Comments: GAFCON communiqué mentions missionary bishop

Now is the Time for the Provincial Archbishops of the Church of England to admit that their tolerance of the GAFCON Rebels have overstepped the mark.

This GAFFE hopes to CON the C. of E. into thinking they really do need an overseas piratical bishop to look after their people who are unhappy with the outreach of the Christian Gospel to LGBT people.

TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada have already suffered schismatic breakaway from their national Churches - as a direct result of intervention by the Primates of the Gafcon - despite Lambeth's disaffection for such acts of piratical invasion.

The schismatic chickens are now coming home to roost. Will the Bishops of the Churches of England, Wales and the Scottish Episcopal Church welcome this threat to their episcopal jurisdiction? Or will they 'gird up their loins' to resist the 'takeover bid from the Global South?

We people in other Western Anglican Churches will await the outcome of this threat to the jurisdiction of our U.K. fellow Anglican Bishops with baited breath (or, maybe not, we'll keep going anyway - preaching and living our the inclusive Gospel message of the Risen Christ).

It's very hard for some of us NOT to say: "We told you so!"

Christ is risen, alleluia, He is risen indeed, Alleluia, Alleluia

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 30 April 2017 at 11:17am BST

To be clear, the Anglican Communion is not a Church. It is a loose alliance of Churches, mostly operating within national boundaries, who share some common heritage and traditions.

The Church of England is the established Church here in England.

Gafcon can set up a separate Church in England whenever it wants (so could Ted Haggard or Patriarch Kyrill of Moscow). But to be clear, it will not be the Church of England.

In such an eventuality, individual church communities are of course free to leave the Church of England (and its property) and join the nascent Church and its leadership. What they can't do is belong to both. If a church community chooses to place itself under the authority of someone outside the Church of England, they are de facto leaving it. Very sad but true.

If they wish to remain in the Church of England, then they operate under the authority of its leadership (which includes Synod as well as Bishops). This leadership has in no way invited or authorised the setting up of alternative bishops within the structures of the Church of England.

Therefore, there should be clarity that Gafcon's alternative set-up involves leaving the Church of England. As long as a church community is using Church of England property, it is under the authority of the Church of England as a whole.

In reality, I suspect that most parishioners, deeply embedded in service to their communities - the elderly, the sick, the poor - will prefer to stay in the local churches where they've lived and served for years, than join pop-up churches that are effectively offshoots of the Churches of Nigeria and Uganda.

Those are separate churches. Their cultural assumptions do not necessarily gel with the cultural contexts of England or Scotland. Our bishops and archbishops need to recognise that the Anglican Community is a historical construct but it is not an individual Church. It is an alliance of separate Churches. England has its own pastoral needs, and placating some African prelates may come at the cost of alienating a generation of English young people and adults.

But life is full of choices.

For goodness sake - David Icke could set up a church if he liked. That wouldn't give him rights to Church property though. In reality, we can embrace diversity inside the Church of England, and people can stay if they want.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Sunday, 30 April 2017 at 11:27am BST

I agree with Susannah that the Anglican Communion is a family of independent churches. The result is that there is nothing, other than courtesy, to prevent one Communion church from sending a missionary bishop to another province.

If GAFCON is planting churches designed to discriminate against LGBT people, then it will simply be up to the Church of England to set forth its more tolerant approach--one that includes and affirms all people as loved and created by God.

Perhaps now the CofE will finally find the courage of its convictions? And will leave discriminating against LGBT people to the GAFCON church down the road?

Posted by Jeremy at Sunday, 30 April 2017 at 2:17pm BST

The Anglican Communion may be a loose amalgamation of national churches, but it is also much more than that: it is a communion, a single body that, regardless of its differences, acknowledges the same priesthood, the same ecclesial structure, and common sacraments. Its unity may be imperfect, but those of us who believe that Anglicanism is more than just an accident of history also think that the unity of our shared Communion foreshadows proleptically the much-desired unity of all Christ's church.

This is why I regret Anglicans - most commonly, it seems, in England - who are dismissive of Anglicanism both as an ideal and a reality. I for one not want to belong to a church that is so small that it stops at national boundaries. In fact, I don't want to belong to a church that is not contemptuous of such boundaries and such petty identities as the nation state has to offer. I am mildly bewildered by the Anglican Brexiteers who think their church ends at the English Channel. (Or at Offa's Dyke!).

Yes, local concerns and specific cultural needs are important: that is what we have parishes and dioceses and provinces for. But, repellent as they are, GAFCON have got something right, something important: they believe in a church that is bigger than the nation, that transcends cultural differences and provincial administrations. I find it deeply depressing that a catholic and apostolic ecclesiology is apparently now best represented in the Anglican Communion by the lawless brigands and saboteurs of GAFCON.

Posted by rjb at Sunday, 30 April 2017 at 3:53pm BST

At last! The threats to split were their power. Once the split happens, they are on their own.
And if the ABC goes along with them and accepts them as a legitimate part of the Anglican Communion, there's nothing to stop the rest of us inviting the Americans in.

Posted by Jonathan Clatworthy at Sunday, 30 April 2017 at 6:05pm BST

What a mess. I can't even muster a good bout of Schadenfreude over it. It's simply sad that GAFCON thinks it is "Biblically pure" when they are indulging in the sin of homophobia. And it's awful that they intend to promulgate their hateful rhetoric and hurt vulnerable people, especially LGBTQI teens. Is CoE going to defend its children?

Posted by Cynthia at Sunday, 30 April 2017 at 6:44pm BST

But I thought that AMiE already has Bishop John Ellison, who is resident in the Diocese of Winchester - he is still listed on the AMiE website. Has his 2015 CDM dispute with +Sarum over "border crossing" been resolved yet?

Posted by Simon at Sunday, 30 April 2017 at 10:31pm BST

To the best of my understanding, a number of these "Anglicans" who aren't officially Church of England, are supported by mission partners from Crosslinks. Yet as I understand it, as a so-far officially recognised Anglican Mission Agency, Crosslinks Mission Partners receive a pension guarantee via Vote 4 of General Synod's budget. This means that (if my understanding is correct) effectively a) the Church of England is currently offering to pay the pensions of people actively working to subvert the Church of England, and b) those who believe the Church of England is a hopelessly compromised body are happy to rely on "heretics" for security in their old-age. Might I suggest that if they appoint a missionary bishop, they should kiss their pensions goodbye?

Posted by Doug Chaplin at Sunday, 30 April 2017 at 11:31pm BST

It seems obvious that it is the SEC, with its sizable conservative bloc, that is the locus of their attention.

Posted by crs at Monday, 1 May 2017 at 2:48pm BST

"The schismatic chickens are now coming home to roost."

Right on, Father Ron! Well said.

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Posted by Kurt Hill at Monday, 1 May 2017 at 5:09pm BST

Are the AMiE churches in England and Scotland growing? Even if they doubled and doubled again in size they would scarcely equal one standard C of E congregation.

Posted by Nicholas Henderson at Monday, 1 May 2017 at 6:52pm BST

Whilst being utterly dismissive of GAFCON as a schism inducing and homophobic crusading organisation, accountable only to itself (not being a charity), Doug Chaplin is right. It has deep links and tentacles into the heart of the Church of England. Its UK Task Force contains a current member of the Archbishops' Council (Lorna Ashworth) and the spouse (I assume) of the Director of Reform and GS member, Susie Leafe. Its UK Advisory Panel of Reference contains the retired Bishop of Rochester, Dr Andrew Atherstone, member of GS and Wycliffe Hall theological educator, Prudence Daley, member of GS, Clare Hendry, former Wycliffe Hall theological educator, Gavin Ashenden, former member of GS and chaplain to the Queen, Jane Patterson, also a current member of GS and a central member of the Crown Nominations Commission, and Paul Perkin, former member of GS and part of the HTB network. Whatever we may think of GAFCON and their arrogant 'missionary bishop' initiative, it cannot be dismissed easily, as these people are not going anywhere in a hurry (excepting Gavin Ashenden). If any of the above facts are incorrect no doubt someone will point this out.

Posted by Anthony Archer at Monday, 1 May 2017 at 7:36pm BST

Nicholas Henderson Are you asking or do you know? And what size is a 'standard CofE congregation precisely? Go to the AMiE website. I would love a 'standard of CofE congregation' to have anything like that sort of resource, confidence and motivation. I do not agree at all with their approach to the CofE on concerns we share - but, grudgingly, there is much to admire.

Posted by David Runcorn at Monday, 1 May 2017 at 8:30pm BST

Do you smell Sydney...I do?

Posted by robert ian williams at Monday, 1 May 2017 at 8:44pm BST

A number of my friends among English clergy have refused to understand the frustrations that dealing with the ACNA folks and the AMiA have posed for the Episcopal Church.

The response has always been, "If you only handled these issues the way we do, everything would be fine."

So, now, the GAFCON camel has wiggled its way inside the Church of England tent. Let the fun begin.

Posted by jnwall at Monday, 1 May 2017 at 11:13pm BST

Such arrogance and hubris. Sheffield. Llandaff. Battles in the Vatican. Individuals thinking that each alone knows the mind of God. Quite what it all has to do with local concerns such as child prostitution, drug wars, parishioners with schizophrenia, those of us overwhelmed with grief (my son died recently), and those of us who will minister at the funeral of the young lady murdered in Jerusalem on Good Friday, is utterly beyond me. Quite what it has to do with life abundant that the Master came to bring is utterly beyond me. GAFCON and the like are diabolical, splintering. They are life resisting, as far from bringing life abundant as it is possible to be.

Posted by Fr William at Monday, 1 May 2017 at 11:28pm BST

Fr William,

Thank you for putting all this in relationship to the ongoing work of the parish priest, who like other folk endures personal grief, anxiety and sadness.

Gafcon, and all who try to order the mind of Christ, and His Father to their own wishes and demands are clearly apposed to the Risen Lord who came and called us to serve and love each other.

Respect for the authority of each individual Province of the Anglican Communion is at the heart of the well being of our Christian family.
This must be maintained for the good order of our church, by those responsible.
This is difficult when the present Archbishop of Canterbury encourages Gafcon and its many tentacles, by inviting their 'bishops' to Primates consultations.
Fr William be assured of my prayers at this time.
Fr John Emlyn

Posted by Fr John E. Harris-White at Tuesday, 2 May 2017 at 8:19am BST

Of course, none of this is helped by the decision by Welby & Sentamu to recognise the orders of the ACNA clergy. Chickens coming home to roost and all that. I agree with Jonathan Clatworthy, if the C of E House of Bishops is instructed by the Chair (as I guess this is how it works these days?) to tacitly accept this development, the impact will be far-reaching for the C of E as the National Church.

Having said that, I am beginning to wonder if this is what Welby, in particular, wants: a smaller, self-financing rump of the doctrinally obedient who share his theologically limited understanding of 'faithfulness to Jesus Christ'?

Posted by Michael Mulhern at Tuesday, 2 May 2017 at 9:05am BST

Border crossing is wrong, and there's going to be a real mess for ++Justin to sort out somehow - he's going to need to respond to this.

But I can see some why GAFCON doesn't trust British provinces, when David Chillingworth can say: “The outcome of the synodical process ... is not a foregone conclusion." (i.e. we, SEC, don't yet have an agreed position on this), and also "The Scottish Episcopal Church is working closely with those who find this proposal difficult to accept," (which looks very much like "SEC has made up it's mind and is trying to persuade waverers"). They can't very well both be true.

So it's a mess on both sides of this impending schism. But then it was always so. We live in a messy world, with very few certainties this side of eternity. GAFCON hate that, I think; but as the Philip North debacle showed, many liberals aren't too happy about it either.

Posted by Bernard Randall at Tuesday, 2 May 2017 at 9:42am BST

Thank you John Emlyn. Fortunately ABC and ABY have no jurisdiction in this realm of Lichfield, and I am more than happy with those who do. So day to day ABC and ABY are irrelevant - except insofar as their pronouncements and actions sap the spirit. Fr William, aka (William) Stanley Monkhouse

Posted by Fr William at Tuesday, 2 May 2017 at 10:12am BST

'Cultural captivity' is a strange and patronizing turn of phrase. Many of those who have argued over a long period of time for justice and equal rites for the LGBTI community have spoken out against the dominant culture. And, in what way are GAFCON leaders counter cultural. It's a cheap sound bite based on poor analysis which should be rejected at every turn.

Posted by Andrew Lightbown at Tuesday, 2 May 2017 at 12:56pm BST

I am very sorry to read that Fr. William's son has died.

A terrible blow

Posted by Laurie Roberts at Tuesday, 2 May 2017 at 2:11pm BST

"Do you smell Sydney...I do?"--robert ian williams

Well, Robert, something certainly smells bad about this initiative...Could be the Calvinist/Puritan urge toward promoting "flogging parsons" and other reactionary theological impulses...

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Posted by Kurt Hill at Tuesday, 2 May 2017 at 2:27pm BST

An Avignon papacy in a teapot,no? Forget about these guys and focus on things that are life giving.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Tuesday, 2 May 2017 at 2:49pm BST

"Go to the AMiE website. .. there is much to admire."
@David Runcorn

All I can see is a bog standard commercial-style web site and a lot of groundless assertion.

Posted by Fr Andrew at Tuesday, 2 May 2017 at 3:16pm BST

"The Scottish Episcopal Church is working closely with those who find this proposal difficult to accept. Whatever the outcome may be, it is our intention to be and to remain a church which honours diversity."

Chillingworth's comment is telling. The conservative bloc in the SEC is sizable. Interesting to see what is on offer.

Posted by crs at Tuesday, 2 May 2017 at 5:17pm BST

I am so sorry about your son, Father William. And I admire your ministry to the real lives of real people. I'll remember to hold you in my prayers.

"Why can't we all just get along?" (Rodney King, after sustaining a terrible beating from the LA police).

Posted by Cynthia at Tuesday, 2 May 2017 at 5:17pm BST

I think with the proposal of GAFCON to Consecrate a Bishop to Minister in the UK, one thing needs to be taken into consideration, that it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that some Evangelical Churches within the C of E though may be tempted to invite such a Bishop into their Parishes, within certain Dioceses, and if a Gafcon Bishop started exercising on invitation Episcopal ministry in church of England Parishes, without reference to the authority of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York or any Diocesan Bishop, or without any legal Canonical Instrument, it could face a legal challenge in the High Court.
Any Diocesan Bishop would be perfectly in their legal rights to do this given the legal situation of the Church of England as the established church of the Land, and Canon Law also forming part of the Law of the Land.
In 1998 when a Priest in the Diocese of Newcastle invited a Retired Bishop to ordain his Curate to the Diaconate, in his Parish Church because he felt he could not accept the authority of the incoming Bishop of Newcastle, who was about to take up office as the New Bishop, the Stipendiary Assistant Bishop at the time, the late Bishop Kenneth Gill, had to take out an injunction from the High Court to inhibit this retired Bishop from entering the Diocese to perform an irregular ordination.
I am sure the C of E would not want to re-visit such a situation in a new form, would want to avoid the legal costs involved, avoid anything that could lead to schism or precipitate further Christian disunity, committed as they are as a church to Ecumenism and furthering the cause of Christian Unity.
Jonathan Jamal

Posted by Jonathan Jamal at Tuesday, 2 May 2017 at 11:31pm BST

What a vivid denial!

"This isn't an attempt to storm Lambeth Palace."

Guilty conscience?

Posted by Jeremy at Tuesday, 2 May 2017 at 11:49pm BST

But I can see some why GAFCON doesn't trust British provinces, when David Chillingworth can say: “The outcome of the synodical process ... is not a foregone conclusion." (i.e. we, SEC, don't yet have an agreed position on this), and also "The Scottish Episcopal Church is working closely with those who find this proposal difficult to accept," (which looks very much like "SEC has made up it's mind and is trying to persuade waverers"). They can't very well both be true.

I think +David is saying there is a synodical process (involving 2/3rds majorities) which is not yet complete and the process has included working with all parts of the church who hold different views.

Posted by Kennedy Fraser at Wednesday, 3 May 2017 at 8:51am BST

Bernard Randall and Michael Mulhern have it nicely sized up. A house divided against itself and all that (Mark 3.20). That's probably another of those bits of scripture GAFCON cannot see because its perspective is so eclipsed by things Jesus never commented on, according to the Gospels. Meanwhile our Most Reverend Fathers in God are keeping shtum in case it has an impact on the bottom line (the financial one, I mean).

Posted by Will Richards at Wednesday, 3 May 2017 at 9:17am BST

Peter Jensen, once again tries to make his mark as the voice of the ‘Global South’ in Anglicanism. This former archbishop of Sydney was possibly the first Western Prelate to incite this internecine strife amongst world-wide Anglicans – on the solitary issue of homosexuality which, despite arguments to the contrary, is at the root of this widening gap between Western and African understandings of human sexuality.

Despite Jensen’s claim that the GAFCON’s provision of a bishop for their piratical offshoot AMiE (already operating as a rival to the Church of England) is not meant to drive a wedge between its client church and the Churches of England and Wales and the Scottish Episcopal Church; it would seem that this is precisely their intention.

This is what happened in the U.S.A. and Canada when Evangelical conservatives sought oversight from conservative African Churches, and the incipient GAFCON movement provided their own brand of episcopal leadership which fostered schismatic breakaway from the U.S. Episcopal Church (TEC) and the Anglican Church of Canada.

The point at issue is whether, or not, the U.K. Anglican Church Leaders will take this threat seriously. Or will there be a new offshoot of the schismatic likes of ACNA in North America, which claims to represent what GAFCON is please to call ‘Orthodoxy’ – based on the Sola scriptura model of Sydney Anglicanism

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 3 May 2017 at 9:39am BST

Fr Andrew. 'Groundless'? I can only suggest that you fortify yourself with a large sherry and go and visit one of the churches listed there.

Posted by David Runcorn at Wednesday, 3 May 2017 at 1:16pm BST

The archbishops are most oncerned with growing young people in churches

Posted by S Cooper at Thursday, 4 May 2017 at 7:12pm BST

How very biblical! See Philippians 1:15-18.

Posted by Tim Chesterton at Friday, 5 May 2017 at 4:53pm BST
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