Cracks appearing at GAFCON

The Rt Rev. Peter Jensen, Bishop of Sydney, Australia, seems to be emerging as the leader of the Global Futures meeting in Jerusalem as cracks are appearing between the various participants. Riaza Butt of The Guardian writes that “Jensen is seen at the conference as the bridge between the hardline conservatives who want nothing to do with liberal churches in the US and Canada and those who wish to stay in the communion despite profound ideological differences over the ordination of gay clergy. It is agreed among the clutch of westerners at the conference that the real power will lie with the Australian delegates, not those from Africa.”

The people gathered on the Mount of Olives were united in voice as they sang their officially approved hymns, but on the second day of a conference which has laid bare the divisions in the Anglican communion over homosexuality, notes of discord could already be heard.

…The Archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, proclaimed that the conference would rescue the church from apostasy, a claim that delighted some delegates but worried others who fear the impact such language may have on relations with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.

It was one of several low-level incidents that have started to expose tensions between African Anglicans and their western counterparts.

When none of the African archbishops leading a press conference on Monday night condemned the torture of homosexuals in their home countries, it was left to the Bishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, to publicly abhor such acts on their behalf.

Speaking to the Guardian yesterday, Jensen said: “Akinola is a preacher. They need to be rhetorical. In part, it’s cultural. I have lived in the west; he lives in a different context.”

More here.

A Guardian editorial Clerical Errors states that 280 bishops are attending GAFCON, however, many of the bishops are from breakaway churches and those that are not recognized by the Archbishop of Canterbury as part of the Anglican Communion.

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3 Comments
  1. Donald Schell

    “Tensions between African Anglicans and their Western counterparts” heard in the context of a description of GAFCON marks a certain sense, but the phrase, unfortunately, resonates with the persistent press description of ‘African Anglicans’ as a of one voice and one opinion – Peter Akinola’s. It’s simply not so. Our churches in Africa (and their leadership) are as diverse as anywhere else in the communion. Every time we let ourselves think or speak otherwise, we’re giving into the power play that preciptitated this conflict.

  2. Good point Donald. We have the same sweeping generalizations about Native American peoples.

  3. When none of the African archbishops leading a press conference on Monday night condemned the torture of homosexuals in their home countries, it was left to the Bishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, to publicly abhor such acts on their behalf.

    Speaking to the Guardian yesterday, Jensen said: “Akinola is a preacher. They need to be rhetorical. In part, it’s cultural. I have lived in the west; he lives in a different context.

    Context is important, and I’m glad that Peter (Jensen) realizes that.

    but there are some things that are absolute. torture is wrong. always.

    –weiwen ng

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