Following the news this past May that the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans in New Zealand, a group affiliated with GAFCON, had elected the Rev. Jay Behan as its bishop, the group followed through by holding a consecration service for him at Centennial Chapel of St. Andrew’s School in Christchurch last weekend. The Rev. Bosco Peters, a priest in New Zealand, reported on his blog that,
The Archbishops of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia (ACANZP) and the Anglican Bishop of Christchurch have publicly expressed their distress at this development.
Regrettably, bishops from the Anglican Communion and bishops from the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia took part in the consecration.
… Two of the bishops who consecrated this first bishop of the “Church of Confessing Anglicans Aotearoa New Zealand” are bishops in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. Bishop Henry Paltridge took part (laying hands on Jay to consecrate him). Bishop Derek Eaton was one of the three bishops who presented Jay, with those other two signed the legal documentation, and laid hands on him to consecrate him.
Rev. Peters goes on to document the history behind the GAFCON involvement in New Zealand, as well as the challenges this particular consecration poses to Anglican ecclesiology, beginning with the boundary crossing by bishops (who must have permission from the diocesan before performing any action in a diocese other than his or her own) and ending with a strange use of the ordination rites themselves.
With so much made, by the new denomination, of the Ordinal associated with the Book of Common Prayer 1662 (video 1:02:00), there was expectation, by members of the new church, that that would be the rite used. In fact, the consecration was done using a pastiche of rites including variations of that authorised for the denomination that calls itself the “Anglican Church in North America”. One has to presume that the compilation is authorised by the new denomination’s synod. In the service there was a strongest of vows made: “In public prayer and administration of the sacraments, I will use the forms prescribed in the Book of Common Prayer or a form authorised by the synod and none other.”
… Archbishop Foley Beach, primate and archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America, led the service. When reciting the translation of the Nicene Creed (a translation, by the way, unique to ACANZP) he did not affirm “We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church”, clearly remaining silent whilst the congregation continued the recitation (video 1:00:20ff). This is a fascinating, very overt picking and choosing of what elements of the faith to affirm and which to discard.
The Archbishops of New Zealand spoke out against the boundary crossing, as well as the so-called “Confessing Anglicans’” lack of respect for the inclusive nature of the Anglican Church there.
Anglican leaders say last weekend’s ordination was “irregular” and they do not regard the new Church of Confessing Anglicans Aotearoa/New Zealand Church as Anglican – but would relate to them through their Council for Ecumenism.
“While they have co-opted the well-known identifiers of “Anglican” and “Aotearoa New Zealand” within their name, they are not a part of, nor in relationship with the Anglican Church in Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia,” Archbishop Don Tamihere said.
“It is disappointing that this group has chosen to be so disrespectful to our Church, and to denigrate us in their public statements while also seeking to co-opt our name and history as their own.”
He said it was more disappointing “that they claim the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the basis for their exclusion and denigration of our takatāpui whānau”.
“We want to reiterate to our takatāpui whānau, including the LGBTQI community that we are committed to being a Church where all people are loved and valued.
…Archbishop Philip Richardson said he believed in working for a church and a society in which all human beings could flourish and where none were judged “unworthy of the love of God or inclusion in this Anglican Church” because of their culture, their language, their race, their gender or their sexual orientation.
The Church Times (UK) further reports that the New Zealand bishops have been in contact with the Archbishop Canterbury, Justin Welby, at least indirectly (note the article is behind a paywall):
“Is this the moment . . . when the fracture in the Anglican Communion becomes irreversible?” Bishop Carrell asked the Archbishop of Canterbury in a message posted on Twitter on Saturday. “Australian bishops out of protocol control, two of their synods greeting a breakaway diocese. Archbishops from Rwanda, Australia and ACNA combine to inaugurate a new Anglican Church!”
On Monday, he said that there was a “range of reactions” to the consecration in his diocese. The failure of bishops in the Communion to inform the diocese of their intention to minister there was “bewildering to many here”.
“I fear that the significance of the weekend’s incursion goes beyond the inauguration of a new Church and is a sign that the slowly emerging schism in the Anglican Communion is speeding up,” he said. “When the two largest dioceses in Australia recognise a new Anglican Church in another Anglican jurisdiction, we have a straightforward confusion of the goal of the Anglican Communion that we seek to fulfil the prayer of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they may be one.”