Fundraising for GAFCON
With preparations well underway for the third Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), there has been an appeal for churches and individuals to sponsor delegates from poorer areas.
The first conference was held in Jerusalem in 2008 and was a landmark in mobilising church leaders and laity to resist the undermining of biblical foundations in the Anglican Communion. The “Jerusalem Declaration”, passed by the conference, called on participants to “give clear and certain witness to Jesus Christ”.
As well as the establishment of a Primates Council representing more than half of the world’s Anglicans, the conference organisers started a movement. Since 2008, a leaders’ meeting was held in London in 2012 and the second GAFCON in Nairobi in 2013. GAFCON’s general secretary, Dr Peter Jensen, says the conference returns to Jerusalem in June this year.
Unlike the Lambeth Conference, which is attended only by bishops, GAFCON delegates can be bishops, clergy or lay people.
The Archbishop of Sydney’s Anglican Aid has opened the GAFCON18 Bursary Fund to help delegates attend from across the Anglican Communion – people who would simply not have the funds to take part otherwise.
“The 2008 conference was a totally new initiative,” Dr Jensen says.
“It looked forward – it is a ‘future’ conference. The Communion of old had changed irrevocably with events in North America, which denied both the clear teaching of the word of God and also the value of Christian unity and fellowship.
“The Future Conference did not abandon the Communion: it looked to the future and saw what the Communion would have to become if it is to survive.
“Second, the location. It was no accident that we were summoned to Jerusalem. Here was the scene of the Saviour’s death and resurrection. In Jerusalem, the Spirit came on the day of Pentecost and the gospel was first preached.
“If we were looking and hoping for renewal and courage, symbolically there could be no better place than this. It took us back to our true roots.”
Dr Jensen pointed out that the decision at the 2013 Nairobi conference to set up a missionary society in England has resulted in the planting of 14 churches and the appointment of a missionary bishop. Hopes are high for 2018.
“Our urgent need is for the Bible to be restored to the heart of our life together so that our Anglican identity can be shaped and ordered by God’s word,” the chairman of GAFCON and Primate of Nigeria, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, said in a statement last month.
“There is much in our shared history that we can thank God for, but that alone will not hold us together in the present. In a globalised world, GAFCON’s vision is to see the full potential of our Communion realised as faithful Anglicans from every nation, race and culture unite in a clear, confident and joyful witness to Jesus Christ, who makes all things new.” Archbishop Okoh said.