Lambeth absentees press on as letters wait to be sent out

04 September 2008

by Bill Bowder

No bridges yet: the secretary of GAFCON, Dr Peter Jensen, after the signing of the GAFCON statement in July JOY GWALTNEY

No bridges yet: the secretary of GAFCON, Dr Peter Jensen, after the signing of the GAFCON statement in July JOY GWALTNEY

A MONTH after the Lambeth Conference, the 230 or so absent Anglican bishops have not yet been contacted in order to “build bridges” with them. In the mean time, their leaders have stated that they have heard nothing from Lambeth to give them pause as they seek to form a new North American province.

The Archbishop of Canterbury and Canon Kenneth Kearon, the secretary general of the Anglican Communion, committed themselves at the Lambeth Conference to ensur­ing that the absent bishops were kept fully informed of what had taken place, and of the process expected to lead to the Anglican Covenant.

All the Primates have been sent copies of Dr Williams’s post-Con­ference reflections; but on Wednes­day the promised “bridge-building” letters had still not been sent out. “I know it is being worked on in the office, and it is in process. But the letters have not physically gone out to everyone absent yet,” a source in the Anglican Communion Office said.

The press officer, Canon Jim Rosen­thal, confirmed later in the day that they would be sent out at the end of the week.

Dr Williams and Canon Kearon have both been on leave.

The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Peter Jensen, who is the newly appointed secretary of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), told The Guardian last week: “At Lambeth there was talk of building bridges, but as far as I know there has been no approach made.”

His remarks followed the publica­tion of a communiqué from the GAFCON Primates’ Council’s first meeting, held in London from 20 to 22 August. The five Primates — of Nigeria, the Southern Cone, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda — who formed the Council said that GAFCON “continues its advance”. They had found no reason “to make us hesitate from the course we are taking”.

They warned that a breach of the three Windsor Process moratoriums supported widely at the Lambeth Conference — no episcopal ordina-tions of partnered homosexual people, no blessing of same-sex unions, and no cross-border incur-sions by bishops — would lead to the Communion’s “fracture”.

Nevertheless, despite their warn-ings, their purpose in establishing the Council was “to authenticate and recognise confessing Anglican jurisdictions”, they said. “It is expected that priority will be given to the possible formation of a province in North America for the Common Cause Partnership.”

Their other purpose was to “en­cour­age all Anglicans to promote the gospel and defend the faith”.

“Individuals, churches, dioceses, provinces, and parachurch organisa-tions” that assented to the Jerusalem Declaration (which came out of the GAFCON meeting held there this summer) should sign on as mem­bers, they said. They provide a facility on their website for that to happen.

Their main contention was that the Lambeth Conference had “merely repeated” what had already been said, “which has proved to change noth­ing”. The Windsor Process had been strongly commended by “esteemed colleagues from the Global South”; so they were “reluctant” to say it would not work: “But there is nothing new here such as to make us hesitate from the course we are taking.”

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