UPDATED: Minority of GAFCON primates present when #Primates2016 final communique settled

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Update appended adding remarks from ANIC, ACNA’s Canadian subsidiary

ACNA’s leader continues his back and forth with the press offices of the Anglican Communion Office and the Church of England over the extent of his voice and vote participation in the #Primate2016 gathering — gathering, not meeting because ACNA is not a member of the Anglican Communion. ACNA’s latest press release on the gathering adds that the majority of primates who are members of GAFCON had left before the final communiqué was approved by the primates:

Some have asked whether Archbishop Beach voted to approve the final Communique or the new members of the Standing Committee. Neither he nor a majority of the GAFCON Primates were​ present for these discussions on Friday. [Emphasis added.]

The press release continues

Although early in the week he joined the other Primates in affirming his desire to walk together, this desire was necessarily contingent upon The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada giving evidence of returning to Biblical and historical Anglican theology and morality (Amos 3:3). On Thursday ​evening, ​with the absence of repentance, restored order, and true unity, Archbishop Beach felt it necessary to withdraw from the meeting. [Emphasis added. Hyperlink added.]

In short, the “walking together” didn’t last long. The majority of GAFCON members only voted on the punitive section of the communiqué aimed at The Episcopal Church. (ACNA’s leader has made clear he abstained.) We know this because that punitive section was leaked by an insider, and first appeared at a conservative website (forcing #Primates2016 to confirm and publish that portion of the communiqué). It was later that the full communiqué was issued, revealing that what had been leaked was in addendum to the communiqué (points 7 and 8). The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and others have argued that the work of #Primates2016 was balanced, drawing attention to the other issues discussed beyond sexuality, and to this portion of the communiqué:

The Primates condemned homophobic prejudice and violence and resolved to work together to offer pastoral care and loving service irrespective of sexual orientation. This conviction arises out of our discipleship of Jesus Christ. The Primates reaffirmed their rejection of criminal sanctions against same-sex attracted people.

The Primates recognise that the Christian church and within it the Anglican Communion have often acted in a way towards people on the basis of their sexual orientation that has caused deep hurt. Where this has happened they express their profound sorrow and affirm again that God’s love for every human being is the same, regardless of their sexuality, and that the church should never by its actions give any other impression.

What does “the primates condemned” and “the primates recognize” mean if the bulk of the primates from the organization most exercised by the acts of inclusion by the Episcopal Church were not present? By ACNA’s account of the gathering’s timeline, the majority of GAFCON primates can disassociate themselves from those paragraphs without saying they voted against them. Is this what walking together looks like?

Over at Thinking Anglicans, a number of cogent comments have been made. A sample:

So the unanimous agreement was only achieved with some people thinking it depended on things that everyone else thought would never happen, the balanced stuff in the final communique wasn’t agreed by GAFCON and we only had a semblance of any sort of agreement due to very clever timetabling.

I also note that Beach claims that the primates didn’t consider any part of this meeting to formally be a primate’s meeting. One could argue from this that any discussion about whether a primates meeting has the power to censure TEC is now moot; this was an informal chat, not a primates meeting.

Posted by: Leon Clarke on Tuesday, 26 January 2016 at 9:57am GMT

… So actually he is contradicting what the Archbishop of Canterbury said? He is saying that there is no real agreement to walk together? This is extremely sad and surely this is a significant statement and casts considerable doubt around the final communique?

Posted by: Andrew Godsall on Tuesday, 26 January 2016 at 10:10am GMT

So the “unity” that “is also joyful and astonishing, renewing and nourishing” that Archbishop Welby spoke of in his reflection after the gathering may not express what actually happened. I expect various versions of what went on will leak out drip, drip, drip, some surely spun to reflect well on one group or another. If the meetings were not secret, Anglicans around the world would know what really happened.

Posted by: June Butler on Tuesday, 26 January 2016 at 4:38pm GMT

I asked Archbishop Welby at the final press conference on Friday afternoon why no GAFCON archbishops were present if they were all happily united and in agreement with the communique and he said that those he had asked all said they had planes to catch. It is only 100 miles to Heathrow from Canterbury and the M25 does get busy in the rush hour. He gave the impression he had asked them on Friday but maybe that was a mistaken impression, deliberate or not.

If they left early they probably missed Jean Vanier talking about the power of love and sticking together in relationships under strain, but then they probably would not have minded that.

In any event Abp Welby will have been left in no doubt about the venality of some of his fellow primates – but then he probably knew that already.

Posted by: Stephen Bates on Tuesday, 26 January 2016 at 4:41pm GMT

If what Foley Beach says is correct, then some of the (other) Primates, and one in particular, should be considering their position, for we have been grossly and shamefully misled. The ‘walking together’ and semblance of unity achieved by the ‘consequencing’ of TEC was nothing of the sort. The GAFCON Primates got some of what they wanted in the leaked communique on Thursday, and then most of them walked out, so that they would not be seen as affirming the (slightly) more balanced communique issued on Friday. What a disgrace!

Posted by: Malcolm Dixon on Tuesday, 26 January 2016 at 8:37pm GMT

UPDATE from ANIC dated January 29. ANIC is ACNA’s Canadian subsidiary. It confirms the sequence of events:

Under immense pressure and knowing that every step they took or didn’t take was going to be dissected and analyzed, and at times misconstrued, the GAFCON Primates continued to walk faithfully and to take their place until it was no longer possible according to the principle with which they began these meetings.

Thus Thursday evening our Primate and the GAFCON Primates of the largest Provinces left and so were not present on Friday to vote on the final Communique or the election of the Standing Committee.

All these steps taken, including the decision of Archbishop Foley to not vote on the discipline motion although he was given a ballot, were taken as faithful applications of wise principle.

One ambiguity in these two versions from ACNA: Was it the majority of GAFCON primates that left on Thursday evening, or was it the GAFCON primates of the largest provinces?
Gives some clarity from the GAFCON-ACNA perspective: They did walk out Thursday evening after the vote to sanction TEC, not voting on the LGBTQ-affirming portion of the final communique, because the punishment did not meet their demands.

Who is in the photo, and when was it taken?

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Jerald Liko
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Jerald Liko

I generally doubt that ACNA wants us kicked out of the Communion. It's no accident that the most successful Batman movies also feature The Joker.

ACNA needs an enemy to define itself against, or else it's just a smaller and less theologically cohesive WELS (or else a FAR smaller and tradition-starved branch of Catholicism). We're the Ivan Drago in their scrappy underdog story. I don't foresee them giving that narrative up any time soon.

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William (Bill) Paul III
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William (Bill) Paul III

"In fairness to the Archbishop of Canterbury. . ." followed by " a shameful repayment for his accommodations." I mean to say again that the venom and scorn expressed on this blog for + Justin and others at this meeting is just astonishing, as are most of TEC responses it seems to me. It was a meeting for Pete's sake, a meeting trying to get something positive going by laboring under--I think we should remember--John 17 which puts us under obligation to seek unity and truth, unity-in-truth, which would be a perspective of "fairness to the ABC." We might also add TEC makes much, sometimes everything it seems, of baptism as an indissoluble bond with others in the body, among other things, and yet doesn't seem to allow this allegedly fundamental commitment to extend to estranged Anglicans like Foley Beach (whom, for the record, I don't know).

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David Allen
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David Allen

Mote - beam

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Jeremy Bates
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Jeremy Bates

Do you really think the Archbishop of Canterbury has been truthful lately?

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Cheryl A. Mack
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Cheryl A. Mack

In fairness to the Archbishop of Canterbury, I imagine he feels as blindsided by the GAFCON bishops as he appears. Further, ++Welby's inclusion of this fellow Beach of ACNA, done at the demand of GAFCON, has proved not an element of unity but one of division; a shameful repayment for his accommodations. I find it unconscionable that GAFCON bishops did not participate fully, then went home and threw the ABC under the bus, letting him take the shame and scorn. Showing their true colors once again. Do not ever expect unity from GAFCON/ACNA.

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June Butler
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The ABC put his own spin on the story of what happened at the gathering to make it appear that the primates were more in "unity" than they actually are. In the meantime, he hung the Episcopal Church out to dry and warned other churches that if they move toward marriage equality, there will be "consequences". And little thanks he received for that from the Gafconites, who gave their account of the gathering, with their own spin, which makes Justin look foolish. What I don't understand is why he is surprised. When will he learn?

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Ellen Campbell
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Ellen Campbell

What an absolute circus this all has been. What absolute poor leadership by Welby.

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Paul Powers
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Paul Powers

That assumes that the USSC will agree to hear one of the church property cases. It only accepts around one percent of the petitions filed each term, and it hasn't accepted a church property case since the Jones case in 1977. And there's no guarantee the Court will rule the way one hopes.

There may be some cases worth fighting to the bitter end, but there are others that should probably settle.

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Prof. Christopher Seitz
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Prof. Christopher Seitz

Thank you for your continual sanity.

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Jeremy Bates
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Jeremy Bates

The loyal Episcopalians in South Carolina offered a settlement--last summer, I think it was. The offer was declined.

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Paul Powers
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Paul Powers

It may be that their rejection of that settlement offer was reasonable. Or it may be that the attitudes on both sides are becoming closer to Gollum's than to the Gospel's.

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