Archive for the ‘Lambeth 2008’ Category

CHRISTCHURCH, Alabama: A home of their own

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

Christchurch XP members ready to dedicate new facility

By Allison Griffin
September 11, 2010

That Christchurch XP has flourished in its five years of existence — without having a church facility to call its own — is both a blessing and a testa­ment to the faith of its members.

Now, the Anglican parish is ready to officially dedicate its new church home, a classic structure reminiscent of Eng­lish parish churches with its steep rooflines and Gothic touches.

One church member de­scribed the journey from church creation to dedication in biblical terms.

“In some ways, we’ve been in a wandering-in-the- desert kind of situation,” said church mem­ber Mose Stuart. “We’ve kind of crossed the River Jordan, and now we’re in the promised land.”

That journey to a church home began early on. First came a capital campaign to fund the construction. Then came dis­cussions on where to build and looking at sites in different parts of the city. Finding the current 15-acre property, which is on Vaughn Road in east Mont­gomery next to Southern Homes and Gardens, was a true bless­ing, Stuart said.

Then came the architectural plans, the site preparation and the actual construction. The ar­chitect, church member Les Cole, and the builders, Foshee Construction, worked to get the church ready for its first serv­ices July 11.

The church had an overflow crowd that Sunday, and it has experienced growth even since that first service. The member­ship has grown close to 700, said the Rev. John-Michael van Dyke, rector of Christchurch.

“The congregation is delight­ed to have its own home,” van Dyke said. And they’re especial­ly excited about this weekend’s dedication, which will feature several dignitaries from the An­glican church.

Among those scheduled to be in Montgomery for the festivi­ties are the Rev. Robert William Duncan, archbishop of the new­ly formed Anglican Church in North America; the Rev. Henry Luke Orombi, archbishop of the Church of Uganda; and the Rev. John Guernsey, bishop of the di­ocese to which the church be­longs, the Diocese of the Holy Spirit.

Orombi visited Montgomery in 2008 for the dedication of the church’s land. His presence this weekend is very special, said Vic Biebighauser, a member of the church’s vestry, or govern­ing body.

“It’s not an easy trip for him, so when we can get him here, we are very grateful,” Biebighaus­er said. Christchurch has had a years long missionary relation­ship with his country.

“I would describe (Orombi) as a lion of the faith,” Stuart said. “At least within Anglicanism, he is very influential and has been a great friend and a defend­er of the faith.”

Coordinating the schedules of so many dignitaries was the pri­mary reason the church waited until now to have the consecra­tion, van Dyke said.

The public is welcome to the services on Sunday, Biebig­hauser said, but expect a large crowd. The dedication is at 9:30 a.m., and the service begins at 10:30. There is a reception and a parish picnic directly after the services and the dedication.

Those who attend will have a chance to tour the new facili­ties, which reflect a harmonious blend of old world structure and contemporary comforts. For ex­ample, the sanctuary is in a cru­ciform shape, which dates to the Middle Ages.

Almost in the center of the sanctuary is the altar, which al­lows the congregation to fully participate in all aspects of com­munion. An 8-foot cross is sus­pended above the altar.

While the cruciform design is reminiscent of great European cathedrals, the church was spe­cifically constructed to incorpo­rate modern conveniences. A large screen is recessed into one of the ceiling beams and can be lowered remotely for visual pre­sentations. Despite the 40-foot vaulted ceilings, the acoustics are excellent, van Dyke said; a modern sound system allows ev­eryone to clearly hear what’s be­ing said.

Van Dyke points out the knee­lers — thickly padded blocks the worshippers use as they kneel in prayer. “These are hand-stitched, and they take an awful­ly long time to create,” he said.

Each is embroidered with one of seven gold crosses and the XP symbol, which is the ancient monogram of Christ, the Chi-Rho, on each side of the cross. They are stitched by volunteer members of the St. Clare Guild and take an average of one year to complete.

“In our liturgy, we do a lot of kneeling,” Biebighauser said. “Before we got here, we were in facilities that didn’t have them built in,” so they’re especially appreciated now.

Just outside the sanctuary, facing a peaceful courtyard with a fountain, the church has built in space for a columbarium, or a resting place for cremations.

A central hallway connects the sanctuary to Canterbury Hall, a parish hall that will ful­fill a multitude of functions. This weekend, the bright, open space will be set up for the dedi­cation, but it can be used for re­ceptions, Christian education, parish meetings and other gath­erings. Its vaulted ceiling sup­ports three large Gothic chande­liers; the focal point is the 18-foot window, above which hangs a recessed screen that can be lowered for audio-visual needs.

Along the central hallway are a nursery and children’s facili­ties. “It’s important for young families to have a good, clean, proper, up-to-date nursery,” van Dyke said.

A kitchen, serving area, ele­vators and restrooms complete the public areas on the first floor. The second floor includes a space for youth, with a raised stage and audio-visual setup as well as the youth minister’s of­fice. Also on this floor are a mul­tipurpose room, a small kitchen and dining room, the choir’s practice room and music direc­ tor’s office, plus additional classrooms and restrooms.

On the opposite side of the sanctuary is the former home of Dr. Frank Jackson, one of the founders of Jackson Hospital. The church decided to incorpo­ rate the home into the complex; it’s now used for parish offices. But it’s been remodeled, and its appearance conforms nicely to the rest of the buildings.

All this is a remarkable ac­complishment for a church that’s just a few years old.

The church formed a little more than five years ago after a majority of the members and many of the leaders of the Epis­copal Church of the Ascension split with the church to form a branch of the Anglican Church in America. An informative booklet on Christchurch ex­plains it broadly: They felt “the Episcopal Church had left its traditional scriptural values and beliefs and was moving rap­idly away from orthodox inter­pretations of holy scripture.”

The new church moved about for the next few months — a brief stay at Trinity Presbyteri­an Church was followed by a few months at St. James School. At the end of 2005, the church found a semi-permanent home at Dexter Avenue United Meth­odist Church and worshiped there until June of this year.

Now, they are finally home.

“It’s wonderful,” Stuart said. “It’s everything that I think ev­erybody envisioned when we started.”

And the facility is a true re­flection of the membership.

“This feels like us,” van Dyke said.

Lambeth Conference and its (non) follow up – George Conger

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

By George Conger,  Institute on Religion & Democracy

“The pieces are on the board” for the resolution of the Anglican conflict, Williams asserted. “And in the months ahead it will be important to invite those absent from Lambeth to be involved in these next stages.”

However, as of October 16, eight weeks after the close of the conference, Dr. Williams has yet to contact the boycotting bishops to take part in the “next stages.”


Dr. Williams acknowledged at the start of the conference, the communion was “in the middle of one of the most severe challenges,” but noted the “options before us are not irreparable schism or forced assimilation.” The way forward was through an Anglican Covenant – the pact proposed by the Windsor Report to help ensure unity in basic beliefs and mutual accountability among historically autonomous Anglican provinces.

A covenant would allow “an Anglicanism whose diversity is limited not by centralized control but by consent – consent based on a serious common assessment of the implications of local change.”


The first open clash in the conference came on July 22, when the Episcopal Church of the Sudan released a statement calling for the Episcopal Church to repent and immediately cease its advocacy of gay bishops and blessings. Three Roman Catholic cardinals attending the conference then rained on Dr. Williams’ parade, offering progressively harsher assessments of the state of Anglicanism and its relations with Rome.

The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor urged Anglicans to put their house in order, and decide what they believe. “If Anglicans themselves disagree” over contentious issues like women priests “and find yourselves unable fully to recognize each other’s ministry, how could we?”

Dialogue between Anglicans and Roman Catholics now appeared pointless due to the ecclesiological anarchy spreading across the communion. “If we are to make progress through dialogue, we must be able to reach a solemn and binding agreement with our dialogue partners. And we want to see a deepening, not a lessening, of communion in their own ecclesial life,” Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor said.

The Russian Orthodox Church was blunt. Women or homosexual bishops would exclude “even the theoretical possibility of the Orthodox churches acknowledging the apostolic succession” of Anglican bishops, Bishop Hilarion of Vienna told Dr. Williams on July 28.

In its closing week, the conference turned to a discussion of the Anglican Covenant.  Liberal bishops objected to the creation of a mechanism that would impose constraints upon theological and liturgical experimentation, while conservatives expressed fears a covenant would be too little, too late.

A second committee called the Windsor Continuation Group (WCG), created by Dr. Williams earlier this year, briefed the bishops on recommendations for repairing the broken fellowship between the U.S. Church and a dozen churches from the developing world.

The WCG called for maintenance on the ban on gay bishops and blessings and for the creation of a “Pastoral Forum” tasked with responding to future conflicts within the communion. However, in the case of both the Covenant and the WCG, the bishops at Lambeth were only briefed on the work of the committees; they were not given the authority to develop the relevant documents.

On August 3, the conference released a closing statement that noted the broad desire for a “season of gracious restraint” marked by abstentions from the consecration and blessing of partnered homosexuals, and foreign incursions into the jurisdictions of the North American provinces.

Written as a “Reflections” paper, the 42-page statement was described as a “narrative” of the meeting, and attempted to summarize the bishops’ discussions. It was not a consensus document or a position paper. The bishops were asked not whether they agreed with the document, but “whether they could see their voices” amidst the various reflections it contains.

Looking Forward

In the closing press conference, Dr. Williams said Lambeth had proven that the bishops could speak to each other respectfully and prayerfully, and had a “strong commitment to remain unified.”

Read the full article here.

The success of Lambeth: Bp John Chane

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

September 8th, 2008

Why did TEC invest so heavily persuading people to come to Lambeth? And did its strategy pay off?  One of its key people shares how important the ‘listening’ process had been to gain support for TEC – and affirms that yes, indeed, its strategy worked.  Read the rest on AAC’s site below.

All of this was mostly positive, and it gave me the opportunity to describe the polity of the Episcopal Church to bishops from other provinces – how we are governed by the voices and votes of the laity, clergy and bishops and not by the solitary decision making of the bishop or primate of the province. Some African bishops expressed wonderment that American bishops had very little decision making and enforcement power and saw our system as difficult, if not unworkable. One bishop from Sudan came up to me after I spoke at a hearing on the Windsor Report and apologized for his primate’s position on human sexuality. He told me he had been threatened with losing his diocesan oversight if he attended the Lambeth Conference. Others from Africa, India and Asia had not been aware of the incursion of primates and bishops from overseas jurisdictions into the Episcopal Church and were saddened to learn that such behavior was seemingly tolerated by some in leadership positions within the Communion.

It was reassuring to me that many bishops, even those who do not share our understanding of human sexuality in the life of the church, said their disagreement with me and the Episcopal Church was not a “breaking point” in our relationship. Some said they knew in time they would have to be facing the same issue in their own countries, and we all needed to have more conversation about human sexuality in a non-legislative format. All of these reflections, although problematic in some instances, were centered on an optimism that can hold us together as a Communion if we continue to work at it and not remain in isolation from one another.


The Final Lambeth Reflections Document

Thursday, August 7th, 2008

Lambeth at a “Local” Level

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

August 6th, 2008 Posted in News |

By David Skinner

David Skinner of the Salisbury Diocese has written the following letter in response to same-sex issues raised by the recent visit of TEC’s Katharine Jefferts Schori to Salisbury Cathedral. The Presiding Bishop preached at the cathedral 13 July 2008. On the following Monday, a forum was given which was ‘touchy-feely’ in ambience and theologically light-weight in content. Also, and interestingly, the forum was tightly (though covertly) controlled, monitored and directed. Echoes of various people’s experience of Lambeth are heard loud and clear here!  David responds here to the aftermath of Jefferts Schori’s visit as written up by a local Anglican clergy.

Dear Reverend Shirley Smith,

I wish to take the opportunity of making a few comments about your article, printed on the front cover of The Hill, July 2008.

First, I must applaud you on your courage, in raising such sensitive issues connected with sexuality and gender. I suspect that the vast majority us hide deep vulnerabilities concerning sexuality and we may also have family, friends, people we know personally, who are directly effected by these issues. No wonder we close ranks when subjects such as these, that can become so emotive and divisive, are raised. Little wonder, in fact that the elephant in the room was ignored at the Lambeth Conference. Rowan Williams must be sighing with relief and congratulating himself on the fact that no crockery was smashed or tables overturned. But you have raised it and it deserves a response. In fact I would go as far to say that it is high time that these issues were properly aired at the local level, for it is at the local level, in our churches, schools, places of work where the challenge to truth, morality and what it means to be human are already being forcibly worked out for us by powerful lobby groups like Stonewall.

For people to say that what people do in the privacy of their homes is none of our business no longer holds true because, whether we like it or not, we are being forced to approve of what people might do behind closed doors. We are having our faces rubbed in it. What previously was considered shameful behaviour is now proudly celebrated from the roof tops. Not only are we being asked to be accepting and “inclusive,” of sexual perversion, but our children are being groomed by government sex education programmes to also conform to this behaviour.

When dissenters to the homosexual agenda are having their collars fingered by the police, jailed, fined, dismissed from their jobs, denied work, publicly humiliated and threatened with prison sentences, this concerns all of us.

A predictable idiosyncrasy of the cover article to The Hill, made by clergy in the Okeford Benefice, is the use of poetry as opposed to scripture. I was pleased to see that you had resisted this conceit.

However there are quotes that I believe are relevant to us. Martin Niemoller, a German pastor and Holocaust survivor who paid a heavy price for faith and freedom, said:

“In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up”. Read the rest of this entry »

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

Lambeth: Surmise, frustration, and interest greet proposals

By Pat Ashworth, Church Times

INITIAL REACTIONS to the Windsor Continuation Group’s suggestions reflected a scepticism that exists within the group itself. On the subject of the moratoriums, the group acknowledges that, on three previous occasions, most recently the Primates’ Meeting in Dar es Salaam in 2007, requests to desist have been “less than wholeheartedly embraced on both sides”.

As a result, much surmise and varying degrees of frustration followed Monday’s airing of the group’s observations, writes Pat Ashworth. Even the Bishop of Durham, Dr Tom Wright, was throwing up his hands and could not come up with a comment.

The Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, reflected a view expressed by others when he said on Tuesday: “Everyone will tell them how deficient it is, and then something else will happen.”

Resolutions at this Lambeth Conference would have been disastrous, but this had been the wrong process, he suggested. “The Americans have produced material which they say they have had no chance to give, though they gave it to the ACC and they gave it to the Primates. All the time, different things are being presented to different groups and so not everyone is in the loop.”

Dr Morgan voiced one key difficulty: bishops from provinces where leadership was autocratic still could not comprehend why their colleagues in other provinces were not able to make an instant decision.

“The assumption is that polity is made by bishops. Some of us live in Churches that believe in synodical government. We can influence but not control,” said Dr Morgan.

The Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Revd Thabo Makgoba, found the reception of the report very encouraging. “When people stood up and said: ‘Well, my brother Americans, I disagree fundamentally and theologically with you, but I will not leave the Anglican Communion — that, for me, kept up the spirit of indaba.

“In indaba, we do not write each other off. We say: ‘I may disagree with you, but let’s keep on defining what our position is and through that we will finally come to an agreement.’

A significant majority of those at Lambeth wanted to stay together, said the Archbishop. “My sense is that, even if we are not articulating it as such, even if sometimes we are clumsy at that, the fact that we have stayed right through and engaged one another is a positive thing.”

The Primate of Australia, the Most Revd Phillip Aspinall, said he saw the wisdom in the idea of setting up a pastoral forum and the three suggested moratoriums, adds Ed Beavan; but he called for the Lambeth Conference to flesh out the details.

“We’ll be looking for the Lambeth Conference to work out these proposals in more detail. We need to have the Windsor Continuation Group give a bit of a steer so they can show the way the Communion should be moving.”

The Bishop of Alabama, the Rt Revd Henry Parsley, described the group’s suggestion of a pastoral forum or “holding bay” for disaffected groups within the Communion, as “interesting”.

“My sense is it would bring people together face to face to talk about these things. I think that will be a tremendous step forward, so we’re not sending communiqués across the ocean, so we don’t really talk about things in person.

“We need restraint, patience and forbearance, forbearance is one of my favourite biblical words. We all need patience and forgiveness. As Desmond Tutu said about the Anglican Communion: ‘We’re messy, but we’re also lovable.’”

GAFCON, the future and the Jerusalem Statement

Monday, August 4th, 2008

GAFCON, the future and the Jerusalem Statement

by the Rev David Holloway, vicar of Jesmond Parish Church, Newcastle, England.  August 3 2008

GAFCON and its history

The Global Anglican Future CONference held in Jerusalem at the end of June 2008 occurred not to stop a split in the Anglican Communion but because there already exists such a  split. That is a sad but hard fact. The presenting problem is homosexual relationships, with things coming to a head in 2003 in the United States with the consecration as bishop of New Hampshire of a partnered homosexual, Gene Robinson. Since the 1970s and the “Gay Liberation” movement the Western Churches have tried to pretend the “gay agenda” is not a problem. The leadership has wanted this to be considered a secondary issue over which there is liberty to disagree. The majority of Christians, however, think otherwise. Votes in the Church of England’s General Synod in 1987 and the Lambeth Conference in 1998 made this crystal clear. A significant number of bishops, however, ignored these resolutions.

In 2002 Rowan Williams was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury. Rowan Williams had publicly admitted to ordaining a man he knew had a homosexual partner and acknowledged “that ‘conforming your life … to Christ’ doesn’t necessarily mean giving up a homosexual lifestyle.” Before his appointment was official, therefore, some of us, incumbents of larger Anglican churches, felt obliged to write to the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, registering our opposition. We said:

“such actions and views [as those above] fly in the face of the clear teaching of the Holy Scriptures and the resolutions of the Lambeth Conference 1998. Rowan Williams would not have the confidence of the vast majority of Anglicans in the world, who are now in the third world and who, as loyal Anglicans, take the Holy Scriptures as their supreme authority. His appointment would lead to a major split in the Anglican Communion (including the Church of England).”

Sadly we have been proved correct.

The last straw

In the summer of 2003 Rowan Williams, at the start, approved the appointment of a partnered homosexual as the new Bishop of Reading. Fortunately Jeffrey John, the man concerned, offered his resignation after Oxford clergy had vigorously protested. Then came the autumn of 2003. Rowan Williams now found himself presiding at a meeting of Primates (senior archbishops from around the world) at Lambeth. The meeting was over the proposed consecration of Gene Robinson [already referred to] and it warned:

“If his consecration proceeds … many provinces are likely to consider themselves to be out of Communion with the Episcopal Church (USA). This will tear the fabric of our Communion at its deepest level, and may lead to further division on this and further issues as provinces have to decide in consequence whether they can remain in Communion with provinces that choose not to break Communion with the Episcopal Church (USA).”

The consecration, however, went ahead. Discussion after discussion was held to resolve problems that followed. But little was changed. Indeed, discussion without discipline means more and more church gay activity with impunity. In England, for example, bishops were soon equivocating over homosexual Civil Partnerships (virtual “gay marriage”) with one of the first, if not the first of these, taking place in our own parish of Jesmond at the Newcastle Civic Centre. A clergyman from the Durham diocese was there registering his relationship with his male lover in December 2005. A service followed in St Thomas’ Haymarket at which the former Bishop of Durham, David Jenkins, preached and a former suffragan bishop of Durham was present. The clergyman involved has now retired from Durham diocese. But he is living in retirement in Newcastle and with Permission to Officiate (as a clergyman in the Newcastle diocese) granted by the Bishop of Newcastle.

The last straw for the GAFCON Primates, however, was in February 2007. At the main Primates meeting in Tanzania it was decided that the Episcopal Church of America should be given just one last chance to repent of its support for the gay agenda and being complicit in the consecration of Gene Robinson. But its decision had to come before 30 September 2007. But what did Rowan Williams do? Let me now quote Archbishop Peter Akinola, the Primate of All Nigeria (and on the GAFCON leadership team). In his opening address at the conference he reminded the 1100 plus participants of what happened next:

“Strangely, before the deadline, and before the Primates could get the opportunity of meeting to assess the adequacy of the response of TEC [the Episcopal Church] and in a clear demonstration of unwillingness to follow through our collective decisions which for many of us was an apparent lack of regard for the Primates, Lambeth Palace in July 2007 issued invitations to TEC bishops including those who consecrated Gene Robinson to attend the Lambeth 2008 conference. At this point it dawned upon us, regrettably, that the Archbishop of Canterbury was not interested in what matters to us, in what we think or in what we say.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury seemed so “not interested” that last November (2007) he decided to preside and preach at a “secret” service of Holy Communion for Church of England gay clergy and their partners. This shocked many as Holy Communion should never cause a “scandal” (according to the rubric in the Book of Common Prayer service – the Anglican standard).


It was for all these, and other reasons, said Archbishop Akinola, that GAFCON came about: “we cannot succumb to this turmoil in our Communion and simply watch helplessly. We have found ourselves in a world in which Anglican leaders hold on to a form of religion but consistently deny its power.” To be fair to Rowan Williams, he now is seeking, as Archbishop of Canterbury and as best he can, to “uphold” the orthodox position. But if he personally is still not convinced of the clear biblical teaching prohibiting gay sex, he will not be teaching the orthodox position effectively nor will he properly refute erroneous views. Yet the Church of England Canon C18 requires “every bishop … to teach and to uphold sound and wholesome doctrine, and to banish and drive away all erroneous and strange opinion.” Nor is this a secondary issue. “Let’s talk about knife crime and the poor and not sexuality,” say some, including Gene Robinson. But according to the Archbishop of the Sudan, Daniel Deng Bul, speaking at the Lambeth Conference at the end of July 2008 and calling on Gene Robinson to resign, this is certainly not a secondary issue for him. It is a life and death issue:

“This issue of homosexuality in the Anglican Communion has a very serious effect in my country. We are called ‘infidels’ by the Moslems. That means that they will do whatever they can against us to keep us from damaging the people of our country. They challenge our people to convert to Islam and leave the infidel Anglican Church. When our people refuse, sometimes they are killed. These people are very evil and mutilate and harm our people. I am begging the Communion on this issue so no more of my people will be killed.”

Scriptural authority

The real issue, of course, is scriptural authority; and that relates to the question “what does it mean to be Anglican?” Is Anglicanism to be defined as a Communion of those who can subscribe to a doctrinal basis, namely the legal basis of the Church of England, that says Anglican doctrine …

“… 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” (Canon A5)?

Or is Anglicanism to be defined by the so called four Instruments of Unity – the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Primates Meeting and the ACC (Anglican Advisory Council) even when there is no longer doctrinal agreement? The idea that mere structures can sustain unity without an agreed agenda of adequate common belief, is to live in cloud-cuckoo land. Indeed, it is a recipe for chaos. So the GAFCON statement makes it clear where it stands. It defines Anglicanism as a Communion of those united by their confession of Canon A5 (and it underlines the value of the Thirty-nine Articles). It does not see invitations to the Lambeth Conference by the Archbishop of Canterbury as necessarily definitive. It follows, of course, that those who do not subscribe to that Anglican confession are the schismatics, not those who absent themselves from a Lambeth Conference. It is interesting to note that a document discussed by the bishops at  the Lambeth Conference at the end of July and called the St Andrew’s Draft Covenant has a less robust profession for Anglicanism:

“it professes the faith which is uniquely revealed in the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament as containing all things necessary for salvation and as being the rule and ultimate standard of faith, and which is set forth in the catholic creeds, and to which the historic formularies of the Church of England bear significant witness, which faith the Church is called upon to proclaim afresh in each generation.”

This form of words follows the “liberal” revised Church of England Canon C15 that since the 1970s has allowed clergy to hold any and every belief. It looks good. But without requiring assent to the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England that previously was required, there is no control on how little you need to be believe to be a clergyman. In the words of a Church of England Doctrine Commission report, there are now people who

“would respect the dogmas of the Church (epitomized in the creeds) as showing, in the language and thought-forms of the age that produced them, balanced and authoritative affirmations, excluding false theological solutions and including the necessary theological ingredients. For such Christians, however, both doctrines and dogmas are so inadequate to the living reality of whom they are the attempted theological formulations that they cannot command full commitment or loyalty. In the best sense of the word they are ‘provisional’.”

So GAFCON is once again taking the Thirty-nine Articles seriously. Without doing so people can believe all or (almost) nothing while claiming to be “Anglican”.

“Expressly declared”

But why is it the homosexual issue in particular is the issue that has fractured the Anglican Communion? The answer probably is in the last words of Article XVII of the Thirty-nine: “in our doings, that Will of God is to be followed, which we have expressly declared unto us in the Word of God.”

The prohibition on same sex relationships is “expressly declared” in the Bible. It is not ambiguous. That is the consensus of the Church of England bishops who have admitted that there is …

“… in Scripture an evolving convergence on the ideal of lifelong, monogamous heterosexual union as the setting intended by God for the proper development of men and women as sexual beings. Sexual activity of any kind outside marriage comes to be seen as sinful, and homosexual practice as especially dishonourable” (Issues in Human Sexuality 1991 p 18).

Such an “express declaration” means it is not possible to claim submission to biblical authority with integrity and say that such relationships are right. They are “expressly declared” as wrong. (Of course, the Bible is not saying it is wrong to be tempted sexually; rather it is wrong to pretend such desires are right and good).

Because this prohibition is clear from the Bible, its rejection raises much deeper questions about biblical authority. As the Church of England, the mother church of the Anglican Communion, bases itself (or “grounds” itself – Canon A5) on the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles, which you have in the Bible, plain rejections of biblical authority require church discipline. The GAFCON leadership, representing two-thirds of world Anglicanism, felt that such a lack of doctrinal discipline on the part of the Archbishop of Canterbury was serious. This lack of discipline was especially evidenced by the invitations to Lambeth of those who consecrated Gene Robinson while there were no invitations for their own bishops who have been helping believers in heretical dioceses. It, therefore, seemed wise to set up an international conference for Anglican bishops and other leaders to consult, to encourage one another and to begin something that, God willing, will help unite the true Anglican Communion.

So much for background. The following is the final statement that came out of Jerusalem – and it was a truly collaborative effort.   Read the Jerusalem Statement here