Thus this morning, reading my fellow Kiwi David Virtue's report on the FCA meeting in London, I find this opening paragraph:
"Fellowship of Confessing Anglican leaders meeting at St. Mark's Battersea heard Bishop Michael Nazir Ali say that the intention of the FCA is not to break with the Archbishop of Canterbury or the Anglican Communion but they will continue to support orthodox dioceses and parishes in liberal and revisionist provinces like the US and Canada."You see, these are thinking Anglicans meeting who are willing to stand firm on the virtue of continuing Communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury. From a Kiwi perspective I am not surprised because the bishops and clergy I know who have gone are not anti-Communion. Rather they are pro fellowship and want to find, build and strengthen fellowship around the globe with Anglicans who share that common heritage in orthodox faith as handed down to us through the specific Anglican history of a catholic-and-reformed church.
In fact far from being schismatic, the FCA is likely to push for an enlargement of the Communion. At the appropriate time we will find a push being made for the inclusion of another member church of the Communion, namely the Anglican Church of North America. Their Archbishop Bob Duncan and other leaders (including another Kiwi domiciled in North America, +Julian Dobbs) are at FCA because in the eyes of the rest of the FCA they are true and genuine Anglicans with whom they are in fellowship.
In my view GAFCON/FCA is stealing a march on the creaking structures of the formal Communion institution by proposing GAFCONs (i.e. global conferences of leaders) every five years rather than the every ten years for Lambeth), and taking an initiative in proposing changes of direction in leadership commensurate with the shifting of the centre of world Anglicanism to Africa: electing a Chair of the Primates Meeting would not ensure an African chairs that body (as previously noted by me in a post below), but would open that possibility up for the future. Such changes are needed (in my view) if the formal Communion institution is to keep up with the pace of change in Anglicanism (indeed in Christianity itself in the 21st century). New wineskins for new wine is one of the oldest of all Christian mottos!!
What about TEC and its role in the new shaping of the Communion? I have no particular insight into what the GAFCON/FCA leaders might be thinking on that. But I note that TEC is in significant trouble right now in respect of ordering its own life in accordance with a new triennial budget it is having great trouble in setting. This trouble is not being revealed to us by the usual suspects (such as David Virtue) who have run sniping campaigns against TEC for years. No, this is being played out on the blogs and news services of those most keenly committed to TEC and the direction it has been pursuing since 1979 (e.g. here, here and here). My sense is that TEC is at a crossroads in its presentation to the Communion of the virtues of progressive Christianity. Can it show progressive Christianity as a fruitful pathway for global Anglicanism to follow? If it can, others will follow the lead, and look to the leadership of its Presiding Bishop on the councils of the Communion. If not, the influence of TEC on the Communion will be on the wane, ignored not only by GAFCON/FCA, but by others in the Communion who will increasingly recognise that the dominant bloc in the Communion is GAFCON/FCA.
As for the Covenant, if it does not become the adopted means of restating our Anglican perspective on orthodox Christianity in the 21st century, then I am afraid the Jerusalem Declaration, for all tis inadequacies, will simply become by virtue of lack of competition, the guiding light for future discussions about the content of orthodoxy in Anglican perspective.
The future of the Communion's character is there for GAFCON/FCA's shaping if it stands firm on a number of matters, including Communion with Canterbury.
UPDATE: the event being over various statements, reports etc can be read. Thinking Anglicans offers a series of links here and here. The final statement in PDF form is here. At first glance I am not seeing anything new emerging apart from a strong confidence in the futue of the movement. The underlying motive of the movement, to provide fellowship where none can be found, comes strongly through.
FURTHER COMMENT: I wonder if GAFCON/FCA has some umbrella aspects to it which we should take account of before labelling it 'extreme conservative' or some other epithet which might give comfort to those who want to dismiss the movement. It is an umbrella, for instance, to developments in the Church of England, especially in the Southwark Diocese, whereby parishes are seeking to develop ministry and mission with as much separation from the established power structures into which strongly liberal leadership has been placed and from which conservatives seem to have been excluded. Yes, for some evangelicals in the C of E, this aspect of GAFCON/FCA seems to be extremely conservative. But GAFCON/FCA is also an umbrella to Anglicans in North America who represent a range of conservative (a better descriptor might simply be 'traditional') perspectives but are disenchanted by the extreme liberal/progressive tendencies of the leadership of TEC and ACCan. Ditto, dare I say it, for some Anglicans in my church who are concerned at the direction their dioceses are heading in. Plus GAFCON/FCA seems to be a natural place to gravitate to for many Anglican leaders from Africa and South America (but not, I notice, looking at the photos on the PDF linked to above, from Asia) who would not describe themselves as conservative or liberal but simply 'Anglican' as they have grown in their Christian walk with Anglicanism as handed down to them. In sum: a movement drawing from 30 member churches of the Communion is going to be complex rather than simple, diverse to an extent rather than monochrome.