Delegates at the third Global Anglican Future Conference (Gafcon), which met in Jerusalem last week, endorsed a communiqué on their final day which called on the Archbishop of Canterbury not to invite to the Lambeth Conference in 2020 bishops from Provinces which have endorsed “sexual practices which are in contradiction to the teaching of Scripture”.
The communiqué said that unless that happened, and unless bishops from independent breakaway churches that are not in the Anglican Communion – the Anglican Church of North America (ANiC) and the Anglican Church of Brazil – were invited too, it would “urge Gafcon members to decline the invitation to attend Lambeth 2020 and all other meetings of the Instruments of Communion.”
[Gafcon describes itself as “a global family of authentic Anglicans standing together to retain and restore the Bible to the heart of the Anglican Communion.” It includes primates, mostly from Africa, and some bishops and clergy from other provinces, including Canada and the U.S. It also includes breakway churches like ANiC.]
But ahead of the meeting, a significant number of primates associated with the Gafcon movement made clear their intention to attend. Among them was Archbishop Masimango Katanda of the Anglican Church of Congo, who described the Lambeth Conference as “very important” and the only opportunity for bishops across the world to meet together. “When we talk with Anglican Christians in Congo, their identity is in the See of Canterbury,” he said. “Breaking [from]the See of Canterbury is like starting a new Church, which is not Anglican.”
The Archbishop of Tanzania, Maimbo Mndolwa, said: “If there are issues that are theological, issues that touch the Church, let’s discuss; not run away. Why should we run away? You can think of going and establishing another group. There will be challenges [there] too. Are you going to run away from that [new group] again?”
During the week, the Archbishop of Canterbury used Twitter to send a message to Gafcon members, saying: “You are in my prayers. I pray the Holy Spirit will bless you with wisdom, insight and fresh vision for the renewal of God’s world – and our role as Anglicans in that great work.”
To our Anglican brothers and sisters meeting in Jerusalem this week for #GAFCON2018, you are in my prayers. I pray the Holy Spirit will bless you with wisdom, insight and fresh vision for the renewal of God’s world – and our role as Anglicans in that great work.
— Archbishop of Canterbury (@JustinWelby) June 21, 2018
The editor of the Anglican Ink blog, George Conger, described this as a plea to delegates to “consider the cost of rebellion.” And he added that “some scheduled speakers and participants withdrew from the proceedings at the last minute due to pressure from London”.
But, speaking to the Anglican Communion News Service, a spokesperson for the Archbishop of Canterbury rejected these claims, saying: “Archbishop Justin has stated his views on the Gafcon meeting in a blog and Tweet. He did not at any point seek to interfere in the decisions of primates as to their attendance.”