Friday 29 August 2008

Full Steam Ahead

So it is full steam ahead for GAFCON, with no backing down whatsoever as regards the boundary crossing. A Communiqué of its Primates Meeting in London is now online, together with a letter sent by North American based African Churches bishops for the Primates' Council's consideration.

GAFCON thus continues on with the establishment of its Primates' Council accompanied by that all important:

Advisory Board which will work with them on fulfilling the aims of the movement.

And there is a secretariat too. So here comes the bureaucracy, and - as we all know - once you set up a bureaucracy it takes a great deal of organisation or its own collapse to take it down again. It is staying.

It thinks "sanctified sinful practices" are staying too. But clearly it thinks it is far wider matter than just in North America.

It says:

there is widespread impaired and broken sacramental communion amongst Anglicans with far-reaching global implications.


We invite individuals, churches, dioceses, provinces and parachurch organisations who assent to the Jerusalem Declaration to signify their desire to become members of the Fellowship via the GAFCON web-site or written communication with the Secretariat. The Fellowship will develop networks...

So, to be clear. There are far reaching global implications and the Fellowship will develop networks.

These developments, from giving support to networks, will be for:

those who have confessed the biblical faith in the face of hostility and found the need on grounds of conscience and in matters of great significance to break the normal bonds of fellowship...

So here's how it works. There will be people joining up. There will then be, presumably, some of them waving goodbye to the existing diocesan bishop, wherever he or she happens to be in the world, and will then place themselves under this different, non-Canterbury, Primates Council and one of its appointed bishops.

This is bizarrely called:

an effort to bring order out of the chaos of the present time and to make sure as far as possible that some of the most faithful Anglican Christians are not lost to the Communion.

Whereas of course it adds chaos to the confusion and takes people out of the Communion.

These Primates meeting in London (from where do they get their air miles paid?) seem to agree with the drift of some of the conclusions of Lambeth 2008 but, more importantly, just see the strategy involved as continuous with what went before and therefore likely to mean:

delay and unlikely results.

Clearly the moratoria is no more than delay. Indeed, there is little faith in the Covenant now either:

The Anglican Covenant will take a long time to be widely accepted and may have no particular force when it does.

That's a fair point. And as for the Pastoral Forum:

The idea of the Pastoral Forum has only now emerged but has never been discussed with those actually affected by the innovations which have created the problems with which we are trying to deal (see the appended letter ). If the Panel of Reference did not work, it is unclear how the Pastoral Forum will succeed.

That's a fair point too.

They recognise that the Global South is still for the Windsor Process, which clearly GAFCON is not, but GAFCON sees itself as trying to avoid a collapse in the Communion that Global South is concerned about. Whereas, GAFCON via its separation strategy, is about collapsing the Communion.

Thus we might expect the non-GAFCON Global South to adopt the Covenant etc., but nowhere else will (if it intends to be juridical or punitive). The Western Churches won't accept it, just as they won't accept anything that GAFCON is doing.

All this should be seen in tandem with the GAFCON sympathetic churches of North America sending its letter to the Primates' Council (and specifically Archbishop Akinola as its Chair).

Bishops Atwood, Guernsey, Harvey, Minns, and Murphy, all in North America but of different African Churches, reject Lambeth 2008's Pastoral Forum holding bay approach. As such, the Pastoral Forum is stillborn. They are the ones who'll presumably merge into Robert Duncan's new Province in North America.

Here we are, then, with this Primates' Council body seeking to follow its own logic of expansion, which will be zero-sum regarding the Anglican Communion as it exists. Here is the Anglican Communion being pushed in a direction to itself isolate the North Americans, introducing institutions of centralisation many others as well as the North Americans would want to reject.

It sounds like something has got to give, somewhere, and the probable answer is the break-up of the Anglican Communion into sectors and outsiders.

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