'Proud to be at GAFCON'
Those who attended GAFCON in Nairobi have begun reporting back.
Canon Dr Gavin Ashenden, a Queen's chaplain writes:
"I was proud to be part of the group of Christians who met at Gafcon at Nairobi. There was something deeply dignified about people who had become Christians as something more than a pose of accessorized spirituality, but who were engaged in a life or death struggle with themselves – with militant Islam – with the scorn of self indulgent secularism – and who were serious about their appetites and surrendering them; and not making a special case to exempt homosexual appetite from the call of God to be freed, transformed and blessed."
The vice-principal of Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, the Reverend Dr Simon Vibert said: "A notable feature of this conference has been the reminder that all of us need to repent as a necessary component of expecting God's blessing, and also to do this together in corporate worship."
In a press conference on Tuesday, Paul Perkin, chairman of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (UK and Ireland) said that the conference had been "an extraordinary display of the fellowship of the Anglican Communion meeting in a spiritual fellowship of prayer, sharing of situations, and identification of each other's problems".
"I expect that my PCC will demand that I table the Nairobi communiqué at the PCC meeting on Monday night," said David Banting, vicar of St Peter's Harold Wood whom he said had insisted they pay for him to attend the conference representing them. "St Peter's wants to be global and not parochial. Our mission partners at GAFCON thanked us for the gift of the gospel through the Church of England and ask us not to depart from it or change it."
Supporting each other
Three hundred and fifty members of the conference were women. Mrs Christine Perkin, who chaired the women's conference said: "Ordained or unordained, there was a wonderful sense of supporting each other. The sheer quality of the people and their ministry, and their perseverance against severe odds and persecution was outstanding. There was a very moving moment when women from Nigeria where women are not ordained, honoured and prayed for ministry of the only ordained woman in the Seychelles."
David Banting, a former chairman of Reform said: "It was barely mentioned whether you were exercising ministry with a collar or without." He noted that some issues are issues of order and not of salvation and GAFCON wonderfully modelled that.
Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali said: "If you think women should not be ordained, yet they are, such people are not committing a sin. It is a second order issue."
Paul Perkin asserted: "Those who do feel strongly that this innovation is not God's will should not feel they have to be excluded from the church."
Bishop Nazir-Ali said that GAFCON is different from other movements in that it recognises as Anglicans churches those such as the Anglican Church in North America and the original Diocese of Recife in Brazil. "I suspect that GAFCON will be called on to do this more and more as people find themselves in difficulties." People are feeling they need to support a body like GAFCON [financially] because that is where their needs are being met. The Global FCA has the authority to draw people together. Other Anglican instruments and groupings have not been able to bring about coherence."
Anglican Mission in England
Bishop John Ellison, who is chairman of the Anglican Mission in England but was prevented from attending GAFCON due to passport difficulties, said: "The challenge before us is to work without fear or compromise within and outside existing Anglican structures. AMiE is committed to that task and from Nairobi we have the full support of the global communion for what we are doing here in England. Next month the majority of those from England who were in Nairobi will be meeting with other clergy and lay leaders."
"This is a means by which people can remain Anglican," claimed Paul Perkin.
"Blessing same-sex unions will be a red line"
Asked about the Pilling report on Human Sexuality, due to be published in the next few months, Bishop Nazir-Ali said: "If the report attempts to provide for the blessing of same-sex unions, that will be a red line. It may even be a red line for some bishops with the possibility of AMiE offering oversight. Within the Church of England itself bishops in one diocese may be willing to offer oversight to people in another. If the Church of England is wise, it will provide such oversight and so recognise problems of conscience. This is the only way to maintain the unity of the church. To provide for those who are orthodox is what the Episcopal Church in the USA failed to do."
Dr Ashenden who led a seminar at the Conference on relations between Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals writes: "At the heart of the liberal revolt against this call to surrender our right to please ourselves lies two things:
The first is a determination to claim as a right access to pleasure, and in particular sexual pleasure; and more, to rage against anyone who threatens this right rather like an emotionally incontinent child. The second is an insensitivity to any form of spiritual conflict. There is no sense that there is a real agency of evil that sets itself against the patterns that God has laid down. There is no awareness that evil sets out to twist and deform what God has made good. So the liberal is certain he or she is doing good by giving affirmative permission for people to do what they like, and calling this 'love' – while the conservative or orthodox thinks that he or she is trying to be obedient to a pattern of hierarchical holiness, in which our sacrifice and submission play a part in freeing us from the lure of self indulgent evil. At the heart of this is a struggle for the Church; a struggle to define Christianity itself."