Saturday, October 26, 2013

Today at the Cafe: Silent flaming arcs of hope

GAFCON 2013 is now over and the participants are preparing to return home.  I am listening to Josh Garrels, who wrote Jacaranda Tree.  I had posted online an amazing photo of a Jacaranda Tree taken by Andrew Gross in Nairobi this week during the GAFCON gathering.  The photo had remained in my mind throughout the week and it just seemed to reflect the best of this historic gathering Kenya - the best of it.  We are all branches of a beautiful tree, seeking to bloom - and sometimes in the most unexpected places.

After I posted the photo, Dwight Huthwaite at St. Andrews, Mt. Pleasant (SC) responded by posting the song Jacaranda Tree.  Here is an excerpt of a lyrics by Josh Garrels:

I pray light will 
Leak from out pockets 
We’ll be drenched, overcome 
At night the fireflies 
Streamers at our sides 
Silent flaming arcs of hope 

That just seems to say it all to me today.  I do pray that the light of Christ will "leak from our pockets" and we may be "drenched, overcome" by His Holy Spirit, with "streamers at our sides, silent flaming arcs of hope."

Here is the full album by Josh Garrels - a soundtrack to follow us as the credits of this extraordinary week roll.

Breaking News: A new "Instrument of Communion" is established - Nairobi Communique endorsed from GAFCON II

The Nairobi Communique is endorsed by GAFCON 2013.

Read it all here:

Nairobi Communique and Commitment

You are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. (Ephesians 2:19-20)

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, we, the participants in the second Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) – 1358 delegates, including 331 bishops, 482 other clergy and 545 laity from 38 countries representing tens of millions of faithful Anglicans worldwide – send you greetings from East Africa, a place of revival in the last century and of growth in the Anglican Church today.

We met with great joy in Nairobi from 21st to 26th October 2013. We gathered each day for prayer and praise, studied Paul’s letter to the Ephesians and shared in the Holy Communion at the beginning and end of our conference.

It was very poignant that our meeting took place only a month after the violent terrorist attack in Nairobi at the Westgate Shopping Mall in which so many innocent men, women and children lost their lives. Our hearts go out to those families who have lost loved ones and to all of those who still suffer. We continue to remember them in prayer. In meeting here we have been able to express publicly the hope that Jesus Christ brings to a world in which brokenness and suffering find frequent expression.
In our gathering, we reaffirmed our view that we are a global fellowship of confessing Anglicans, engaged in a movement of the Holy Spirit which is both personal and ecclesial. We appreciated that the Archbishop of Canterbury sent personal greetings via video and gave us the assurance of his prayers, and we likewise pray for him. We believe we have acted as an important and effective instrument of Communion during a period in which other instruments of Communion have failed both to uphold gospel priorities in the Church, and to heal the divisions among us.

The Formation of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans
In 2008, the first GAFCON was convened in order to counter a false gospel which was spreading throughout the Communion. This false gospel questioned the uniqueness of Christ and his substitutionary death, despite the Bible’s clear revelation that he is the only way to the Father (John 14:6). It undermined the authority of God’s Word written. It sought to mask sinful behaviour with the language of human rights. It promoted homosexual practice as consistent with holiness, despite the fact that the Bible clearly identifies it as sinful. A crisis point was reached in 2003 when a man in an active same-sex relationship was consecrated bishop in the USA. In the years that followed, there were repeated attempts to resolve the crisis within the Communion, none of which succeeded. To the contrary, the situation worsened with further defiance. As a response to the crisis, we adopted The Jerusalem Statement and Declaration which commits us to biblical faithfulness, and has since provided the framework for renewed Anglican orthodoxy to which we, in all our different traditions – Evangelicals, Anglo-Catholics and Charismatics – are committed. We also formed the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (GFCA).

Since then, we have become a movement for unity among faithful Anglicans. Where, in taking a stand for biblical faithfulness, Anglicans have been marginalised or excluded from provincial or diocesan structures, the Primates’ Council has recognised and authenticated them as faithful Anglicans. The GFCA has been instrumental in the emergence of the new Province of the Anglican Church in North America, giving formal recognition to its orders and welcoming it as a full partner province, with its Archbishop having a seat on the Primates’ Council. The GFCA has also prevented the original Diocese of Recife from being isolated from the Anglican Communion. At the same time, local fellowships have been set up across many provinces. These have been a vital support to ministers and congregations alike, as the pressures on faithful gospel witness have increased.

The GFCA and the Future of the Anglican Communion
The fellowship we enjoy as Christians is distinguished from all other associations by the fact that it is at its heart a common ‘fellowship with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ’ (1 John 1:3). For this reason it has a particular character. It involves repentance and ‘walking in the light, as he is in the light’ (1 John 1:7–9). The character and boundaries of our fellowship are not determined by institutions but by the Word of God. The church is a place where the truth matters, where it is guarded and promoted and where alternatives are exposed for what they are — an exchange of the truth of God for a lie (Romans 1:25).  Our willingness to submit to the written Word of God and our unwillingness to be in Christian fellowship with those who will not, is clearly expressed in The Jerusalem Statement and Declaration. This means that the divisions in the Anglican Communion will not be healed without a change of heart from those promoting the false gospel, and to that end we pray.

There is much we can learn from the East African Revival about having a change of heart. Beginning in the last century, the Revival has touched millions of lives across many countries as the Holy Spirit has moved lay men and women, as well as clergy, to share the gospel with others. Two significant features of great relevance to our situation are —
  • Real repentance for sin demonstrated both in confession of guilt and a desire to make amends
  • A confidence that the gospel has the power both to save the lost in all the world and to transform the church, rather than seeing the church conformed to the world.
We urge those who have promoted the false gospel to repent of their unfaithfulness and have a renewed confidence in the gospel. We repent of indifference, prayerlessness and inactivity in the face of false teaching. We remind them – as we remind ourselves – that the sins from which we must repent are not simply those which the world also believes are wrong; they are those that God himself abhors and which are made clear in his Word.

The 1998 Lambeth Resolution I.10 on Human Sexuality states that sexual activity is to be exclusive to marriage and that abstinence is right for those who are single. We still hold to that authoritative statement. Sexual temptation affects us all, and we pray therefore for faithfulness to God’s Word in marriage and singleness. 

We grieve that several national governments, aided by some church leaders, have claimed to redefine marriage and have turned same-sex marriage into a human rights issue. Human rights, we believe, are founded on a true understanding of human nature, which is that we are created in God’s image, male and female such that a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife (Matthew 19:6; Ephesians 5:31). We want to make clear that any civil partnership of a sexual nature does not receive the blessing of God. We continue to pray for and offer pastoral support to Christians struggling with same-sex temptation who remain celibate in obedience to Christ and affirm them in their faithfulness.
The gospel alone has the power to transform lives. As the gospel is heard, the Holy Spirit challenges and convicts of sin, and points to the love of God expressed in his Son, Jesus Christ. The sheer grace of God in setting us free from sin through the cross of Christ leads us into the enjoyment of our forgiveness and the desire to lead a holy life. This enables the relationship with God that Jesus makes possible to flourish. Moreover, just as individual lives can be transformed, so can the life of churches. We therefore commit ourselves and call on our brothers and sisters throughout the Communion to join in rediscovering the power of the gospel and seeking boldness from the Holy Spirit to proclaim it with renewed vigour.

Strengthening the GFCA
We are committed to the future of the GFCA and to that end have decided to take steps to strengthen our fellowship.

First, we have resolved to be more than a network. We are an effective expression of faithful Anglicanism and therefore, recognising our responsibilities, we must organise ourselves in a way that demonstrates the seriousness of our objectives. These are threefold.
  • Proclaiming and contending for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Examples of work we wish to resource are the preparation of convincing theological rebuttals of any false gospel; supporting a network of theological colleges whose students are better oriented to ministry, whose faculties are well-trained, and whose curricula are built on the faithful reading of Scripture.  
  • Building the fellowship. We need to find new ways of supporting each other in mission and discipleship.
  • Authorising and affirming faithful Anglicans who have been excluded by their diocese or province. The main thrust of work here would be devoted to discerning the need for new provinces, dioceses and churches — and then authenticating their ministries and orders as Anglican.
Second, pursuing these objectives will require GFCA to operate on a more systematic basis and to that end we shall organise around a Primates’ Council, a Board of Trustees, an Executive Committee and regional liaison officers, who will be involved in fostering communication among FCAs.

Third, we recognise that moving the GFCA on to a new footing will involve making substantial new resources available. We must, therefore, invite provinces, dioceses, mission agencies, local congregations and individuals formally to become contributing members of the GFCA. In particular, we ask provinces to reconsider their support for those Anglican structures that are used to undermine biblical faithfulness and contribute instead, or additionally, to the financing of the GFCA’s on-going needs. 

Our Priorities
Our Lord’s command is ‘to go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you’ (Matthew 28:19–20). We believe therefore that our first priority must be to make disciples. This means that our movement must be committed to -
  • Evangelising areas of our world where clear gospel witness has become obscured or lost and bringing the gospel to unreached peoples. Much of our energy must be devoted to bringing the gospel to children and young people and developing the leaders of the future. We also recognise the need to pray for, love and witness to Muslims with the gospel of Jesus. We call upon churches to train their members in such outreach.
  • Supporting genuine gospel initiatives, recognising that there are times when the maintenance of structures can constrain the proclamation of the gospel. In line with The Jerusalem Statement’s expectation that the Primates’ Council would intervene to provide ‘orthodox oversight to churches under false leadership’, the Primates’ Council will carefully consider working beyond existing structures as an obedient response to Jesus’ commission to take the gospel to all nations.
  • Guarding the gospel. We shall continue publicly to expose any false gospel that is not consistent with apostolic teaching and clearly to articulate the gospel in the church and in the world.
Our second priority must be to deepen discipleship. We must keep stressing that our identity is primarily found in Christ rather than in national, ethnic or tribal attachments. In addition, there are many pressures on Christians today which require a degree of maturity in order to withstand them. These include aggressive secularism, where increasingly Christians are being told that their faith must only find expression in private, and not in public life, and where the contribution of Christianity to the public good is denied; militant Islamism which continues to threaten the existence and ministry of the church in some places; and seductive syncretism which introduces supposedly alternative approaches to God and thereby denies the uniqueness of Christ.

Countering these pressures and promoting the gospel in difficult circumstances requires Christians to accept that their witness involves suffering for Christ (2 Timothy 3:12); to stand with those who are suffering for Christ; to be alert to the ways in which the Scriptures are being falsely undermined by opponents; to engage graciously in the public square; and to refuse to be intimidated when subjected to persecution.

As a third priority, we must witness to the transforming effect of the gospel in working for the transformation of society, so that the values of the eternal Kingdom can be seen here and now. We therefore believe that it is right to engage in the public arena with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15–16), but without allowing our priorities to be shaped by the world’s agenda; that our churches should work for the protection of the environment and the economic empowerment of those who are deprived of resources; and that we should not ignore the cries of the marginalized and oppressed who need immediate aid.

We affirm the ministries of women and their vital contribution to the life of the church: their call to the task of evangelism, discipling, and building strong marriages, families, churches and communities. GAFCON 2013 upholds the Bible's teaching that men and women are equally made in the image of God, called to be his people in the body of Christ, exercising different gifts. We recognize that we have differing views over the roles of men and women in church leadership.

It grieves us that in many communities women and children are marginalized through poverty, lack of education, HIV/AIDS, the mistreatment of widows and orphans, and polygamy. Furthermore, they suffer domestic violence, sexual abuse, trafficking and abortion. We repudiate all such violence against women and children and call on the church to demonstrate respect for women, care for marginalized women and children around the world, and uphold the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death.

We are conscious of the growing number of attacks on Christians in Nigeria and Pakistan, Syria and Egypt, Sudan and many other countries. Where our brothers and sisters are experiencing persecution, we must all call on governments and leaders of other religions to respect human rights, protect Christians from violent attack and take effective action to provide for freedom of religious expression for all.

We are conscious of many pressures on faithful gospel witness within the church, but equally conscious of the great need the world has to hear the gospel. The need for the GFCA is greater now than when we first met in Jerusalem in 2008. We believe the Holy Spirit is challenging us and the rest of the Anglican Communion to remain faithful to our biblical heritage; to support those who suffer as a result of obedience to Christ; to deepen the spiritual life of our churches; and to respond to anti-Christian pressures with a renewed determination to spread the gospel. The seriousness with which we take our mission and our fellowship will be reflected in the way individual churches make the GAFCON vision their own, and in how we resource the work the GFCA seeks to initiate. We invite all faithful Anglicans to join the GFCA.

Finally, we make the following commitment to strengthen our fellowship and promote the gospel.

The Nairobi Commitment
We are committed to Jesus Christ as the head of the Church, the authority of his Word and the power of his gospel.  The Son perfectly reveals God to us, he is the sole ground of our salvation, and he is our hope for the future. We seek to honour him, walk in faith and obedience to his teaching, and glorify him through our proclamation of his name.
Therefore, in the power of the Holy Spirit —
  1. We commit ourselves anew to The Jerusalem Statement and Declaration.
  2. We commit ourselves to supporting mission, both locally and globally, including outreach to Muslims. We also commit to encouraging lay training in obedience to the Great Commission to make and mature disciples, with particular attention to recruiting and mobilizing young people for ministry and leadership.
  3. We commit ourselves to give greater priority to theological education and to helping each other find the necessary resources. The purposes of theological education need clarifying so that students are better oriented to ministry, faculty are well-trained, and curricula are built on the faithful reading of Scripture.
  4. We commit ourselves to defend essential truths of the biblical faith even when this defence threatens existing structures of human authority (Acts 5:29).  For this reason, the bishops at GAFCON 2013 resolved ‘to affirm and endorse the position of the Primates’ Council in providing oversight in cases where provinces and dioceses compromise biblical faith, including the affirmation of a duly discerned call to ministry. This may involve ordination and consecration if the situation requires.’
  5. We commit ourselves to the support and defence of those who in standing for apostolic truth are marginalized or excluded from formal communion with other Anglicans in their dioceses. We have therefore recognized the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE) as an expression of authentic Anglicanism both for those within and outside the Church of England, and welcomed their intention to appoint a General Secretary of AMiE.
  6. We commit ourselves to teach about God’s good purposes in marriage and in singleness. Marriage is a life-long exclusive union between a man and a woman. We exhort all people to work and pray for the building and strengthening of healthy marriages and families. For this reason, we oppose the secular tide running in favour of cohabitation and same-sex marriage.  
  7. We commit ourselves to work for the transformation of society though the gospel. We repudiate all violence, especially against women and children; we shall work for the economic empowerment of those who are deprived; and we shall be a voice for persecuted Christians.
  8. We commit ourselves to the continuation of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, putting membership, staffing and financing onto a new basis. We shall continue to work within the Anglican Communion for its renewal and reform.
  9. We commit ourselves to meet again at the next GAFCON.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)

26 October 2013

Read it all here.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

John W. Yates III reflects on working with John Stott

The Rev. Dr. John W. Yates III
SF's David Ould interviews at GAFCON 2013 John W. Yates III, rector of Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, in the Anglican Diocese of the Carolinas.  John Yates III reflects on what it was like working with John Stott (called the "architect of 20th century evangelicalism who shaped the faith of a generation") as his study assistant, as well as on his experience this week at GAFCON in Nairobi, Kenya.

You can listen to the interview at SF or below:

John Stott has been described as "an architect of 20th-century evangelicalism who shaped the faith of a generation."   More here:

The Rev. Dr. John Stott
John Stott was ordained in 1945 and went on to become a curate at All Souls Church, Langham Place (1945–1950) then rector (1950–75). This was the church in which he had grown up, and in which he spent almost his whole life, apart from a few years spent in Cambridge. 
While in this position he became increasingly influential on a national and international basis, most notably being a key player in the 1966-67 dispute about the appropriateness of evangelicals remaining in the Church of England.  
He was chairing the National Assembly of Evangelicals in 1966, a convention organised by the Evangelical Alliance, when Martyn Lloyd-Jones made an unexpected call for evangelicals to unite together as evangelicals and no longer within their 'mixed' denominations. This view was motivated by a belief that true Christian fellowship requires evangelical views on central topics such as the atonement and the inspiration of Scripture. Lloyd-Jones was a key figure to many in the Free Churches, and evangelical Anglicans regarded Stott similarly. 
The two leaders publicly disagreed, as Stott, though not scheduled as a speaker that evening, used his role as chairman to refute Lloyd-Jones, saying that his opinion went against history and the Bible. The following year saw the first National Evangelical Anglican Congress, which was held at Keele University. At this conference, largely due to Stott's influence, evangelical Anglicans committed themselves to full participation in the Church of England, rejecting the separationist approach proposed by Lloyd-Jones. 
In 1970, in response to increasing demands on his time from outside the All Souls congregation, he appointed a vicar of All Souls, to enable himself to work on other projects. In 1975 he resigned as Rector, and the then vicar was appointed in his place; he remained at the church, and was appointed "Rector Emeritus." 
In 1974 he founded the Langham Partnership International and in 1982 the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity, of which he remained honorary president until his death. Following his chairmanship of the second National Evangelical Anglican Congress in April 1977, the Nottingham statement was published, which claimed, "Seeing ourselves and Roman Catholics as fellow-Christians, we repent of attitudes that have seemed to deny it." 
He wrote over 50 books, some of which appear only in Chinese, Korean or Spanish, as well as many articles and papers. 
One of these is Basic Christianity, a book which seeks to explain the message of Christianity, and convince its readers of its truth and importance. 
He was also the author of The Cross of Christ, of which J. I. Packer stated, "No other treatment of this supreme subject says so much so truly and so well." 

Other books he wrote include Essentials, a dialogue with the liberal cleric and theologian David L. Edwards, over whether what Evangelicals hold as essential should be seen as such. In 2005, he produced Evangelical Truth, which summarizes what he perceives as being the central claims of Christianity, essential for evangelicalism. 
Upon his formal retirement from public engagements, he continued to engage in regular writing until his death. In 2008, he produced The Anglican Evangelical Doctrine of Infant Baptism with J. Alec Motyer

An introduction to his thought can be found in his two final substantial publications, which act as a summation of his thinking. Both were published by the publishing house with which he had a lifelong association, IVP
  • In 2007, his reflections on the life of the church: The Living Church: Convictions of a Lifelong Pastor.
  • In January 2010, at the age of 88, he saw the launch of what would explicitly be his final book: The Radical Disciple. It concludes with a poignant farewell and appeal for his legacy to be continued through the work of the Langham Partnership International.
You can also hear the interview at SF here.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Reflections on a Dylan Long Gone: Hard Rain 1976

This is the first time I have seen a clear version of the Hard Rain Concert from May 23, 1976.  The versions I've seen have been worn copies of copies from old VHS tapes.  The concert was shown on television in 1976 and that was it. It's never made to DVD and the YouTube versions I've seen over the years were very rough.

This is a dark period in Dylan's career.  It's in the rather hallow space between the rousing Rolling Thunder Revue Tour (1975-1976) and the Gospel Tour (1979-1980).  Later in 1976, Martin Scorsese would film The Last Waltz as The Band says farewell to Bob Dylan, ending a major period in Dylan's career.

The period of 1977-1978 is a rather dark time, for the country and for Dylan.  We see the cubistic film Renaldo and Clara released for five minutes, never to be seen again (unless it's more of the grainy rough versions that come and go on YouTube).  His marriage ends. Elvis dies. Dylan tours Japan and releases Street Legal.  The period might be called his Neil Diamond Period - he might have been aiming for the Vegas Elvis, but got as far as Diamond.  He was missing something.

Then in November 1978, someone threw a cross up on the stage during his concert.  Dylan picked it up and put it in his pocket. "I brought it backstage and I brought it with me to the next town, which was out in Arizona," Dylan said in a 1979 interview. "I was feeling even worse than I'd felt when I was in San Diego. I said, 'Well, I need something tonight.' I didn't know what it was. I was used to all kinds of things. I said, 'I need something tonight that I didn't have before.' And I looked in my pocket and I had this cross."

By 1979, he would release Slow Train Coming.

With that all in mind, it is interesting to look back at this concert.  He does not perform like this anymore.  He did not perform like he did during most of the recorded Rolling Thunder Tour.  His earlier personas (masks?) - the hipster, the protester, the vagabond, the voice of a generation - are far behind him.

And what did you hear, my blue-eyed son?
And what did you hear, my darling young one?
I heard the sound of a thunder, it roared out a warnin’
Heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world
Heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazin’
Heard ten thousand whisperin’ and nobody listenin’
Heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin’
Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter
Heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.

To watch this concert in its entirety for the first time - we see one angry young man.  He howls through the songs.  There is confusion on stage, what is he doing, who he is playing to, why is he up there - and what are the rest of those people there for - even Joan Baez, who seems as though she made a wrong turn on her way back to Macy's in Manhattan.

Whatever playful joy we see in Dylan over the years - well it does not show up here.  What we get here is pain.  It is an honest performance - and sometimes honesty is not what people want.  The critics didn't want it and this show has been buried or decades.  He's not going to work for Maggie's Farm no more, he howls, he's had it.  Done.

When he returns a year later, he fires all his friends, brings in Vegas-style back-up singers, and seeks his inner-Elvis (or what killed him), like it's all style and not soul.

The soul.  We get soul here and it's shattered. Watch if you can his Idiot Wind performance. He seems to be wailing at himself, filled with scorn and shame.  Maybe he is wailing at others - but it seems like the ugly rage is one the inside.  He pulls it back in the in the finale, bring us a a pleading of with Knocking on Heaven's Door. "Mama, take this badge off of me," he pleads, "I can't do it anymore." Tragic is not too strong a word.

Amazing.  In a few years he will sing a brand new song. He'll write those songs.  And he still sings those songs.  This "Dylan" will be gone.  Can't say I've seen him since.

Three years later he writes a brand new lexicon of music.  Here Gospel singers reflect and perform on the music he would only a few years after Hard Rain:

The iron hand it ain’t no match for the iron rod
The strongest wall will crumble and fall to a mighty God
For all those who have eyes and all those who have ears
It is only He who can reduce me to tears
Don’t you cry and don’t you die and don’t you burn
For like a thief in the night, He’ll replace wrong with right
When He returns
Truth is an arrow and the gate is narrow that it passes through
He unleashed His power at an unknown hour that no one knew
How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?
Can I cast it aside, all this loyalty and this pride?
Will I ever learn that there’ll be no peace, that the war won’t cease
Until He returns?
Surrender your crown on this blood-stained ground, take off your mask
He sees your deeds, He knows your needs even before you ask
How long can you falsify and deny what is real?
How long can you hate yourself for the weakness you conceal?
Of every earthly plan that be known to man, He is unconcerned
He’s got plans of His own to set up His throne
When He returns
B. Dylan 1979

Awesome video on baptism released by Lambeth Palace

Simply an awesome video made by the Archbishop of Canterbury prior to tomorrow's baptism of Prince George, son of Prince William and his wife Kate.  Bishop Dan Martins of Springfield writes of the video, "Does he say everything that it is important to say about baptism? No. Is it a warmly accessible introduction to what baptism means? Superbly so. Indeed, an evangelistic moment."

Very moving - inspiring.

Opening Press Conference from #GAFCON2013 now online

Here is the opening press conference at GAFCON 2013.  "Sometimes people think that #GAFCON is a breakaway movement from the Anglican Communion," says Archbishop Peter Jensen. "Nothing can be further from the truth."

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Archbishop of Canterbury meets with GAFCON leaders

From here:

Primates Gather for Worship

Archbishop Welby and Archbishop Wabukala this morning.
As the GAFCON Primates gathered together for worship today at All Saint's Cathedral in Nairobi, Kenya they were joined by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. Archibishop Welby preached to a full church in a service led by Archbishop Wabukala, Primate of Kenya.

In his sermon, Archbishop Welby acknowledged that the structures of the Anglican Communion need to look very different if they are to serve the mission of the church in the years to come.
Archbishop Wabukala and Archbishop Duncan.

Later in the service, Archbishop Wabukala was assisted at communion by the Most Rev. Robert Duncan, Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America, the Most Rev. Daniel Deng, Archbishop of South Sudan, and the Most Rev. Tito Zavala, Archbishop of the Southern Cone.

After the service, the Primates gathered at Bishopsborne, the home of Archbishop Wabakula for lunch and fellowship. In addition to Archbishop Welby, the gathering was joined by Dr. Christian Turner, the British High Commissioner to Kenya.

UPDATE: George Conger has posted a story following the Archbishop of Canterbury's visit with the GAFCON primates.  Here are excerpts:

Welby backs GAFCON vision for a renewed Church

Archbishops Deng Bul, Duncan, Welby and Wabkula.  
The Archbishop of Canterbury offered his qualified personal endorsement to Gafcon today, telling the congregation of All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi his vision for the future of the Anglican Communion was of a Bible-based church dedicated to mission and evangelism – goals shared by the Gafcon movement of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA).

While Archbishop Justin Welby stopped short of giving Gafcon his formal imprimatur, he conceded the existing instruments of communion were no longer fit for purpose in ordering the life of the Anglican world.

The archbishop also hinted the Communion may not be able to count upon the Church of England to hold the line on issues close to the heart of the Gafcon movement. Archbishop Welby recounted his strong public opposition to the British government’s same-sex marriage bill, noting it had come at a great “personal cost” to him as the culture and government were hostile to the church. However, he was silent on whether the Church of England would permit the blessing of gay civil unions.

The archbishop’s multi-layered sermon evolved over its two presentations – after being all but silent about Gafcon in his first sermon, in its second reading the archbishop spoke three times about the forthcoming Gafcon conference, set for 21-26 October 2013, at All Saints Cathedral ...

... Dr. Peter Jensen, the former Archbishop of Sydney and the current General Secretary of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans -- the sponsor of the Gafcon conference -- said he was encouraged by the address. The archbishop’s statement “the old ways are no longer appropriate, the old structures no longer work, given on the eve of Gafcon, give us hope,” he said.

A tired and wan Archbishop Welby spent only 18 hours in Kenya, arriving in the early hours of Sunday. Travelling without his minders, the archbishop stayed at the home of Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Primate of Kenya, before preaching before the 9:30 and 11:30 congregations at the Cathedral. Following his sermons he went into a closed door meeting with the primates’ council.
The archbishop is scheduled to leave Nairobi on Sunday evening and fly to Iceland to chair a meeting of the primates of the Poorvoo Communion on Monday ...

... To combat the subordination of the church to the culture of the world, the “Bible must be at the heart of our study, our life, our walk with Jesus” he said, but a “church that only reads but does not act, disgraces the Bible.”

The archbishop then moved into the heart of his sermon, saying “our differences will always exist. How we deal with them is clear from Scripture; but the church seldom follows” Scripture when dealing with conflict.

“There is a need for new structures in the Anglican Communion, “the archbishop said, adding the issues that divide us are “simple and complicated.”

To address them “we need a new way of being in communion, not the colonial structures” of the past, he said. But it was unclear as to what the solution was as each province offered its own solution to the problem, yet “we must find a way to live together, so the world will see” Jesus is Lord.

The Anglican world must be a sign to the world of the power of Christ and must engage in a deliberate program of “witness, worship, evangelism, and a passion for the Holy Spirit.”

“The more seriously we take the Bible” the more effectively we will be able to deal with our divisions, he said.

The archbishop then offered personal vignettes of the power of prayer and the freedom found in God’s word, recounting his experience of being held hostage by bandits in Nigeria, and of his conversion experience as a young man in Kenya.

He then turned to the situation in England, recounting the difficult debate in the House of Lords over the government’s bill to permit same-sex marriage. “In England, we in the church disagree with same-sex marriage because we honor marriage, not out of hate, or fear or anger.”

“I spoke at great personal cost” against the bill and received opprobrium and “hatred” from those who supported changing marriage. But as the Letter to the Hebrews said we must keep “the marriage bed undefiled”, the church could not support this change, just as it could not support “adultery or pornography.”

A “church that flourishes” is a church that is “based on the Bible” he said. “We all fail,” he said, because “we all sin,” but a “Biblically-centered, practically loving” church is what God wants Anglicans to be.

While the Lambeth Palace Press Office had released a statement saying Archbishop Welby was visiting Kenya to stand in solidarity with its people in the wake of the Westgate Mall terror attack, he made no mention of terrorism in his sermons and his time in Nairobi was spent exclusively on Gafcon.

Read it all here.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

What is the future of the #Anglican Communion?

The Bishop of Egypt and Presiding Bishop of the Middle-East, Mouneer Anis, spoke on the the future of the Anglican Communion is this address at the 50th Anniversary of the Toronto Anglican Congress.  
From here:

Is the Anglican Communion a communion?

Is it realistic now, is it realistic to call the Anglican Communion a communion? Is this realistic? It is a question that we need to ask, are we still a communion?

Many people spoke about this and used this term ‘the fabric of the Anglican Communion is torn to its deepest level.’ There was a lot of worrying about this before the consecration of Gene Robinson and there were signs even before this. And we are torn as a communion. We are torn as a family.

Now, again because of my medical background, I would say what are the signs and symptoms of this torn fabric of our Anglican Communion? 

Signs and Symptoms
There are already provinces which have broken communion with other provinces.
  • Impaired Communion: There are other provinces that didn’t break communion; however they don’t have relations at all with others in the communion. So that is impaired communion. 
  • Broken Communion: There is broken Eucharistic communion when we gather as the Primates Meeting and a group of Primates cannot conscientiously receive communion – the bread and wine with their colleagues – so the broken Eucharistic communion. 
  • Complete Separation: And complete separation from the Anglican Communion we have some movements that separated itself completely from the Anglican Communion; and also new movements that work independently, so it walks its way and takes its action regardless of what is happening in the rest of the Anglican Communion. 

The fabric is torn
And as a sign of this also, of the torn fabric of the Communion, our communion partners - the Catholics, the Oriental Orthodox, the Greek Orthodox - they said we are going to stop and freeze the ecumenical dialogue until the Anglicans sort out their own problems.

As a sign and symptom, 250 bishops did not attend the Lambeth Conference in 2008. 15 Primates did not attend the Primates Meeting in 2011 in Dublin. One bishop and 3 Primates, all orthodox, resigned from the Anglican Communion Standing Committee - this is the standing committee which works for the future of the whole Communion - and the orthodox voice was completely disregarded.

So what happened? Why did this happen? Is it all about sexuality? That’s an important question. People think that the consecration of Gene Robinson led to the crisis – that’s true – but actually it was the consecration of Gene Robinson that revealed the weakness that revealed the difficulties that were hidden within the Communion. The crisis tore the fabric of the Communion and revealed the real issues behind this.

What are the real issues?
The real issues are the interpretation and the authority of the Scriptures. We have major differences in the interpretation of this picture, and we have differences even in the Doctrine of the Trinity. And this started back in the [Fifties]. The person and the work and the resurrection of Jesus Christ – some people even doubt it - some people really don’t believe in it in these things.

So the diversity within the Anglican Communion started to widen and widen to the degree that one can call it an unlimited diversity; not a limited diversity; not a diversity in the non-essentials, has started to encroach the essentials of faith of the Anglican Communion.

The real issues are: 
  • The acknowledgement of Jesus as divine, and the one and only means of salvation; 
  • The doctrine of sin; 
  • The forgiveness; reconciliation; 
  • Transformation by the Holy Spirit through Christ. 

There are big differences in these issues. The sanctity of marriage and teaching about morality that is rooted in the Bible – all these are the much deeper issues that are at stake within the Anglican Communion.

The causes of failure to deal with the crisis. We face the crisis and as a family facing any crisis we should have the ability and the mechanism, and the ability, and the ways to sort out this problem and deal with the crisis.

But why are we not capable of doing it up until now?

Why we fail: The Instruments of Unity
The failure I would say is a failure of the instruments of unity, or the instruments of Communion as some people say; either because of the unwillingness to fulfill its role or because they became dysfunctional and ineffective. I would like to take one instrument of unity, one after another:

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby
  • The first one, the Archbishop of Canterbury: ‘I have no power’ – many Archbishops of Canterbury say this, ‘I have no power’ – which is true. The Archbishop of Canterbury doesn’t have power, because he is Primus Inter Pares, so all the archbishops who are in the Anglican Communion are equal and each province has autonomy. So he has no power to say to any province: ‘do this’ or ‘not to do this.’ This is true, but Archbishops of Canterbury, they have influence, much greater influence, but it depends if they want to use it, or not use it. ‘I have no power,’ beginning with the desire to hold everyone together.

I have survived three Archbishops now. Every one wants to start with holding everyone together, and at the end, when they know that this is an impossible task, they don’t want to do anything. So at the beginning they want to hold everyone, and at the end they give up – or give in, completely!

Anglican Primates Meeting 2005
  • The Primates Meetings recommendations were not followed through. The Primates Meetings of 2005, 2007 and 2009 were not followed through regarding sorting out the crisis of the Communion. The Primates meet, they have an ‘enhanced responsibility’ according to the Resolutions of the Lambeth Conference 1988 and 1998. 

However, every decision and every recommendation they took was not followed through. And I remember that one of the strongest resolutions that every Primate agreed upon was in Dar-es-Salaam, because the Archbishop of Canterbury went from one Primate to another asking: ‘do you agree’, do you agree,’ ‘do you agree,’ and everyone said ‘we agree.’ 

And the recommendations of this Dar-es-Salaam meeting were never followed through.

Lambeth Conference 2008
  • The Lambeth Conference.  In this last Lambeth Conference of 2008, they had this great invention of Indaba. And Indaba is, a word that is used in South Africa, to sit and listen and sort out a problem, not just to listen. But they took the first part which is listening only and put aside the other part of the Indaba process which is making a decision and working on achieving the solution. So the Indaba – I was in the preparation with Archbishop Ian Ernest, the preparation for Lambeth 2008, and as soon as we heard about the Indaba process, we felt that this is a divide and rule process. Lambeth 2008 has no resolutions, intentionally; that we would not make any resolutions. And someone asked what will we call Lambeth 2008? And a great figure in Lambeth 2008, he said this: ‘operation succeeded and patient died.’ 

Anglican Consultative Council 2009
  • The Anglican Consultative Council is now like a parliament of the Anglican Communion. It has the majority that are non-orthodox and they exclude the voices of the orthodox. So I would say that the rule is the tyranny of the majority in the Anglican Consultative Council. And again the Indaba process and the Indaba game was used in the Anglican Consultative Council. 

Loss of Conciliarity
This is about the influence – when we come again to think ‘what happened’ we see that the Anglican Communion lost the conciliarity completely. In Lambeth 2008 there were no resolutions, so the ‘mind’ of Lambeth does not come to a resolution to say ‘this is the direction we want to have.’ I know a resolution of Lambeth doesn’t have an executive power but it has a moral authority. We don’t have a resolution in Lambeth but every voice is heard and every voice is recorded and that’s that. We saw the conciliarity that we heard from the early church in the ecumenical councils is not used whatsoever. And also in Lambeth 2008 about one quarter or even one third didn’t attend the conference.

The Primates Meeting in 2011 – they said we meet for leisure, thought, prayer and deep consultation, but not to have an enhanced responsibility, as it was decided in Lambeth 1988 and Lambeth 1998 that the Primates Meeting ‘should exercise an enhanced responsibility in offering guidance on doctrinal and moral and pastoral matters.’ So again it is stripping the most important two meetings, our most important two instruments from their conciliar nature – the Lambeth Conference and the Primates Meeting.

Loss of Boundaries
The third thing is the failure to make boundaries led to unlimited diversity and losing inter-dependence, failing the covenant. In any game there is a framework, in any thing we need to have a framework in order to play the game – in order to really do the sorting out of everything. But here we don’t have any boundaries. It is unlimited completely. And the call for listening and the call for reconciliation is a wonderful call; however everyone needs to stop what they are doing that hurts us in order to start thinking of sorting the problem. A husband who is committing adultery with another woman, cannot say ‘I want to reconcile with my wife’ and keep committing adultery, while listening to his wife. It does not work like this. So it is very important that we come and talk together in order to sort the problem.

Loss of Trust
The loss of trust is a big issue. Reasons for this are:
  • Not following through on the recommendations; 
  • Reluctance to support the orthodox, the faithful orthodox, the orthodox meet and talk and that’s it, we should leave them, and even those who were oppressed – ten bishops were deposed, about 1,200 priests in The Episcopal Church were also deposed and no one supports them, no one talks about them – not even pastoral care given to them; and
  • The failure of the Anglican Communion Office to be a real representative of the Anglican Communion 
There is no trust because of these things.

The wrong assumption which people have about solving the crisis:
  • ‘It will solve by itself in time so give it the time and everyone will forget about it’ - Now we are actually ten years on and it’s still there.
  • ‘It will be resolved merely by listening to each other, the Indaba’ - we have been listening for many years and it is still there.
  • ‘It can be resolved by giving financial aid from the North to the South’ – it didn’t work, again.
So these are wrong assumptions.

There are three attitudes towards the future of the Communion, and these are our responses, our attitude:

Attitudes and responses toward the future
  • Restored Communion: The first is those who are hoping for restored communion: ‘we long for unity, we long for communion.’ And if you ask me can we meet as a federation or do you want a communion, I would say from the depths of my heart I would like still that we will be a Communion because the Communion is a gift from God [applause] and these people see it as a unique family and a gift from God that should not be wasted. This is fulfilment of Jesus’ prayer ‘that all may be one.’

  • Federation: The other attitude is of those who prefer the Communion to become a federation: ‘we don’t care about this much.’ You remember the two mothers that stood in front of Solomon. They had the baby, and the baby is the Communion. The real mother wanted Communion and the not real mother said, ‘ok - cut the baby, make it a federation.’ [laughter] This would give every Province in federation more autonomy and more space for unilateral actions, but it takes away the interdependence.
  • Reject Fellowship: The third attitude is those who reject any kind of fellowship, and want to go their own way or becoming congregational, which would be a very, very sad thing, very sad thing.

Now, the way ahead for us – I am concluding with this:

  • Restore Trust: The first point is we have to follow through with the recommendation of the previous Primates Meeting and Windsor Report. This is the only way we can restore the trust between the churches of the Anglican Communion. 
  • Support faithful orthodox Anglicans: The second thing – we need to urgently recognise and support the faithful orthodox Anglicans who were excluded and unjustly treated. 
  • Recover conciliarity: And the third thing is recover conciliarity and this is very important. Unless we do this we will have many, many crises in the future. 
    • Recovering the conciliar nature of the Primates Meeting – that when we meet, what affects all should be decided by all, and this was in Section 4 in the Covenant but it needs to be enforced and it needs to be empowered.
    • Recovering the conciliar nature of the Lambeth Conference as well – so when 900 bishops in the world meet together and discuss an issue and come to a conclusion, this should have - not just a moral authority – a real authority. So the Lambeth Conference needs to have a conciliar nature.
    • Adopt a more collegial and participatory approach in order to build a sense of ownership.  – We in the Global South, we think that everything is prepared or pre-cooked in London, at Lambeth or at the Anglican Communion Office. I know the current Archbishop of Canterbury doesn’t want this to happen. His links and his work in Nigeria make him feel that it should be mutual and we should all own this, the Anglican Communion.

The way ahead is re-establishing a covenantal relationship that affirms the interdependence with acceptable diversity – acceptable diversity within the non-essentials. What affects all should be decided by all.

The Anglican Covenant
Unfortunately the Covenant that we have now does not really reflect the hopes and the dreams, and it is not going to solve the problem at all. The Covenant:
  • Should affirm our inheritance of faith as it was in section 1;
  • Should affirm our Anglican vocation as it is current section 2; 
  • Should affirm our unity and common life, that is section 3 in the Covenant; 
  • Should affirm our interdependence – and this is where the division and difference is. 
  • Should involve a clear mechanism. The current covenant doesn’t have a clear mechanism of dealing with crisis. 

Again everything [in the current draft] should go back to the Archbishop of Canterbury to decide if the issue is important or not important – so again back to the ‘colonial way’ of solving the problem. It should involve a clear mechanism for adoption of the Covenant – how should this become [adopted] – and involve a clear mechanism to withdraw from the Covenant.

Restructure the Anglican Consultative Council
Another thing which is very important is the restructuring of the Anglican Consultative Council so that it would represent the Anglican Communion, the reality within the Anglican Communion. Right now, 1 million members are represented by 3 members of the ACC and 20 million members are represented by 3 members of the ACC. This should not happen – it should be different – we need to look at this as well, real representation on the ACC. It should not be like a parliament where the majority rules would crush the minority votes.

The last thing I want to say is that the restructuring of the Anglican Communion Office which is now almost dominated by Western staff; we have no say in Africa or in the Global South in the exchanges of the Anglican Communion meetings at all. We struggle a lot to just change the agendas of some meetings. The Anglican Communion Office should support the Archbishop of Canterbury, should not work independently, but should work alongside the Archbishop of Canterbury and to help him deal with the Communion issues.

So we do need a Covenant, but the current Covenant was watered down all the time, all the time, until now it is ineffective. Even if every Province adopted the Covenant it would not help our situation because section 4 now says that every Province can come with all the resolutions and canons that they already have taken before signing the Covenant. So if a Province decided about a very controversial issue it will come into the Covenant with the package they are carrying at the same time. So we need to have a difference in this.

These are the points I wanted to share with you about the future of the Anglican Communion. Thank you so much.

The Most Rev. Dr. Mouneer Hanna Anis is the PresidingBishop of Jerusalem & the Middle East & Bishop in Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa

Read it all here.  You may also listen to the presentation by Bishop Mouneer Anis here.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Breaking News: Archbishop of Canterbury will attend GAFCON Primates Meeting

Very good news coming from GAFCON.  Please continue to pray as Anglican leaders around the world gather for this conference in Nairobi starting Monday, Oct. 21.

From here.

The Archbishop of Canterbury will visit GAFCON primates just before the opening of GAFCON 2013 in Nairobi.

GAFCON Primates are holding a two day meeting, then 1200 leaders and lay people from the UK, Asia, Africa, the Pacific and South America will fly in to Nairobi for the Global Anglican Future Conference starting on Monday, October 21st.

GAFCON Chairman Eliud Wabukala invited Archbishop Justin Welby to send greetings to the conference and he indicated he was unable to do so in person because of commitments during the week. His office has since confirmed he will make a flying visit to speak with the Primates.

The general secretary of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, Dr Peter Jensen, says "The Archbishop's decision to come to the Primates meeting is a recognition of the importance of such a large and significant gathering of Anglicans from around the world and he will be made very welcome."

Friday, October 04, 2013

Remembering Joe Kitts - Memorial Service: Saturday, October 5 10:00 a.m. Truro Church, Fairfax, VA #Anglican #Episcopal

On Saturday, October 5, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. there will be a Memorial Service for the Rev. Joe Kitts (1926-2013) at Truro Church (10520 Main Street, Fairfax, VA 22030).  The Rt. Rev. John W. Howe will be preaching.  A reception on the front lawn of Truro will follow.

Who was Joe Kitts?  We let those who knew him tell you!  You can read many of their memories and testimonies about his life and ministry made a difference in this world.  Click here for "Out of the Coal Mine and into the World."