THE debate on same-sex relationships in the General Synod this week is being watched closely by conservative Anglicans around the world, who have offered a refuge for English conservatives if the Synod votes to allow the blessing of same-sex couples in church.
The Primates Council of Gafcon (the Global Anglican Future Conference, founded in 2008) met last week in Uxbridge, near Heathrow.
Present at the meeting, chaired by the Primate of Rwanda, the Most Revd Laurent Mbanda, were the Primates of Alexandria, Chile, the Indian Ocean, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sudan, and Uganda, as well as the leaders of three irregular Anglican Provinces, the Anglican Church of Brazil, the Anglican Church of North America, and Reach Southern Africa. The Archbishop of Sydney was represented by one of his bishops, the Rt Revd Malcolm Richards.
In their final communiqué, issued on Thursday of last week, the Primates, “conscious of the forthcoming meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England” write that they “extend the right hand of fellowship to and support all bishops, clergy, and laity who oppose these revisionist doctrines and courageously uphold the teaching of Christ on the sanctity of marriage as God has ordained it”.
The communiqué is uncompromising in its description of the majority of C of E members — bishops, clergy, and laity — who argue that allowing the blessing of same-sex couples and the granting of permission to clergy to marry same-sex partners does not undermine the traditional definition of marriage.
The Primates write: “We have witnessed over the past twenty-five years the slow, but relentless, moral decay in parts of the Anglican Communion where the world’s values have been endorsed and embraced, replacing the clear teaching of God’s word written.”
And they encourage Provinces affiliated to the Gafcon movement to consider withdrawing “all links” with any English diocese whose bishop supports the proposals to sanction blessings.
As for those seeking structural separation from bishops and dioceses that allow clergy to perform such blessings, the Primates commend the Gafcon-affiliated Anglican Network in Europe “for those who cannot in good conscience remain in a Church which flagrantly abandons the teaching of scripture”.
The communiqué affirms that the Provinces represented at the meeting are not intending to leave the Anglican Communion — it speaks of Gafcon as “authentic Anglicans”, as opposed to “those who purport to be Anglicans”. It says, none the less, that the Primates present will boycott the 2024 Primates’ Meeting convened by the Archbishop of Canterbury in Rome.