Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Lest it be said

... that ADU makes no mention of GAFCON 2018, let's mention it!

David Ould muses on his blog whether the Anglican Communion News Service will get around to acknowledging that the largest Anglican gathering for 50 years is taking place this week in Jerusalem.

I cannot speak for the ACNS but I can speak on this blog. GAFCON is happening. And ACNS should recognise that it is happening. GAFCON is the major global movement of Anglicans today. I cannot imagine any other part of the Communion announcing a conference and getting 2000 people to gather from the four corners of the earth. (Later: ACNS has a story!)

And I am doing my bit - leading services in a parish while its priest is at GAFCON!

GAFCON news can be followed on Twitter (@gafconference ); also via the Twitter hashtag #gafcon2018

For a feel for what GAFCON generally and GAFCON 2018 is about, read Archbishop Glenn Davies here.

Quite rightly ++Glenn states what is the sole driving force for GAFCON's existence as a separated set of Anglicans who, nevertheless, wish to remain at the heart of the Anglican Communion. It is all to do with this, the first sentence in his article:

"This year marks the 20th anniversary of the momentous resolution concerning human sexuality adopted by the 1998 Lambeth Conference of bishops from around the Anglican Communion."

It is difficult to imagine that GAFCON would exist without the motivating force of difference in the Communion over sexuality.

Nevertheless ++Glenn argues otherwise when he writes near the end of his article,

"They [the 1100 who met at the first GAFCON Conference in 2008] believed the gospel had been compromised by the renunciation of the doctrine of Christ, and specifically Resolution I.10, plainly seen in the consecration of Gene Robinson as the first bishop living openly in a same-sex relationship.  

Yet the movement did not form solely for this reason. It is mission focused."

I agree that GAFCON is mission focused; that once it had come into being as a movement, it has readily embraced a mission focus rather than a sexuality focus. Though the sexuality issue is not far away: not agreeing with change in Western Anglican churches is becoming a significant identity marker for many Anglicans, both in the West and not in the West; and energy for a different form of Anglicanism - it seems to me - is being derived from the conflict over sexuality.

I suggest that if, generally, an Anglican conference on "mission" was announced, and if there were no conflicts among us, then there would not be 2000 Anglicans motivated to travel across the world to conference over mission.

So GAFCON represents Anglican rumblings, it is a sign of godly discontent about the state of the Anglican church around the globe, or perhaps it is only discontent about the state of the Western church.

That at least is one reason why ACNS should be reporting on GAFCON 2018: the conference represents not just a very large number of Anglicans, it also represents a future direction for global Anglicanism. That this direction is not (so to speak) under the control of the ABC, the ACC, or the Primates makes it more newsworthy rather than less!

From an historic perspective this direction is fascinating. We know that early Reformational and post-Reformational Anglicanism involved tension between Puritan tendencies, (in the language of the day) Papist tendencies, and the Hookerian vision of a Church of England which was neither. Largely the Hookerian approach has driven Anglicanism so many Anglican provinces have successfully incorporated, in more recent terminology, evangelicalism and Anglo-Catholicism, to say nothing of moderate as well as progressive Anglicanism.

GAFCON, it strikes me, noting the drivers of both sexuality and mission, is a fusion of both Puritan and evangelical tendencies, as well as a strongly missional Anglo-Catholicism, with the latter closer to Roman conservatism on sexuality than its modern counterpart, liberal Anglo-Catholicism.

To the extent that the Anglican Communion remains committed to a Hookerian vision of Anglicanism as a grand coalition, it has its work cut out (e.g. in the run up to Lambeth 2020) to gather all members of the coalition in one place.

Conversely, it is reasonably clear that GAFCON is not committed to that Hookerian vision. GAFCON has willingly fostered and supported Anglicans breaking away from (so to speak) Hookerian-vision Anglican provinces. Thus GAFCON represents an evolution or development in what it means to be Anglican.

What fellow Anglicans must eschew is any talk of "unAnglicanism" in respect of this development. Hooker's writings as the Elizabethan settlement settled during the late 16th century were themselves a development of the stringency of the Edwardian Reformation. Laudianism was another development. Anglicanism is a history of such developments and only history determines which developments survive (e.g. by becoming, as evangelicalism, Anglo-Catholicism, and liberalism have done, embedded in the mainstream of Anglican life).

GAFCONism and (so to speak) non-GAFCONism will jostle along through the next decades. The future of Anglicanism may not be a new Hookerian holding together of the two directions. The future of Anglicanism may be what might have happened in the 16th and 17th centuries: the Puritans and the Papists dividing and heading in quite different directions.

UPDATE: important reflection on GAFCON in the Communion here.


Anonymous said...

Brilliant, thanks, Peter!

The tragedy is in your key sentence: ‘I suggest that if, generally, an Anglican conference on "mission" was announced, and if there were no conflicts among us, then there would not be 2000 Anglicans motivated to travel across the world to conference over mission.’

Although some readers here will again be irritated by the comparison, stating that it is not comparable, the relatively recent Anglican acceptance of marriage after divorce – an issue for the majority, heterosexuals - did not meet with anything like the current response to our obsession with this regularly occurring nonpathological minority variant in the human condition. [Those who are irritated by this point might feel better if we talk about removing “obey” from the woman’s marriage vows, or allowing women to teach in ‘mixed’ congregations, etc.]

Furthering your imaginings: the English Reformation simply would not have happened in the way that it did had marriage after divorce been an option. It was not an option on the table until relatively recently, but has been embraced by Anglicanism, GAFCONish and Hookerian without issue.

There are, hence, other dynamics at work than the declared construct of maintaining received Anglican teaching, and I posit that, far from encouraging mission and evangelism – at least in Aotearoa New Zealand – this Anglican obsession has distracted and debilitated us.



Father Ron Smith said...

"And I am doing my bit - leading services in a parish while its priest is at GAFCON!" - Dr.Peter Carrell -

As a matter of courtesy, Peter; did you get permission from the Vicar-General to take a service in a parish where the Vicar has absented himself in order to attend a GAFCON Conference?

Or did you think permission would not be necessary, in the circumstances?

Only asking!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
Clergy are free to attend conferences and I am free to be their locum!

Craig Liken said...


From what I have seen on the live-stream it looks like a fantastic event - full of joy, hope, vibrant, interesting, informative, with wonderful and articulate speakers - great discussion etc. Centred around the centrality of Christ, and looking to seek to spread the good news of the gospel to all, and building others up.

Would have loved to have gone myself!

So why be negative and use words like "tragedy"?

Craig L.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Ron
I am lightly editing your comment just submitted.
Hint: do not use words like "pogrom."

"Dear Peter, I was interested in your statement here:

"I agree that GAFCON is mission focused; that once it had come into being as a movement, it has readily embraced a mission focus rather than a sexuality focus." (Dr. Peter Carrell)

I suggest that this cannot be borne out by the current departure of some of our diocesan clergy for the meeting of GAFCON in Jerusalem, whose own 'mission' seems to be predicated on the fact of ACANZP's recent declaration of openness to the blessing of Same-Sex Marriage Couples. At least, this has been their reason for [heading] off to GAFCON, [].

Despite statements by The Diocese of Sydney's David Ould and Archbishop Glen Davies; that GAFCON is a more significant rallying point for Anglicans than any other organ of the worldwide Anglican Communion today, the fact is that GAFCON does NOT represent the majority of Provinces of the Anglican Communion - only that part of it in the Global South that is insistent on the isolation of LGBTI+ Christians who happen to believe that their way of life is consonant with the innate sexual characteristics that they have been given by their very nature as human beings in the divine image and likeness.

If one had to choose between the two very different "Anglican' theological understandings of our common humanity, represented by those (a) who insist on maintaining an outdated culture of sexism and homophobia; and (b) those of us who truly believe that God has room for those who are different from 'the norm'; then I have no other choice than to ally myself with the non-GAFCON element of the Anglican Communion that can live with the reality of human sexual difference.

The Numbers Game, being played by the Sydney Diocese and GAFCON on this matter of who can claim to be the largest group of 'Orthodox Anglicans' ignores the fact that the scientific world of the Global North has moved on from that of mediaeval obscurantism and Victorian morality still embraced in the Sydney Diocese and the mostly African countries of the Global South.

The numbers claimed by GAFCON for its own blinkered vision may not relate to their actual population basis who may not, in fact, adhere to the biassed views of the vociferous leadership of the GAFCON Primates (who have arrogated to themselves their leadership of 'Orthodox Anglicans' in the Global South). The GAFCON Primates have, in fact, neglected to pastor their own LGBTI+ people in favour of embracing the cult of homophobia promoted by their local governments - imported into the Communion at Lambeth 1998, whose disastrous outcome was the illicit invasion of Western Provinces of the Communion in order to incite local acts of schism from the local Churches.

My own understanding of the situation where Messrs Ould and Davies decry the reluctance of ACNS to draw attention to the GAFCON meeting in Jerusalem, is that this was the decision of the Mother Church of England to downplay the grandstanding of the GAFCON Primates' claim to sole ownership of Orthodoxy - from the more stable and eirenic Anglican Tradition of Unity in Diversity.

My hope for us in New Zealand is that when the dissident clergy return from GAFCON, they will have decided among themselves who will take on the role of 'Bishop' - unless 'he' has already been ordained by the GAFCON Primates by then, and then get on with the sad business of trying to recruit others [].
In the meantime, we who are left (the majority) will quietly pursue the Mission of Christ Crucified, Risen and Glorified, for the benefit of all who will hear and believe that God loves every human being that God has created."

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Ron
GAFCON has a statistically earned right to claim that the majority of global Anglicans follow the line they are taking on Bible, church, sexuality, mission.

The situation in our own church is trickier than you convey.

People here concerned about GS's decision are not readily compartmentalised in categories of Victorian/obscurantist etc. There are many Anglicans with loved gay family members who nevertheless do not believe God blesses same sex partnerships.

Father Ron Smith said...

Thank you, Peter, for your appraisal of my comments. However, I have a problem in believing that there are people in N.Z. with a gay family member who do not believe that God blesses same sex partnerships. It is usually such families who are prepared to believe that God is disposed to support such partnerships, as they are, themselves.

Glen Young said...

"I have a problem in believing that there are people in NZ with a gay family
who do not believe that God blesses same sex partnerships." Ron 2 5:59 PM.

I have several gay family members whom I happily accept in our family circle and have had many discussions with one of them.I also accept that my world view is considerably different from theirs.Though we all share the same family gene pool,we have two parents,four grandparents,eight great grand parents [and so on] who have put their contributions into the mix.We have not all shared the same mixture of dominant/recessive genes;and so are going to be different.While I accept them as my family,it does not mean that I have to use my family relationships as the basis of how I view my relationship with Christ.

Peter Carrell said...

Well,Ron, you need to believe what I am saying otherwise you will have no understanding of the dilemma facing a number of parishes in our Diocese, if not further afield in our church.

The church is not binary!

Father Ron Smith said...

Well, Peter, and Glen. My thought about families is that they are given to a person for mutual nurture - not rejection on account of their unusual innate sexual orientation. Given that, is it not in the interests of the Family - whether overtly Christian or not, to be able to understand that? As God has created all of his chudren in the divine imge and likeness, God wants them all to better understand each others deepest needs - even if they happen to be different from one's own. Society at large understands this - and we are part of society - whether Christian or not.
"Where charity and love are: there is God" - especially in the bonds of family - either of the Church or of the world.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
On what basis do you jump to the conclusion that a family member who does not accept another family member's lifestyle is godly has thereby rejected that family member?
If, hypothetically, a member of my family smoked marijuana I would not support that and I would not bless it (even if it were legal) but I would not stop loving that family member. Why would I? The family relationship does not stop because there is a difference in lifestyle.

Anonymous said...


'why be negative and use words like "tragedy"?'

Precisely because of Peter's point underscored by me following the single use of the word 'tragedy': Anglicans have poured inordinate energy into this single focus. Spend some time on this site, Craig, and observe where people's energy is - is it on evangelism? Is it on growing in one's prayer life? Is it on peace? Justice? Poverty? Climate change? Church attendance figures? Recycling? Living simply? Clergy formation? Mental health? Reconciliation? Science and Religion? I suggest that if and when Peter posts on any of those subjects he receives little engagement - but if he posts on what is now termed on this site "That Topic", the engagement is difficult to keep up with. There are times when this site decides to fast from "That Topic" simply to catch breath.

I imagine a church in which concomitant energy was expended on some of these other topics, a church that didn't put energy into fragmenting over disagreement about That Topic in the manner that it hasn't fragmented over marriage after divorce, over women preaching, (etc), a church that is viewed by non-Christians as having energy for more than simply tearing itself apart over That Topic, and a church that is the first place they think of where all can seek meaning and purpose and inner growth.



Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Peter, your mention of the use of marijuana as something to be positively discouraged in a member of your family can hardly be compared with the benefit of the encouragement of a loving same-sex relationship of one of the family. The two have a distinctly different moral compass - even from your own viewpoint. Marijuana can have a deleterious effect on the health of the user that would justify family disapproval

The sustaining of a loving and legal same-sex relationship can have positive benefits, if only for the reason that the mental and physical health of the two people involved - provided they are faithful and loving - can be proven.
In all other aspects - apart from that of procreation - such a relationship is akin to a healthy heterosexual marriage (as the State affirms).

I suspect, though, Peter, that you are trying to assume that there is some sort of moral equivalence - which puts you on the side of those who really believe that same-sex loving relationships are against the will of God.

Ben Hudson said...

Hi Peter,
The annual conference of CMS-NSW has well over 2000 people who come every year for a conference that’s all about mission. Many come from Africa, South America, Europe to be there. It’s always a wonderful week.

Glen Young said...

Hi Bosco,

"That Topic" has received an inordinate amount of energy because it encompasses many of the other subjects which you mention plus a few; such as political agendas. More than one blogger on this site would see question the scientific basis of many of the claims made.If the Church is tearing itself to
pieces,perhaps it should have adhered to Her Constitutional Doctrine and Mission, and preached the Kingdom of God; and not tried to create it's version of such here on earth.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ben
To clarify: I am not saying that Anglicans won't gather for missions conferences; and clearly significant numbers gather in NSW.

But I still wonder if 2000 would find the funds to fly to Jerusalem for a GAFCON if there was not "the other" issue hanging over our heads.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
You are missing the point I am making.
So let me try again:
there is no intrinsic reason why I cannot love my family members even when I think their style of life is not approved by God ... even when I can see human advantages to that style of life.
Some Anglicans, whether you understand or not, whether you agree or not, think in this way and are consequently deeply agitated by the GS decision.

Ben Hudson said...

Sure, CMS and GAFCON are different. The way that paragraph was worded just made me think of CMS.

Father Ron Smith said...

I suppose the 'Nitty Gritty' question on this thread, Peter, might be more about whether these Anglicans you speak of - who may not be at Gafcon, will be mre worried about the G.S. decision than that of Gafcon when it ordains its own Bishop for New Zealand.

Also, have you not thought about WHERE the money comes from to send 2000 people to Gafcon? Well FCANZ was advertising for money for 'That Other Cause' on its website recently. Also, Sydney diocese recent spent a million dollars to try to defeat a YES vote for S/S Marriage in Australia. Sydney has lots of money. I suspect it may have helped some of our own ACANZP Moore College graduates to the conference.

Gafcon is definitely, first and foremost, more about politics than the Mission of Christ to unite/build up the Church. Also there are a couple of bets being placed on who will be FCANZ' first bishop in Aotearoa. Maybe he'll get ordained 'This year in Jerusalem'

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
One day the money trail to GAFCON will be published though it may be simply the story of generous people helping less well off people to travel.

Don't speculate further on this site about these matters. I won't publish further speculative comments.

The critical matter before our Diocese at the moment is we have people who are troubled by the GS decision and some of those are choosing to walk away. That is a call for those who remain to be kind, wise and prayerful.

Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Peter, n all fairness, I must agree with your last paragraph at 7.25pm. We are both committed to a Church that can live with diversity, while yet appreciating the discipline of amiability implicit in the Gospel.

David Wilson said...

This article: https://usa.spectator.co.uk/2018/06/why-is-anglicanism-facing-a-postcolonial-rift/ makes some obvious points about the Anglican churches, for instance that the average Anglican is now African (elsewhere I have read that the typical Anglican is a 25 year old African woman). The surprise to me was the number of Anglicans in Pakistan - 500,000. This is more than the number in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia (c.f. http://www.anglican.org.nz/About). We in the 'West' need to realize that we are rapidly becoming a side-show in world Christianity.

Approval of SSM etc. in the West plays well in the surrounding culture. However, it does not have the same effect in those places where Anglicanism (and Christianity in general) is strongest. Would having a liturgy for blessing same-sex relationship help the Anglican Church in Pakistan in its mission?

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks Ron.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi David
See my next post ... SSB in Kiwiland removes a major blocker to Gospel engagement.
Clearly, in a different Pakistani context SSB is a major blocker to Gospel engagement.
Incidentally, 500k members of the Church of Pakistan are not strictly "Anglicans" as that church is a wonderful union church of Anglicans Lutherans etc but it is a church in full communion with the Anglican Communion.
Either way, yes, the NZ Anglican Church is in decline and our question is whether we can reverse that.

Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Peter; my final comment on this thread refers to a segment of the link provided (above) by David Wilson, stating a generally held opinion around the Communion that:

"It’s doubtful that making the archbishop’s appointment (appointment of the ABC) being open to outside the Church of England would pacify Okoh and others.

That’s because there isn’t a pope to force doctrine upon the Anglican Communion’s autonomous provinces."

Could it be that there could be 'A Pope-like' Gafcon Archbishop gearing up to head the new "Conservative (FOCA ?) Orthodox Anglicans" around the world?

If this really were the case, there would be no chance of this new Church replacing the Anglican Provinces linked to our Canterbury Foundation - not by Law but by filial respect. Lambeth still defines Traditional Anglicans.

Unknown said...

Dear Peter I notice a distinct lack of women's voices on this subject on your site.Why do think this is? Tilly nb I have resubmitted this because there was a word missing the first time.🌛

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Tilly
I don't know!
(On similar posts I have had female commenters in times past).