GAFCON leader says Lambeth Conference 'will be an obstacle to the gospel'

Worship at the GAFCON 2018 meeting in Jerusalem.GAFCON/Facebook

The head of GAFCON has repeated his call to Anglican bishops to think twice before they accept an invitation to attend the Lambeth Conference in 2020. 

In a letter to GAFCON members, the movement's chairman Archbishop Nicholas Okoh revealed serious concerns about recent developments in the worldwide Anglican Communion. 

These included the appointment of Dr John Shepherd as the Archbishop of Canterbury's envoy to the Vatican who came under fire for a 2008 sermon saying that the faithful needed to be 'set free' from a belief in the physical resurrection of Jesus. 

'The resurrection of Jesus ought not to be seen in physical terms, but as a new spiritual reality,' he reportedly said.

Commenting on Dr Shepherd's appointment, Archbishop Okoh said: 'Dr John Shepherd has responded by issuing a statement which apparently affirms belief that Jesus was raised bodily, but has not repudiated his previous statements to the contrary. Such confusion is itself an obstacle to the gospel.' 

Of 'deep concern', he continued, was the wedding late last year of Canadian Suffragan Bishop Kevin Robertson and his partner Mohan Sharma.

They were married in St James' Cathedral, Toronto, in the presence of their two children, family members and friends, including Archbishop Colin Johnson and Bishop Andrew Asbil.

'We wish them much joy in their marriage,' the Diocese of Toronto said at the time. 

Responding to the developments, Archbishop Okoh said they were strong enough grounds for orthodox Anglican bishops to stay away from Lambeth 2020. 

'This step by the Anglican Church of Canada underlines the urgency of our advice in the Jerusalem 2018 'Letter to the Churches' warning against attending the 2020 Lambeth Conference as currently constituted,' he said.

He added: 'With great sadness we therefore have to conclude that the Lambeth Conference of 2020 will itself be an obstacle to the gospel by embracing teaching and a pattern of life which are profoundly at odds with the biblical witness and the apostolic Christianity through the ages.'

Bishops from the Anglican Churches of Nigeria and Uganda have both said they will not be attending Lambeth 2020. 

In a statement, leaders in the Church of Nigeria said that invitations should not be extended to 'those Provinces that have endorsed by word or deed sexual practices that are in contradiction to the teaching of Scripture' unless they repent of their actions and reverse their decisions.

'In the event that this does not occur the Bishops of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) unanimously resolved that they will decline any invitation to attend Lambeth 2020 and all other meetings of the Instruments of the Communion,' they said.