THE retired Dean of St Anne's Cathedral, Belfast, the Very Revd
Houston McKelvey, has expressed concern that GAFCON (Global
Anglican Future Conference) and AMiE (Anglican Mission in England)
are planning a meeting in Down diocese.
He described the two organisations as "divisive" and
In a statement on his website, Church News Ireland, he says:
"The event is titled: 'GAFCON: a moment and a movement - a
discussion on the future of global Anglicanism'", and notes that
the meeting venue is Church of Ireland premises in a parish whose
Rector is the Archdeacon.
"Anyone who knows anything about the Anglican Communion knows
that these are organisations whose stance is, by their own
documentation, judgemental, and who themselves, at times, have sat
lightly to the previous norms of inter-Anglican behaviour."
He said that the leaders of GAFCON included the retired
Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Peter Jensen - of whom there was "a
continuing, growing bibliography about the divisive nature of his
episcopal contribution" - as well as bishops who wished to
dissociate themselves from other Churches of the Anglican
Communion, particularly those of the United States and Canada.
Dean McKelvey said: "I find it difficult not to agree with those
in the Church of England who feel that AMiE is promoting
He referred to concerns raised by the Bishop of Salisbury, the
Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, in January, about AMiE's activities in his
diocese (News, 20
February), and said: "So, as I see it, the Church of Ireland is
effectively hosting a body [AMiE] which is determined to supplant
or split the Church of England if it does not conform to AMiE's
interpretation of Anglican doctrine.
"I find it difficult to see my Church of Ireland aligning itself
with a body which has attempted to usurp the role of a bishop and
diocese [Salisbury] from which we could really learn a lot, and be
inspired, if we were so inclined."
The Church of Ireland needed to exercise caution, he said, and
examine how it used its gift of hospitality to such groups, for the
important messages articulated or a "hidden curriculum" that might
"There are matters here of public trust as a registered charity,
as well as our internal ecclesial judicatory issues. If this event
is a rallying of the troops of a particular standpoint, if it is
designed to send a message to the wider Church of Ireland, it
cannot escape from being interpreted as a power play and a
stratagem to either force or scare the rest of the Church into
conformity with the views of GAFCON and AMiE and their assorted
runners in Reform. I object to my Church being abused in this
Responding, a spokeswoman for the diocese of Down said that the
only part played by the diocese in the GAFCON meeting was in
providing a venue.
On Tuesday, the organiser of the event, the Revd Trevor
Johnston, of the neighbouring diocese of Connor, described the
movement as about partnership, and the strengthening of others
around the Communion in the ministry of the gospel.
It was a growing movement, whose leaders represented the
majority of Anglicans globally. A significant number of Irish
Anglicans had attended GAFCON in Nairobi two years before. "It is
difficult to discern the trenchantly negative image of GAFCON and
the event in Belfast, as expressed by the Revd McKelvey," he
"The growing reality is that a number of us in the Church of
Ireland agree with GAFCON's convictions: that it is crucial we
understand what is happening elsewhere in the Communion, to learn
from those who have proved faithful to their biblical and Anglican
roots, and build relationships for mutual benefit.
"Our aim is to encourage one another here in Ireland, as we
share with fellow Anglicans who bring a particular global
perspective from beyond the confines of these shores."