No mention in the logo of any part of the conference being held in Jordan, and nothing on the website to indicate the agenda of the meeting in Jordan from June 17-22, at the the so called "Consultation."
Of course that consultation is a very private affair. The whole thing is. Take a look at the registration page. You can't register without a special "pilgrim number." The terms and conditions related to registration are quite specific: you must be a legitimate pilgrim (no fake numbers please); you won't hold GAFCON responsible for lost or stolen goods; you will allow pictures to be taken of you while there; you will carry your own health insurance and not hold GAFCON responsible for you in any way; you agree that once having paid the registration fees you may not get them back. I don't regret that I have no pilgrim number. When the roll is called out yonder, I won't be there.
Still it would be interesting to know what the agenda is for that Jordan meeting, or even if that meeting will take place.
The GAFCON materials are totally focused on the Jerusalem event. The Bishop of Jerusalem's concerns about GAFCON are clearly justified. GAFCON in Jerusalem is not a pilgrimage. It is a full fledged effort to craft a new way of understanding Anglicanism - one that is decidedly illiberal. If GAFCON has its way, the search for ways to be inclusive will have reached an impasse. The moral compass will turn away from any effort to build on the biblical witness and will turn to a formalism and literalism that echoes the righteousness of community dictate that made stoning to death a preferred response to sinners.
GAFCON will have no concern for Anglicanism as in any way related to the first world, which GAFCON now sees as corrupt and vain. The Archbishop of Canterbury will not be a symbol of unity. The Church of England will be a historical source of Anglicanism, but not a church to be taken seriously as a sister church to churches in the "South" and so called "orthodox" churches in the West. It will not finally matter if the new Anglicanism has any connection to Canterbury at all.
GAFCON will draw together churches and leaders who will confront Lambeth and other Anglican Communion entities with the threat that they might leave and form a new improved Anglican Communion. The threat is that the regular Anglican Communion will be reduced to some 40 million, including what they consider the poor sorry non-church going English, not the some 77 million members now counted. They will say that the result is the new improved Anglican Communion will have some 35 million really, really, steadfast believers and the old defunct Anglican Communion only some 20 million actual believers. The numbers will flow like water.
In the midst of all the other goings on, the shadow issue of Christianity and Islam will be always there: Islam knows its morals (although we may think them wrong); Islam is muscular, not weak like Christians from the West; Islam is filled with believers willing to take over the world, Christians need to take the mission to universal conversion as the core of its own mission. The new improved Anglican Communion will be as righteous, muscular and competitive as the best of Islam. The words may not even be whispered, but the thoughts are there - how to compete with Islam.
No wonder the Bishop of Jerusalem told GAFCON not to come to Jerusalem. Jerusalem is at its core interfaith and interdenominational. The Bishop of Jerusalem has to deal every day with Lutherans, Roman Catholics, the various Orthodox Churches, the Reformed Churches, the Jewish religious communities, the Islamic communities, with secular advocates for Palestine or for a greater Israel, and finally with the occasional visitor who suddenly believes he or she is Jesus Christ. Why should he want 1000 people to come proclaiming a form of Christianity that by no means represents the whole of the Christian community, and not even all of Anglicanism? Why should he want to invite people who will likely make a mess in public and then step in it? Things one might say about people of other faiths and other beliefs, said there in Jerusalem, carry very different weight.
This pilgrimage is not simply a reflective visit to holy sites. It is also a conference.
In TIME Magazine, in an article on Bishop Robinson and Bishop Minns, the reporter, David Van Biema writes,
"On Monday, Minns will jump on a plane for Jerusalem to help prepare a meeting of conservative Anglican bishops in two weeks called the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCon) that he claims will attract Anglican bishops from 27 countries.
It is distinctly possible that the GAFcon meeting will determine what actually happens at July's much larger Lambeth Conference, which may see bishops from 160 countries in attendance. That is because, as Robinson put it to TIME recently, Lambeth "is designed not to be productive in the conventional sense." Although long heralded as the potential Armageddon where opposing bishops could finally duke out a position on sexuality and biblical fidelity, Lambeth's planners intentionally left out any opportunity to produce a concluding statement, apparently turning the meeting into a toothless series of conversations.
One of the few things that might shift it could be the goading from the bishops gathered at GAFCon. Although observers have accused conservatives like Akinola of trying to force an Anglican schism, Minns, who acknowledges occasionally polishing Akinola's prose, says "schism will not happen." Instead, he predicts a Communion "realignment" with the conservatives as the new center, possibly catalyzed by the articulation in Jerusalem of a "new revised version of 'this is who we are''" featuring traditionalist positions on Christ's divinity, his virgin birth, and a conventional understanding of marriage." Asked whether such a statement could prove exclusionary to liberal Anglicans, he said, "it will be up to the American Church to see whether it wants to be part of that or not. "
Or, to the entire Lambeth conference to chew over a month later."
GAFCON is much much more than a pilgrimage. It is the strategic planning for a Lambeth "goading," a word that comes from old English for spear. They are sharpening the spears and the righteous warriors are at it.
No wonder the Bishop of Jerusalem wants nothing of it. In a land where goading goes on all the time with disastrous results, no one needs more.
The GAFCON leadership has long been critical of the imperious ecclesial West, acting as if its agenda was that of the whole Communion. Some of that criticism has been well deserved. But here we have a clear instance where GAFCON leaders from both the "Global South" and the "West" have together, in the cause of righteous Christianity and so called "orthodoxy" decided that the bishop of a diocese in the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East, the Diocese of Jerusalem, has no veto on holding an Anglican event there.
But the Bishop of Jerusalem, invited or not to GAFCON, given or not a special "pilgrim number," will be left holding the bag for all the damage done by Anglicans who came to town to pilgrimage and stayed to strategize a "new revised version of 'this is who we are.'"
Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem and for its bishop, The Rt. Rev. Suheil Dawani.