A Hope and a Future for Anglicans

“It is an understatement that Anglicanism is not always neat and tidy.  The very nature of our decision making in councils, as ancient as it may be, is messy.  Things don’t always go as planned.  Sometimes people don’t respect what the whole decides together in scripture, prayerful study and discussion, and waiting on the Lord’s timing.  Sometimes a part demands that the whole adjust to it and runs ahead rather than waiting on the counsel of the whole church.

That seems to be at the heart Bishop Michael Nazir Ali’s decision to leave the Church of England to join the Anglican Ordinariate in the Roman Catholic Church. …

We have included a few articles in today’s weekly newsletter responding to his departure, but I want to offer some good news with some cautious optimism.  On Sunday, October 17, the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (GSFA) issued their Communique (“The Eighth Trumpet”) after a four-day conference on Zoom attended by 90 delegates from 16 Provinces and one diocese (Sydney), including the Anglican Church in North America.

In the words of the Communique, the purpose of this GSFA gathering was to “address the unchecked spread of revisionism” among all the Churches of the Anglican Communion by enacting a “covenantal structure” that will “enhance ecclesial responsibility” and mutual accountability among the churches of the GSFA …

Now there is an ecclesial body, a Communion to which the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (GAFCON) can bring distressed, biblically faithful, orthodox Anglicans from heterodox dioceses and provinces for membership.  GAFCON can authenticate and recognize those in distress and gather them for membership in GSFA—just as St. Paul gathered Gentile converts into churches that enjoyed communion with the established church in Jerusalem under St. Peter.”

In his weekly newsletter from the American Anglican Council, Canon Phil Ashey sees hope for a genuinely orthodox Anglican communion.

He mentions the just-concluded 8th Global South Conference and its Communiqué (“The Eighth Trumpet”) from the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches.

Statement from the Evangelical Fellowship in the Church in Wales

This statement has today been released by the Evangelical Fellowship in the Church in Wales:

General Statement from the Evangelical Fellowship in the Church in Wales in response to the decision of the Governing Body on the 6th September to accept liturgy for the blessing of same-sex civil marriages or civil partnerships.

The Evangelical Fellowship in the Church in Wales deeply regrets the recent decision of the Governing Body to authorise a liturgy to bless same-sex civil marriages and partnerships. We recognise the difficulties faced by the bishops and others within the Church in Wales as they have wrestled to bring better pastoral provision for those who are LGBTQ+.

As EFCW has stated in the past and re-iterates today, the Church has not always engaged well with LGBTQ+ people and has sometimes been deeply insensitive and even hurtful. This is something of which we repent unreservedly. The good news of Jesus Christ is for all people, regardless of sexual orientation. However, the decision to introduce a rite allowing for the blessing of same-sex unions, while well-intentioned, is the wrong step for the Church to take.

First, by making this decision, the Church in Wales has departed from the apostolic faith as revealed in Scripture. As was conceded in the Explanatory Memorandum to the Bill, the only biblical context for sexual activity is heterosexual marriage. The new rite for the blessing of same-sex unions, which introduces liturgy permitting the blessing of same-sex civil marriages, has, de facto, changed the Church’s doctrine on marriage.

Second, this decision has damaged the Church in Wales’ relationship with the majority of the provinces in the global Anglican Communion, which remain committed to an orthodox understanding of human sexuality. By the same token, for many in EFCW, the decision has also impaired our relationships with our bishops and our relationships with those clerics who choose to perform such blessings. This decision has brought disunity to God’s Church. Such disunity is a grave and serious matter which grieves the heart of God.

Third, the decision dishonours those who, persuaded that Scripture teaches that sexual activity is restricted to heterosexual marriage, have chosen to remain celibate, often at tremendous personal cost.

At this very difficult time, we have been enormously grateful for the words of encouragement and support that we have received from across the breadth of the Anglican Communion. It has been a joy to have been reminded that we are members of a wider communion, the majority of whom share our convictions about what the Bible teaches and grieve the decision that the Church in Wales has taken.

We are also grateful for the offers of practical help that we have received both from across the Communion and from other quarters of the global Church. We are taking these very seriously as we seek to discern the best way to serve Christ faithfully in the nation of Wales. The decision of the Governing Body is deeply distressing to a significant number of Welsh Anglicans who now face tough decisions as to where their future spiritual home lies. There have been and will be resignations from Clergy, Lay Readers, Worship Leaders, Church Wardens, Sunday School Teachers and parishioners. A number have withdrawn their regular giving to their churches. Others are determined to remain in the Church in Wales structure. A significant number are seeking help and guidance on deciding their future in the Church in Wales. EFCW is committed to helping in this discernment process, including conversations with those offering alternative Anglican structures, and will continue to offer fellowship for all Evangelical Anglicans regardless of whether they stay in the Church in Wales or leave it.

In light of the above, we now call upon the Bench of Bishops to:

First, appoint a bishop to the See of Swansea and Brecon who would give voice to those who hold to an understanding of the doctrine of marriage as only being between a man and a woman. The Bench of Bishops currently speaks with one mind on this issue. However, it is clear from the breakdown of the vote at Governing Body that the Bench of Bishops no longer properly represents the convictions of the wider membership of the Church in Wales. We are grateful to the bishops for their intention that they have signalled, that a place will remain in the Church for those who hold to a traditional view. We ask them, therefore, to demonstrate this intention by appointing to the See of Swansea and Brecon a bishop who represents the teaching of the majority of the Anglican Communion on sexuality.

Second, clarify how the conscience clause will operate. It is apparent that this clause is already being interpreted differently by different bishops, with some Clergy being told that dissenting Clergy will not have to surrender their church buildings for a blessing service. Other bishops believe they can exercise their prerogative to insist that a same-sex blessing service take place in any building in their Diocese, regardless of the conscience of the local cleric. This needs clarity and consistency across the Province with details on how dissenting PCCs, Lay Officers, congregations (as well as ministers) may be protected and cared for if they do not wish their church buildings to be available for such services.

Third, assure the members of the Church in Wales that the Bench of Bishops will neither introduce nor support a proposal for bringing forward a Bill for introducing same-sex Marriage within the five-year trial period of the experimental rite to bless a civil partnership or civil marriage.

EFCW Diocesan representatives will be seeking face-to-face dialogue with the bishops on these issues in the coming weeks and months.

With great sadness, we find ourselves wrestling with these issues at a time of so much challenge and opportunity to proclaim the Gospel in word and deed to the present generation. We have a gospel of repentance and faith and eternal blessings to proclaim, but we find ourselves in an Anglican Province that has voted to join in with a minority of other Provinces within the Anglican Communion, who have driven the Body of Christ to disunity and fracturing on a global scale.

Despite the difficulties of this present time and the pain and grief this vote has caused, we continue to place our hope and trust in God, who has not abandoned Wales or his people. We pray for all those engaged in proclaiming Christ boldly and faithfully to this nation, for it is in Him that help and salvation are found.”

– Source: The Evangelical Fellowship in the Church in Wales.

(Emphasis added.)

After the Church in Wales’ same-sex vote, what options are open to evangelicals?

“Rev Peter Jones is chairman of the Evangelical Fellowship in the Church in Wales (EFCW).

This body with 90 clergy is battling for Anglican orthodoxy after the Church in Wales voted to bless same-sex relationships on 6 September. …”

In an interview with Christian Today, Peter Jones shares how churches are responding, and also expresses gratitude for the support of the GAFCON Primates.

Image: Rev Peter Jones, The Anglican Churches of Pembroke, Monkton and Lamphey.

See also:

Church approves blessing service for same-sex partnerships – The Church in Wales.

“Church in Wales abandons the Christian faith” – Anglican Ink.

Church in Wales ‘abandons the Christian faith’

“On Monday 6 September, the Church in Wales voted to allow its clergy to bless same-sex ‘marriages’ and civil partnerships.

This was not entirely unexpected given the decline of Christian doctrine and ethics within the Church in Wales in recent years. …”

Carys Moseley at AnglicanInk looks at what the Church in Wales’ decision amounts to.

See also:

Church approves blessing service for same-sex partnerships – The Church in Wales.

Church in Wales gives ‘gospel-inspired lead’ to C of E, says Bishop of Liverpool – Church Times.

Photo: Bishop Gregory Cameron, courtesy The Church in Wales.

Anglican Church Quenching Community Thirst In Marsabit

“In one of the remote parts of Marsabit County, Nairibi Sub-location in Laisamis Constituency, the Anglican Church is transforming lives of a community that has experienced water crisis for many years, by availing the precious commodity to them. …

According to the Co-ordinator, a study by the organization established that most residents of Marsabit have to trek long distances in search of the precious commodity which is not only tiring but also a drain on their useful time.

He told KNA that the high levels of illiteracy among women in the region, is linked to the water shortage problem as girls spend their valuable time fetching water and end up dropping out of school.

The boy child is also not safe as he has to undertake the chore of taking livestock to watering points which are situated far away from where they attend school.”

Good news from Kenya.

And similar work to which you can contribute:

Marsabit Water and Income Generation – Anglican Aid.

Bishop of North Kigezi Diocese, Uganda, ‘succumbs to Covid-19’

“The North Kigezi diocese Bishop Rt Rev Benon Magezi has died a week after he tested positive for Covid-19 before he was admitted at Mbarara regional referral hospital. …”

– News report from NTV, Uganda.

See also this statement from the Church of Uganda.

“Bishop Benon Magezi grew up in a Christian home and attended church regularly with his family. During a Mission Sunday at his local church in 1981, he received Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Saviour and was born again. The following year he left teaching and began full-time ministry as a parish youth worker. …”

Prayer for Uganda

“From June 7 Uganda has returned to a full lockdown for 42 days.

These are very challenging times for the nation and Archbishop Stephen Kaziimba has issued a statement encouraging Anglicans to make every effort to keep meeting using radio, local TV stations, Zoom, social media, etc.

He also calls ‘on all husbands and fathers to step up and take responsibility for leading your families in daily home prayers and in Sunday worship.

The Family is the smallest church, and every home needs its Family Altar.’ ”

Matters for prayer – from GAFCON.

Five Key Distinctives of Anglican Worship

That’s not really very Anglican.

I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard someone talk in this way about a particular church service.

What do they mean by not very Anglican?

Usually, they mean that it isn’t liturgically formal. Perhaps there are no clerical vestments on display, or the service does not have a particular form to it. Perhaps there are no responsorial prayers. Perhaps the church building does not look like a classic church, or maybe it is plainly rather than ornately decorated…”

– Dr Michael Jensen shares the heart of Anglicanism – at Crossway, who have also published his book Reformation Anglican Worship.

And another quote:

“…Anglican worship is distinct not because of its form, but because of its content. The genius of the Book of Common Prayer is not in dictating a particular style of worship but in the way it does two things: first, it makes Scripture the centerpiece of the Christian gathering, and secondly, it enfolds the worshiping community in the theology of grace.”

The Dennis Canon Dead in Texas

“With its denial of certiorari (review) this morning to two of the Episcopal Church in the USA’s (“ECUSA’s”) groups in Fort Worth, Texas, the United States Supreme Court has put to rest the multiple adverse claims made for the last twelve years against the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.

All of those various claims, and the stages of their ups and downs, have been chronicled on this blog, which began just before the legal disputes emerged.

It is gratifying, therefore, to report that this blog has managed to outlive, along with (retired) Bishop Jack Iker and his faithful flock, the Machiavellian intrigues of the schemers at 815 Second Avenue to hound and intimidate them into surrender of their properties…

The success in Texas leaves just one long-standing ECUSA dispute still festering: its pursuit of Bishop Mark Lawrence and his Diocese of South Carolina.”

– Read it all at The Anglican Curmudgeon, the blog of Christian lawyer A. S. Haley.

And much earlier, on our website …

Diocese of Fort Worth: Living with litigation – Fort Worth Bishop Jack Iker, September 2013.

“Living with litigation has become a way of life for us as members of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. For the past 4 ½ years, we have been under the cloud of a lawsuit brought against us by The Episcopal Church and its local supporters, seeking to deprive us of our buildings and assets.”

Also, most of these post are relevant to Fort Worth.

And on South Carolina, most of these posts are relevant.

Archbishop Davies calls for prayer for Myanmar

Archbishop of Sydney, Glenn Davies, has posted this message on Twitter:

“Please pray for wisdom and grace for Abp Stephen Than Myint Oo after the army coup in Myanmar.

I have assured him of our prayers for the nation and for our brothers and sisters in distress.

‘If one member of the body suffers, every member suffers with it..’ 1 Cor 12:26.”

Anglican Reality Check updated

GAFCON’s Anglican Reality Check has been updated for the start of 2021.

Check it out here – with the 2021 entry, “Bishops Gear Up For Long Lambeth Walk”.

Review of ‘Peter Akinola: Who Blinks First? Biblical Fidelty Against the Gay Agenda in the Global Anglican Community’

“In the early 2000s, Nigerian Anglican Archbishop Peter Akinola was twice recognized by Time magazine as one of the “100 Most Influential People” on earth. He had distinguished himself as the leader of the Global South’s revolt against the normalization of homosexuality by the Global North’s contingent within the worldwide Anglican Communion.

As the decennial Lambeth Conference loomed in the summer of 2020, Nigerian journalist and media consultant Gbenga Gbesan was enlisted to tell the story of Akinola’s campaign, which spanned his decade of service as archbishop, 2000-2010. …”

– At Books at a Glance, Mark Coppenger reviews Peter Akinola: Who Blinks First? Biblical Fidelty Against the Gay Agenda in the Global Anglican Community.

Availability.

Church in Wales issues draft Bill for same-sex blessings

“The Bishops of the Church in Wales have published their proposals to authorise formal blessings in church of same-sex partnerships and marriages.

A draft Bill that would permit the blessing in parish churches of same-sex couples after a civil partnership or civil wedding has been circulated to members of the Church’s Governing Body ahead of a debate in April. …”

– Report from The Church Times.

Image: Archbishop of Wales John Davies, from his 2020 Christmas Message.

See also:

A Bill to authorise experimental use of proposed revisions of the Book of Common Prayer (service of Blessing following a Civil Partnership or Marriage between two people of the same sex) – Church in Wales website.

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