Tears and cheers as declaration released
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The Global Anglican Future Conference has overwhelmingly endorsed the Jerusalem Declaration and final communique, a document Archbishop Peter Jensen says will help bring order out of chaos.
The GAFCON leaders were at pains to point out that they were not withdrawing or splitting from the Anglican Church, despite media reports constantly describing ‘split’ or ‘schism’.
“We have not moved, and churches who support this have not moved, from the position of historic Christianity,” says Archbishop Jensen. “But the actions of the North Americans in 2003 went too far and something needed to be done”.
The response is three-fold. In the opening part of the statement GAFCON leaders said:
“GAFCON is not just a moment in time, but a movement in the Spirit, and we hereby: launch the GAFCON movement as a fellowship of confessing Anglicans, publish the Jerusalem Declaration as the basis of the fellowship and recognise the GAFCON Primates' Council.
Primates’ Council to be formed
The leaders meeting in Jerusalem represent a clear majority of the world's practicing Anglicans, and they have resolved that the primates' council will initially be formed by the six Anglican primates participating in GAFCON from Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Southern Cone, Uganda and West Africa.
Also the Anglican Church of Tanzania delegation to GAFCON is in agreement with the statement but will need the endorsement of their House of Bishops before their archbishop join the council.
Their new primate, Archbishop Valentino Mokiwa, spoke strongly in favour of the statement at the announcement today.
According to the GAFCON leaders, the council will have the task of recognising and authenticating "confessing Anglican jurisdictions, clergy and congregations and to encourage all Anglicans to promote the gospel and defend the faith."
New province for North America
One of the first matters on the agenda will be a province in North America, recognised by the primates’ council, which would flow out of the federation currently known as ‘Common Cause’.
As to the role of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Jerusalem statement described the church as in a ‘post-colonial phase’ and that the old structures had served the church poorly in this present crisis.
"While acknowledging the nature of Canterbury as an historic see, we do not accept that Anglican identity is determined necessarily through recognition by the Archbishop of Canterbury."
Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi of Uganda read the statement to the 1200 pilgrims, after which they cheered and broke into song.
GAFCON chairman Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria asked whether they accepted it and the shout (several times) was ‘Yes!’.
Several delegates were in tears, including Archbishop Jensen who embraced the Rev David Short and his wife Bronwyn from Canada, who had been given notice that they were ‘trespassing’ on church property if they returned to their building’.
Their colleague, Dr JI Packer, also had his license removed amid the crisis in the Diocese of New Westminster in Canada.