Publication7

GAFCON SA is delighted to announce our 2017 conference.  All committed to the GAFCON vision for the Anglican Communion are invited to join us in Port Elizabeth this June.

This is intended to be a time of connecting, fellowship, learning and encouragement! There will be opportunities for teaching and discussion on:

  • Jesus our Unique Lord and Saviour in a multi faith world.
  • Mission as the heart and centre of the Church.
  • The Word of God written as authority in our Church.
  • Challenges for ministry in our context.
  • The future of our Communion.

 

Mark you diaries June 6-9 2017— St Saviour’s Church Port Elizabeth.

Costs: ZAR 500

Registration 2017 GAFCONSA

 

Details and Speakers see GAFCONSA 2017

 

Contact: Revd G Mitchell—frgavin@gmail.com

 

Easter Message: Glenn Davies

Glenn Davies

The leader of Australia’s largest Anglican Diocese, the Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Glenn Davies, has paid tribute to those who risked their lives to perform rescues in the recent cyclone and flooding.

“Australia is a nation that honours rescuers.” Dr Davies said in his annual Easter message. “We have seen in recent days, those who selflessly rescue people from cyclone storm and flood. They have our admiration, gratitude and thanks.”

“Destructive winds wreak havoc in a moment. The TV news shows us people who have been quickly surrounded by floodwaters. How welcome are the brave faces of those who appear just in time to bring them to safety?”

Dr Davies linked their selfless acts with Easter – saying “Jesus is the ultimate rescuer. His name, in Hebrew, means ‘God saves’. There are some who would say the events on a Judean hill two thousand years ago have no relevance for the 21st century. But that first Easter tells us that Jesus is alive today and rescues those who cry to him.”

Archbishop Davies will preach at the Cathedral on Easter Day (Sunday).

In his Easter Message, Archbishop Davies urged a spiritual renewal, saying “You and I need someone to rescue us from sin and bring us back to God. Jesus is the only one who can do this. No-one who is in trouble looks at a rescuer and says – don’t rescue me. This Easter, get to know Jesus – the greatest rescuer of all.”

The main service at St Andrew’s Anglican Cathedral, Sydney Square (next to the Town Hall) on Good Friday will be at 10am led by the Dean, the Very Revd Kanishka Raffel. Archbishop Davies will preach on Easter Day (Sunday) at 10:30 am.

Anglican Church Diocese of Sydney 2017 Easter Message

Australia is a nation that honours rescuers.

We have seen in recent days, those who selflessly rescue people from cyclone storm and flood. They have our admiration, gratitude and thanks.

The need for rescue comes suddenly. Destructive winds wreak havoc in a moment. The TV news shows us people who have been quickly surrounded by floodwaters. How welcome are the brave faces of those who appear just in time to bring them to safety?

Jesus is the ultimate rescuer. His name, in Hebrew, means ‘God saves’.

There are some who would say the events on a Judean hill two thousand years ago have no relevance for the 21st century. But that first Easter tells us that Jesus is alive today and rescues those who cry to him.

You and I need someone to rescue us from sin and bring us back to God. Jesus is the only one who can do this.

No-one who is in trouble looks at a rescuer and says – don’t rescue me. This Easter, get to know Jesus – the greatest rescuer of all.

Churches grapple with questions of survival through research

A major new doctoral initiative aimed at equipping leadership in the non-western andvinay s
persecuted church has been launched by two
leading academic institutes – the Oxford Centre for Religion in Public Life (OCRPL) and the Theology department of the South African University of Stellenbosch.

The collaboration aims to research questions of mission and ministry that are central to the survival of churches under pressure and persecution. Researchers, who will work towards a PH D, will remain in their place of ministry but complete their research through study time and under the guidance of supervisors from Oxford and Stellenbosch.

The four year programme will combine internet study and four month’s worth of residential seminars.

Dr Vinay Samuel of OCRPL said: “Christian faith in the West has been undermined in the last one hundred years by the intellectual attack of the rationalist enlightenment on the reliability of the Bible and the historical reality of Jesus. This has meant that theological study in the West has been largely focused on apologetics, either by orthodox scholars addressing the sceptical questions of the rationalist to give a reason for the hope within them, or by liberal scholars finding ways to make the intellectually discredited faith “relevant” to the prevailing culture.”

Dr Samuel pointed to exponential growth of Christianity in Africa and China and the massive challenges to Christian mission and ministry in those areas. He said the questions which will be addressed by researchers are: “How can churches maintain security and freedom to witness in the face of aggressive nationalistic religions; how can churches engage with those members of those religions on the basis of common citizenship of their countries; how does Christian faith bring change and healing to those with mental, psychological and sexual problems; when people convert from one faith to another, how much continuity, if any, is to be expected in their religious outlook and personal identity; what impact has a Christian community had on the life chances of people in their neighbourhood and how; what balance should be maintained between prophetic challenge to injustice and freedom to evangelise; what practical steps can churches take to eliminate corruption, especially within its own ranks.”

Dr Samuel argued that these were not the questions raised by the average theological curriculum, but they are the questions that trouble senior Christians in non-western countries. “Answering such questions depends on careful research of available information and case studies, and on engaging the questions and perspectives of biblically-based theology with the questions and perspectives of other branches of knowledge.”

It is vital, he said, that global south church leaders have access to such research and where possible were training in researching such questions themselves.

The first seminar is being held in Stellenbosch South Africa from September 1 -22 2017.  Barnabas Fund and East Mountain Ministries South Africa are providing support for students in the programme for which applications are now welcomed.

Encountering contemporary liberal theology – in its own words

by Andrew Symes, Anglican Mainstream.symes A

Conservative evangelicals are often accused of not ‘listening’ to other points of view. We’re told that we only engage with each other; we only read or listen to ‘approved’ versions of our faith; we caricature the arguments of revisionists without really hearing them. So I was delighted to receive a press release from Modern Church, summarising the keynote address from the recent annual meeting of their Council, and giving a link to the substantial 12 page text of the talk itself, by Dr Lorraine Cavanagh, which can be found here. ‘Reclaiming the soul of Modern Church’ reads like a manifesto for mission for liberal Christians, and it’s worth reading with genuine enquiry, to ask whether this revisionist version of Christian faith offers a coherent and compelling vision that threatens orthodox biblical faith in any way.

After an opening illustration, Dr Kavanagh begins by defining liberalism in a Christian context. Firstly as “hospitality”: respect for one another around a “central altar” as we “encounter God in one another”. Then ‘freedom’ to encounter God “in a myriad of ways”, particularly through openness to “non-propositional truth” of the heart not just the head. It is also an intellectual freedom, a continual willingness to think in different ways. This can be seen as subversive, but provides a vital different voice against the contemporary tendency to conservatism, according to Cavanagh.

(To me it seems bizarre that the Church of England could be accused of undergoing a “shift to the extreme right” as the Acting General Secretary of Modern Church claims. I’m currently reading Justin Welby’s proposal of a radical Gospel-directed alternative to current models of capitalism, in the Lent book ‘Dethroning Mammon’. Meanwhile Bishops are publicly affirming the Archbishops’ call for “radical inclusion” in the Church, and are regularly critical of government economic and social policies).

Cavanagh sees the gift that liberals can offer is to bring the voice of “the unchurched, the de-churched and the marginalised” to the table. She takes a term of insult, “half-believers”, and turns it into a virtue – believing but with questions, understanding but not tied down to a particular version of the faith. Many liberals feel rejected by the institutional church or representatives of it, perhaps alienated from traditional views of God, but still want to be Christians and C of E. They have much to offer a church that, with clear echoes of Martyn Percy, she describes as “stifled by managerial concerns”. The Church’s inner spiritual life needs insights from “the humanist and the secular”, she continues, claiming that this is the opposite of extremism.

(This idea of ‘reverse mission’, of the Church learning from the world about some of its core principles, is a familiar feature of liberal theology and ethics. It is unintentionally ironic that liberals are attacking the C of E leadership for borrowing from secular management principles to improve efficiency, while at the same time themselves openly advocating the taking on board of other secular ideas.)

Modern Church stands for a fellowship with no “criteria for membership” which are divisive and sectarian. Cavanagh links the “recruitment” emphasis on evangelism and discipleship in the C of E’s Renewal and Reform programme with “dangerously emotive worship”, fundamentalism and the rise of Donald Trump. By contrast liberals look for something of the sacred, found in contemplation, with more “theological substance”. People returning to church after a long absence, including some evangelicals, are finding this helpful, says Cavanagh, although there is no evidence to indicate how many.

The worshipping community and the “life of the spirit” prevents the intellectual explorations into religious philosophy from “running aground”, and provides the liberal Christian alternative to the atheist Assemblies. Referring to Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus in John 3, Cavanagh describes God’s pneuma as “a new and life-giving force at work in any number of human contexts”, insisting that understanding of God should be “non-dogmatic”, relevant to the 21st century, and not “protectionist” (which I take to mean framed by doctrinal boundaries).

A radical new vision of Christian faith based on these principles will result in transformation of the Church, Cavanagh believes. Biblical interpretation should be based on the primary hermeneutical keys of justice and love; the authority of divine revelation is found not in Scripture but in “respect for one another, including those of other faiths”. While God “is known in different ways, as part of different and still evolving stories”, there is agreement about a quality of “loving kindness”, and that the Kingdom of God is coterminous with “reconciliation and peace in the world”.

The mission of a Modern Church is to be a “bearer of hope”, voicing liberal thought in contexts of neo-conservatism, not seeking to convert, but to liberate; challenging injustice and abuse of power in the Church, and fundamentalism in religion generally. While conservative versions are “literally unbelievable”, liberalism sees concepts of God as sacred, holy, open to a process of questioning, combining the rational and the spiritual.

Cavanagh appears to recognise the problem that the account of faith that she describes, a combination of vaguely left of centre philosophical musings and spirituality free of any biblical anchor, is seen by many as “not really Christian”. Orthodox Anglicans, confident in the authority of Scripture, and of basing theology and ethics on the Bible’s coherent and thrillingly inspiring vision of God’s relationship with humanity past, present and future through Christ, would find it difficult to see anything in Modern Church’s presentation which could offer anything helpful, or be a challenge to evangelical understandings of faith and mission.

But this kind of revisionism still remains a threat. Many Bishops see their role as referees between different theological positions rather than guardians of the faith once delivered, and liberal theology still appeals to a small but influential number of those who have rejected biblical truth but want to be involved with Church leadership. Modern Church may feel that the C of E is moving in a conservative direction, but the Synod’s House of Clergy has voted against a document advocating caution in moves towards affirming same sex marriage. Revisionist ideas have got a hold in theological colleges, Diocesan training schemes, parish pulpits and Cathedrals.

In response, orthodox Anglicans need to continue to teach the truth and refute error, and resist appeals to settle for ‘good disagreement’ when it means accepting that Modern Church’s self-confessed humanistic theology is as validly Christian as robust biblical faith.

The Gathering Storm: Religious Liberty in the Wake of the Sexual Revolution

storm

By ALBERT MOHLER
http://www.albertmohler.com/
March 21, 2107

In the first volume of his history of World War II, Winston Churchill looked back at the storm clouds that gathered in the 1930s portending war and the loss of human freedom. Churchill wisely and presciently warned Britain of the tragedy that would ensue if Hitler were not stopped. His actions were courageous and the world was shaped by his convictional leadership. We are not facing the same gathering storm, but we are now facing a battle that will determine the destiny of priceless freedoms and the very foundation of human rights and human dignity.

Speaking thirty years ago, Attorney General Meese warned that “there are ideas which have gained influence in some parts of our society, particularly in some important and sophisticated areas that are opposed to religious freedom and freedom in general. In some areas there are some people that have espoused a hostility to religion that must be recognized for what it is, and expressly countered.”[1]

Those were prophetic words, prescient in their clarity and foresight. The ideas of which Mr. Meese warned have only gained ground in the last thirty years, and now with astounding velocity. A revolution in morality now seeks not only to subvert marriage, but also to redefine it, and thus to undermine an essential foundation of human dignity, flourishing, and freedom.

Religious liberty is under direct threat. During oral arguments in the Obergefell case, the Solicitor General of the United States served notice before the Supreme Court that the liberties of religious institutions will be an open and unavoidable question. Already, religious liberty is threatened by a new moral regime that exalts erotic liberty and personal autonomy and openly argues that religious liberties must give way to the new morality, its redefinition of marriage, and its demand for coercive moral, cultural, and legal sovereignty.

These are days that will require courage, conviction, and clarity of vision. We are in a fight for the most basic liberties God has given humanity, every single one of us, made in his image. Religious liberty is being redefined as mere freedom of worship, but it will not long survive if it is reduced to a private sphere with no public voice. The very freedom to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ is at stake, and thus so is the liberty of every American. Human rights and human dignity are temporary abstractions if they are severed from their reality as gifts of the Creator. The eclipse of Christian truth will lead inevitably to a tragic loss of human dignity. If we lose religious liberty, all other liberties will be lost, one by one.

Religious Liberty and the Challenge of Same-Sex Marriage

Even though same-sex marriage is new to the American scene, the religious liberty challenges became fully apparent even before it became a reality. Soon after the legalization of same-sex marriage in the state of Massachusetts, several seminars and symposia were held in order to consider the religious liberty dimensions of this legal revolution. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty sponsored one of the most important of these events, which produced a major volume with essays by prominent legal experts on both sides of this revolution. The consensus of every single participant in the conference was that the normalization of homosexuality and the legalization of same-sex marriage would produce a head-on collision in the courts. As Marc D. Stern, of the American Jewish Congress stated, “Same-sex marriage would work a sea change in American law.”[2] He continued, “That change will reverberate across the legal and religious landscape in ways that are unpredictable today.”[3]

Nevertheless, he predicted some of the battlefronts he saw coming and addressed some of the arguments that could already be recognized. Even then, Stern saw almost all the issues we have recounted, and others yet to come. He saw the campuses of religious colleges and the work of religious institutions as inevitable arenas of legal conflict. He pointed to employment as one of the crucial issues of legal conflict and spoke with pessimism about the ability of religious institutions to maintain liberty in this context, for which he advocates. As Stern argued, “The legalization of same-sex marriage would represent the triumph of an egalitarian-based ethic over a faith-based one, and not just legally. The remaining question is whether champions of tolerance are prepared to tolerate proponents of the different ethical vision. I think the answer will be no.”[4]

Stern did not wait long to have his assessment verified by legal scholars on the other side of the debate. One of the most important of these, Chai R. Feldblum, presented rare candor and revealed that an advocate for same-sex marriage and the normalization of homosexuality could also see these issues coming. Feldblum pointed to what she described as, “the conflict that I believe exists between laws intended to protect the liberty of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people so that they may live lives of dignity and integrity and the religious beliefs of some individuals whose conduct is regulated by such laws.”[5] She went on to state her belief that “those who advocate for LGBT equality have downplayed the impact of such laws on some people’s religious beliefs and, equally, I believe those who sought religious exemptions in such civil rights laws have downplayed the impact that such exemptions would have on LGBT people.”[6]

As Feldblum argued, she called for the society to “acknowledge that civil rights laws can burden an individual’s belief liberty interest when the conduct demanded by these laws burdens an individual’s core beliefs, whether such beliefs are religiously or secularly based.”[7]

Thus, in Feldblum’s argument, we confront face-to-face the candid assertion that an individual’s “belief liberty interest” must give way to what are now defined as the civil rights of sexual minorities. Feldblum believed she saw the future clearly and that the future would mean “a majority of jurisdictions in this country will have modified their laws so that LGBT people will have full equality in our society, including access to civil marriage or to civil unions that carry the same legal effect as civil marriage.”[8]

In that future, religious liberty would simply give way to the civil liberties of homosexuals and same-sex couples. Feldblum, then a professor at Georgetown University Law Center, also understood that this moral revolution would mean that the government is “taking sides” in a moral conflict, siding with the LGBT community. This necessarily puts government on the side of that moral judgment, which is precisely the point Feldblum is insisting we must recognize. Once government is on that side of the moral judgment, its laws and its coercion will require those who hold to a contrary moral system, whether based in religious or secular convictions to give way to the new moral judgment affirmed by the government.

In her very revealing argument, Feldblum struggles to find a way to grant recognition and a level of liberty to those who disagree with the normalization of homosexuality, especially on religious grounds. Nevertheless, as she shares quite openly, she is unable to sustain that effort, given her prior commitment to the absolute imposition of the new morality by means of the law and the power of the state.

Appointed and later confirmed as Commissioner of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, nominated by President Obama, Feldblum stated in a different context that the end result of antidiscrimination legislation would mean the victory of sexual rights over religious liberty. She commented that she could not come up with a single case in which, at least hypothetically, religious liberty would triumph over coercion to the new moral morality.

It is crucially important that we understand the moral judgment being made and enforced by legal mechanisms in the wake of this revolution. Feldblum, a lesbian activist who has advocated for same-sex marriage–and for the legalization of polygamy–fully understands the law teaches and reinforces a morality. She insists that the law must allow no deviation in public life from the dictates of the new morality. In this case, this means allowing virtually no exemptions to regulations prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

In her presentation at the Becket Fund event, Feldblum cited the writings of Judge Michael McConnell, who both offered support for same-sex marriage and the assurance that the religious liberty of Christians and other religious citizens must be protected. McConnell’s argument is straightforward:

“The starting point would be to extend respect to both sides in the conflict of opinion, to treat both the view that homosexuality is a healthy and normal manifestation of human sexuality and the view that homosexuality is unnatural and immoral as conscientious positions, worthy of respect, much as we treat both atheism and faith as worthy of respect. In using the term ‘respect,’ I do not mean agreement. Rather, I mean the civil toleration we extend to fellow citizens and fellow human beings even when we disagree with their views. We should recognize that the ‘Civil Magistrate’ is no more ‘competent a Judge’ of the ‘Truth’ about human sexuality than about religion.”[9]

Feldblum dismissed his argument by accusing McConnell of failing to recognize “that the government necessarily takes a stance on the moral question he has articulated every time it fails to affirmatively ensure the gay people can live openly, safely, and honestly in society.”[10]

In other words, there must be no exceptions. Religious liberty simply evaporates as a fundamental right grounded in the U.S. Constitution, and recedes into the background in the wake of what is now a higher social commitment–sexual freedom.
This post is an excerpt from my chapter in First Freedom: The Beginning and End of Religious Liberty, edited by Jason Duesing, Thomas White, and Malcolm Yarnell III.

Article Citations

[1]Edwin Meese, Major Policy Statements of the Attorney General, Edwin Meese III, 1985-1988 (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Library, 1989), 168.
[2]Marc. D. Stern, “Same-Sex Marriage and the Churches,” in Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty: Emerging Conflicts, eds. Douglas Laycock, Anthony R. Picarello, and Robin Fretwell Wilson (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2008), 1.
[3]Ibid., 1.
[4]Ibid., 57.
[5]Chai R. Feldblum, “Moral Conflict and Conflicting Liberties,” in Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty: Emerging Conflicts, eds. Douglas Laycock, Anthony R. Picarello, and Robin Fretwell Wilson (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2008), 124-125.
[6]Ibid., 125.
[7]Ibid., 125.
[8]Ibid., 126.
[9]Ibid., 133.
[10]Ibid.

“GAFCON is enabling the Anglican Communion to be fit for God’s purposes in the twenty-first century. We are uniting Anglicans around the world in faithful witness to Jesus Christ and recovering Biblical truth where it has been compromised. There is much still to do, but we give great thanks to God for his grace at work among us.”
Archbishop Nicholas Okoh – GAFCON Chairman

GAFCON is the future

The Anglican Communion worldwide is a most amazing gift of God, but it is being squandered by false teachers determined to substitute their own ideas for God’s revealed will in Scripture. They do this without rebuke from the Communion’s traditional leadership.

Gafcon is the future. Through Gafcon the true gospel is being proclaimed and the Bible guarded. We hope this snapshot will demonstrate that the faithful of the Anglican Communion have risen and have begun to reclaim the Communion for a confident and clear witness to Jesus Christ.

By becoming a Gafcon supporter you are helping shape the future, a future where we will see the West re-evangelised and the gospel continue to spread in the fast growing parts of the world.

Gathering

  • GAFCON 2018 will be held in Jerusalem, returning to the place where the movement began in 2008 when over 1,000 delegates acclaimed the inspirational Jerusalem Statement and Declaration. Attendance increased to over 1,500 for GAFCON 2013 in Nairobi and we expect a healty increase in 2018. We aim to fund 500 bursaries so that no one is excluded for financial reasons.
  • The Gafcon Primates Council meets annually and represents the majority of practicing Anglicans worldwide. Last year’s meeting in Nairobi included representatives from ten provinces and we expect a similar attendance this year.
  • From the beginning, Gafcon has stood with faithful Anglicans who have been pushed to the margins or even ejected by revisionist leadership. In South America, the pattern seen ten years ago in North America is being repeated and the Anglican Diocese of Recife is to become a new Gafcon province, the Anglican Church in Brazil, a safe place for faithful Anglicans in Brazil and throughout northern and central South America.
  • As the Scottish Episcopal Church prepares to make official its rejection of apostolic teaching about marriage and sexuality in 2017, the Revd David McCarthy, Rector of one of Scotland’s largest Anglican congregations, has spoken movingly of how Gafcon is a ‘source of great hope’.
  • In addition to Provinces represented at the Gafcon Primates Councils, there are a growing number of branches to serve regions where there is no provincial involvement. This map shows how widely Gafcon is now established throughout the Communion.

Equipping

  • The Gafcon Bishops Training Institute (BTI) was launched with an inaugural international conference in September 2016 in Kenya, led by Director the Rt Revd Dr Samson Mwaluda. Nearly thirty recently consecrated bishops attended for eight days of fellowship, leadership training, Bible teaching, robust discussion and fun. The next conference will be held in May 2017.

  • The Gafcon website has had a major upgrade so that all our supporters can be informed and equipped through regular high quality content including personal testimony and teaching videos.
  • The Gafcon Theological Consultation was launched in February 2017 at a meeting hosted by Uganda Christian University and chaired by Archbishop Peter Jensen. This group will work with Gafcon aligned theological colleges across the Communion to ensure high quality bible training and teaching resources are widely available.

Gafcon Theological Consultation - February 2017

Contending

  • In January 2016 the Gafcon Primates played a leading role at the Canterbury Primates meeting called by Archbishop Justin Welby. The Primates voted overwhelming to apply disciplinary measures to the Episcopal Church of the United States (TEC), following its official adoption of same sex ‘marriage’. Sadly, these measures were not followed through, but the Gafcon Primates were widely quoted by the BBC and international media as the leading voice for orthodoxy in the Communion.
  • Meanwhile, violations of the mind of the Communion on marriage and sexuality, as expressed in Lambeth Resolution I.10 of 1998, continue in the Church of England itself as revisionists attempt to establish ‘facts on the ground’. In November, GAFCON UK courageously drew international attention to this trend. A subsequent House of Bishops report recommended no change in the Church of England’s doctrinal position, but indiscipline continues.
  • An Epiphany service at St Mary’s Cathedral, Glasgow, included a liturgical reading from the Koran in which the divinity of Jesus was explicitly denied. The Archbishop of Canterbury declined to comment, but Gafcon UK leaders were prominent in the protests that followed this shocking departure from apostolic faith.

Witnessing

The historic Jerusalem Statement and Declaration of 2008 concludes with the words ‘The primary reason we have come to Jerusalem and issued this declaration is to free our churches to give clear and certain witness to Jesus Christ’. Partnership in the Gafcon movement is stimulating new mission initiatives worldwide. Here are just a few recent examples:

  • The Anglican Church in North America has now linked up with the Gafcon aligned Diocese of Recife and the Anglican Church of South America to form ‘Caminemos Juntos’, an evangelistic and church planting initiative across the Americas.
  • The Anglican Mission in England (AMiE) created by Gafcon, has announced plans to pioneer twenty-five new local churches by 2020 and two hundred and fifty by 2050.
  • In January 2017, the Gafcon Church Planting Consultative group met to plan a global church planting network for mutual learning, collaboration and encouragement. Church planting is seen as a key strategy in the re-evangelisation of the West.

How you can help

  1. Pray
    This is our top priority. Without prayer we labour in vain.  Hopefully the emails you receive with links to Gafcon news, our blogs, videos and regular updates provide useful fuel for your prayers. Why not encourage others to subscribe by forwarding this link to other Bible believing Anglicans you know? (www.gafcon.org/join)
  2. Become a Supporter
    For the movement to grow and have real influence around the world we need to recruit as many active Supporters as possible who will assent to the Jerusalem Declaration, Gafcon’s commitment to Biblical truth and apostolic orthodoxy. If you have not yet done so, please read the Declaration here and email us at support@gafcon.org to say you assent.
  3. Become a Partner (donor)
    We need finance to resource the movement properly: to provide effective communications, to mobilise the Gafcon Primates, to connect supporters worldwide and train and equip church leaders. Our hope is that most of our Supporters will become Partners by donating to the movement. A modest donation given regularly by a large number of Partners will make it possible to maintain a sustainable movement. Please become a Partner by donating here.

How to Make Disciples Jesus’ Way

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“How can we be a light to the world rather than a mirror of the world? There is probably no greater foundational challenge from Western culture today than the challenge of living our lives as Jesus would, so that people see light rather than darkness and confusion. We call it discipleship, and it is a BIG deal to Jesus himself. In fact, it was his last and greatest commission to us, his Church. Come and see how Jesus himself boldly and winsomely modeled the way you and I can live as he did, and help others to do the same. “Before his ordination, Fr Ashey was a Deputy District Attorney in Orange County, California. He completed his undergraduate degree at Stanford University, law degree at Loyola Law School, and his Master of
Divinity at General Theological Seminary in New York City. Fr. Ashey is now the Chief Operating Officer of the American Anglican Council (AAC), which provides pastoral care for clergy and other leaders as well as legal and canonical advice to churches. AAC programs include the Clergy Leadership Training Institute,
spiritual coaching and peer support

for clergy and Sure Foundation, a congregational development program. He has been a member of the Governance Task Force which drafted the Constitution and Canons of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and currently serves on the Provincial Council. He has served congregations of all sizes in California, Virginia, Pittsburgh and has taught at Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry, Ambridge, PA; lead and participated in mission trips to Uganda and Kenya; and was pastor and counsel for the Christian Legal Society.

Jeffrey John: Pressure mounts on Church in Wales after allegations of homophobia

Pressure is mounting on Welsh bishops after they were accused of homophobia by a senior gay cleric on Sunday.

Dr Jeffrey John, Dean of St Albans Cathedral, narrowly missed out on being appointed Bishop of Llandaff, despite strong support from local church figures.

Senior bishops in the Church in Wales then blocked him after ‘a number of homophobic remarks’ were made against Dr John in the appointment process. He was told bishops were ‘just too exhausted’ to deal with the problems they believed his appointment would cause.

Dr. Jeffrey John outside St Albans Cathedral.

Dr John’s own cathedral issued a statement on Monday condemning the decision amid calls on bishops to reconsider.

‘The fact that it appears Jeffrey’s sexuality and civil partnership have been used against him in the selection process is wholly wrong and it is only right that the bishops in Wales review the process before making an appointment,’ it read.

An LGBT pressure group, One Body One Faith, added to the pressure by accusing the Church of ‘unjust and discriminatory behaviour’. They called on bishops to apologise to Dr John and reconsider his name in the appointment process.

‘The bishops’ behaviour is a very clear example of the instability and inconsistency of the institutional practices of this Anglican church in the way it treats LGBTQ+ people.

‘The open integrity of Jeffrey John causes them more psychological disturbance than gay clergy who are closeted or semi-closeted, certainly far more than a heterosexual man who was divorced and remarried, and they have been unable to act with professional and pastoral integrity themselves.’

Prominent General Synod member and human rights campaigner Jayne Ozanne also joined the criticism. She told Christian Today: ‘Jeffrey is already a bishop in many of our eyes – he has been the “chief pastor” to those of us who have felt discriminated against and vilified for the sake of our sexuality, and has led and taught us how to respond in grace.

‘His treatment at the hands of the Church – both in England and Wales – has been despicable, and is one of the clearest examples yet of the high levels of institutional homophobia. He has constantly been told privately one thing while another story has been given publicly, I therefore salute his courage and dignity in bringing matters into the open, so to avoid the use of “confidentiality” as a cloak for injustice and deception.’

It comes after Dr John was strongly supported by locals in the area and won more than half of the votes in the initial election body, Christian Today revealed. But his sexuality and long-term civil partnership to fellow Anglican priest Grant Holmes meant he was barred by a handful of opponents meaning he failed to secure the two-thirds necessary.

The decision was then passed to senior bishops in the Church in Wales who asked for views across dioceses. Dr John said despite local church leaders being ‘unanimous’ in support and hundreds writing to back him, the bishops ignored their views and barred his name from the new shortlist.

Details of the appointment process were leaked to Christian Today and One Body One Faith praised the source saying they exposed ‘shameful and homophobic behaviour’ in the Church.

‘Far from showing a lack of integrity or faith in the process, what they have exposed is just the tiny tip of an iceberg in terms of injustices which are meted out to ‘rank and file’ LGBTI+ people by bishops on a weekly basis, behind closed doors, and under the cloak of “confidentiality”.

‘Such behaviour – lack of accountability and transparency – is shameful and homophobic. It does not belong in the processes of any organisation and certainly not a Christian church.’

The pressure is growing after Dr John made the highly unusual move or writing publicly to a senior Welsh bishop following his rejection to accuse the Church of homophobia.

‘The only arguments adduced against my appointment – in particular by two of the bishops – were directly related to my homosexuality and/or civil partnership – namely that my appointment would bring unwelcome and unsettling publicity to the diocese, and that it might create difficulties for the future Archbishop in relation to the Anglican Communion,’ he wrote.

‘To ride roughshod of the very clearly expressed, unanimous view of a diocese in this way is extraordinary, unprecedented and foolish,’ he told Bishop Davies.

‘You decided, arbitrarily, to ignore the submissions that you had asked for, and to declare that those who were discussed at the Electoral College were now, in fact, no longer to be considered. This is a clear and ludicrous breach of process, and a further insult to the people of the diocese, and very many others who took the trouble to contribute their view.

‘I trust there will now be an open and honest examination of this process in the light of day, and that you will not attempt to appoint a bishop for Llandaff until it is complete.’

A Church in Wales spokeswoman strongly denied allegations of homophobia.

‘At the recent meeting of Electoral College no one candidate secured the necessary two-thirds majority to be elected Bishop of Llandaff,’ she said.

‘The appointment will now be made by the Church’s bishops. After a process of consultation they have drawn up a shortlist of names which is confidential. However, the Bishops strongly deny allegations of homophobia.’

The spokeswoman added that neither homosexuality nor participation in a civil partnership were a bar to any candidate being either nominated or elected as Bishop of Llandaff.

Faith in the Fire: 7 quotes from Reformation icon Thomas Cramner

 

A woodcut depiction of Thomas Cramner’s fiery execution, from John Foxe’s Book of Martyrs (1563)Wikimedia Commons

On this day in 1556, Thomas Cramner was burned alive.

Cramner was a leading light in the English Reformation, at one time the Archbishop of Canterbury and a key founding figure in the Church of England. His legacy is much in his words – he composed much of the iconic Book of Common Prayer, and the doctrinal statement known as the Thirty-nine articles. Today, his name lives on as the handle of a popular Anglican blogger.

When Queen Mary I, a Catholic, was enthroned, she had Protestant Cramner tried for heresy and treason. He was forced to denounce his Protestant beliefs and swear allegiance to the Pope. He still faced the death penalty, but moments before he was burned alive Cramner dramatically revoked his recantations and declared the Pope the antichrist. He thrust his hand into the fire first as a sign of remorse for his writings.

The poet William Wordsworth wrote in his sonnet on Cramner:

‘Outstretching flame-ward his upbraided hand
(O God of mercy, may no earthly seat
Of judgement such presumptuous doom repeat!)
Amid the shuddering throng doth Cranmer stand’.

To his dying breath, Cramner knew the weight of words. Here are 7 of his best quotes.

1. He began his speech on the day of his death:

‘Every man desireth, good people, at the time of their deaths, to give some good exhortation that others may remember after their deaths, and be the better thereby. So I beseech God grant me grace, that I may speak something at this my departing, whereby God may be glorified and you edified.’

2. On the Bible:

‘In the Scriptures be the fat pastures of the soul; therein is no venomous meat, no unwholesome thing; they be the very dainty and pure feeding. He that is ignorant, shall find there what he should learn.’

3. Moments before he was executed:

Cramner was an architect of the English Reformation.Wikimedia Commons

‘The third exhortation is, that you love all together like brethren and sisters. For alas, pity it is to see, what contention and hatred one Christian man hath to another; not taking each other, as sisters and brothers; but rather as strangers and mortal enemies. But I pray you learn and bear well away this one lesson, To do good to all men as much as in you lieth, and to hurt no man, no more than you would hurt your own natural and loving brother or sister.’

4. ‘What the heart loves, the will chooses, and the mind justifies.’

5. ‘In the midst of life we are in death, earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection.’

6. ‘There was never anything so well devised by men which in continuance of time hath not been corrupted.’

7. ‘I am come to the last end of my life, whereupon hangeth all my life passed, and my life to come, either to live with my Saviour Christ in heaven, in joy, or else to be in pain ever with wicked devils in hell; and I see before mine eyes presently either heaven ready to receive me, or hell ready to swallow me up; I shall therefore declare unto you my very faith, how I believe, without colour or dissimulation. For now is no time to dissemble, whatsoever I have written in times past.’

You can follow @JosephHartropp on Twitter

Philip North and Jeffrey John: A Church that is more ‘via muddle’ than ‘via media’

david-baker David Baker 21 March 2017

Michael Stephens/PA Archive

At first sight, the controversial ‘non-appointments’ of Philip North and Jeffery John as Bishops seem to have little in common.

If you’ve missed the news, Philip North was the man nominated to become Bishop of Sheffield. But he withdrew his name after ferocious protests from some Anglicans unhappy with his traditionalist stance on women priests. And Jeffery John was in the running to become Bishop of Llandaff. A figure of controversy for some years, his candidacy failed to achieve the two-thirds majority required in the electoral college used by the Church in Wales for such appointments. He has since hit the headlines by accusing some of those involved of homophobia.

There are, of course, significant differences in these situations. Although both men hail from the high-church end of the Anglican spectrum, Philip North might often be labelled as ‘conservative’ because of his theological objection to ordaining women, whereas Jeffrey John would be seen by many as ‘liberal’ because of his belief that permanent gay relationships are equivalent to heterosexual marriage and should be celebrated by Christians. And of course the former was nominated – but withdrew, whereas the latter was nearly nominated – but wasn’t.

Moreover, many supporters of each man would be outraged if it was implied there was a moral equivalence between the respective matters on which each has taken a particular and strong stand. I am not going to suggest that!

However, there is a similar underlying issue. And it is quite simply that on many key matters, Anglicanism in Britain is unable to assert with confidence whether some things are clearly ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ – or legitimately ‘adiaphora‘ (a term from Stoic thought meaning ‘actions that morality neither mandates nor forbids’). Instead, there is endless fudging and obfuscation. In this sort of climate, almost any potential bishop taking an unambiguous stand on anything contentious – be it on one side or the other of a particular issue – will face a firestorm of fury, as both Philip North and Jeffrey John have found out. And so it is easier to appoint people who are slightly less clear on contentious issues, appeasers of different views, rather than teachers of truth – for in today’s Anglicanism, it turns out the truth is unclear.

AdvertisementBut by their very nature, some of today’s contentious issues cannot simultaneously be ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ and ‘adiaphora’ within the same organisation. As Jesus puts it, ‘a house divided against itself cannot stand’. Too often Anglican leaders in the UK sound like the caricature vicar of satirical magazine ‘Private Eye’, the legendary Revd JC Flannel, who always says something like: ‘Well, you know, on the one hand… On the other hand… In a very real sense…’ With the best will in the world (and I do pray for them), I for one am honestly unclear what the Archbishops of York and Canterbury believe about truth, error and church discipline in general, and sexuality in particular.

To take another example: if the Church of England genuinely believes it is ‘right’ and of the Lord to encourage ‘mutual flourishing’ among those with different views on the ordination of women, as it so often claims, a bishop with similar views to Philip North – and who is robust enough to withstand the criticism he faced – needs to be appointed, and soon. If no-one is going to do this, then the church should be clear it doesn’t actually believe mutual flourishing is right. If that happens, traditionalist Anglo-Catholics will go off to the Ordinariate and conservative evangelicals will probably appoint their own bishops regardless or import them from overseas. But at least everyone will be clear.

Archbishop Justin Welby and Bishop Philip NorthArchbishop of Canterbury/Facebook

Similarly, the Church in Wales needs to decide what it believes to be ‘right’ for a bishop to teach on matters of human sexuality. If they believe a bishop should teach that stable gay relationships are akin to marriage, they should go back and appoint Jeffery John. If they believe they are sinful, they shouldn’t. We all have our views on this. But one thing that definitely doesn’t work is for confusion to reign – for how are the faithful to know how to live, and of what sins are we calling people to ‘repent and believe the good news’? Homosexual acts? Homophobia? Both? Neither?

I was once in a meeting of clergy a few years ago, and I can’t remember the precise subject of discussion, but I do recall one minister sighing in weary exasperation as we talked around whatever the issue was before pronouncing: ‘The problem is the elephant in the room – the absence of a shared set of beliefs.’ He later became a Roman Catholic.

Philip North and Jeffery John are – albeit with very different defining convictions – both victims of a church trying unsuccessfully to face in several different directions at once. Some might rejoice that this is Anglicanism’s so-called ‘via media’ or ‘middle way’ between ‘extremes’. But to most people, it looks less ‘via media’ and more ‘via muddle’. And yet, ultimately, I do not despair. After all, it is because we humans tend to make a real mess of things that Jesus came in the first place. And so once again I lift my eyes to him and pray, ‘Lord, have mercy’.

David Baker is a former daily newspaper journalist now working as an Anglican minister in Sussex, England. The Rough Guide to Discipleship is a fortnightly series. Find him on Twitter @Baker_David_A