of Anglicans in 50 Years Celebrates 10 Years of Growth”.

Further from George Conger, Anglican Ink

“Archbishop Kwashi will be assisted by regional deputy secretaries. The Rt. Rev. Bill Atwood of the ACNA will coordinate GAFCON’s work in North and South America, the Most Rev. Glenn Davies, Archbishop of Sydney, will look after the Antipodes and Asia, the Rt. Rev. Andy Lines will coordinate Europe/UK, the Most Rev. Laurent Mbanda, Archbishop of Rwanda, will look after East Africa, and the Rt. Rev. Henry Okeke, Bishop of Mbamili, Nigeria will look after West Africa.”

Dominic Steele spoke with Archbishop Foley Beach and Archbishop Ben Kwashi straight after the last GAFCON 2018 session. Watch here.

Photos: GAFCON Media.

Essentials of the GAFCON 2018 Letter to the Churches

“The Gafcon 2018 Letter to the Churches is respectful and firm, said the chair of its drafting group, Archbishop Glenn Davies of Sydney. Working through the night they assessed all the comments received from the regional meetings on Thursday.

After Archbishop Laurent Mbanda of Rwanda read the statement, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, the chairman of the GAFCON Primates’ Counci called for a voice vote. A unanimous ‘Aye’ was followed by a call for nays. …”

– Anglican Mainstream’s Chris Sugden shares his take on the Letter to the Churches.

GAFCON 2018 Final Statement — Letter to the Churches

 

The GAFCON 2018 Final Statement has been read to the assembled GAFCON delegates in Jerusalem, has been adopted with great enthusiasm, and has now been released. Watch here.

Here is the full text of the GAFCON 2018 Letter to the Churches

LETTER TO THE CHURCHES

You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

________________

Greetings from the land of the birth, ministry, death, resurrection and ascension of our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. The third Global Anglican Future Conference (Gafcon) was held in Jerusalem in June 2018, a decade after the inaugural Gafcon in 2008. Gafcon 2018, one of the largest global Anglican gatherings, brought together 1,950 representatives from 50 countries, including 316 bishops, 669 other clergy and 965 laity. A unanimity of spirit was reflected throughout the Conference as we met with God in the presence of friends from afar. We celebrated joyful worship, engaged in small group prayer and were inspired by presentations, networks and seminars.

We met together around the theme of “Proclaiming Christ Faithfully to the Nations”.  Each day began with common prayer and Bible exposition from Luke 22-24, followed by plenary sessions on God’s Gospel, God’s Church and God’s World.

PROCLAIMING GOD’S GOSPEL

We renewed our commitment to proclaim the gospel of the triune God in our churches and in all the world. Our Chairman reminded us in his opening address: “God’s gospel is the life-transforming message of salvation from sin and all its consequences through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is both a declaration and a summons: announcing what has been done for us in Christ and calling us to repentance, faith and submission to his Lordship.” It involves the restoration and reaffirmation of God’s original creative purposes. It is addressed to men, women and children and it is our only hope in the light of the final judgment and the reality of hell.

This is God’s gospel, the gospel concerning his Son (Romans 1:1–3). The centre of the gospel message is this one person, Jesus Christ, and all that he has done through his perfect life, atoning death, triumphant resurrection and glorious ascension. In our daily expositions, we followed Jesus’ path from the judgments by Pilate and the Jewish leaders, to his death for us on the cross,  to his breaking the bonds of death on Easter morning and to his commission to the disciples to proclaim “repentance for the forgiveness of sins in his name to all nations” (Luke 24:47). The uniqueness of Jesus Christ lies at the heart of the gospel: “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). The gospel confronts us in the midst of our confusion and sin but it does not leave us there. It includes a summons to repentance and a call to believe in the gospel (Mark 1:15), which results in a grace-filled life.  The ascended Christ gave his Spirit to empower his disciples to take this gospel to the world.

Yet faithful proclamation of this gospel is under attack from without and within, as it has been from apostolic times (Acts 20:28-30).

External attacks include superstitious practices of sacrifices and libations that deny the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice. Some religions deny the unique person and work of Christ on the cross, and others are innately syncretistic. Secularism seeks to exclude God from all public discourse and to dismantle the Christian heritage of many nations. This has been most obvious in the redefinition of what it means to be human, especially in the areas of gender, sexuality and marriage. The devaluing of the human person through the advocacy of abortion and euthanasia is also an assault upon human life uniquely created in the image of God. Militant forms of religion and secularism are hostile to the preaching of Christ and persecute his people.

Internally, the “prosperity gospel” and theological revisionism both seek in different ways to recast God’s gospel to accommodate the surrounding culture, resulting in a seductive syncretism that denies the uniqueness of Christ, the seriousness of sin, the need for repentance and the final authority of the Bible.

Tragically, there has been a failure of leadership in our churches to address these threats to the gospel of God. We repent of our failure to take seriously the words of the apostle Paul: “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number, men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:28-30).

We dedicate ourselves afresh to proclaiming Christ faithfully to the nations, working together to guard the gospel entrusted to us by our Lord and his apostles.

REFORMING GOD’S CHURCH

The gospel of God creates the church of God. Through the invitation of the gospel, God calls all people into fellowship with his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. As the word of the gospel goes forth in the power of the Holy Spirit, they respond through the work of the Holy Spirit to repent, believe and be baptised, and are thereby joined to Christ’s body which is his church (Acts 2:37-44; 1 Corinthians 12:12-13). As members of Christ’s body, they are sanctified in him, called to live lives of holiness and to be salt and light in the world.

One Conference speaker reminded us: “In the councils of the church, we should not mimic the ways of the world but gather to pray, to praise (i.e., to be eucharistic), to consult, to decide, and if necessary to discipline. These gatherings should be properly conciliar in nature, decisive in moving the church forward in its mission and common life. There should be the will to exercise loving but firm discipline to bring sinners to repentance and restoration.” Likewise at the Communion level, there are times when the leadership must come together to exercise its responsibility to discipline an erring member province.

For some time, our Communion has been under threat from leaders who deny the Lordship of Christ and the authority of Scripture. In the late 20th century, human sexuality became the presenting issue.

The 1998 Lambeth Conference by a huge majority (526 to 70) approved Resolution I.10 on Human Sexuality, which affirmed the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 19 that there are only two expressions of faithful sexuality: lifelong marriage between a man and a woman or abstinence. The resolution rightly called for pastoral care for same sex attracted persons. At the same time, it described homosexual practice as “incompatible with Scripture” and rejected both the authorisation of same sex rites by the Church and the ordination of those in same sex unions.

Lambeth Resolution I.10 reflected the rising influence of the Global South in the Communion. The ground for the Resolution had been prepared by the 1997 Kuala Lumpur Statement of the Global South Anglican Network. Our collaboration with the Global South Network has been ongoing, and its leaders took an active part in this Conference.

The subsequent rejection of Lambeth I.10 in word and deed by the Episcopal Church USA and later by some other Anglican provinces led to a “tear [in] the fabric of the Communion at its deepest level”, followed by ten years of futile meetings in which the four Instruments of Communion failed to exercise the necessary discipline. The Primates’ Meeting repeatedly called upon these provinces to repent and return to the faith.  Yet their efforts were undermined by other Instruments of Communion, culminating in the failure of the Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury to carry out the clear consensus of the Primates’ Meeting in Dar es Salaam in 2007.

In the Jerusalem Statement and Declaration, the 2008 Global Anglican Future Conference took up the challenge of restoring biblical authority (and the teaching on human sexuality in particular) by affirming the primacy of the Bible as God’s Word written and going back to the other sources of Anglican identity – the Creeds and Councils of the ancient church, the 39 Articles, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal. The Conference also constituted a Primates Council and authorised it to recognise Anglican churches in areas where orthodox Anglicans had been deprived of their church property and deposed from holy orders.

During the past twenty years, the Instruments of Communion have not only failed to uphold godly discipline but their representatives have refused to recognise our concerns and have chosen instead to demean Gafcon as a one-issue pressure group and accuse it of promoting schism, where in fact the schismatics are those who have departed from the teaching of the Bible and the historic doctrine of the Church. Slogans such as “walking together” and “good disagreement” are dangerously deceptive in seeking to persuade people to accommodate false teaching in the Communion.

We grieve for the situation of our global Communion as it has been hindered from fulfilling its God-appointed task of reaching the world for Christ. We repent of our own failures to stand firm in the faith (1 Corinthians 16:13). But we do not lose hope for the future, and note that there is strong support for the reform of our Communion.  Prior to Gafcon 2018, delegates overwhelmingly affirmed the following propositions:

Over the past twenty years, we have seen the hand of God leading us toward a reordering of the Anglican Communion. Gafcon has claimed from the beginning: “We are not leaving the Anglican Communion; we are the majority of the Anglican Communion seeking to remain faithful to our Anglican heritage.” As Archbishop Nicholas Okoh stated in the inaugural Synodical Council: “We are merely doing what the Communion leadership should have done to uphold its own resolution in 1998.”

We give thanks for the godly courage of our Gafcon Primates in contending for the faith once for all delivered to the saints.  We applaud their decision to authenticate and recognise the provinces of the Anglican Church in North America and the Anglican Church in Brazil, to recognise the Anglican Mission in England and to consecrate a Missionary Bishop for Europe. This has become necessary because of the departure from the faith by The Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Episcopal Church of Brazil and the Scottish Episcopal Church.  At Gafcon 2018, we heard many testimonies of faithful Anglicans who have been persecuted by those holding office in their respective provinces, merely because they would not surrender to, nor be compromised by, the false gospel that these leaders profess and promote. We also recognise the Gafcon Primates’ willingness to assist faithful Anglicans in New Zealand where the Anglican Church has recently agreed to allow bishops to authorise the blessing of same sex unions.

As the Gafcon movement matures, it has also seen the need for a more conciliar structure of governance.  We endorse the formation of Gafcon Branches where necessary and of a Panel of Advisors, comprising bishops, clergy and lay representatives from each Gafcon Province and Branch, to provide counsel and advice to the Primates Council. Together with the Primates, the Panel of Advisors form a Synodical Council to bring recommendations to the Gafcon Assembly. The Synodical Council met for the first time at this Conference.

In light of the recommendations of the Synodical Council, we respectfully urge the Archbishop of Canterbury

In the event that this does not occur, we urge Gafcon members to decline the invitation to attend Lambeth 2020 and all other meetings of the Instruments of Communion.

REACHING OUT TO GOD’S WORLD

Our conference theme has been “Proclaiming Christ Faithfully to the Nations.” We have received the gospel through the faithful witness of previous generations. Yet there are still billions of people who are without Christ and without hope. Jesus taught his disciples: “this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations” (Matthew 24:14).

We repent for the times and seasons when we have only preached to ourselves and not embraced the difficult task of reaching beyond our own cultural groups in obedience to God’s call to be a light to the nations (cf. Acts 13:47).  In faith and obedience, we joyfully recommit ourselves to the faithful proclamation of the gospel.

In order to expand our ability to proclaim Christ faithfully to the nations in both word and deed, we launched nine strategic networks.

Theological Education: To promote effective theological training throughout the Anglican Communion

Church Planting: To expand church planting as a global strategy for evangelisation

Global Mission Partnerships: To promote strategic cross-cultural mission partnerships in a globalized world

Youth and Children’s Ministry: To be a catalyst for mission to young people and children of all nations so that they may become faithful disciples of Jesus Christ

Mothers’ Union: To expand the potential of this global ministry to promote biblical patterns of marriage and family life

Sustainable Development: To establish global partnerships which work with the local church to bring sustainable and transformative development

Bishops Training Institute: To serve the formation of faithful and effective episcopal leadership throughout the Communion

Lawyers Task Force: To address issues of religious freedom and matters of concern to Anglican lawyers and Chancellors and to further the aims of the Jerusalem Declaration

Intercessors Fellowship: To inspire and develop globally connected regional and national intercessory prayer networks

In the world into which we go to proclaim the gospel, we shall encounter much which will need us to walk in paths of righteousness and mercy (Hosea 2:19; Micah 6:8). We commit to encouraging each other to give strength to the persecuted, a voice to the voiceless, advocacy for the oppressed, protection of the vulnerable, especially women and children, generosity to the poor, and continuing the task of providing excellent education and health care. As appropriate, we encourage the formation of other networks to assist in addressing these issues.

OUR GLOBAL ANGLICAN FUTURE

To proclaim the gospel, we must first defend the gospel against threats from without and within.  We testify to the extraordinary blessings on this Conference, which leads us to call upon God even more, that the Anglican Communion may become a mighty instrument in the hand of God for the salvation of the world. We invite all faithful Anglicans to join us in this great enterprise of proclaiming Christ faithfully to the nations.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,
according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church
and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Ephesians 3:20-21

 

________________________________

GLOSSARY

Conciliar – Working as a council of the church

Gafcon Branches – A Branch may be established by application to the Gafcon Primates Council in a province whose Primate is not a member of the Gafcon Primates Council.

Gafcon Primates – Primates who have endorsed the Jerusalem Declaration and have been admitted to the Gafcon Primates Council.

Gafcon Provinces – Provinces whose House of Bishops or Provincial Synod have endorsed the Jerusalem Declaration and whose Primate is a member of the Gafcon Primates Council.

Instruments of Communion – There are four Instruments: The Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Primates’ Meeting and the Anglican Consultative Council. http://www.anglicancommunion.org/structures/instruments-of-communion.aspx

Jerusalem Statement and Declaration – The Statement agreed by the inaugural Gafcon Assembly in 2008.  https://www.gafcon.org/resources/the-complete-jerusalem-statement

Kuala Lumpur Statement – approved by the Global South Anglican Network in 1997. http://www.globalsouthanglican.org/index.php/blog/comments/the_kuala_lum…

Lambeth Resolution I.10 – approved by the Lambeth Conference in 1998. http://www.anglicancommunion.org/resources/document-library/lambeth-conf…

Panel of Advisors – consists of one bishop, one clergy and one lay representative from each Gafcon Province and Gafcon Branch, who give counsel and advice to the Gafcon Primates.

Primates’ Meeting – A meeting of Primates called by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Synodical Council – Consists of the Panel of Advisors and the Gafcon Primates Council meeting together to make recommendations to the Gafcon Assembly.

 

Source: GAFCON, Friday 22 June 2018.

 

Photos: Archbishop Laurent Mbanda of Rwanda reads the text of the Letter to the Churches.

← Previous PageNext Page →