Global Anglican Future Conference

Global Anglican Future Conference
Logo of the Global Anglican Future Conference.
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Global Anglican Future Conference · Departures from the Episcopal Church

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Peter Akinola · Robert Duncan · Drexel Gomez · Gene Robinson · Gregory Venables · Rowan Williams


Anglicanism · Windsor Report · Ordination of women · Homosexuality and Anglicanism

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The Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) was a seven day conference of conservative Anglican bishops and leaders held in Jerusalem in June 2008 to address the rise of secularism in the Church, HIV/AIDS and poverty. As a result of the Conference, the Jerusalem Declaration was issued, and the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans was created. The Conference participants also called for the creation of the Anglican Church in North America as an alternative to the Episcopal Church in the United States and the Anglican Church of Canada and declared that recognition by the Archbishop of Canterbury is not necessary to Anglican identity.[1]

GAFCON occurred one month prior to the Lambeth Conference, the ten-yearly gathering of Anglican Communion bishops. GAFCON stated the movement rose because a "false gospel" is being promoted within the Anglican Communion, which denies the uniqueness of Jesus Christ and "promotes a variety of sexual preferences and immoral behaviour as a universal human right".[1][2] This is commonly considered a result of the consecration in 2003 of openly homosexual bishop Gene Robinson by the Episcopal Church[3] and more generally from the perception that some parts of the Anglican Communion might be departing from what conservatives consider to be biblical teaching.[4][5][6][7]




The leading participants of GAFCON included Archbishops Peter Akinola of Nigeria, Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya, Donald Mtetemela of Tanzania, Peter Jensen of Sydney, Australia and Presiding Bishop Greg Venables of the Southern Cone; Bishops Don Harvey of Canada, Robert Duncan of USA and Martyn Minns of the United States; Canon Vinay Samuel of India and Canon Chris Sugden of England. It was attended by 1148 lay and clergy delegates, including 291 Anglican Bishops; but the identities of those attending have not been published and may have included bishops and clergy not recognised by the Anglican Communion, including some from the continuing Anglican movement.

The leaders present claimed to represent 30 million of the 55 million "active" Anglicans in the worldwide communion.[8] However, this figure assumes the support of all Anglicans in the provinces from which the individual participants have come (although in the Province of Kenya, for example, there has been outspoken criticism of the Church leadership [9]) and adopts a low estimate of the numbers of Anglicans in the rest of the world. The official estimate for Anglicans worldwide is 80 million.[10]

Session topics

Sessions were held on the topics of secularism, the Anglican Communion, HIV/AIDS and poverty.


At the beginning of the conference a booklet was released by Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria entitled The Way, the Truth and the Life: Theological Resources for a Pilgrimage to a Global Anglican Future.[7] Delegates also visited sacred sites in and around Jerusalem.

Originally GAFCON was intended to take place in two parts: a week in Jordan for the conference, and a week in Jerusalem for pilgrimage.[11][11] This was also intended to allow participation by bishops from Pakistan and Sudan, who would not be able to visit Israel. To make accommodations and meet issues raised by the local Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem the Jordan part of the programme was subsequently downgraded to a "pre-GAFCON preparatory consultation",[12] with the Jerusalem segment upgraded from a pilgrimage to a period of substantive deliberation.

After one day, on June 18, Jordanian authorities closed GAFCON, and forcing approximately 140 people to relocate to Jerusalem. Archbishop Akinola's diplomatic passport was denied entry.[13]

The rest of the conference took place on June 22–29, 2008 at the modern Renaissance Hotel near the outskirts of Jerusalem.[14]


A GAFCON statement was released on the final day of the conference. It was produced based on input from all 1148 delegates.[1] The statement claims that the GAFCON movement has arisen because a "false gospel" is being promoted within the Anglican Communion, which denies the uniqueness of Jesus Christ and "promotes a variety of sexual preferences and immoral behaviour as a universal human right".[1][3]

The GAFCON statement announced that GAFCON would be a continuing "movement in the Spirit" rather than a once-off event. Although GAFCON did not decide to create a formal schism in the Anglican Communion, it expressed plans to set up new ecclesiastical structures, particularly within the liberal provinces of North America, to cater for conservative Anglicans. Of particular note, the GAFCON statement claims that recognition by the Archbishop of Canterbury is not necessary to Anglican identity.[1] It calls for the formation of a new council of unelected GAFCON Primates.[3]

The GAFCON statement was criticized by the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams who said "A ‘Primates’ Council’ which consists only of a self-selected group from among the Primates of the Communion will not pass the test of legitimacy for all in the Communion. And any claim to be free to operate across provincial boundaries is fraught with difficulties, both theological and practical"[15]

Jerusalem Declaration

The GAFCON statement contains the "Jerusalem Declaration", a doctrinal confession which is intended to form the basis of a new "Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans" (FCA).[1] The declaration upholds the Holy Scriptures as containing "all things necessary for salvation", the first four Ecumenical councils and three Creeds as expressing the church's rule of faith, and the Thirty-Nine Articles as authoritative for Anglicans today. In addition, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer is called "a true and authoritative standard of worship and prayer" and the Anglican Ordinal is recognised as an authoritative standard.


Negative Reactions

Archbishop of Canterbury

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, said on 19 December 2007 that plans to hold a pre-Lambeth meeting for conservatives did not signal disloyalty, as such a meeting "would not have any official status as far as the Communion is concerned".[16]

Bishop of Jerusalem

The Presiding Bishop of Jerusalem and the Middle East, the Right Reverend Mouneer Anis, who is conservative on matters of human sexuality, publicly announced that he would not attend GAFCON, observing [17] that "the Global South must not be driven by an exclusively Northern agenda or Northern personalities". The leadership team listed by GAFCON on its website consisted of 16 men, of whom 9 were from England, North America and Australia, and one other was UK based.[18]

The Bishop of Jerusalem, in whose territory it was to be held, did initially issue a press release saying:

I am deeply troubled that this meeting, of which we had no prior knowledge, will import inter-Anglican conflict into our diocese, which seeks to be a place of welcome for all Anglicans. It could also have serious consequences for our ongoing ministry of reconciliation in this divided land. Indeed, it could further inflame tensions here. We who minister here know only too well what happens when two sides cease talking to each other. We do not want to see any further dividing walls![19]

He indicated that the regional primate "is also concerned about this event. His advice to the organisers that this was not the right time or place for such a meeting was ignored."[19]

On 12 and 15 January 2008, the Bishop of Jerusalem had meetings with the GAFCON organisers, including Archbishops Jensen and Akinola, in which he explained his reasons for objecting to the conference, and the damage it would do to his local ministry of welcome and reconciliation in the Holy Land. He insisted that the Lambeth Conference was the correct venue for internal discussions. However, he proposed as an alternative, "for the sake of making progress in this discussion" that the GAFCON conference should take place in Cyprus, to be followed by a "pure pilgrimage" to the Holy Land. The minutes of the meetings were published.[20]

Conservative negative reaction

The announcement of the conference received criticism from some conservatives, due to it, potentially giving liberals a more powerful voice at the Lambeth Conference. Former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, said: "If the Jerusalem conference is an alternative to the Lambeth Conference, which I perceive it is, then I think it is regrettable. The irony is that all they are going to do is weaken the Lambeth Conference. They are going to give the liberals a more powerful voice because they are absent and they are going to act as if they are schismatics."[21] Carey has also called for the American House of Bishops to commit itself to the Windsor Covenant, which imposes a moratorium on the consecration of homosexual bishops and blessing of same-sex unions.[21]

Liberal and Anglo-Catholic negative reactions

The Bishop of Newcastle in Australia,[22] the Right Reverend Brian Farran, was critical of GAFCON along with the overwhelming majority of the Australian bishops.

Positive reactions

The conference was, however, particularly welcomed by bishops in conflict with the Episcopal Church of the United States of America, such as Bishop David Anderson who said: "The gathering will be in the form of a pilgrimage back to the roots of the Church’s faith: thus this journey begins with a pilgrimage."[23]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f "GAFCON final statement". 2008-06-29. 
  2. ^ "Jensen blames 'homosexual crisis' for Anglican rift". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2008-06-30. Retrieved 2008-07-22. 
  3. ^ a b c "Jensen blames 'homosexual crisis' for Anglican rift". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2008-06-30. Retrieved 2008-07-22. 
  4. ^ "Jerusalem conference may widen Anglican rift". Christian Science Monitor. 2008-06-20. 
  5. ^ "Lambeth Voices: a panel of Anglican bishops share their views with Faith Online". London: The Times. 2008-07-30. 
  6. ^ Is the crisis in the Anglican Communion about homosexuality? from GAFCON Q&A
  7. ^
  9. ^ "Kenyan church challenged". Thinking Anglicans. 2008-05-22. 
  10. ^ "Anglican Communion website". 
  11. ^ a b [1]
  12. ^ [2]
  13. ^ see Chris Sugden, who was part of the GAFCON Leadership Team (Evangelicals Now, August 2008, quoted online at [3]).
  14. ^ BBC:Anglicans seeking tradition faced with Gay Pride
  15. ^ "Archbishop of Canterbury responds to GAFCON statement". Anglican Communion News Service. 2008-06-30. 
  16. ^ George Conger (2008-01-03). "Plans for pre-Lambeth meeting for conservatives do not signal disloyalty - Archbishop of Canterbury". Anglican Mainstream. 
  17. ^ [4]
  18. ^ [5]
  19. ^ a b "Jerusalem speaks on GAFCON". Thinking Anglicans (blog). 2008-01-02. 
  20. ^ [6]
  21. ^ a b RICHARD VARA (2008-01-11). "Carey says Anglican Communion is in crisis". Houston Chronicle. 
  22. ^ "Newcastle Bishop Dissociates himself from GAFCON". Anglican Diocese of Newcastle. 2008-01-11. 
  23. ^ "Update on GAFCON". Thinking Anglicans (blog). 

External links

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