June 26, 2018
The ADNE delegation for the 2018 Gafcon Conference in Jerusalem shared a major experience of remarkable consequence for the Anglican Church and the mission of the Gospel in the world today. The members of our delegation will be writing up their own reflections on their experience of the Holy Land and the Conference over the next few weeks.
Jerusalem was the site of our 3rd Gafcon Conference and was followed by our ACNA Provincial Council. The delegates from the ADNE included Sally and I as ADNE bishop and wife, the Rev Leah Turner, Amy Howard, and David Greening; clergy observers to Gafcon were Canon Susan Skillen, Canon Justin Howard, and Canon Alex Cameron and wife Tamara. One of our newest deacons and our outstanding Communications Director, the Rev Francis Capitanio, was also present for our tour and served on the Gafcon Communications Team with excellence.
Sally and I had many moments of renewal in the awe and wonder of the Holy Land, just as we had the first time we went to Israel. This time as bishop and wife, we experienced many of the sites we had seen before but through the eyes of our friends from the ADNE; this deepened and expanded our sense of the mystery and context of our Lord’s life. Not only did his ministry come alive in a fresh way, but also the ministries of the apostles in the Book of Acts and of St Paul as expressed in his epistles. Old Testament events and history in Israel made the journey to Jerusalem full of treasured insights. As many other people have noticed, nothing educates us like travel.
When we got to Gafcon, our joy was expanded in the work and witness of several seminarians from All Saints now serving the Lord throughout the ACNA. These included the Rev Patrick Ware, who led our worship on the Steps of the Temple when the whole of Gafcon had their family photo taken; the Rev Dr Esau McCaulley, who has been busy writing many articles for the conference; and the Rev Dr Sam Ferguson, who led a seminar which Sally was able to attend. All Saints and ADNE was well represented.
We are now, as Dr David Short pointed out, into the second generation of Gafcon leadership around the world. We are not only still here, we are the majority of the Anglican Communion, as the Letter to the Churches points out; that document not only summarizes the work we did together in Jerusalem, it is the next step in the reformation of Global Anglicanism and the beginning of a new mission effort. The link to that letter is here: www.gafcon.org/news/letter-to-the-churches-gafcon-assembly-2018
Far from being a one-issue event or movement, the member provinces and people of Gafcon and the ACNA are engaged in a global mission moment that has the weight and substance of a move of the Holy Spirit. From time to time the Spirit of God has corrected and disciplined the Church, and the time has arrived for that discipline to come home to the Anglican Church. The Letter to the Churches clearly and sequentially outlines the history and the issues that have brought us to the actions taken this past week at Gafcon. It provides us a review of the Communion meetings that called for action by the instruments of the communion (those agencies of the Anglican Communion that are supposed to assist us in maintaining godly fellowship and order but have failed).
The Letter to the Churches outlines the action we are taking as it speaks to the formation of structures to assist us in our work world wide. One of our speakers said, “In the councils of the church, we should not mimic the ways of the world but gather to pray, to praise (i.e., to be eucharistic), to consult, to decide, and if necessary to discipline. These gatherings should be properly conciliar in nature, decisive in moving the church forward in its mission and common life. There should be the will to exercise loving but firm discipline to bring sinners to repentance and restoration.” The letter points out that there are times for leadership to “come together to exercise its responsibility to discipline an erring member province.” The tone and actions outlined in the document reflect a leadership of the majority of the Anglicans in the world ready to lead again in mission for the sake of the Gospel and, if necessary, to submit to discipline from one another for the sake of unity and the strength of our witness.
In structure, mission, actions, and mutual encouragement we are moving forward through the creation of nine Global Mission Networks. Perhaps there is a new fellowship of the nine that would even bless the likes of JR Tolkien! The Global Networks began while we were there in Jerusalem to outline the tasks and assign the leadership duties to carry forth in a fresh new way our Gospel work around the world.
Please be sure to read the Letter to the Churches 2018 and listen to the online presentations and seminars of Gafcon. It will bless you, inform you, and move you to a fuller participation in what God is calling us to in the mission moment.
Have a blessed Summer and enjoy the Lord in the beauty of his creation!
Sincerely Yours in Christ,