The Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), a group of traditionalist Anglicans, released its final statement in Jerusalem on Sunday relegating the Archbishop of Canterbury to the sidelines of the Anglican identity debate. The statement, titled the “Jerusalem Declaration,” calls for the creation of a new council of Anglican primates but also insists the conference is not breaking away from the Anglican Communion.
The Declaration claims that most of the world’s practicing Anglicans have entered a “post-colonial” reality where the Archbishop of Canterbury, the highest cleric in the Anglican Church, is recognized for his historical role but is not seen as the only arbiter of what it means to be an Anglican. Archbishop Rowan Williams refuses to comment on the developments.
The announcement increases pressure upon Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who already faces a controversy over women bishops that is to be discussed at the General Synod of the Anglican Church, which meets on Friday, according to the Telegraph.
The Very Rev. Colin Slee, the Dean of Southwark, responded to the GAFCON declaration, saying “This is contrary to the entire tradition on which the Church of England was founded.”
GAFCON’s Jerusalem Declaration characterizes its movement as “a fellowship of confessing Anglicans.” The declaration was produced by the 1,148 delegates who met in Jerusalem between June 22 and June 29. The delegates reportedly represent more than 35 million Anglicans worldwide.
The declaration accuses some provinces of the Anglican Communion of accepting and promoting a “different gospel” through their beliefs that all religions are equal and that Jesus is but one way to God. It also objects to the promotion of sexual immorality and the consecration of a bishop living in a homosexual relationship, who although not named, is most likely Bishop Gene Robinson.
The authors of the Jerusalem Declaration also accuse the Anglican Communion’s disciplinary instruments of “manifest failure” in the face of “overt heterodoxy.”
Describing GAFCON’s position within the Anglican Church, the Jerusalem Declaration says, “Our fellowship is not breaking away from the Anglican Communion. We, together with many other faithful Anglicans throughout the world, believe the doctrinal foundation of Anglicanism, which defines our core identity as Anglicans, is expressed in these words: The doctrine of the Church is grounded in the Holy Scriptures and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures. In particular, such doctrine is to be found in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal.”
According to GAFCON, the planned primates’ council initially will be formed by six Anglican primates from Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, the Southern Cone, Uganda and West Africa. The GAFCON delegation from Tanzania is also in agreement with the Jerusalem Declaration, but will reportedly require the approval of their House of Bishops before their archbishop can join the council.
The primates’ council will recognize and authenticate “confessing Anglican jurisdictions, clergy and congregations” and “encourage all Anglicans to promote the gospel and defend the faith,” a GAFCON press release reports. The Jerusalem Declaration reportedly acknowledges the desirability of territorial jurisdictions for Anglican provinces and dioceses “except in areas where churches and leaders have denied the orthodox faith or are preventing its spread.”
Concerning Anglicans in North America, the declaration says the “time is now ripe for the formation of a province in North America for the federation currently known as Common Cause Partnership to be recognized by the Primates' Council.”