EFAC Australia

Anglican Communion

After 13 years at St Jude’s Carlton, as well as Ridley College and leadership in the Diocese of Melbourne, Rev Richard Condie will succeed John Harrower as Bishop of Tasmania. Peter Greenwood shares his perspective on this significant appointment.

Peter Greenwood pastors Inner West Church in Kensington, Vic, which is a plant from St Jude’s Carlton

Over many decades the Diocese of Melbourne has produced many gifted Christian leaders. These men and women have moved through our churches planting gospel seeds, watering them diligently and enjoying the fruit of their labours.

However, there is a cost to having such a wealth of competent leadership. It tends to draw the attention of other parts of the Australian and global church! And not only that, they sometimes our leaders follow the call to help build God’s kingdom in places other than our fair city. And so we rejoice, albeit without a little sadness, to send out one of our own–Rev. Richard Condie.

Stephen Hale comments on the meeting of Primates of the Anglican Communion recently concluded in Canterbury.

Stephen Hale is the Chair of EFAC Australia

The Primates of the Anglican Communion met in Canterbury (UK) in mid January, to discuss the future of the Anglican Communion in light of the crisis that has beset us in recent years. The GAFCON and Global South Primates (including Archbishop Foley Beach, the Primate of the Anglican Church in North America) and our Primate, Archbishop Philip Freier, were present at the meeting.

Caitlin Hurley reflects on the challenge seen at the AFC of supporting fellow Anglicans
under pressure in changing dioceses.

Caitlin is assistant minister at Redfern and Green Square, NSW and Executive Assistant to the General Secretary of GAFCON.

The recent inaugural Anglican Future Conference was an action packed three days. A highlight for me was the Wednesday evening session Standing with the Global Anglican Community. Hosted by the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglican (GAFCON) General Secretary, Dr Peter Jensen shared how the Anglican Communion is faring around the globe. The prognosis was that is it not faring very well but that the GAFCON movement was providing a place for those committed to biblical Anglicanism to stand together and have both support and fellowship. A constant refrain from those who shared was that after leaving the their national church either forcibly or willingly their churches grew.
The most challenging portion of this evening was hearing from the New Zealand delegates about the Church in New Zealand. In New Zealand ordained clergy must submit to the authority of General Synod. This effectively means that if General Synod passes a motion the clergy are bound to that motion. Recently Motion 30 was passed by the General Synod. This motion has allowed for the creation of a working party to provide a process for and structure by which the blessings of same-sex relationships can occur within the church. The conference heard three different responses to motion 30 from leaders within the New Zealand church. These responses ranged from a desire to work through the process until it became untenable, to an inability to submit to this motion. As a result this rector lost his license, rectory and church building. How long will it be before evangelical Anglicans in Australia are faced with a similar situation?

This is where the work of GAFCON and FCA (Australia) are immensely important. This movement in its global and local manifestations seeks to uphold the authority of Scripture and the Lordship of Christ. In the Australian context this will be achieved through promoting orthodoxy and providing recognition, fellowship and assistance to those who have been disaffiliated from their diocese because of the unorthodox actions of others. It is true that a movement such as FCA (Australia) in and of itself is not going to bring people to salvation but it can help limit the damage of aggressive secularism and culturally conformed Christianity within the church. By providing support for those committed to biblical orthodoxy, parishes and their parishioners can get on with the work of the Great Commission.

It would be interesting to see the composition of the conference. In particular what was the ratio of clergy to laity? For the Fellowship of Confessing Anglican movement to flourish in both its global and local manifestations it needs to be supported by both clergy and laity. It would also be interesting to see the age demographics. As a movement focusing on the future it would be great to see some more individuals under the age of thirty-five involved. This will involve demonstrating to my generation why a movement such as FCA is important and worth supporting.

How would you like to be at a clergy conference of four thousand? Kanishka Raffel brings us a snapshot of his recent visit to Uganda, where he discovered some important spiritual roots of the church in missionaries, martyrs and revival.

Recently I had the great privilege of taking part in the Provincial All Clergy Conference of the Church of Uganda, a member church of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and a founding member of the doctrinally orthodox renewal movement, the Global Anglican Future Conference. The conference was presided over by the Archbishop of Uganda, the Most Rev’d Stanley Ntagali and all 35 Diocesan Bishops were in attendance along with no less than 2500 clergy. This was only the third time in the history of the Province that a national clergy conference has taken place, the last having occurred 35 years ago.

The Church of Uganda was established through the pioneering work of two English CMS missionaries in 1877. In 1885 another CMS missionary, James Hannington was consecrated the first Bishop of East Africa but he was murdered at the order of the King of Buganda before taking up his ministry. Bishop Hannington was among the first of 55 Anglican and Roman Catholic martyrs put to death between 1885 and 1887 for refusing to renounce their Christian faith and participate in immoral and idolatrous activity commanded by the King. The sacrificial, gospel-minded zeal of the early CMS missionaries and the bravery and faithfulness of the Uganda Martyrs are much honoured roots of the spiritual life of the Ugandan church.

In the wash up from the Anglican Future Conference held in Melbourne and jointly hosted by EFAC Australia and The Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans Australia, Essentials quizzed conference maestros Stephen Hale and Richard Condie about how the conference went and what it means for the future.

 Richard Condie is the Chair of the Anglican Future Conference and Vicar of St Jude’s Carlton, Vic.

 Stephen Hale is Chair of EFAC Australia and is the lead minister of the St Hilary’s network in Kew and North Balwyn Vic.

Ess: What were your best hopes and worst fears for the Anglican Future Conference as it began?

SH: I hoped that it would be a significant national gathering that would offer hope and renewed commitment to mission and ministry in and through the Anglican Church. By God’s grace we got there! There was an inherent tension between the twin partners in making the Conference happen. EFAC is an evangelical fellowship while FCA is very new and is a broader group who have a more particular focus. Some people didn’t come because of that tension and others were anxious while there. I think we got the balance right and it was a remarkably unified and positive conference. The joint venture meant we had a genuinely national conference and with the presence of a good group of New Zealanders meant it was transnational.

RC: My best hopes were that a fire might be lit under our denomination to recover a great energy and passion for gospel ministry in our nation. I was reasonably confident that the speakers we had lined up, the topics we intended to cover, and the workshops we had planned, met quite a number of the issues we need to face as a Church. I hoped and prayed that we would be united around the gospel, and take seriously what we need to do to recover and stimulate gospel witness in the world.
My fear was that because GAFCON/FCA is seen by some to be divisive that we might not hear the Spirit’s voice through the conference, because we were worried about a hidden political agenda. I knew there was not a hidden political agenda, but I feared some may have thought that, and would not participate well as a result.

Ess: What were for you the best moments of the conference in the end?

SH: Ashley Null was a surprise and a delight. He opened up very familiar material in surprising and fresh ways. I’ve never really thought of Cranmer’s liturgies in the way that Ashley explained and it has given me a whole new way of approaching liturgy. Related to this was that we decided quite late in the picture to use liturgy in each of the worship sessions. Each seemed very apt and as with all good liturgy it was both participatory as well as a great way of expressing our unity together. The three plenary sessions were excellent and involved a diverse range of input. Kanishka exposed us to some tricky but helpful teaching from 2 Peter and did it in his usual clear and positive way.
As I said at the outset we don’t get together much because we are a large island nation. The best part was meeting new people and renewing connections that go back 30 or 40 years.

RC:When I saw that we had managed to bring together not just evangelical Anglicans, but people from all traditions and “unexpected” places, and that we had managed to get representation from every state and territory and New Zealand, I was really delighted. It said to me that there is a real hunger out there for direction, inspiration and encouragement. Then it was so good when the Bible was taught, and Ashley Null brought us back to our common roots, and we actually grappled with the big issues of culture.

Ess: Was there anything surprising or unexpected that came out of the conference?

SH:The overall unity was exceptional. In the past these sorts of conferences have often ended up in a dust up over something but that didn’t happen.

RC: I was personally bowled over by the strong response to the launch of the FCA. I have been so close to it for so long, and it was wonderful to have so many at the launch and sign up on the night. If you missed out – www.fca-aus.org.au

Ess: The conference was jointly hosted by EFAC and FCA. Where are these organisations overlapping in their aims and where distinct?

SH: EFAC is a fellowship of evangelical Anglican clergy and lay people. It generally is stronger where evangelicals are in a minority and therefore cherish the support and encouragement of gathering with like minded people. Generally EFAC is not involved in direct political action within the denomination yet it may also play a role in offering theological and biblical perspectives on issues of contention.

RC: FCA and EFAC are very close in many respects, in that both spring out of a clear view of the biblical gospel. I guess the aim of FCA is to gather orthodox Anglicans from a wider pool than just among evangelicals. In fact internationally, there may even be a majority of members who identify as “Anglo-catholic” rather than evangelical. FCA is designed to be a “broad tent” to gather people with a common concern for our denomination and its future.

Ess: Is FCA about helping dissaffected people leave Anglicanism?

RC:No, on the contrary, it is about helping them stay within the Anglican Church. One of the sad things that has happened internationally, is that faithful Anglicans who have not shifted in their commitment to Anglican theology and practice have been forced out by theological novelty and moral innovation which is foreign to historic Christian faith. FCA allows these people to continue to identify as Anglican
even when their leaders have wandered away, and allows other faithful Anglicans to remain in fellowship with them. FCA is a fellowship of orthodox  Anglicans and reform movement to help heal our denomination.

SH: I think it would be better to ask this the other way around. FCA is committed to helping people to stay and then support them if they, in conscience leave or are pushed out. This is not likely to be simple or straight forward. As we saw from our New Zealand brothers and sisters there were three different responses to their crisis. Some have left and lost titles and buildings, some have stayed but are in dispute and others are staying and without contention. In saying that we have to bear in mind that the New Zealand, US and Canadian churches have a much stronger national basis than we have in Australia where we are a federation of dioceses.

Ess: Where can people catch up on things they may have missed from the conference?

SH: The main papers will be available via EFAC Essentials…

RC: ...and the conference website www.afuture15.org.au has many of the workshop outlines for download, and will soon have links to the videos of the main sessions. Some FCA resources are found at www.fca-aus.org.au/resources/

Ess: Where can people continue the conversation about our Anglican future?

SH: Join an EFAC Branch in your city or state or start one.

RC: I want to encourage a grass roots movement where local Anglicans take the initiative (either under the EFAC or FCA banner, or something else) to consider what they need to do to secure a strong healthy Anglican future in their own location. Wouldn’t it be great if groups of Anglicans in every diocese got to talking and praying about the future, and what changes they needed to make, to ensure it was a positive vital one. Maybe it is the reader of this article who needs to take the initiative. FCA Australia and your local EFAC branch are ready to help. Perhaps we will run some local conferences, or even another national gathering, but it would be much better if we did it ourselves.

Ess: What and whom do you hope that conversation will include?

RC: I would love to see congregations, individuals, parishes and even dioceses, having conversations about recovering confidence in the gospel, confidence in our theological heritage, and confidence in our God to turn our church and nation around. I am praying that bishops, clergy and laity will embrace and develop these themes for themselves.

SH: The conference captured a sense of optimism about the future of the Anglican Church. Hopefully this will filter through and start to shape conversations at a diocesan level and beyond. This sense of optimism and hope is often missing from other gatherings and is absolutely essential if we are going to honestly address our many challenges in terms of ministry and mission.