Predictions of such a meeting have been going around the Communion for the last year or so. Now we have the reality.
The purpose of the meeting, according to the web site's page on Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) is this:
"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 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."
The FAQ includes the following, regarding the relation between this conference, known as GAFCON and the Lambeth Conference:
"Is it not really an alternative to the Lambeth Conference?
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."
The FAQ answer to the question of GAFCON being an alternative to Lambeth is 'NO." And of course they are right. It is not an alternative, it is a means of dismantling whatever role the Lambeth Conference has as one of the instruments of Communion. It is, in other words, an instrument of exclusion and breaking of communion.
GAFCON is about building an alternative Anglican Communion leadership, priorities, agenda and demands. They could care less about being an alternative to the Lambeth Conference.The salient point of this FAQ is this little notation: "there will be some who will attend both conferences and thus be able to consult with the Archbishop of Canterbury and others there."
The scenario is fairly obvious: GAFCON will meet, issue a communique, ramp up the power, and some of those attending GAFCON will put on their spiritual prophylactics and head off to Lambeth to "consult with the Archbishop of Canderbury and others there."
I have no doubt that those who go to Lambeth to consult will not go to participate but to demand. And their demands will look oh so Christian. After all they will have just been on a pilgrmage with like minded Anglicans from all over the world.
It will be of some interest to see who is invited to GAFCON and who does the inviting.
The leadership group making the press release consisted of the following who met in Nairobi the week before Christmas:
"At the meeting were Archbishops Peter Akinola (Nigeria), Henry Orombi (Uganda), Emmanuel Kolini (Rwanda), Benjamin Nzimbi (Kenya), Donald Mtetemela (Tanzania), Peter Jensen (Sydney), and Nicholas Okoh (Nigeria); Bishops Don Harvey (Canada), 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 (
All men of course, and all ordained and mostly bishops. They represent collectively the most vocal leadership of "The New Improved Neo Fundamentalist Anglican Communion."
The Convocation of Anglicans in North America, (CANA) has argued in the courts in Virginia that there are two Anglican Communion entities. They argued that the two are: "those that relate to all provinces that relate to the See of Canterbury, and those that relate only to those who are understood as adhering to the historic faith, doctrine, and discipline of the Anglican Communion. ... The Church of Nigeria, with which the CANA Congregations have affiliated, is the principal leader of this new branch."
GAFCON is the international meeting of the second of these entities, self-described by CANA as "adhering to the historic faith doctrine, and discipline of the Anglican Communion." They of course will determine who adheres and how.
The web site, whose writers simply cannot get away from using the stock phrase "the faith once delivered to the saints," includes a pictorial list of the leadership.
It is clear that this leadership group has not the slightest interest in the Anglican Communion as currently organized as a fellowship of churches. What it wants is an organization that excludes all but the faithful and true and is organized with leadership that gives obedience to its patriarchs.
GAFCON will go down in the history of the Anglican Communion as the foundational meeting of a new communion. Since the current one, the Anglican Communion is already peopled with a wide variety of church folk GAFCON will either have to take over, kicking the Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada and a wide variety of other churches out, or start a world-wide Church of its own.
We should have no doubts, however. The present brought to us this Christmas by this leadership group is rotten. GAFCON may succeed in its purposes, but the gaffe in GAFCON is that it is indeed the work of con artists.