THE conservative Evangelical group GAFCON Australia has formulated plans for the creation of a diocese for “Anglicans who will be forced to leave the Anglican Church of Australia”, according to a media statement.
The plans, beginning with the formation of a company structure, were outlined at an online meeting held to replace a planned week-long conference that was postponed owing to the ongoing lockdown in Sydney. A Sydney priest has been appointed executive officer of the new company.
The recently installed Archbishop of Sydney, the Most Revd Kanishka Raffel (News, 14 May), was listed as a speaker at the online meeting.
The Bishop of Tasmania, Dr Richard Condie, who chairs GAFCON Australia, said that it was realised “that many faithful Anglican clergy and lay people will no longer be able to remain as members of the [Anglican Church of Australia] if changes allowed by the Appellate Tribunal majority opinion take place in their dioceses”.
The move was foreshadowed by GAFCON Australia last year, after the decision of the Australian Church’s highest court, the Appellate Tribunal, to allow the blessing of same-sex marriages (News, 13 November 2020). GAFCON Australia condemned the decision, saying that it had “seriously undermined the basis of national unity in our Church”.
Dr Condie told the meeting that, initially, churches leaving the national Church would be able to affiliate with the company. The affiliated churches would “at a later date” become a diocese, establishing a synod to elect a bishop and standing committee.
It was expected that the new diocese would be endorsed by the GAFCON Primates.