'We are not leaving, we are staying,' say Anglican conservatives

Rival conference sets up structures in parallel to ‘Canterbury’

The world’s conservative Anglicans are not leaving the Anglican Communion despite their disagreement with the more liberal  groups within it. Instead they plan to rebuild it from within.

Meeting in Jerusalem this week, the Global Anglican Future Conference (Gafcon) represented the vast majority of the world’s Anglicans, with the large fast-growing African churches  joined by evangelicals from the West.

“Over the past twenty years, we have seen the hand of God leading us toward a reordering of the Anglican Communion,” says the Gafcon conference declaration adopted by acclamation.

“Gafcon has claimed from the beginning: ‘We are not leaving the Anglican Communion; we are the majority of the Anglican Communion seeking to remain faithful to our Anglican heritage.’ As Archbishop Nicholas Okoh stated in the inaugural Synodical Council: ‘We are merely doing what the Communion leadership should have done to uphold its own resolution in 1998.’”

Sydney’s Archbishop, Glenn Davies, served as chair of the eleven-member drafting committee.

The conference drew representatives from churches such as the Anglican Church of North America and the Anglican Church of Brazil, which formed in opposition to Liberal Provinces of the Anglican communion that have affirmed same-sex marriage.

“We urge Gafcon members to decline the invitation to attend Lambeth 2020.” – Gafcon 2018

The conference statement urges bishops of the Anglican communion not to go to their traditional Lambeth Conference, which is scheduled for 2020 and to boycott other Communion meetings.

“We respectfully urge the Archbishop of Canterbury to invite as full members to Lambeth 2020 bishops of the Province of the Anglican Church in North America and the Province of the Anglican Church in Brazil and not to invite bishops of those Provinces which have endorsed by word or deed sexual practices which are in contradiction to the teaching of Scripture and Resolution I.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference, unless they have repented of their actions and reversed their decisions.

“In the event that this does not occur, we urge Gafcon members to decline the invitation to attend Lambeth 2020 and all other meetings of the Instruments of Communion.”

The Gafcon conference has grown considerably in size, with this year’s conference attracting 2000 delegates, and looks increasingly like a permanent presence within world Anglicanism. The strategy of replacing the structure of Anglicanism with new bodies is taking shape, with Gafcon forming a new Synodical Council to advise its leaders, known as the Primates Council. Together with Gafcon’s nine new networks focused on priorities of theological education, evangelism and aid, effectively a new Anglican Communion is being built.