It turns out Archbishop Akinola was denied a visa to visit Jordan. For reasons not given Bishop Venables of the Southern Cone was also unable to go to Jordan. Akinola is a primary player in the GAFCON event and it appears that the rest of the leadership meeting in Jordan felt it necessary to go where the Archbishop was more welcome in order to do the planning for the GAFCON meeting beginning on June 22nd.
The GAFCON website has a press release that gives the official spin on the matter:
"The pre-GAFCON preparatory consultation in Jordan wound up early, and the participants moved to Jerusalem on Thursday, 19th June. Hotel and meeting rooms previously unavailable in Jerusalem became available at the same time GAFCON leaders learned that previously granted permission for the Jordan consultation was deemed insufficient.
The time in Jordan was very valuable for prayer, fellowship, and networking. The group made pilgrimages to Mt. Nebo and the Baptism Site of Jesus. GAFCON Chairman Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, and Archbishop Greg Venables of Southern Cone, were for different reasons unable to be in Jordan. Both are, however, expected to play significant roles at GAFCON in Jerusalem."The press release, speaking of Thursday events, but published on Wednesday, seems premature. "Participants moved to Jerusalem on Thursday..." Well, perhaps it will be as described. The reasons given by the GAFCON press release were: hotel and meeting rooms becoming available in Jerusalem, the fact that Archbishops Akinola and Venables were unable "for different reasons" to be in Jordan and "previously granted permission for the Jordan consultation were deemed insufficient."
Whoever is doing the press release is being paid too much. The information of the press release makes it appear that the reason for meeting in Jordan had somehow to do with available rooms in Jerusalem. It was not. It was because part of GAFCON's supposed arrangement with the Diocese of Jerusalem was to have the "meeting" in Jordan and a "pilgrimage" in Jerusalem. So much for that.
The Press Release vaguely intimates that the Archbishop for "different reasons" were unable to be in Jordan, but makes no mention of the visa issue raised by David Virtue and Ruth Gledhill. The denial of entry to Archbishop Akinola is a story of some magnitude and I suspect has to do with Jordan's sense that the Archbishop is more militant in his attitude toward Islam than Jordan believes is appropriate.
The phrase, "GAFCON leaders learned that previously granted permission for the Jordan consultation was deemed insufficient," is most intriguing. This suggests that something about the consultation itself involved permission being granted by Jordan and that that permission was deemed insufficient. It could be no more than there having been a supposed understanding with the government that GAFCON leadership would be admitted to Jordan, it could be about the conference itself. Either way, it would appear that GAFCON leadership blew it.
The GAFCON press release also touts the GAFCON book, titled, "The Way, the Truth and the Life." That book will be distributed at the conference. I have seen a copy of the text. It is a rehash of several already available articles and contains nothing new as far as I could find from a cursory read.
The Press Release is a valiant effort to save an embarrassment and a major stumble. It doesn't work.
Archbishop Akinola thought he could go to Jordan. He couldn't. GAFCON didn't even bother to suggest that they were in Jordan as part of an agreement with the Bishop of Jordan. The press release proceeds actually going to Jerusalem. The text is brought out early as a show of normality when things are very abnormal.
GAFCON is underway. Time to cross the Jordan, Archbishop or no.