22th May 2008
Much can be gathered through reading articles on the Net on how Lambeth and GAFCON are being perceived. What is obvious is that there are a range of views, as one would expect, depending on one’s churchmanship, theological views and personal experience of the communion or those wider ‘instruments.”
I don’t wish to take any personal stand here and those of my Province (Southeast Asia) have been made known .
However, I have ‘sensed’ two things in my personal interaction with Anglican leaders across the board.
Firstly, there are many Anglican clergy/leaders who have felt isolated and ‘displaced” through this period of crisis. GAFCON provides an opportunity for such clergy and leaders to meet others to find encouragement, bonds of fellowship and mission partnership together. I have met clergy who are quite clueless or indifferent towards communion politics but are nevertheless emotionally and spiritually affected by the crisis, with very real impact on their work on the ground and in their parishes. GAFCON provides an important pastoral relief and I will say, a needed redirection for many of them. As this gathering is not just for bishops only, it open doors for ministry to arguably the group most affected by this communion crisis – Vicars and clergy. Their voices are not often heard. It is my prayer that they do not become casualties (no lack of intention, just attention) as we continue to find a ‘covenant way’ through this crisis.
GAFCON will meet this critical need. As a clergy myself, and from this perspective this gathering can be a timely and needed blessing.
On the other hand, in interacting with some others (and this will include clergy as well), I have sensed that there is a very real anxiety that this ‘breaking up’ may be happening within the ranks of the orthodox or Global South folks. Some have good reasons to wonder whether there is a global perspective or wisdom to this, as to whether others understand what the breaking up of (or a certain kind of realignment in) our Communion may mean for other parts of her, some who are bearing the light in very strenuous conditions.
Again this group of clergy are quite clueless regarding the politics. But the impact on the ground is very real.
If they wake up one day to find that they have lost their connection to a historic church or that she is so fragmented that she can no longer provide any real covering (or in any remote sense of the term “Mother Church”), the future looks bleak indeed. Every member church seeks to be a part of a historic one. It is a primal cry. Nouveau organizations won’t do in regards to that deep seated call and need. To have to even ponder on this possibility is puzzling to some who have wondered whether this crisis could have provided a fresh opportunity for a renewed and as many have dared hope for, a stronger Communion.
Just sensing two responses and I think they are both worthy of our prayerful considerations.
Canon Terry Wong