THERE is one taboo word at the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), meeting in Jerusalem until Sunday: “schism”.
There are two reasons for this. First, even if you are a schismatic, you seldom refer to yourself as such, and it is invariably the other party that has deviated from the true path, not you. The frequent references here are to “orthodox Christianity”, as opposed to the “apostasy” of those who support homosexual causes.
The second is the impression that, by the end of the week, the GAFCON Churches (and participants are increasingly thinking of themselves in those terms) will still be in the Anglican Communion.
The tone was set by the Primate of Nigeria, the Most Revd Peter Akinola, in his opening address on Sunday evening. It was uncompromising, and at times angry. Yet the loudest applause from the thousand-strong audience came when he said: “The men and women in GAFCON are people who have grown to be Anglican Christians by conviction, upholding the tenets of Anglican biblical orthodoxy.
“We have no other place to go, nor is it our intention to start another Church. Anglican we are; Anglicans we’ll remain until the Lord shall return in glory.”
In another section of his address, the Archbishop said: “Media men, get this right: GAFCON is not here to break the Communion. We are
not responsible for any disaffection in the Anglican Communion. We have only insisted on righteousness.”
The word that is being used is “movement”. Archbishop Akinola’s last question on Sunday was: “What sort of recognisable structure and funding must GAFCON as a ‘movement’ in the Communion have, to be able to achieve the tasks set for it?”
The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Peter Jensen, told the conference on Monday: “I keep being asked by the media what’s going to happen at GAFCON. Where is it going? What’s the end result? Well, my answer is always: I don’t know. God knows.
“Now, lots of us may have ideas — I have a few myself — but that’s not the same as what God may be saying to us. It’s very important that we hear each other about where this movement might be going.”
Participants met in private session on Tuesday evening for an initial consideration of what might emerge. They are scheduled to have a plenary session this afternoon to draft a final statement, which will be released on Sunday morning.
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