One diocese in the Anglican Church in North America has taken issue with the claim that the issue of female bishops is not a salvation issue. That claim was recently made by ACNA’s archbishop, Foley Beach, who is also chairman Gafcon. Gafcon is an association of Anglican Communion provinces, and other groups like ACNA which are not in the Anglican Communion united by their common opposition to marriage equality, LGBT persons in the priesthood, and an agreement not to consecrate female bishops.
Consecration of female bishops reemerged recently when a woman was consecrated bishop in the Anglican of Kenya. Gafcon’s primates reaffirmed the moratorium on the consecration of women to the episcopate, and issued a resolution
[Gafcon’s] Jerusalem Declaration affirms that the Bible makes a distinction between salvation issues and other secondary issues. In our discussion, the Primates acknowledged that while there is disagreement and ongoing discussion on the issues of the ordination of women as deacons or priests, and the consecration of women as Bishops, we are agreed that these are not salvation issues and are not issues that will disrupt our mission: to proclaim Christ faithfully to the nations.
In response, the standing committee of ACNA’s Diocese of Fort Worth wrote
In a 2017 communique from the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCon), the Primates noted: “It is our prime recommendation that the provinces of GAFCon should retain the historic practice of the consecration only of men as bishops until and unless a strong consensus to change emerges after prayer, consultation and continued study of Scripture among the GAFCon fellowship.” … And yet, three women have been consecrated in the GAFCon provinces of Sudan and Kenya since the moratorium on such consecrations went into effect, despite the lack of consensus.
Anticipating Fort Worth’s reaction to the consecration, Beach issued a pastoral message to ACNA in which he wrote
The Anglican Church of Kenya recently consecrated a female diocesan bishop, and there has been speculation about how this development might affect our fellowship. At our meeting, the Gafcon Primates agreed we have not come to a consensus on the issue of women in holy orders, and specifically women in the episcopate. At its founding, Gafcon articulated in the Jerusalem Declaration the centrality of the Gospel message of salvation while acknowledging differences in secondary matters and pledging “to work together to seek the mind of Christ on issues that divide us.” Such matters will certainly stretch our fellowship, but our unity in Christ remains strong.
I recognize that this decision will come as a deep disappointment to some.
The standing committee of ACNA’s Diocese of Fort Worth was not appeased. It wrote
In an effort to strengthen and not to whither (sic) our bonds of affection, we also wish to record our strong objection to the recent consecrations of women in provinces of the Global Anglican Future Conference and to the classification of the action as a “secondary issue.” … Issues that touch upon the salvation of souls are always primary issues….