GAFCON II: will it spell the end of the Anglican Communion?

The Anglican Communion is a collection of those "duly constituted Dioceses, Provinces, and regional Churches in communion with the See of Canterbury..."  We are part of the Anglican Communion because we are in communion with Canterbury. It appears not to be a matter of being in communion with one another as well as with the See of Canterbury.  

The decision now rests with the Archbishop of Canterbury who invites bishops to Lambeth, and the Anglican Consultative Council who keeps a "schedule" of representatives and names the churches who belong to the council to decide just who is deemed to be part of the Communion and for what purpose.  There are two lists that count: The ACC schedule and the Church of England's record of churches in communion with Canterbury (and the CofE), published at the end of the CofE canons.

Thus it is possible for one church not to be in communion with another, or in "impaired" communion  with another, and both be in communion with the See of Canterbury and part of the Anglican Consultative Council's list of member churches of the Anglican Communion.  

The GAFCON leadership knows this. Thus the statement by the Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Primate of Kenya and Chairman of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, the GAFCON continuing organization: 

"...we are painfully aware that the Episcopal Church of the United States and the Anglican Church of Canada continue to promote a false gospel and yet both are still received as in good standing by the Archbishop of Canterbury. 

Furthermore, the Church of England itself, the historic mother church of the Communion, seems to be advancing along the same path. While defending marriage, both the Archbishops of York and Canterbury appeared at the same time to approve of same-sex Civil Partnerships during parliamentary debates on the UK’s ‘gay marriage’ legislation, in contradiction to the historic biblical teaching on human sexuality reaffirmed by the 1998 Lambeth Conference."

GAFCON primates have declared themselves out of communion with ACoC and TEC.  They understand full well that breaking communion with any other province of the Anglican Communion does not mean they have broken with the Anglican Communion itself. But Archbishop Wabukala indicated in his letter that there may be problems of communion with Canterbury. 

The Archbishop of Kenya wrote:
"The need to take action to establish a clear and undiluted biblical witness to Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit is very great. We will gather (at the next meeting of GAFCON)  to proclaim the gospel with clarity and confidence and set in place structures that will facilitate rather than frustrate that great aim. The Jerusalem Statement and Declaration of 2008 gave us our biblical basis and in the Jerusalem Statement we spoke prophetically of three ‘undeniable facts’:
1. ‘The acceptance and promotion within the provinces of the Anglican Communion of a different ‘gospel’.’
2. ‘The declaration by provincial bodies in the Global South that they are out of communion with bishops and churches that promote this false gospel.’
3. ‘The manifest failure of the Communion Instruments (its international institutions) to exercise discipline in the face of overt heterodoxy.’

The ACoC and TEC have a "different gospel. The churches of the Global South (GAFCON folk) have broken communion with them. The Instruments of Communion do not work. And now, relations with the CofE are at a breaking point.

"The need to take action" may now include the need by GAFCON to break with the Church of England.  That break will mean that GAFCON churches are no longer part of the Anglican Communion, since they are not in communion with the See of Canterbury.

Is GAFCON poised to break with Canterbury?  Is that the action needed, in the Archbishop's mind?

And what will that mean in terms of the Anglican Communion?  If a member church breaks, not with another member church, but with Canterbury, does that automatically exclude them from involvement in the various activities of the Communion?  And will the ACC have to acknowledge that these provinces are not any longer in communion with the See of Canterbury, and part of the "schedule?" 

And, since GAFCON primates have already begun to distance themselves from meetings where the ACoC or TEC are present, will any of this make any difference?

GAFCON II may be a rattling of swords, but it may also be the occasion for a formal exit of some Provinces in the Global South from the Anglican Communion.  

It will be the end of the Anglican Communion as we have know it in its floundering times, and perhaps the continuation of the Anglican Communion as a communion of churches informed by the rise of the Church of England (as opposed to the Church in England), itself a product of modernity. This could be a good thing for which the wringing of hands and the screeches of the righteous unnecessary.

The Most Rev Dr Eliud Wabukala Primate of Kenya and Chairman of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans - See more at: http://gafcon.org/news/july-message-from-archbishop-eliud-wabukala/#sthash.9aT021U7.dpufArchbishop Eliud Wabukala,  Primate of Kenya and Chairman of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans


  1. The ACoC and TEC have a "different gospel.

    Yes, the Gospel of Jesus Christ looks Very Different, from the religion of GAFCON.

  2. I do think a live set of questions is:
    1) will ABC and ABY keep/be able to keep marriage in traditional mode; part of their concern is of course wanting the CofE not to be dictated to by Parliament;
    2) can the GS live with this, alongside the positive speech from ABC about SS couples (and probably various kinds of 'rites');
    3) can the progressives live with it -- the answer here is clearly No.

    So yes, we are facing a tsunami and it is inevitable. One kind of liberal thought that SS affirmation would be the proper response. They did not see that this would not be acceptable to those they were 'affirming.'

    I doubt it is lost on the present ABC that the See of Canterbury may be forced to take on a new role in the AC given pressures inside the CofE.


  3. Andrew Reid7/7/13 5:26 AM

    Dear Mark,
    I can't see any evidence for your assertion that there will be a formal exit of FCA/GAFCON provinces and dioceses from the Anglican Communion. This group has always maintained that their purpose was to reclaim and promote orthodox Anglicanism within the Communion, rather than separate from it. Certainly there are strained relationships with the CofE, but there has been no withdrawal of fellowship or formal break of Communion similar to what has happened with ACoC or TEC. I would expect relationships to warm given the ABC's personal theological position is much closer to GAFCON's than his predecessor.

    I draw your attention to this recent interview with Archbishop Peter Jensen, the secretary general of the FCA, where he states that if the FCA decided to withdraw from the Anglican Communion, he would no longer be part of the FCA.

  4. The GAFCON folk will eventually break with the ABC and the CofE. It's not a matter of "if", but a matter of "when".

    I, for one, will certainly not miss them. I am growing rather tired of all the sabre rattling and temper tantrums of the self-proclaimed "orthodox".

  5. Last one to leave ECUSA and the Canadian church, please turn out the lights and lock the door

  6. As one raised in and confirmed in the Episcopal Church, I've been saddened for many years as to the direction in which ECUSA has moved. I am one who wholeheartedly believes this church has lost its way. We have a PB who is clearly heretical and apostate. I don't use the 'H' word lightly, and certainly not in a mean-spirited way. I use it in a literal, definitional way in that she is quite clearly not orthodox in her theology. There have been many words out of her own mouth witnessing to this truth--most recently (and obviously) in her comments in Venezuela. Besides, she used (abused) the 'H' word down there herself.

    ECUSA membership is certainly declining, Anglican membership within the Global South (from stats I've seen) is certainly growing. Even flourishing! ACNA churches are also clearly growing here at home.

    To me, it's as plain as the nose on my face (you oughta see my nose). We will only continue to die (in terms of #'s) because we don't preach the Gospel anymore. Not really anyway! We are primarily (instead of secondarily) focused on global warming, saving the earth, inclusiveness, diversity, etc (ad nauseum). This has become our gospel.

    And why will ACNA and the Anglican churches in Africa keep adding new members? Because they are primarily focused on preaching the Gospel to make new believers and disciple them in the Christian faith. They truly believe the Scriptures. They believe the Scriptures of the OT and NT to be the word of God. They can clearly see from both OT and NT (not to mention in the obvious, ontological way) that it is unnatural for men to marry men and women to marry women. They have the most basic of common sense to see that God created us male and female, and that the human race continues by the natural (God designed) method of male-female sexual intercourse.

    Because he holds to the historic, orthodox faith once delivered to the saints, the Archbishop of Kenya is very relevant and influential. ECUSA and TCOE have virtually no relevance anymore because they have lost their way in believing a false gospel.

    It matters not whether the Global South pulls out or not. If they remain, with their increase in new believers and our continued slide in #'s, they are sure to soon have over 85% of the AC membership! They will only gain in relevance, we will only become extinct.

    Eventually, ACNA will surely become the legitimate message of true Anglicanism in the US and Canada.

    All of this is just so obvious. I truly don't understand how anybody misses this!

  7. I don't understand Billy Boy's sentiment, that growth of the Church can only be achieved by including the pure and excluding the rest. I would commend to him the works of Rene Girard and his follower, James Alison, who state quite as clearly as Billy believes the Bible does, that God has nothing whatever to do with the cultural values that require we exclude, even kill, someone in order to define who we are. Billy's "true faith" defines God as present amongst our secular cultural values: oppression, bigotry and racism. He has cast God in our image. In truth, God is not there, only us. I commend Girard and Alison to Billy.

  8. To Pfalz prophet...

    Rene Girard? You mean the man who believes that religion was necessary in human evolution to control the violence that can be from 'mimetic rivalry'? And the same Rene Girard who claims the Gospel presents the Crucifixion as a purely human affair with no indication of Christ dying for the sins of mankind (contradicted by Mark 10:45 and Matthew 20:28)?

    Perhaps Girard is where Katharine Schori draws her inspiration as well?! That would certainly explain a lot!

    I commend the Apostle Paul to Pfalz Prophet... "Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Jesus dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily". (Colossians 2:8-9)

    I stand by what I've written previously here in terms of 'orthodoxy' ('right belief'). I strongly suspect ECUSA membership will continue to decline due to its increasing emphasis on heterodoxy, while Anglicanism in the Global South and in the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA) will continue to increase due to its orthodoxy.

    I'm reminded of that wise Jewish teacher, Gamaliel, from The Acts of the Apostles (chapter 5), when Peter and the other Apostles gave witness to Jesus before the Council. The Council wanted to kill them. But the highly respected Gamaliel gave counsel to leave Jesus' disciples alone. For if what they preach is of men, it will come to nothing. But if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it--lest you even be found to fight against God.

    Those advocating a heterodox viewpoint (Schori) are 'of men' (citing Gamaliel); it will come to nothing. ECUSA, if it turns its back on historic Christian orthodoxy, will continue its decline.

    Gamaliel assumed a 'let's wait and see' approach. Time will tell!

  9. Good riddance to GAFCON, I say! That these con-evos were ever "Anglican" at all is a fluke of history.

    Kurt Hill
    Brooklyn, NY

  10. Hi Kurt,

    It's difficult to know where to begin to make a reply to your comment above.

    Anglicans in the Gobal South comprise 25 of the 38 Anglican provinces, and (currently) about 80% of active members of the entire Communion. That's 4 out every 5 Anglicans worldwide. That's a lot of influence, a lot of weight! Much of the time I think we Episcopalians in the US are oblivious to this statistic.

    The reason I placed the word 'currently' in parenthesis above has everything to do with my 2 previous posts within this blog. If we simply place all of this on a pie chart, the Global South's % of the pie (approx 80% now) keeps increasing while ECUSA, ACofC, and COE keeps decreasing. No fuzzy math here...this is a fact that we can't sweep under the rug! If we Western Anglicans continue down this same heterodox path, at some point in the future we won't even have a sliver of that pie. The wise Gamaliel will be proven right--again!

    In terms of helping the situation, I fail to see the logic of bidding 'good riddance' to our very fruitful (in terms of making new Christians) brothers and sisters of GAFCON (the vast majority of whom are from the Global South). I would hope other members of the anemic and struggling ECUSA don't share your view.

    It may not be too late just yet. When Schori's reign of ruin is over, PLEASE...let's elect an orthodox and faithful PB with true vision. If we fail again, I don't believe we will be able to recover!

  11. Kurt Hill: if Thomas Cranmer were alive today to observe the Anglican Communion, he would be labeled a 'con-evo' by a new world soi disant 'anglican' in TEC. That's precisely how competent your view of 'history' is. I say this with all charity. Go ahead and make the episcopal church into whatever you want, but to declare it 'historical anglicanism' is nonsense.


  12. To Anybody Who Can Help,

    In all honesty, I need an interpreter to discern what Kurt Hill has just written. Cranmer "would be labeled a 'con-evo' by a new world soi disant 'anglican' in TEC". And then "Go ahead and make the Episcopal Church into whatever you want, but to declare it 'historical anglicanism' is nonsense."???

    I've quoted from him immediately above, and I truly have no idea what he's just said. What on earth is a 'con-evo'? What is a new world soi disant anglican? What does he mean by me being able to make the Episcopal Church into whatever I want? And then what am I to make of his final statement of apparently dissociating the Episcopal Church from its Anglican historical roots?

    Truly, I'm seeking help from anybody who can interpret what he is trying to say!

    Is there anybody here who speaks the language of Kurt Hill? Really!

  13. Billy Boy

    Glad to (try to) help.

    Mr Hill uses 'con-evo' as a term of disparagement (conservative evangelical) not knowing in his 'new world' (USA) setting that the Church of England is comprised of a wide swath of Christians, from high-catholic to (what he calls) con-evo (trained at Wycliffe Hall, Ridley, Cranmer, St Johns Nottingham, et al) or, 65% of all ordinands. Including now the new Archbishop of Canterbury (a graduate of Cranmer-Durham) who gladly thinks of himself as an evangelical come to faith at Holy Trinity Brompton (London).

    Making TEC into a different church from all this historical Anglicanism is not your issue. It is his.

    But he does not have any sense of historical Anglicanism.


  14. Oh, please Billy Boy and SCM. You neo-Puritans are about as “Anglican” as John Winthrop, or Jonathan Edwards! The CofE made a dreadful mistake in allowing the Evangelicals of the 19th century to dominate Third World evangelization. Things would be much different (undoubtedly better) there if the Latitudinarians or High Churchmen had done the work. The “80%” is simply the blowback modern Anglicanism is getting as a result of the work of those crypto-Calvinist “Anglican” Evangelicals of yesteryear.

    Kurt Hill
    Brooklyn, NY

  15. SCM,

    Thanks very much for clarifying! You've helped me greatly to understand.


  16. Kurt Hill--your church history is appalling and consists of looking at yourself in the mirror and saying, "this is Anglicanism." Thomas Cranmer is an Anglican. If you read his service for Ash Wednesday you will see thinking that you would ban in your 'anglican' world. He is not a neo-puritan or any other of your hand-grown clich├ęs.

    How soon 'the oppressed' become The Oppressors. This is the new TEC being created by the Kurt Hills of the world.


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