The GAFCON gaffs of the past two days will require some explanation, and then we will need to continue being watchful.
First, on a light note, (light except for those of us who are miffed because not chosen,) it turns out that Susan Russell who has a day job, is not in Jerusalem, so being on the banned list at GAFCON is an honor without required presence. So just who among the banned eight are in Jerusalem? Bishop O'Neill and the Rev. and Mrs. Edmunds for sure - they may not be at GAFCON but they are in Jerusalem. Colin Coward in a comment on Ruth Gledhill's blog intimates that he, Davis, Louie and Scott are there. Susan Russell is not. It turns out neither is Scott Gunn. He is in Rhode Island. So at least two persons being banned are not present at all, and perhaps others.
Meanwhile, on a much more serious vein, Changing Attitudes reports that on the banning day there was a further report of the beating and arrest of three Changing Attitude Nigeria members in Lagos. This, the morning after the Archbishop of Nigeria had difficulty remembering that any mistreatment of gay and lesbian people takes place in Africa.
When there is next a press conference I hope Iain Baxter, "the only Gay at GAFCON" (read Gledhill's blog on this) will ask yet some more questions concerning the beatings and arrests in Lagos and the exclusion of infectious persons from GAFCON environs.
This cannot be a happy time for the press office of GAFCON... the gaffs light and serious keep mounting up.
Several writers have suggested that perhaps it is time to ban GAFCON... to stop talking about it altogether. When it makes news it is an embarrassment to us all, when it doesn't it is just blither. No news in this case is greater peace and silence.
A good argument can be made that the leadership now sees that it cannot take whole provinces out of the Anglican Communion so it is about an alternative: the development of a second fellowship of Anglican Churches still related to Canterbury, but not those awful infectious people they have banned, and not the bishops who ordained Bishop Robinson, and not the Episcopal Church or the Anglican Church of Canada, etc.
The problem is, while many of those at this gathering are trying to make the connections, share ideas, hope for the future, and all the rest of the things we do at conferences, some are meeting behind closed doors, in strategy sessions, or as the "leadership" and are planning to drag the Anglican Communion through a patch of hell and burn off the chaff of apostasy and other malcontents.
So I don't buy the notion that the realignment gang is opting for a more modest option...not yet. The take over of the Anglican Communion is a long term process and if the realignment crowd must rest a while in the world of accommodation, where it claims to be a fellowship of real Anglicans within the shell of the remnants of the old, so be it.
But that fellowship will be working to remake the Anglican Communion into a world wide church with a head elected by a curia (read Primates) who will for sure demand to be representative of blocks of people, so that in effect the Global South Primates group will dictate the terms of office and elect the Metropolitan. They will work for a Covenant with a clear disciplinary code and separate out the sheep from the goats early on - don't sign don't come. From the front end they will exact an entry fee consisting of agreement to a statement of belief, or a covenant, or some other screening device.
They will do all this at a time when there is no international or extra Provincial control of what happens in particular Provinces. This is as true in Nigeria as it is in the US. Many Anglican Church constitutions make the Synod of that Church the ultimate authority over matters of discipline. So this new "fellowship" will be among other things continuously pushing for a way to detach dioceses from their Provinces and let them float where they will to new arrangements within the "fellowship." The first move is to discredit the jurisdiction of Provinces. This fellowship is the way.
If the fellowship within the Anglican Communion can do that, then the next step is to anchor the Communion in a new order - rule by the Primates, with a oath of conformity, etc.
So it takes fifteen or twenty years. By that time a number of the players will be off the field, but the play will still be on.
I do buy the argument that we need to laugh a lot more and go about our business a lot more (as in Susan Russell whose day job consists of being a minister of the Gospel, etc.) We need to get a grip on the fact that the realignment community will eventually be exhausted in the struggle. But all of this - laughter, doing the work of the Gospel, keeping our strength up by actually doing what life in the faith requires, etc - does not mean we can give up on the call to be watchful.
I do not believe we can ignore GAFCON and its gaffs. The conversations outside the meeting spaces and in the planning and strategizing sessions among the GAFCON leaders will be brought out as reasonable options for a group that doesn't want to split the Communion or as a smoke and mirrors face saving effort for a failed plan. But what if, either way, these are simply first steps in a process that doesn't depend on seemingly failed plans or reasonable options, but uses either as momentary events in a long range strategy?