Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Anglican Future Conference Report (Part One)

From Down Under to Over Yonder
– a Kiwi participant reflects on the Australasian ‘Anglican Future Conference’, Melbourne, 25-27 March.

Forty New Zealanders made the three hour flight across the Tasman (familiarly, ‘the Ditch’) to join 420 Australian fellow evangelical Anglicans and a handful of Africans for a three day conference on what the Anglican Church faces in the immediate future, particularly in this corner of the globe. Once the gathering had come together it became visually apparent that of those attending 85% were males, 95% Pakeha (white European) and 75% in the 30-60 age range. Every Australian State was represented and had some voice in the programme.  It was by no means dominated by the Diocese of Sydney, or by the local weight of Melbourne.

We Kiwis took with us critical concerns that in this current year were threatening to break up our otherwise strongly cohesive Church. However it soon became apparent that our Aussie cousins had come to this Conference with different but equally pressing domestic concerns. And looming in the background, yet only occasionally raising its profile over these three days, was the issue of the nature and health of the Anglican Communion world-wide.

Anchoring this disparate assembly in plenary sessions each day were two outstanding guest contributors. Kanishka Raffel, a Rector from Western Australia, provided an exceptionally clear and helpful chapter by chapter exposition of 2 Peter 1-3. (How relevant to the issues facing the Church overall at this moment did we re-discover this Epistle to be!)

Canon Ashley Null (TEC) drew on his international standing as a scholar specializing in Cranmer and the English Reformation to argue the need for us to recover our identity as a reformation Church distinguished by the primacy it gives to Scripture in shaping its life and its worship.

He brought a freshness of insight and approach to an evangelical understanding of the Bible, Church and salvation. He spoke of ‘the evangelical temptation to focus on the authority of Scripture rather than on ‘the presence of Christ in the text of Scripture’, illustrating this from the Homilies Cranmer provided for the Book of Common Prayer, and the intentional design he gave to the BCP services. Cranmer’s purpose was to steep people in the pews unconsciously in a scriptural understanding of salvation through their regular participation in these new services of worship, as his Collect for the Second Sunday in Advent so well describes. (Our New Zealand Prayer Book captures this same intention in the eucharist response: ‘The word of Christ dwell in us richly’.)

Null also argued that in Reformation terms the essence which holds the Church together, giving it both a distinct identity and energy in mission, is the priority it places on ‘its Scriptures rather than its structures’. (Is it our organisation in dioceses, parishes and synods that makes us ‘Anglican’, or is it our articulation of the gospel – especially in our worship – as God’s love by grace reaching out to us unconditionally, no one excepted, to awaken in us in return a love for God?) He made a strong case that the attractiveness of the Anglican Church lies in its Cranmerian understanding of the gospel as first an appeal to the heart before it becomes a conviction of the mind or a determination of the will. A phrase Ashley Null reiterated daily was: ‘What the heart loves, the will chooses and the mind justifies’. 

Brian Carrell


Father Ron Smith said...

Peter, I am profoundly sad, that a retired ACANZP Bishop would want to promote the agenda of GAFCON and FOCA on your web-site. Not only because I feel the essence of the recent Australian meeting to be a pandering to the separatist culture of GAFCON & FOCA, but also, because it does not represent the culture of present day Anglicanism in Aotearoa/New Zealand as represented by our General Synod.

However, I suspect that Bishop Carrell was not the only bishop from ACANZP to be present at that meeting, which has all the hallmarks of Nelsonian con/evo congruence with the theology of Moore College and the Sydney Diocese.

I am a member and supporter of ACANZP, and its movement towards inclusivity in the Church in our country, and cannot but be profoundly disappointed at the subversive influence of Sydney's sexism and its refusal to recognise the legitimate claims of the LGBT community to be part of the Anglican Communion.

If GAFCON wants a separate Confessional Church - with no connection to other provincial Churches of the Anglican Communion - it should declare its hand and move out. I cannot be part of it!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron,
I suggest you wait for part 2 before making your final judgment.

There is a difference between participating in a conference and signing up to (say) a declaration made at the end of the conference. Without participation in the conference how would we know what went on at the conference?

A careful distinction should be made between the formation of an Australian branch of FCA in Australia and the formation of an NZ branch of the same in NZ: there is no branch of the latter kind.

Reporting on a conference is not 'promotion' per se of any associated moves by GAFCON/FCA.

I am very happy to offer the reports today and tomorrow of the conference because:
1. Any conference in Australasia about the future of Anglicanism Down Under is worth knowing about and of interest to all Anglicans.
2. Any conference of such a kind which draws 40+ Kiwis to it - about half of whom came from our Diocese - is of interest as an event impacting on the life of our church.
3. A conference featuring the world's leading scholar on Cranmer is worth noting by Anglicans.
4. If some of those attending the conference are making or considering making decisions about future participation in or out of our church, then I think it a service to our church to keep ourselves informed of the process of that decision making.
5. ACANZP remains an inclusive church which includes people whose views do not coincide with yours! It would not be true to this church if I offered an approach through this blog which pretended that views you do not agree with do not exist in our church. They do exist and yesterday you shared in a communion service with holders of these views!

Father Ron Smith said...

"2. Any conference of such a kind which draws 40+ Kiwis to it - about half of whom came from our Diocese - is of interest as an event impacting on the life of our church." - Dr. Peter Carrell

AnD this is what worries me, Peter. Does Bishop Victoria know how many people of the diocese were present at this FCA Conference? Were any clergy present with the knowledge of our Bishop. What attempt has been made to acquaint diocesan authorities with the nature and provenance of the meeting? These are questions that ought to concern all members of our diocese and the rest of ACANZP - especially if the meeting questions the propriety of the current intitiatives of our Province.

When a conference is arranged for the express purpose of backing dissidence in our own and a neighbouring Province of the Anglican Communion, and members of our Church take time out to attend it - for whatever reason - I think it becomes a matter for us all to be concerned about. I think at least local bishops should be advised of the identity of those taking part.

Father Ron Smith said...

Michael, you really do need to come out of your own 'cloud of unknowing'.If you do not know what LGBT stands for, then how can you possibly express any doubt about its acceptability in the Church?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
It was a public conference, well publicised and accessible to all Anglicans in Australasia.
I am not at all comfortable with the thought that bishops have to know the names of people who attend conferences. We are a free and open society ... and church!
I would be very surprised if the conference organisers thought they were organising an event focused on "dissidence." They were focused on the future of the Anglican church in these Oceanic islands!
It would be very sad if an event with fine Bible studies and talks on Cranmer and the BCP were misconstrued as some kind of landmark in Anglican dissent rather than in Anglican renewal.

Jean said...

Hi Peter

I listened to the interview of Null he is indeed passionate about his study.

I would be curious as what the main agenda's/problems in Australia are within the church.

Gospel as first an appeal to the heart - I think it must be so. Even if the learning of the mind comes first at some point the taking up of the Gospel is a conversion of the heart. I think of Charles Wesley who was well learned and even started on the Methodist track before what he saw as his 'conversion'; a heartfelt conviction of the love of Christ for him.

For circumcision is circumcision of the heart by the spirit.... : )

Blessings Jean

Peter Carrell said...

(This comment is from Mary - to whom I apologise because I pressed 'Delete' on my smartphone and not 'Publish')

Next to this report, and its comments, my feedly list had this:

“Intolerance in the name of 'tolerance’ must be named…and..condemned”

It felt like an inspired pairing!!


Kurt said...

The Conference appears to me to be just a lot of Jensenite sound and fury. Meanwhile, back in the USA, Indiana Governor Mike Pence “stepped in it.” Take a look:

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

MichaelA said...

"Does Bishop Victoria know how many people of the diocese were present at this FCA Conference? Were any clergy present with the knowledge of our Bishop. What attempt has been made to acquaint diocesan authorities with the nature and provenance of the meeting?"

You seem to ask these sort of questions on a number of threads Fr Ron.

I understand that the post of Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will be coming up for selection soon. Perhaps you should throw your hat into the ring? ;)