No one can seriously doubt that the Church of England (and, indeed, the worldwide Anglican Communion) is in something of a crisis.
So I was hugely excited by the news from GAFCON 2013 in Nairobi at the end of October, as the second “Global Anglican Future” conference met.
This was a gathering of over 1300 Anglican Christians, including hundreds of bishops and archbishops, who are committed to biblical teaching and the ultimate authority of the bible, not least on ‘issues of the day’ such as how to deal with homosexual temptations and relationships.
As I followed the movements of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York that week through their Twitter updates, I couldn’t help feeling that the centre of gravity of the future Anglican church was taking shape in Nairobi without them. (Justin Welby sent his greetings via a video message, having popped in briefly to preach and meet leaders.)
The conference brought a commitment to strengthen the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans – that is, Anglicans who believe that Anglicanism is defined by “confession” (i.e. what is believed and said) rather than by social or administrative connections (i.e. whether they are accepted by the leaders of the existing Anglican networks centred around Canterbury). This is in line with Canon A5 of the Church of England, which states,
The doctrine of the Church of England is grounded in the Holy Scriptures, and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures.
In particular such doctrine is to be found in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer, and the Ordinal.
The conference ended with a strong final communique, stating what this may increasingly mean in practice. For example, for biblical Anglicans who have been excluded by their own diocesesan structure, it will mean the creation of new structures. It will mean asking other faithful Anglicans to support those structures financially, rather than only supporting the old structures.
Of course, it is desperately sad that things have come to this point; but given that ‘we are where we are’ in the Anglican church, and that denial will get nobody anywhere, it is very encouraging to see such a level of godly, global leadership and resolution. May God give them his strength and his grace.
Here are some resources I’d recommend a read of, particularly from an English perspective.
Secondly, Mike Ovey’s analysis of the problem with the Western Church (it’s also on video here)
Thirdly, the sermon on Ephesians 5 given by William Taylor of St Helen’s Bishopsgate in London. After hearing it, a Nigerian bishop apparently remarked, “With preaching like that, there is still hope for England.”
Anglican International Development (AID) was set up following the first GAFCON in 2008, and is seeking to bring transformation by working with churches in war-torn South Sudan.
Finally, on a musical note, I enjoyed this tweet from Sam Allberry: