Canterbury and the TEC Respond to GAFCON

The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church responded to the GAFCON statement. The Archbishop's response is HERE. The Presiding Bishop's is HERE.

The Archbishop's statement has a wind up for the pitch He begins with an affirmation of "The ‘tenets of orthodoxy’ spelled out in the Jerusalem Statement, and supposes they "will be acceptable to and shared by the vast majority of Anglicans in every province, even if there may be differences of emphasis and perspective on some issues. I agree that the Communion needs to be united in its commitments on these matters, and I have no doubt that the Lambeth Conference will wish to affirm all these positive aspects of
GAFCON’s deliberations."

Barring this simply being a give away prior to the big swing, this statement is overripe. The "tenets" in the statement include adherence to the 39 Articles, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and includes this phrase concerning Holy Scripture, "The Bible is to be translated, read, preached, taught and obeyed in its plain and canonical sense, respectful of the church’s historic and consensual reading." The phrase "the plain sense of scripture" once again makes its way to the fore as a litmus test of so called "orthodoxy." The Archbishop surely does not believe that "the vast majority of Anglicans in every province" will find these three "acceptable."

He then says, "Despite the claims of some, the conviction of the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as Lord and God and the absolute imperative of evangelism are not in dispute in the common life of the Communion." Thank you.

Having wound up the pitch, he then throws, warning the GAFCON Primates that the game is not going to be easily won. "However,
GAFCON’s proposals for the way ahead are problematic in all sorts of ways, and I urge those who have outlined these to think very carefully about the risks entailed." He then speaks to the details of his concerns: (i) A self appointed Primates Council has no claim to legitimacy across the Anglican Communion, (ii) there are problems as to how Provinces are included in or out and (iii) there is the question of overlapping jurisdictions. How is the claim that there are pastoral reasons for beginning work in a jurisiction of another Province? How is that distinquished from reasons that have another agenda? Dismissing the structures of the Anglican Communion and the work of particular Provinces on the basis of colonialism denies the possibility of working beyond the moment as a world wide community of churches is too quick and a false solution. The charge that some Provinces preach a different gospel denies the reality of faithful witness that can be found everywhere in the Communion.

The Archbishop ends up with a cautionary note: "I have in the past quoted to some in the Communion who would call themselves radical the words of the Apostle in I Cor.11.33: ‘wait for one another’. I would say the same to those in whose name this statement has been issued. An impatience at all costs to clear the Lord’s field of the weeds that may appear among the shoots of true life (Matt.13.29) will put at risk our clarity and effectiveness in communicating just those evangelical and catholic truths which the GAFCON statement presents."

All in all a good sound critical but respectful commentary. Ruth Gledhill in her comment titled, "Summer of Schism: Cantuar slams Gafcon." sees the Archbishop's comments as a challenge to the leadership of GAFCON. Good for her.

With summer movies in full swing, the promise of a move where a Cantuar slams a Gafcon is almost too much to miss. Some see "Summer of Schism," "Cantuar and Gafcon in bloody duel to the death. Using only rolled up copies of pronouncments as their weapons, watch the two giants strike blows for the greater uber-land that lies beyond the Anglican Communion. "

Meanwhile the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Bishop Katharine, has issued a statement, short and pithy enough to be reproduced here:

"Much of the Anglican world must be lamenting the latest emission from GAFCON. Anglicanism has always been broader than some find comfortable. This statement does not represent the end of Anglicanism, merely another chapter in a centuries-old struggle for dominance by those who consider themselves the only true believers. Anglicans will continue to worship God in their churches, serve the hungry and needy in their communities, and build missional relationships with others across the globe, despite the desire of a few leaders to narrow the influence of the gospel. We look forward to the opportunities of the Lambeth Conference for constructive conversation, inspired prayer, and relational encounters.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church"

Brief, suscinct, and adult: GAFCON is too narrow, is concerned with dominance, and it is time to move on to Lambeth. Wish you were there.


  1. Frankly, the comparison between the responses is like comparing night and day. ++Rowan's response is just that -- a response. He has read it and listened to it carefully, and he finds issues with it, and he humbly and respectfully points them out -- and he makes several good points.

    ++Katharine's reaction is worthy of "Father Jake Stops the World", but hardly worthy of a presiding bishop. Her comments don't convince me she has actually read it -- she could have written this up weeks ago. (It reads like more of the usual liberal "it's all about power" song-and-dance routine.) Her backhanded insult ("emission," indeed!) of the participants should go a long way toward building those relationships she imagines she will accomplish at Lambeth. (Some of those at GAFCON will be there, after all.) Frankly, I'm embarrassed by her reaction, and I hope at some point she will be as well.

  2. Thank God for ++Katharine J-S! Yes, what you said, Mark. And bless you for the link to EK. That was up-lifting.

    many blessings, --margaret

  3. Mark - your response just goes to show how far from orthodox Anglicanism ECUSA has strayed, when you are troubled that one of the tenets of GAFCON's statement does include reference to the 39 articles and the BCP of 1662 - which the vast majority of Anglicans around the world have no trouble in affirming, and I am delighted that the ABC himself agrees that the Communion needs to be united in its commitment upon.

    And yes, the vast majority of Anglicans will find the 3 statements on the 39 articles, the 1662 BCP and the interpretation of Scripture quite acceptable - only the tiny minority in the liberal western churches would not, so you are sadly heavily blinked in your perception of reality.

    The other issues he raises about legitimacy of the leadership shows a misunderstanding about the intention of GAFCON - it is not a take over of the communion and therefore does not need to be considered to be legitimate across the whole communion. Is the leadership of Integrity for example considered to be legitimate? Only to the extent that it represents the people of that persuasion, but not as representative of everyone in the Communion. The trouble is that you seem to see everything in terms of political power plays, when we are only on about proclaiming the apostolic gospel.

    Which brings me to Jefferts-Schori's dismal response - GAFCON is not endeavouring to limit the influence of the gospel, but only be precise about what the gospel is, and to provide a safe pastoral haven for those orthodox Anglicans within liberal provinces to continue discipling people under the gospel. That is not about dominance, but about the salvation of souls for eternal life - it is about God's grace.

  4. christopher+1/7/08 9:58 AM

    Well, let's just add this, lest it be unclear. The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is not fundamentally about sex and sexuality. Yet we Anglicans - many of us anyway - seem bound and determined (no doubt for a variety of interesting reasons) to prove to the world that we are not only obsessed with sex, but that matters of sex and sexuality are actually deal-breakers in Anglican fellowship - as though these could be equated with the creeds that *actually* define Christian orthodoxy. Excellent evangelism this.

    Thankfully, one of our abiding strengths in the Anglican Communion is our ability to agree to disagree, and that seems to be holding, for, unless I missed it, no schism was declared by the GAFCON group.

  5. Her backhanded insult ("emission," indeed!)

    That was indeed a questionable word choice.

    I would have referred to it as an extrusion.

  6. brian f - your statement about Anglicans accepting the 39 articles would only be correct for those Anglicans who think it is still the 17th century. Have you actually read them? Or do you know what century it is?

    God save the Queen, and damn that bishop of Rome. Rah-rah for predestination. And darn those extra sacraments.

  7. Calling the GAFCON statement "the latest emission" is not very adult.

    It sounds like the whine of petulant child.

  8. Tuesday, July 1, 2008
    The (reactionary) Global Anglican Futures Network (GAFCON)
    Well, I was wrong when I suggested to my friend (The Revd. Dr) Ian Douglas last week that GAFCON (the Global Anglican Futures Network) was fizzling out.

    GAFCON claims to be "A Church within the Church"?

    Well there is nothing new about that.

    Evangelicals in England with their Church Society, and their patronage trusts (Church Pastoral Aid Society, Simeon Trust etc) functioned as such in the C of E

    Anglo-Catholics did as much with the old Anglican Congresses and their own Patronage Trusts.

    I am sure that good friend Andrew McGowan has seem the same in the Australian Church, not the least in his Diocese of Melbourne.

    In fact much of the English Missionary endeavour in Africa was "Church within a Church" depending whether you were an SPG (Society for the Propagation of the Gospel) Diocese, a UMCA (Universities Mission to Central Africa) Diocese, a CMS (Church Missionary Society)
    Diocese, or God help us, a BCMS (Bible Churchman’s Missionary Society) Diocese.

    Tanganyika was one of the few places where Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals o-existed - albeit in Catholic or Evangelical Dioceses. \

    (Do remember that one of the great Anglo-Catholic Bishops was Frank Weston of Zanzibar, an organiser of the aforementioned Anglican Congresses.)

    Tanganyika and Zanzibar joined to form Tanzania.

    (Years ago my home City of Bristol had three Evangelical Seminaries. Dalton House (for women who were training to be "Parish Workers") , Clifton Theological School) (CMS) and Tyndale Hall

    When the English Church decided to "rationalise" the Seminaries the late and great Dr. Oliver Tompkins, Bishop of Bristol (and no evangelical) knocked their heads together and got them to merge (as Trinity College)

    (In the desolate enough Diocese of Bristol he wanted at least one seminary!

    So there was "always" been a Church within the Church.

    What is breathtaking is how the Gafcon statement is so
    "Reformed/Protestant/Calvinist" It takes us back four centuries!

    Would I be right in thinking that Peter Jensen (In theory the Archbishop of Sydney, in reality the Presiding Elder of the Classis/ Synod of Sidney) has out outmanoeuvred American reactionaries, and that the new "Church within the Church" (Gafcon) is in fact Jensenite?- i.e. Calvinist at its heart.

    My good friends - a Seminary Dean in Australia, and a Seminary Professor in the U.S.A. think that I am on the right track here.

  9. brian f: the Episcopal Church in the United States has never used the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.

    We produced our own after the American Revolution. So why in the world would we "affirm" a book we've never even used?

  10. bls says "We produced our own after the American Revolution. So why in the world would we "affirm" a book we've never even used?"

    Well....see BO33, see the acceptance of Gene's exclusion from Lambeth.......

    The obvious fact is that TEC is desperate to stay in the AC as without it, TEC is just a small and shrinking US denomination.....so, it would NPT be surprising for TEC to agree to anything with fingers crossed, of course (TEC has a record of not keeping its word, of course - but that is a different matter.....)

  11. Mark,

    The great divide among us really does seem to stem from two perspectives--authority and interpretation of holy scripture (of course, not including sexuality which is perhaps symptomatic of both of these). One is the confusion between international church and international communion; the other is how we approach/love our holy scriptures--which indeed may be heavily dependent upon how we view authority. Without allowing the tensions and differences in our understandings of authority and interpretation, we will never get anywhere in the discussions which have created GAFCon and all the rest.

    I am now seeing what ++ABC is striving to do at this Lambeth conference in a new light. What astounds me is that there are bishops and presiding/archbishops who seem not to have an inkling of what the deeper issues are, and keep insisting that we create a church with one rule, one perspective, one way.

    I am afraid not that we have lost our "way" but that we have lost our joy and wonder and awe, and we have lost the perspective of how difficult it is to truly live into diversity.

    blessings, --margaret

  12. christopher+2/7/08 10:22 AM

    The real issue is not so much whether the Episcopal Church would "affirm" the Church of England's BCP 1662 - good heavens, what does that even mean? - but rather whether the GAFCON crowd want to impose this earlier masterpiece on all Provinces of the Anglican Communion, which, of course, is not going to happen, even if they do want to do so. So what is this would-be affirming of BCP 1662 all about?

    Heck, as a dedicated Episcopalian, I'll affirm it right now: a wonderful book; a product of fascinating political and theological compromises, if that they were in the end; a fixed part of our shared Anglican heritage. Affirmed! Just not something we should use or need to use everywhere and at all times.

    ASB, Common Worship...heavens, even the great church of BCP 1662's birth has moved beyond such limitations.

  13. Anonymous - (I hope you know which "anonymous" these remarks are directed to) - yes I have indeed read the 39 Articles and studied them and affirmed my adherence to them as part of my sworn oaths to my bishop prior to my ordination, which is standard practice here in Australia, which incidentally is a larger branch of Anglicanism than ECUSA. There is plenty of Biblical support for predestination. There is no Biblical warrant for more than the 2 sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion. And as far as the Bishop of Rome strays from a true understanding of the nature of the presence of Christ in the elements of HC, and continues to confuse Christ's divine and human natures by insisting on the doctrine of transubstantiation, and insists on a priestly sacrifice over and over again of a Christ incarnate in the bread and wine, as if his once for all sacrifice upon the cross is not perfect and sufficient but must be added to, or replicated or perfected by a priest in the mass, then he is to be damned for his heresies.

    BTW - I am in the 21st Century, with 2 GenY daughters - the 39 articles are as relevant today as they were when they were first drafted, since they are derived from the eternal Word of God.

  14. If "TEC is just a small and shrinking US denomination," anonymous - then good heavens: Why should anybody care what it does?

    The real truth is that TEC still has quite a lot of influence and the real problem is that TEC is addressing a big issue right now - and everybody in the world knows it. The level of resistance - and the outlandish rhetoric, such as is found on this blog in "reasserter" posts - is evidence enough of this.

    I think folks are beginning to realize that TEC is right, and that the so-called "orthodox" are wrong. Why? Because the so-called "orthodox" objections raised are all quite irrational. You do not have "reason" on your side at all - and a two-legged (really only one-legged, in my estimation; "tradition" is really all you've got going for you) stool just won't stand up.

    Anyway, in case you didn't know: your comment was entirely non-responsive. Which is my point, really.

  15. brian f: "GAFCON is not endeavouring to limit the influence of the gospel, but only be precise about what the gospel is, and to provide a safe pastoral haven for those orthodox Anglicans within liberal provinces to continue discipling people under the gospel. That is not about dominance, but about the salvation of souls for eternal life - it is about God's grace." GAFCON's "precision about what the gospel is" is largely determined by cultural conditioning which differs greatly from most Western interpretations. To think that it can be imposed upon the entire Anglican communion is as ridiculous as it is pompous.

  16. Canon (Gregory) Cameron said: "The average Anglican is a black woman under the age of 30, who earns two dollars a day, has a family of at least three children, has lost two close relatives to AIDs, and who will walk four miles to Church for a three hour service on a Sunday."

    So why are the majority of Anglicans constantly being dictated to by TEC: a small and affluent portion of their worldwide Church? Seems to me that the voice of the 2/3rds world - including this woman - is being denigrated by a very loud, shrill minority who wants heterodoxy rather than orthodoxy. Note Bishop Katherine's choice of the impetuous "emission" while commenting about GAFCON. She is the last person who wants to challenge anyone's integrity or credentials. After all on TEC's Official Website one can still read her PB Candidacy brochure and read where she was/is purporting to be the Dean of a theological school that does not exist - and never did. It's called an inflated resume'. Emission indeed.

  17. The average Anglican is a black woman under the age of 30, who earns two dollars a day, has a family of at least three children, has lost two close relatives to AIDs, who will walk four miles to Church for a three hour service on a Sunday, who is obsessed with what men she's never heard of, living several thousand miles away, in a country she's dimly aware of, might do in bed together, and considers the behaviour of those two men to be the most important issue in her world, more important than poverty, disease or economic injustice.


  18. According to Malcolm, this African Anglican is ill-informed and untrained in matters except survival. Possibly she is more savvy, formidable, and honorable than anybody dares say and possibly even teaches Sunday School - which I'm sure doesn't use "Godly Play".

    One thing's for sure: some tens of thousands of this type of Anglican are overcoming mere survival needs and are passing the Word and the Way along and growing the most respectable Christian communities in the world.

    And then, along comes the "Me-obsessed" from the West...and, well, it's embarrassing how our kind huff and push, and demand, and belittle when such fellow Christians tell us we're wrong.

  19. Please try not to fib, Allen. Fibbing makes even you less credible.

    What I am suggesting is that the bedroom antics of a bishop in New England is unlikely to be a top of mind issue for this "average Anglican."

    Indeed, it seems a top of mind issue only for the sex-obsessed - and for the occasional prelate who sees it as a convenient wedge issue.

  20. When bigots try to play the race card, it makes me laff.


  21. Malcolm noted:

    ..."Indeed, it seems a top of mind issue only for the sex-obsessed.."

    So is that why too many TEC bishops disregard the Communion's mind on SSBs, and want to endorse revisionist meanings for marriage?

    If such a minority view is constantly thrust towards the 2/3 rds majority, who are the obsessed? When objections by the majority are raised is THAT where the obsession began, or did it begin with those who just refused to live with the common mind of the Church catholic?

  22. Brian, I am surprised to learn that you are a clergyman. For some reason, I always assumed that you were an accountant.

  23. Homosexuality is a very effective wedge issue - as the spiritual father of GAFCON, one Karl Rove, clearly understood.

  24. It is part of the perverse and self-serving mythology of the "conservative" movement that the nasty evil liberals, intent on overthrowing Christ and his Church, deliberately set out to abrogate old boundaries.

    Like most of the "conservative" mythology, it does not reflect any sort of reality so much as it reflects the rampant paranoia of their movement.

    In countries where homosexuality is legal and largely tolerated, the Church has had to contend with an issue that has never arisen in those places where it is illegal or not tolerated.

    That issue is, how do we deal pastorally with those who are homosexual?

    The response of the North American and UK churches in the Communion did not emerge, fully formed from the head of a goddess. Rather, it evolved, over an extended period of time, as the Church ad her clergy engaged with real human beings who were and are gay.

    Republican operative Karl Rove became an expert, in the secular realm, of using homosexuality - and the "ick" factor that accompanies it for many who have never knowingly met a gay man - as a wedge to drive voter behaviour.

    The GAFCON / FOCA party have been very effective in doing the same in realms ecclesiastical. And having abused gays, lesbians and busexuals as their entry poit, they have taken isolated abberations, principally in the US, and falsely proclaimed to the rest of the world that these represent the norms of North American Anglicanism.

    So, a confused woman who wanted to be both Muslim and Christian simultaneously is held up as a caricature of the sad state of the Episcopal Church - even though her bishop acted immediately to suspend her from active ministry.

    So, some conference, where a poster about the millenium development goals was left posted during the closing eucharist is misused and manipulated to claim that the Episcopal Church rejects the significance of the Cross and of Christ's sacrificial death.

    So the disciplinig of priests who engage in open rebellion against the authority of their bishops is held out as "proof" that conservatives are oppressed, even though thousands of honest conservatives continue to function and continue to hold the trust and confidence of their bishops. And the fact that Bob Duncan or Peter Jensen or Henry Orombi would act just as quickly to suspend any liberal priest who proclaimed themselves out of communion with them is expressly ignored.

    (In fact, Henry Orombi is reported to have excommuicated a bishop who, though having never denied the authority of his primate and metropolitan, had taken a contrary position on the sexuality issue - thus engaging in precisely the sort of theological witch hunts the "conservatives" falsely claim are routine in North America.)

    Allen simply represents yet another example of the perfidity of these "conservatives," who seek not to conserve, but to control and to destroy.

  25. Again, I will ask Malcolm in the hopes that he will answer:

    So is that why too many TEC bishops disregard the Communion's mind on SSBs, and want to endorse revisionist meanings for marriage?

    We hear loud voices constantly preaching obedience to the canons, and yet the California bishops have charged ahead with SSBs just because the secular law allows a civil official to perform such a union.

    Did I sleep through General Convention '09? When were SSBs incorporated into the practice of this Church. Talk about "ick Factor". How about those who muddy the waters and paint conservatives as ogres bent on human indignities?

    It's a plain matter on two levels:

    1) Endorsement of homosexuality has already happened in TEC. Gay persons are welcomed to participate and lead in the laity and as celibate clergy. Those limits are there because your boundaries, Malcolm, are unaccaeptable to most of the Church catholic.
    2). General Convention is still the policy-making body of the Church, not Bruno, Andrus, or Chane. Yet these bishops have formed their own polity and have separated (YES- SCHISM) from official TEC policies, as well as wider Anglican policies.

    So, let's return to the question that you avoided:

    So why is it that too many TEC bishops disregard the Communion's mind on SSBs, and want to endorse revisionist meanings for marriage?

    Answer: Elitism. This mindset has bred schism. Just note their brazen separatist agenda after the California decision. Powers unto themselves. Juridictions unto themselves. Answerable to no one.
    Not afraid to change polity and practice without authority of General Convention.

    Who's causing the schism?

  26. Of course, Allen must return to the oft repeated "conservative" falsehood that the resolutions of Lambeth conferences have juridical authority over the actions of the autocephalous provinces.

    It isn't true, but "conservatives" like Allen seem to hope that constant repetition will make the rest of us forget that their argument is rooted in a lie.

    Next he upholds the falshood that there are masses of North American bishops who have authorized same sex blessings - which is false, as the Windsor report makes clear. (That is not to say that there aren't bishops who turn a blind eye to such irregular blessings, but there is a difference.

    Tied to this is it's sister falsehood that the American church is unique in this.

    Of course, to have told the truth would have meant attacking the UK provinces, the antipodean provinces and even a few Global South provinces where such services are also winked at. But the "conservatives" were aware that too broad a target would render their attempted destruction of the Communion a non-starter.

  27. Pass a second cup of coffee to my friend Malcolm. He's nodding off.


    The Windsor Report came and went a long time before the California bishops rushed to caesar's side to act as agents of civil unions just weeks ago. Any comment on the California bishops' rush to change the practice of TEC without so much as a nod from General Convention '09? Canons are canons. While "masses" of American bishops may not be allowing SSBs, one thing's for sure - the HOB and the PB are silent about this huge presumptive move by the West Coast. Silence equates to endorsement in this new era of quick canonical action against anyone who doesn't toe the line.

  28. If I'm nodding off, perhaps it is because the litany of half-truths is becoming tedious, time-wasting and boring as hell.

    You try to pass off abberations as norms, you slander masses of faithful people you know exactly nothing about, and then you expect us all to take you seriously.

    Pathetic, really.


OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with comment moderation but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.