The Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), June 15-22, 2008, The Holy Land

26 December 2007 - Print Version

News & Views

Issued by the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), June 15-22, 2008, The Holy Land
Press Release
December 26, 2007

GLOBAL ANGLICAN FUTURE CONFERENCE IN HOLY LAND
ANNOUNCED BY ORTHODOX PRIMATES

Orthodox Primates with other leading bishops from across the globe are to invite fellow Bishops, senior clergy and laity from every province of the Anglican Communion to a unique eight-day event, to be known as the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) 2008.

The event, which was agreed at a meeting of Primates in Nairobi last week, will be in the form of a pilgrimage back to the roots of the Church’s faith.  The Holy Land is the planned venue.  From 15-22 June 2008, Anglicans from both the Evangelical and Anglo-catholic wings of the church will make pilgrimage to the Holy Land, where Christ was born, ministered, died, rose again,  ascended into heaven, sent his Holy Spirit, and where the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out,  to strengthen them for what they believe will be difficult days ahead.

At the meeting were Archbishops Peter Akinola (Nigeria), Henry Orombi (Uganda), Emmanuel Kolini (Rwanda), Benjamin Nzimbi (Kenya), Donald Mtetemela (Tanzania),  Peter Jensen (Sydney),  Nicholas Okoh (Nigeria); Bishop Don Harvey (Canada),  Bishop Bill Atwood (Kenya) representing Archbishop Greg Venables (Southern Cone) ,  Bishop Bob Duncan (Anglican Communion Network), Bishop Martyn Minns (Convocation of Anglicans in North America ), Canon Dr Vinay Samuel (India and England) and Canon Dr Chris Sugden (England). Bishops Michael Nazir-Ali (Rochester, England), Bishop Wallace Benn (Lewes, England) were consulted by telephone. These leaders represent over 30 million of the 55 million active Anglicans in the world.

Southern Cone Primate Gregory Venables said: “While there are many calls for shared mission, it clearly must rise from common shared faith. Our pastoral responsibility to the people that we lead is now to provide the opportunity to come together around the central and unchanging tenets of the central and unchanging historic Anglican faith. Rather than being subject to the continued chaos and compromise that have dramatically impeded Anglican mission, GAFCON will seek to clarify God’s call at this time and build a network of cooperation for Global mission.”

The gathering set in motion a Global Anglican Future Conference: A Gospel of Power and Transformation. The vision, according to Archbishop Nzimbi is to inform and inspire invited leaders “to seek transformation in our own lives and help impact communities and societies through the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ”. Bishops and their wives, clergy and laity, including the next generation of young leaders will attend GAFCON. The GAFCON website is http://www.gafcon.org

.

Canon Chris Sugden added: “While this conference is not a specific challenge to the Lambeth Conference, it will provide opportunities for fellowship and care for those who have decided not to attend Lambeth. There was no other place to meet at this critical time for the future of the Church than in the Holy Land .”

Ends.

For further details:
Paul Eddy (UK Press Officer) 44-(0) 7958 905716; Bishop Lawrence Dena (Kenya)  254-721-99-0236 and 254-202-714755; Russell Powell (Australia) 61-(0) 411-692499, 612 9265 1507; Ven. AkinTunde Popoola (Nigeria) 234-802-3420161; Peter Frank (USA) 1-412-281-6131 ext 134;  Canon Dr Chris Sugden (UK) 44 (0) 1865 883388.

Editor’s Notes:

Frequently asked Questions

1. Who is sponsoring the Conference?
The Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) is being called by those who took part in the Nairobi Consultation:
Archbishops Peter Akinola (Nigeria), Henry Orombi (Uganda), Emmanuel Kolini (Rwanda), Benjamin Nzimbi (Kenya), Donald Mtetemela (Tanzania), Archbishop Peter Jensen (Sydney) Archbishop Nicholas Okoh (Nigeria). Bishop Don Harvey (Canada) and Bishop Bill Atwood (Kenya) who also represented Archbishop Greg Venables (Southern Cone).  Bishop Bob Duncan (Anglican Communion Network and Common Cause USA.), Bishop Martyn Minns (Convocation of Anglicans in North America), Canon Dr Vinay Samuel (India and England), Canon Dr Chris Sugden (England)
Bishop Michael Nazir Ali (Rochester, England)  and Bishop Wallace Benn (Lewes, England) were consulted and also form part of the Leadership Team.

These bishops and their colleagues represent over 30 million Anglicans out of the 55 million active Anglicans. ( Nigeria 18m , Uganda 8m Kenya 2.5m Rwanda 1 m Tanzania 1.3 m plus Southern Cone, US, Sydney, England).  The notional total of the Communion is 77m. The active membership is nearer 55 m, since of the 26m notional members in CofE 3.7m attend at Christmas Services)

2. Whom do you expect to come?
We will be inviting bishops and their wives, senior clergy, church planters, and lay people including the next generation of young leaders. We aim to make it a Global Anglican Conference with its eye on the future and future leadership.

3. Is this a Global South Initiative?
Not quite.  Many of the Primates at the Nairobi Consultation are in the Global South, but it also included Anglican leaders from parts of the world beyond the geographic Global South.

4. Why a pilgrimage?
We are looking to the future of the Global Anglican Communion, which is itself a pilgrimage.
Those who want to hold on to the Biblical and Historical faith need to come together to renew their faith and develop a fresh vision for our common mission. The way we have chosen to do this is to undertake a pilgrimage to a land whose heritage we all share, the land where Jesus Christ was born, ministered, died, rose again, ascended into heaven and sent his Holy Spirit, and where the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out. We believe this will strengthen us for the difficult days ahead.
The conference will outline the mission imperatives for the next 25 years for orthodox Anglicans. It is important therefore to reconnect with our roots in the biblical story.
5. Is not Israel/Palestine a controversial venue?
Israel/Palestine has been a place of conflict for decades.  That should not keep us from making pilgrimage to a land that is our common heritage. We want to bring fellowship and bear testimony to the Christian communities in Israel/Palestine. Those of us from Africa are no strangers to the pressure that Christian communities are put under from other religious groups and communities.

6. Why call it in June?
The pilgrimage is to strengthen bishops at a crucial time in the life of the Anglican Communion. Many bishops will not be able to accept the invitation to the Lambeth Conference as their consciences will not allow it. Some will attend both gatherings. The purpose of the consultation is to strengthen them all spiritually. 
7. Is it not really an alternative to the Lambeth Conference?
No.
It is not at the same time or in the same region as the Lambeth Conference. So there will be some who will attend both conferences and thus be able to consult with the Archbishop of Canterbury and others there.
As Archbishop Gregory Venables has said: “While there are many calls for shared mission, it clearly must rise from common shared faith. Our pastoral responsibility to the people we lead is now to provide the opportunity to come together around the central and unchanging tenets of the central and unchanging historic Anglican faith.  Rather than being subject to the continued chaos and compromise that have dramatically impeded Anglican mission, GAFCON will seek to clarify God’s call at this time and build a network of cooperation for Global mission.” 

GAFCON is a call to vision and action for mission based firmly on the “faith once delivered to the saints” and revealed in Scripture, to reform the church and transform persons, communities and societies through the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.  African Bishops had this focus at their Lagos 2004 conference.  The Episcopal church’s agenda has recently overshadowed it.  We now need to develop this gospel agenda for all like-minded in the communion.

It is to outline the mission imperatives for the next 25 years and how to begin to respond to them.

It is a pilgrimage to the places of the Biblical story to renew our faith and commitment. It is to envision the Global Anglican Future. 

The Lambeth Conference has a different agenda.

8. Is this all over a gay bishop?
No.

GAFCON is about churches being grouped by what they have in common. We’re for growth, we’re for being passionate about the truth. We want to look to the future. That’s what the conference is about - Global Anglican Future.

9. Aren’t you splitting the church?

No. Communion depends on having something in common. Churches in the Global South are growing. They’re passionate about the truth and their faith. We are building on this strength.

As the Anglican Communion develops, some of the old bonds are loosening, and some new bonds are being formed. That’s a good thing. These bonds involve churches which are growing, and which have something distinctive to say to the world.  GAFCON is enthusiastic about mission. Its focus is the future.

15 Responses. Comments closed for this entry.

  1. Father Ron Smith Says:

    Congratulations to the new Church of the Global South. A question: Will GAFCON seek to become part of the World Council of Churches? Or will it, as its name suggests, apply for membership of the historical Orthodox Churches of the East?

    While this meeting is proceeding, the Lambeth Conference, venue for Faithful Bishops, Clergy and Laity of the world-wide Anglican Communion, will be in progress at Canterbury, Kent, where the Gospel will be celebrated as Good News for the world - not just one area of it.

    Meanwhile, Christ’s redemptive compassion and love for all peoples will continue to be the priority of Mission for the majority of those who remain in Ecclesia Anglicana.

    Prayers and Blessings for all who seek to being the Good News of the Incarnate Christ to ALL.

    “In Christ there is no East or West,
    No North nor Global South,
    But all who love the Christ are blest,
    Who share the Gospel truth.”

  2. Gary Morrow, Dahlonega, Georgia. USA Says:

    “In Christ there is no East or West,
    No North nor Church of England,
    But all who repent of their sins and love the Christ are blest, Who, “Holding fast the faithful word according to doctrine” of the Gospel truth.”

    The Epistle Of Paul To
    Titus
    The Argument
    When Titus was left in Crete to finish that doctrine which Paul had there begun, Satan stirred up certain which went about not only to overthrow the government of the Church, but also to corrupt the doctrine: for some by ambition would have thrust in themselves to be pastors: others, under pretext of Moses’ Law brought in many trifles. Against these two sorts of men Paul armeth Titus: first teaching him what manner of ministers he ought to choose, chiefly requiring that they be men of sound doctrine to the intent they might resist the adversaries, and amongst other things he noteth the Jews which put a certain holiness in meats and such outward ceremonies, teaching them which are the true exercises of a Christian life, and what things appertain to every man’s vocation. Against the which if any man rebel or else doeth not obey, he willeth him to be avoided.

    Titus1:9 Holding fast the faithful word according to doctrine, that he also may be able to exhort with wholesome doctrine, and convince them that say against it.

  3. teddymak Says:

    Tactical moves such as convening this conference become strategic when they illustrate the fact of overwhelming strength over your opponents.

    Any reasonable person long ago concluded that the GS and their adherents have the power to render impotent Lambeth 2008. Gafcon’s organizers now demonstrate that there is a new reality, that +++Rowan and his people must adhere to the wishes of the orthodox primates, who represent 2/3 of the world’s Anglicans. It is, in brief, over.

    Why?

    +++Rowan cannot risk the departure of the GS, a move that would devestate his primacy and besmirch his place in history. His Advent letter showed a clear intention to isolate TEC and the Canadians from the Communion. The problem is that it is too late for that process to unfold. The issue is forced, the battle joined and no amount of scholarly apologia can stop it. The Reformation is underway. Thanks be to God.

  4. Michael Poon Says:

    “Everything is permissible” — but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible” — but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. (1 Corinthians 9: 23-24)

    I am saddened and shocked by the Statement on “The Global Anglican Future Conference, June 15-22, The Holy Land”, issued on December 26, 2007.  Perhaps the Primates responsible need to clarify its views on the matter.

    1.  On what basis was the Statement “announced by Orthodox Primates”? What is the basis of orthodoxy?  Historically, the Communion takes Canon A5 “Doctrine of the Church of England” and C15 “On the Preface to the Declaration of Assent” of the Church of England as the basis of its belief.  This underpins Section 2 (“The Faith we share”) of the proposed Anglican Covenant.  On what basis did the Primates of Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Southern Cone, and Tanzania declare themselves as orthodox primates? 

    2.  Did the Primates at Nairobi act on their personal capacity or as primates of their respective churches that “represent over 30 million of the 55 million active Anglicans in the world”?  It would be helpful if the Primates and bishops are able to have their Statement ratified through due process by their Provincial/National/Diocesan Synods.

    3. Has the Global South Anglican Primates Steering Committee endorsed this Statement?  So far, it has remained silent on the matter.  It is important to note that the authority of the Global South Anglican “movement” and of the Steering Committee arise from the South-South Encounter and most recently the Kigali Meeting in 2006.  The Global South represents a broad spectrum of Anglican churches that hold onto the historic faith and ecclesiology informed by the historic formularies.  It does not answer to the dictates of the radical evangelical wings within the Communion.  It is regrettable that Asia, West Indies, and Middle East are glaring omissions among the “convenors” of the proposed Conference. Have they been consulted?  Have they rejected the proposal? In their place, we find names of colleagues (with due respect) from a particular strand in the Northern churches.  Why was this Statement issued with such haste? and without broader representation?

    4. Was the Presiding Bishop of Jerusalem of the Middle East consulted? After all the proposed Conference takes place in Jerusalem?  Furthermore, by holding it in Jerusalem, it makes it quite impossible for orthodox Christians from Muslim countries to attend.  And yet, what is that insignificant minority in the face of powerful numerical blocs?

    What should our discipleship be at this stage?  Primates are pledged to uphold the unity and the faith of the church, and not their private judgments and personalities—even their interpretation of orthodoxy.  Please be constructive in your decisions at this stage.

    Michael Poon
    Feast of Thomas Becket, 2007

  5. Steven Berry Says:

    Dear Michael,

    You made some very interesting points in your post, but I do question two of your statements.

    You stated: “Why was this Statement issued with such haste? and without broader representation?”; yet you also said: “Did the Primates at Nairobi act on their personal capacity or as primates of their respective churches that “represent over 30 million of the 55 million active Anglicans in the world”?

    I don’t know about you, but 30 million out of 50 million seems pretty “representative” to me.

    Perhaps I misunderstood your point.

    Steve

  6. Father Ron Smith Says:

    One should have guessed that the Numbers Game would figure pretty largely in the argument for representation of the world-wide Anglican Communion at GAFCON. Whatever reasons the Global South Primates have for hosting this Coference, and despite the please of Archbishops Akinola and Jansen, it cannot but be seen as a challenge to the other ‘Orthodox’ Bishops’ Conference later on in 2008 at Lambeth.

    Has anyone understood that the ‘30 million’ may be represented by bishops and primates who have not yet canonically, or even notionally, assessed the opinion of their clargy and laity? Is every African Anglican Christian priest and lay person fully aware of the awesome significance of what his/her Church leaders are up to, in their bid to divide the Church? I very much doubt it.

    In certain parts of the Church, ‘informed opinion’ is not encouraged amongst the faithful clergy and laity, and sadly, the separatist movement today is being led largely by those of the Evangelical Primates whose mission might not be in the best interests of either their own constituency or of the world-wide Anglican Communion, not to mention the redemptive message of the Gospel.

    To call these bishops ‘Orthodox’ is to beg the question of what is orthodoxy within the Anglican Church. For these particular bishops to choose such a soubriquet is neither practical nor strictly truthful. If it was intended to identify these prelates with the classical description of orthodoxy, which is ‘sound doctrine’, against the doctrinal belief and practice of other bishops in the Anglican Communion, then this is divisive, to say the least.

    It is noted also that the African Churches are more heavily represented among the prelates who are signatories to the GAFCON Communique than any other Regional Churches of the Communion. Does this mean that, because of their lay numerical strength, the African Churches are shaping up for a leadership bid against the historical role of Canterbury. If so, this might be a worldly bid for a ‘Might is Right’ ecclesiology, not too much different from the former ‘Colonial Church’ plan for Mission, where battle lines were often drawn between ‘evangelical’ and ‘catholic’ traditons. Such a Church, by its very divisive constituency, would seek to resile from its erstwhile claim to represent all strands of spirituality within the boundary of our historic Anglican heritage - both catholic and reformed.   

    If, at the heart of Christ’s prayer for his Church was that it should be “One, Father, as You and I are One’, then this latest separatist bid, on any ground whatsoever, is not helpful for the ongoing mission of the Church, which is to bring the message of God’s unconditional love to a troubled, needy and divided world.

    For God’s sake, and the sake of the world that God created and loves, think again you Primates!

  7. Gerry O'Brien Says:

    Father Ron Smith, in his first comment on this article makes the statement that says:

    “While this meeting is proceeding, the Lambeth Conference, venue for Faithful Bishops, Clergy and Laity of the world-wide Anglican Communion, will be in progress at Canterbury, Kent, where the Gospel will be celebrated as Good News for the world - not just one area of it.”

    Nobody has corrected his statement, however, Point No. 7 in the article clearly states that the two will not be at the same time.

    GAFCON gathering will be in June of 2008 while the Lambeth Conference will be in late July and early August of 2008.

    Please try to be accurate with your statements Father Smith.

  8. Father Ron Smith Says:

    My apologies to Gerry O’Brien and others if he, or anyone else on this site, was led astray by my inference that GAFCON and the LAMBETH Conference were to be held at the same time.

    My main thesis in my blog was to emphasise the close conjunction of the two meetings - one consisting of only the ‘Orthodox’ people in Jerusalem, and the other, of the rest of the Anglican Communion at Lambeth.

    I am sorry for any confusion this may have caused!

  9. Gerry O'Brien Says:

    Dear Father Smith:

    Just to clarify, I was not led astray by your post, however, my concern was that others would or could be led astray by a statement that was clearly calculated to do so. 

    I thank you for your apology albeit with some hesitation.

    In Christ,
    Gerry

  10. Alice C. Linsley Says:

    It is significant that they make this pilgrimage to Palestine and (I assume) to Jerusalem. Planning this far in advance means the Arab bishops have sufficient time for travel permits.

  11. Father Ron Smith Says:

    Thank you, Alice for that valuable consular information. I wonder, will you be there to support your friends?

  12. Bishop Ijaz Inayat Says:

    How would GAFCON include delegates coming from the Muslim countries.
    +Ijaz Inayat

  13. Father Ron Smith Says:

    At post #11, Alice has assured the GAFCON organisers that “planning this far in advance will ensure that the Arab bishops have sufficient time for travel permits”. No doubt Alice has useful ‘inside information’ on this matter. She sounds quite confident.  [Edited]

  14. Alice C. Linsley Says:

    Ron, I’m sorry. I know I shouldn’t laugh, but you are so predictable.

  15. Father Ron Smith Says:

    Well, I suppose it was always a possibility, given the circumstances in which it was arranged:

    GAFCON, it seems, will not take place - at least in Jerusalem. His Lordship the Bishop in Jerusalem
    has expressed his dissatisfaction with how the conference was organised, and is unwilling to allow the Conference to meet in his Diocese.

    It seems that the premier prelate involved, his Grace, the Primate of Nigeria, has written to Bishop Darwani stating that: “We (the Bishops meeting in Nairobi) considered your important arguments carefully as we met in Nairobi. But we came to the unanimous conclusion that we needed to proceed”  - No comment from me, Fr. Ron