Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Awaiting GAFCON Plans

The downturn in international air traffic and hotel occupancy doesn't affect African and South American GAFCON Anglican archbishops. There are eight archbishops, of which seven are primates (the other one from Sydney does the typing and licks the envelopes), meeting in London. What deep pockets they have.

They are joined by a clutch of their own made and imported bishops that would construct the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA).

They'll report on the 16th regarding a number of topics, discussed in hotel rooms:

  • The Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA)
  • ACNA
  • Anglican Covenant
  • Divisions within the Anglican Communion

Presumably everyone in ACNA will be within the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, or should be, but the coming event will be its launch in the UK in July. The FCA is surely then another form of Anglican Communion, this time on an individuals additional belief basis, just like ACNA is an additional belief basis Church contrasted with The Episcopal Church (TEC) and the Anglican Church of Canada. Also the FCA elsewhere is the potential for, say, an ACNE (Anglican Church of Northern Europe) or something similar, however latent it may be for some time.

The Living Church (George Conger) refers to the "Archbishop of Canterbury's proposed Anglican Covenant", which is the use of a rhetoric of isolating and distancing. And I thought it was Ephraim Radner's and Drexel Gomez's! GAFCON won't like its small movement towards TEC (and reasonable Anglicanism): on autonomy, scholarship, and on change, not will they like its lack of any teeth regarding disciplining. Still, there may be potential for being crafty by doing some early signing on for their own Churches and ACNA (in that Radner said once two sign it starts being operative: rather questionable surely if it is supposed to be a Communion-wide document). They could thus 'capture' the Covenant but such runs with the danger of it losing legitimacy and, let's face it, these GAFCON types won't like its content. It is a mile away from their Jerusalem Declaration and what they wanted from a Covenant. It is too early yet for signing up anyway.

They'll say they are being loyal to the Communion, but every move is an act of imposition that amounts to not really a takeover but an extraction. The FCA itself intends a two-tier Communion (something the Archbishop of Canterbury envisaged) but on their terms. I wouldn't be suprised if the FCA doesn't come with its own Covenant of membership, that would seek to override the one on offer at present (perhaps seen as unsatisfactory by just about everyone for divergent reasons).

There may be an attempt to pump up the Primate's Meeting, but they'll still have their Primate's Council, with Robert Duncan coming on board, for a more authoritarian Anglican steering wheel.

The effect of GAFCON is to crack the Communion anyway; they claim large numbers but these are concentrated, and autonomy of other Anglican Churches will frustrate GAFCON unless it persists with producing parallel memberships (FCA) and structures (ACNA, say ACNE) with their own attempted international oversight.

In for a penny and in for a pound; that once they start the logic pursues its course, but they'll find that they are not quite as strong, and indeed not as widespread, as they think they are.

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