Tuesday 20 May 2008

GAFCON Agenda: A Conference

Here is the tentative timetable (Episcopal Café) and there is information also on the GAFCON website. There is an opening session in Jordan, for the pilgrimage leadership, the theological resource group, those bishops serving in majority Islamic settings and other key leaders. Then the Conference happens from June 21 to June 29 in Jerusalem. The first afternoon is for registering, as is the whole of the second day, but the 22nd also has an optional self-financed tour to see the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Pilgrimages are spaced out. Tours include the Mount of Olives and Gethsemane on the third day; the Old City, Tower of David, Jewish Quarter, and homes of the Sadducees with a gathering at the Ophel Gardens on the fifth day; the Church of the Holy Sepulchre or modern and biblical Jerusalem on the seventh day; and Bethlehem and Galilee on the eighth day. Some might go on the Via Dolorosa.

Holy Communion is on the third day and the ninth day with a sermon by a primate each time. Worship and exposition (using teams from East Asia, Canada, Ghana, Nigeria and England) involves Genesis 12: The Promise of God on the fourth day; Exodus 24: The Presence of God on the fifth day; 2 Samuel 1 – 17: The King of God on the sixth day; Luke 24: The Son of God on the seventh day and Revelation 21: The Throne of God on the ninth day. So we can see how that is building. Worship is organised by a team from the United States and Uganda.

There are prayers with discussions and then workshops on the fourth day, the fifth day, the sixth day and the seventh day.

As for those all important focus topics: the third day includes a session on The Gospel and Secularism, the next day has an optional session on Addressing HIV/Aids (or a trip) and The Anglican Communion, the day after has The Gospel and Religion, and the last focus topic is Enterprise Solutions to Poverty on the sixth day. There is an all important plenary session on the seventh day. I notice no big speech on the last day, unless it is within the Holy Communion by a primate on the last day.

Thus it can safely be called a conference in Jerusalem, not just a pilgrimage. One can see the oppositions of secularism and religion, and no doubt both will be identified as getting inside the Western Churches. In between is the matter of the Anglican Communion. HIV as optional and Enterprise topics are mainly for developing countries. Presumably all these will tie in with workshops, but even so there is not that much time available for plans for their own statement, Instrument/ Common Causes or boundary crossings. So these will be planned elsewhere; presumably the sessions will constitute output and input regarding such ideas and planning (I cannot imagine that these are completely separated out from the conference, even with a core group leadership firmly in control). Plus people will be hyped up for such actions afterwards, as well as approaches into Lambeth to pressurise it in one direction.

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