The “Statement on the Global Anglican Future” released after the GAFCON conference in Jerusalem shows once again how deeply many people misunderstand the nature and spirit of Anglicanism. It misrepresents loyal, orthodox, traditional Anglicans across the world who are working and praying, in the spirit of the Gospel, to bring about the reign of God on earth.
Anglicanism is is a dynamic, changing, growing and living faith which takes its authority from scripture, reason and tradition. It is unafraid to learn and receive anew the lessons of God’s unconditional love. The last century has taught us how we must make sure that there are no barriers to the welcome we offer to God’s house. Anglican Christians in the United States, Britain and across the world have applied those lessons and, in accordance with scripture, opened their doors to those previously shut out.
We welcome the response of the Archbishop of Canterbury to the GAFCON statement. The arbitrary creation of a “Primates’ Council” without legitimacy or authority cuts directly across the Anglican Instruments of Communion – the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates Meeting. The Statement represents, in sum and despite its denials, a schismatic document which seeks to re-form Anglicanism in a way which is without justification historically and ecclesiologically.
We regret the stumbling blocks which are created by the insistence on a narrow understanding of scriptural authority, especially for members of Anglican Churches in provinces whose leaders support the ideas of GAFCON. And those who break away from the Anglican Communion will still have the challenge of celebrating the diversity in God’s universe, and acknowledging the divine gifts bestowed on people who may be marginalised in some provinces – especially women and lesbian and gay people.
We are reminded of Matthew 11.16 – “To what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places and calling to one another, “We played the flute for you and you did not dance; we wailed and you did not mourn.”
Above all we give thanks that the Spirit which leads us into all truth continues to inspire and refresh the Anglican Communion. We all have much to learn from each other, and we look forward to the Lambeth Conference. We pray that in humility and openness those who attend will grow in their understanding of the Gospel, of the Communion and of one another so that we can all be newly equipped to serve the God who calls each of us into God’s immeasurable love.