GAFCON is receiving increasing calls for affiliation from
Anglicans who feel they are regarded as "pariahs" and want to "know
we are not alone", one of its leading figures said on Friday.
The Revd Dr Peter Jensen, a former Archbishop of Sydney, was
speaking at the end of a five-day GAFCON conference in London. A
communiqué issued by seven Primates at the conclusion of the
meeting was energetic in tone: a conference is planned for 2018 and
a fellowship in Australia has been launched.
"We have planned for the expansion of our movement in
order to touch the lives of many more Anglicans with gospel
fellowship," it says. "As part of this we have identified a clear
need for theological education and the training of leaders,
especially bishops, and we have started work on both of these
Dr Jensen said that he had to be "discreet" about where the
enquiries about affiliation came from. But they fell into two
camps, he said. One was the "cultural West", where "people are
saying to us: 'We need help. We haven't changed. But we are now
being regarded as pariahs." They were looking to GAFCON "so we know
we are not alone".
Other requests came from outside the West, "where the Church is
vigorous and evangelism is occurring at a great rate, but
disciple-making is lagging behind".
Dr Jensen dismissed any suggestion that GAFCON was made up of
"schismatics". The communiqué states that: "We are not leaving the
Anglican Communion. The members of our Churches stand at the heart
of the Communion, which is why we are committed to its renewal. We
belong to the mainstream, and we are moving forward."
It was "those who bring in new teachings that are creating the
schisms", Dr Jensen said.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has acknowledged that it may not be
possible to hold the Anglican Communion together. Last November, he
spoke of "enormous problems" in the Communion, including
"deep divisions" about sexuality, which might prove "too much to
News, 17 November).
GAFCON's communiqué refers to its presence in the UK through the
Anglican Mission in England (AMiE).
"We are particularly concerned about the Church of England and
the drift of many from the biblical faith," it states.
The use of St John's, Waterloo for Muslim prayers (News, 20
March) is singled out as cause for concern, as is the response
of the Bishop of Salisbury to the establishment of a new church in
the dioceses (News, 20
Representatives of AMiE were "deeply concerned about the state
of British society, which does not know God", Dr Jensen said. "They
are not anti the Church: they are deeply concerned about the
mission field that exists in Britain today. . . They see the need
to work inside and outside the existing structures to preach the
This week, Professor Linda Woodhead described GAFCON in the
Independent newspaper as "paper tigers, who love to roar
and get a reaction but there is no substance to them. . . They
don't have money to set up here and pay clergy."
Dr Jensen described these comments as "ludicrous" and said
that, rather than AMiE or GAFCON, it would be the people
who attended AMiE churches who would fund them.
"It is not a resource thing, but a spiritual thing of prayer and
preaching of God's word, and resources will follow that," he
At a conference part-organised by AMiE last year, there was a
commitment to investigating "the opportunities to revitalise an
existing Church of England church and/or plant with or without
diocesan approval" (News,