Archbishop of Canterbury addresses GAFCON leaders

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, via Skype, addressed some of the leaders of the Global South at their Back to the Anglican Future gathering in Toronto. Plans were being made for their upcoming conference in Nairobi, Kenya. Religion News Service quotes from Welby’s remarks. Anglican Communion News Service notes a commentary by Jesse Zink who writes while it seems GAFCON believes “the end is nigh….”, evidence does not bear that out. (see below)

There were few voices among the speakers to question this analysis of the state of the communion. But organizers arranged a video linkup with the new archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

In a brief address, Welby said that in every generation, church members have thought their problems were “terminal.”

“Churches are sinful,” said Welby. “None of us are right. The trouble with the Anglican Communion will not be solved by focusing on one or two sins. All of us need to come to the cross.”

He said in different contexts the problems may be different — sexuality, persecution, corruption, abuse of power, complacency, poverty.

Welby said Anglicans are called to be bridge builders, who will “find ourselves struggling with unity.” He sees the future growth of the communion in mission and in reconciliation.

Toronto suffragan bishop was also quoted:

The conference concluded with a reminder that even among more conservative Anglicans there is concern about the polarization in the church. Toronto Suffragan Bishop Patrick Yu, said he was concerned about the lack of theological and geographic diversity among the speakers to the conference.

“We are always lumped with the Americans,” he said. In the Diocese of Toronto people are not “judged or driven out” on the basis of being traditional in their theology. “We do not persecute conservatives.”

Yu said in spite of differences in the communion, there is hope for reconciliation and a new commitment of resources to mission and evangelism. “Our problems are not so intractable,” he said.

From Jesse Zink, currently in South Sudan and on the ground in the Anglican Communion:

… articles such as these propagate a narrative of disunity that has largely gone unchallenged.

Let’s look at what these articles have in common:

They quote mostly bishops. Fair enough, I suppose, since bishops are leaders in the church. In my experience, however, bishops are far from the most interesting (or representative) people in the church.

Relatedly, they quote mostly men. Most bishops are men. Of the Anglicans who speak English (and thus can be interviewed by reporters who speak only English), a larger percentage are men. But this neglects the viewpoints of the majority of Anglicans who happen to be women.

They quote people who can travel. Articles like these are written by reporters who don’t leave the comfort of their home. They let the subjects come to them: attend a conference, interview a few people on the sidelines, go back to the office, and write it all up. What about people who can’t afford plane tickets, whose visa applications are rejected, or who are too busy in ministry to travel? When I was a reporter, I wrote several stories like this. I rarely found that they did more than scratch the surface.

They call reporting “analysis”. (Like this one) If we’re going to analyze a topic, it seems that something more than merely quoting other people is necessary. For instance, the conference at Wycliffe featured a line-up of speakers of a decidedly conservative tilt. That fact is barely mentioned in the news coverage.

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4 Comments
  1. Eric Bonetti

    The challenge with GAFCON is that it wishes that the end were nigh, so that its view might prevail. As such, its view represents a repudiation of orthodox Anglicanism, which favors unity of liturgy, versus unity of thought.

  2. Sherman Hesselgrave

    I find Ann’s post very encouraging. I am an American serving in the Diocese of Toronto, and Patrick Yu is my bishop. Of the five bishops in the College of Bishops of this diocese (Archbishop Johnson and four Area Bishops—I think we may be the largest diocese in North America), Patrick is regarded as the most conservative. I happen to be the priest of one of the most progressive congregations, yet we have a very positive working relationship, and I serve as one of his regional deans. Yes, things move more slowly than some of us might like, but, at the same time we’e been able to have a very low “defection” rate. At our diocesan synod in 2011 a majority of delegates sent a memorial to General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada to revise the marriage canon to allow any couple eligible to be married in Canada to be married in an Anglican church. This August, General Synod, passed a resolution that they will vote on such a canonical change in 2016.

    At a recent dinner party, someone pointed out that we really have not heard much out of the GAFCON folks for a while. Perhaps that is because the sky is not, in fact, falling, and that people, au fond, trust the deep structure of Anglicanism to bear up while various tidal waves wash over us.

  3. tgflux

    At our diocesan synod in 2011 a majority of delegates sent a memorial to General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada to revise the marriage canon to allow any couple eligible to be married in Canada to be married in an Anglican church. This August, General Synod, passed a resolution that they will vote on such a canonical change in 2016.

    I hope you’ll understand, Sherman, that many people—longtime couples, longtime Anglicans, or BOTH—will find that timetable EXCRUCIATINGLY slow.

    [How many couples have had one member die since 2011? How many more will have a member die before 2016? I recognize that Canada’s full CIVIL equality eases burdens greatly for same-sex couples, but especially in times of crisis, I’m sure LGBT Anglicans would like their *church* to be fully affirming/fully BLESSING them also]

    JC Fisher

  4. Gary Paul Gilbert

    The Diocese of Toronto may not “persecute” conservatives, but they do not treat same-sex couples the same as sex-discordant couples. I fail to see the appeal of “separate but equal,” especially when such graciousness is claimed to define the Canadian way of doing things. Sometimes slow evolution is just too slow, especially when the United Church of Canada offers full equality now. And, more and more, there is the appeal of no church at all.

    Gary Paul Gilbert

    “We are always lumped with the Americans,” he said. In the Diocese of Toronto people are not “judged or driven out” on the basis of being traditional in their theology. “We do not persecute conservatives.”

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