GAFCON Council says Episcopal Church defied communion’s primates

The primates council of GAFCON meeting in Nairobi has issued a communiqué including a statement on the participation of Episcopal Church members of the Anglican Communion Council in the recently concluded ACC-16 in Lusaka:

This week we made progress on a wide variety of initiatives to build up the body of Christ. … We have also paid careful attention to the facts that have arisen from the Anglican Consultative Council’s meeting in Lusaka.

We went to Canterbury out of a desire for unity. In our hearts we desire to see the tear in the fabric of the communion mended. The sanctions passed at that meeting were the mildest possible rebuke to only the worst of the offenders, but they were one step in the right direction. Regrettably, these sanctions have not been upheld. This is disappointing, but sadly not surprising. A more comprehensive statement appears in the appendix to this document.

From the appendix,

Delegates from the Episcopal Church, by their own admission, voted on matters that pertained to polity and doctrine, in defiance of the Primates. This action has damaged the standing of the Anglican Consultative Council as an instrument of unity, increased levels of distrust, and further torn the fabric of the Communion.

Read the communiqué, and the Appendix “From Canterbury to Lasaka,” here.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby said at the conclusion of ACC-16: “the consequences of the Primates meeting have been fully implemented.” See our previous coverage.

The communiqué also announced that the new chairman of the Primates’ Council is the Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, Primate of the Anglican Church of All Nigeria. Joining Okoh is the new vice-chair, the Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali, Primate of the Anglican Church of Uganda.

Attendees were: The Most Rev. Eliud Wabukala (Kenya), The Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh (Nigeria), The Most Rev. Foley Beach (ACNA), The Most Rev. Onesphore Rwaje (Rwanda), The Most Rev. Jacob Chimeledya (Tanzania), The Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali (Uganda).

The conservative blogosphere is in an uproar about a comment conservation on the Episcopal Café here.

Rebecca Wilson

… the primates’ communique said, among other things, that Episcopal Church representatives “will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity.” Our members voted on everything at this meeting, including resolutions concerning doctrine, and no one ever suggested that they shouldn’t. The consequences did not stand because the primates did not have the authority to impose them and the ACC declined to do so.

Zachary Guiliano

Rebecca: perhaps you could name a resolution on doctrine that they voted on?

  • Rebecca Wilson

    -Resolution C13 on the “Agreed Statement on Christology”
    -Resolution C14 on “Buffalo Statement of the International Commission for Anglican Orthodox
    Theological Dialogue, In the Image and Likeness of God: A Hope-Filled Anthropology”
    -Resolution C16 on “Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification”

Wilson reported from Lusaka for House of Deputies News.

ACNS has ACC adopts 44 resolutions by assent. Whatever the meaning of “by assent,” the members of the ACC from the Episcopal Church were equal participants with all other members of the ACC. The 44 resolutions include resolutions on polity and doctrine.

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  1. William Moorhead

    I’m just tired.

    “We went to Canterbury out of a desire for unity.” No, you didn’t. You went to Canterbury with the intent of taking over the Communion. (A Communion which you clearly do not understand.)

    “… in defiance of the Primates.” The Primates do not have any authority for The Episcopal Church to be in defiance of. If GAFCON wants to give their own Primates an infallible magisterium among themselves, they are welcome do so. (Perhaps they will let the rest of us know how that works out for them.) But that’s not how the Anglican Communion works.

    (And who was it that inspired and created the Anglican Communion? No, Canterbury is not the right answer.)

  2. Cynthia Katsarelis

    TEC, via Episcopal News Service: “we were full participants.”
    ABC: “the consequences were upheld.”
    GAFCON: “no they weren’t.”

    It sounds like great work happened at ACC-16 on real Gospel imperatives. The ACC affirmed their independence and desire to walk together with difference. Their work was inspirational and one can see the Light of Christ through them, in their eagerness to heal violence, to be better stewards of Creation and be compassionate towards those suffering already from climate change…

    And now GAFCON is led by two primates who aid and abet human rights abuses of LGBTQI people. This can only make them even less relevant.

  3. Jeremy Bates

    I don’t know why the ABC is trying to convince anyone that the Primates are being obeyed.

    Doing so merely sets up false expectations about primatial authority.

  4. William Bockstael

    Why was ACNA even invited ?

    • David Allen

      ACNA wasn’t involved with ACC – 16.

      ACNA is involved with GAFCON and the primate of ACNA attended the GAFCON primates’ gathering.

  5. Dr. William A. Flint, MDiv, PhD

    I thought The United States won the Revolutionary War and won independence from both England and its Church. Only an observation, David I know the history and it’s not necessary for you to remind me. I am acting out like GAFCON.

  6. Lloyd Spiegel

    If the communion splits, it will be because GAFCON and ACNA wants a split and I believe it is what they have wanted for years. It is tiring and time for this to end.

    • John Schwarz

      I think the truth is more sinister than “GAFCON and ACNA want a split”.

      What they have always wanted (and still do) is, not so much to split (which they could always do unilaterally), but to somehow manoever things so that they take over control of the whole structure (whether the Anglican Communion {still the goal of GAFCON] or The Episcopal Church [original goal of the folks who are now ACNA]) – and then to get everyone else to conform to their own narrow-minded theologies of hate, exclusion and intolerance.

      The main tactics (which seemed to be working for a while) are to bully everyone, try to exploit “liberal guilt” by cynically claiming (1) that they (traditionalists) and the whole institution are being “hurt” by anyone who disagrees with their agenda [cf. “The Windsor Report” writers and Rowan Williams, both of whom “drank the kool-aid” on this issue] – and/or (2) claiming that any refusal to give in to their demands for unconditional obedience [excuse me, “requests” to respect our mutual “Bonds of Affection”] were some form of Western “Neo-colonialism”, or an attempt to “impose” Western values on them (by refusing to let them order us how to act in our own Western churches).

      This (a “take-over”) was certainly the original aim of those “Anglicans” in the U.S. who are now a part of ACNA. And the strategy seemed to be working quite well for awhile – so long as everyone else acted as if they were “afraid of offending” them by merely resisting their demands.

      (It worked in TEC, in fact, pretty well and was well on its way to victory – until Katharine Jefferts Schori became PB.)

      It still seems to be working somewhat within the Anglican Communion – because all GAFCON has to do is threaten to “break off”, and Canterbury and everyone else still get all in a twitter, and beg them to “please” stay, and TRY to find some “compromise” that they [GAFCON, etc] could be satisfied with. (And, of course, there never could be such a “compromise” – because GAFCON and their fellow-travelers have never wanted anything other than total dominance, unquestioning obedience to their agenda, and unconditional surrender – preferably accompanied by some suitable public institutional act of humble “repentance” by anyone who “resisted” in the past!).

      After which, of course, GAFCON: (a) “graciously” agrees to “show up” to a Communion meeting after all (having first stated they would never even consider doing so); (b) then insists on everything going their way, and on some “resolution” or “communique” which demands some sort of “punishment” for “the Americans and Canadians” and anyone else who has previously dared not to give them unconditional obedience; (c) then, some months later, expresses outrage when Canterbury and the rest of the Communion (which never really wanted to do anything but just create some meaningless language that would somehow “keep GAFCON happy”) basically ignores said meaningless language and “fails” to adequate “punish” the “offenders”.

      But, if all GAFCON wanted was to leave – they would just leave. The constant repetitious playing-out of this farcical ritual ONLY makes sense if what GAFCON really wants is (still) the acquisition of total dominance over everyone else (especially the “everyone else” who “has all the money”)!

      • Sean Storm

        I wonder what would the GAFCON primates say and do if they DID decide to leave, and one by one individual parishes and then larger groups said “nope”, we are Anglicans and staying in the Communion.

  7. Rod Gillis

    Some of the GAFCON guys appear to be wrestling with misdirected libido in the Jungian sense.

  8. Matthew Dutton-Gillett

    I think we must acknowledge that the part of the Communion represented by GAFCON operates with a fundamentally different understanding of the polity of the church than most of the rest of the Communion. Most if not all of the GAFCON churches limit the voices of laity and clergy much more than in many other places, and bishops — especially senior bishops — have much more authority. They embrace a model of the church that is much more centralized, which the Episcopal Church and other Communion partners have specifically chosen not to do. As a result, they naturally think that senior bishops should be obeyed in all things, and imagine that they have an authority that the non-GAFCON part of the Communion — and the Communion’s own structural documents — does not support. That is just one of the many things that gets in the way of the GAFCON churches and the non-GAFCON churches attempts to understand one another. Unfortunately, the GAFCON model of church is more alien to Anglicanism — but I don’t hold out much hope for that changing. I also think that authoritarian models of leadership are much more current in most of the cultures where the GAFCON churches live, whereas much of western culture has been moving away from those models.

  9. The only authority GAFCON will accept is its own. I doubt they would accept papal-like decisions from Canterbury that were contradictory to their own grasp for power.

    • Jeremy Bates

      The “problem” is that GAFCON wants doctrinal purity, and discipline for those who fall short.
      But of course they do not trust Canterbury to impose that discipline.
      GAFCON now has 2 choices. Either wait for the next Lambeth Conference–which will prove, like the Primates, to not have any authority over provinces–or give up trying to control the Comunion, and brand themselves ever more clearly as The One True Branch of Anglicanism.
      The more TOTBOA proclaims its own sanctity, and implicitly calls the rest of the Communion wicked, the more of a schism there will be.

  10. Sean Storm

    I have a question. Did any Churches or Provinces that are listed as members of the Global South and or GAFCON, send representatives to ACC-16? And if they did that’s very interesting, because I get the impression that everyone at ACC-16 was clearly wanting to “walk together”.

  11. Sean Storm

    According to Wikipedia these are the Global South provinces :
    Bangladesh, Burundi, Central Africa, Congo, Indian Ocean, Jerusalem and the Middle East, Kenya, Melanesia, Myanmar, Nigeria, North India, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Rwanda, South East Asia, South Africa, South India, South America, Sudan and South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, West Africa, West Indies.

    • David Allen

      Many Global South provinces were represented at ACC – 16. Some GAFCON affiliated provinces were also there. But GAFCON is a subset of the GS, not synonymous. GAFCON also includes ACNA and the Archdiocese of Sydney, not part of the GS.

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