'Heartbroken' Welsh evangelicals reach out to Gafcon

(Photo: Sandy Millar)

Evangelical Anglicans in Wales are turning to the leaders of the theologically conservative global network, Gafcon, for support after the Church in Wales voted to bless same-sex relationships.

The Anglican Archbishops leading Gafcon, the Primates Council, have just met for two days at All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi, Kenya.

The communique from the meeting touched on the situation in Wales.

"Faithful Christians in Wales who are heartbroken over their Province's formal decision to bless same-sex marriages, reached out to the Primates Council following the unanimous decision of the Bench of Bishops in Wales to proceed with blessing same-sex marriages," it said.

"The Gafcon Primates responded with encouragement and solidarity for the sake of the gospel."

Gafcon chairman, Foley Beach, Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America, told conservative Anglicans in Wales: "We understand the decision to implement the blessing of same-sex marriages in your Province has been a significant disruption to the faith. It is important to say that you are not alone.

"As you discern your responses to the situation, you can be sure that we will stand with you in solidarity as you bear witness to the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.

"Remember the words of Joshua: 'Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go' (Joshua 1:9) - and we are with you as well."

The executive committee of the Evangelical Fellowship in the Church in Wales (EFCW) is due to meet on Monday to frame a response after the Church in Wales vote on 6 September.

"For many in EFCW, this decision will come with a sense of sadness that the Church in Wales has decided to depart from a traditional understanding of marriage, and with great uncertainty about how to move forward in good conscience," the group said. 

"The EFCW executive welcomes any comments that the membership would like to be considered at that meeting. It will enable us to ensure that we are properly taking into account the breadth of concerns of the membership."

Gafcon held its first Global Anglican Future Conference in Jerusalem in 2008 where its Jerusalem Declaration affirmed the Church's traditional teaching on biblical authority and on marriage and sexuality.

It then launched the Anglican Network in Europe in 2020. This is led by the first Gafcon bishop to be appointed for Europe in 2017, former Church of England minister Andy Lines.

Bishop Lines has been leading Gafcon's Anglican Mission in England, now part of the European network. 

In an article on this site about the Anglican crisis in Wales, Evangelicals Now editor, the Rev David Baker, wrote: "In the absence of anything else, it looks as though many Welsh evangelicals will have no option but to turn to Gafcon. The recently-formed Anglican Network in Europe (ANiE) may well be the place they look to for support.

"ANiE – led by Bishop Andy Lines, is described as 'an authentic expression of Anglican church life and mission' and is for those who have given up on – or are effectively being pushed out by – the existing Anglican denominations."

The Primates meeting in Nairobi also moved to ease tensions arising from the Anglican Church of Kenya's recent appointment of its first woman diocesan bishop.

In a bid to maintain the unity of their movement, the Primates passed the following resolution: "The Jerusalem Declaration affirms that the Bible makes a distinction between salvation issues and other secondary issues.

"In our discussion, the Primates acknowledged that while there is disagreement and ongoing discussion on the issues of the ordination of women as deacons or priests, and the consecration of women as Bishops, we are agreed that these are not salvation issues and are not issues that will disrupt our mission: to proclaim Christ faithfully to the nations."