What happened at the AFC shouldn’t stay at the AFC.

This issue of Essentials seeks to capture some of the central themes of the recent Anglican Future Conference (AFC) held in Melbourne in March. We include here as feature articles edited versions of talks given at the AFC by Stephen Hale and Peter Adam. These two pieces give a sense of the burden of the conference: a concern for Anglican effectiveness in engaging with our society in evangelism, coupled with an interest in the ways that Australian Anglicans might imagine better alternatives to our current methods and structures, then plan humbly and change flexibly to meet the challenges of this historical moment. The decline of churches and the rise of a post-Christian West form a sombre backdrop in these articles. Stephen and Peter encourage us to see in the foreground the bright possibility of ministering the old gospel through changed or new means. Stephen suggests some practical and proximate ways ahead, and Peter digs into history to remind us that Anglicanism is always transitional: it has changed radically and can change again to overcome weaknesses and seize opportunities. Peter especially encourages us to trust that God will honour his Word, save his people and fulfill his ancient promises whatever the future holds.

I am pleased that we have a series of short reflections on the conference by some of those who were there. Their places of life and ministry vary widely, and they all offer distinctive observations arising from the conference. They remind us of the variety of delegates who were at the conference and the range of concerns which evangelical Anglicans have about our Anglican present and future. The conference was jointly hosted by EFAC Australia and The Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA) Australia, and first up in this issue we debrief the AFC in an interview with conference ringmasters Stephen Hale (EFAC Chair) and Richard Condie (FCA Chair). They pack a lot of comment into a small space, and appeal to us to continue to talk and think together, wherever we are, about our Anglican future. To this end, Essentials intends to publish more material from the conference in forthcoming issues, and we hope that in these pages you might find a place where the conversation about these matters continues in an insightful, useful and encouraging way, galvanising our faithful, hopeful, joyful and (may it please God) indomitable service of the one for whom we live, and who lives and works in us, Jesus our Lord and Saviour.

P.S. Don’t miss Kanishka’s Bible study from 2 Peter 1, and his moving account of the singular protest against Nazi persecution of Jews led by Yorta Yorta man William Cooper in 1941. You’ll find it at the back, in The Caboose.

Ben Underwood Shenton Park, WA is Acting Editor of Essentials.