THE ORGANISERS of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) in the Holy Land have changed their plans, in response to objections by the Bishop in Jerusalem, the Rt Revd Suheil Dawani.
Bishop Dawani had complained about lack of consultation and insensitivity when it was announced in November that the conference, widely seen as an alternative to the Lambeth Conference, would take place in Jerusalem in June (News, 18 January).
This week, the GAFCON organisers released the news that the conference would be in two parts. The first, “a consultation for church leaders”, would take place in Jordan from 18-22 June; the second, described as “a pilgrimage to Jerusalem”, would begin on 22 June and last until 29 June.
The GAFCON website describes the two events as follows: “An important consultation in Jordan from 18-22 June will include the conference leadership, theological resource group, those bishops serving in majority Islamic settings, and other key leaders. The Jerusalem pilgrimage will focus on worship, prayer, discussions and Bible Study, shaped by the context of the Holy Land.” The pilgrimage is open to “bishops and their wives, key clergy and laity”.
The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Peter Jensen, is quoted as saying: “We are very grateful for the feedback that we have received on the many complex issues that confront us.”
By removing the business section of the conference — at which conservative Anglicans are expected to discuss plans to distance themselves further from the Anglican mainstream — from Jerusalem to Jordan, the organisers believe they have met Bishop Dawani’s objections about bringing dissension into an already divided region.
What is still not clear, though, is the nature of the Jerusalem pilgrimage. Details on the website remain sketchy, but the week appears to be more in the style of a convention than a journey, though it will include visits to holy sites. The programme is said to include “meetings for bishops only”, and there will be a keynote speech on the final day, Sunday 29 June.