EFAC Australia

Anglican Communion


General Synod will meet this year with contentious issues in the air. Kanishka Raffel, Dean of Sydney, and Karin Sowada, Sydney Lay Representative, preview the 2020 Session in its various modes.

An Ordinary Session of General Synod will take place in Maroochydore from 31 May – 5 June. The meeting will gather diocesan bishops and 250 or so elected lay and clergy representatives from every Australian diocese of the Anglican Church. The circumstances of our meeting are tense, and a new primate to be elected in March will chair the proceedings.

Foremost will be discussion about the blessing of same-sex marriage, following decisions by the Synods of Wangaratta Diocese and Newcastle Diocese. These actions prompted referrals to the Appellate Tribunal in 2019 and dozens of submissions have now been received. It is possible that the Appellate Tribunal will not have issued their opinion on these questions by the time the General Synod meets. In addition, the Synod of the Diocese of Sydney tabled nine motions for debate ‘at the request of a diocesan synod’. These will now form part of the General Synod meeting agenda. The nine motions include an apology to LGBTIQ people, an affirmation of the historic Anglican understanding of marriage and singleness and address matters of discipline and fellowship within the Anglican Church of Australia.

Recent initiatives in the Diocese of Sydney

We can’t ignore the fact that rotten things go on in Christian households too. Kara introduces the ways Sydney Diocese has recently sought to improve its practices of education and response to the scourge of domestic abuse. Kara is the Archdeacon for Women in the Diocese of Sydney. 

In 2014 domestic violence became a national conversation after the death of Luke Batty at the hands of his father. Luke’s mother Rosie was named Australian of the Year in 2015 and became a strong voice for the victims of domestic abuse. Since that time greater attention and resources have been directed to raising awareness of this significant problem in our community.

Yet for the Christian church it is not just a problem ‘out there’. Tragically, it is also a problem within our own community and a problem we have often been too slow to acknowledge. At times, due, perhaps, to naivety or misplaced generosity, we’ve downplayed, dismissed or dealt poorly with claims of domestic abuse from those within our congregations. Yet domestic abuse in its various forms—physical, emotional, and, yes, even spiritual—does exist in the Christian community. It causes untold pain and anguish; primarily for its victims, but also for the church as a whole. It is shocking and painful to discover a member of our fellowship, perhaps even a leader, is a perpetrator of domestic abuse. It is distressing to know a spouse has been suffering—often silently—the trauma and ordeal of an abuse victim. It is an evil that does not belong in any marriage, especially one where the couple profess Jesus as Lord.

It is easy to wonder why we bother with the Olympic Games. Especially as drug scandals mount and novel(ty) sports are included on the program. The round of world championships typically host more events and are a better funnel for the world’s best talent than the Olympics. Yet there is something about the Olympics that galvanizes attention and retains its significance. In some ways the coming Lambeth Conference can be viewed in the same light. Why have Lambeth at all when we have our own national or diocesan bodies with clear goals and greater capacity to make binding decisions? Yet, the Lambeth Conference lives on. Like the Olympics there is something in the gathering that is significant even if the significance is difficult to pin down.

One key to unlocking the potential significance of the coming Lambeth Conference is found in its its birth. The first Lambeth Conference arose in response to two crises. The crises were both prompted by the inaugural Bishop of Natal (John Colenso). One regarded his approach to reading Scripture, the other was to do with his determination to baptise polygamous men. On my reading this could be characterized as two aspects of a familiar story: how to truly understand God’s intention for his people (a hermeneutical question), and how to recognise the church in new or unfamiliar territory (a missiological question). It is not surprising that Bishop Colenso provoked strong reaction as people sought to determine what should be done. In discovering that bishops and councils could not simply coerce Bishop Colenso to do or not do something an appeal was made to the Archbishop of Canterbury (Charles Thomas Longley) to intervene and sort it out.

EFAC is back, internationally speaking. Changing times in the Anglican Communion have catalysed the restart of the global dimension of EFAC. Stephen Hale, Chair of EFAC Australia, was our man on the spot.

Recently I had the privilege of attending the meeting of the revived Global Council of EFAC in Nairobi. EFAC International (now EFAC Global) has been inactive for the past decade or so, however in 2017 the Trustees (Bishop Keith Sinclair, Canon Chris Sugden, Stephen Hofmeyr, Bishop-elect Phillip Mountstephen) met and resolved to reactivate the Global Council of EFAC. There was a constitution, a set of aims and a statement of faith plus some money in a bank account. Richard Crocker was appointed as the General Secretary, ably assisted by his wife Caroline. They have worked tirelessly since to get EFAC Global back into operation.


Following on from EFAC’s video series at the Anglican Conference in Melbourne 2018, we now meet Anglicans from around the world. When you think of an Evangelical Anglican in USA, you might think of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). However, as well having Evangelicals scattered through The Episcopal Church (TEC), there are also several other breakaway groups. First to be interviewed is Ryan Flanigan, who is part of the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA) which operates as a mission society, not a denomination. Following his interview is Amanda from The Reformed Episcopal Church (REC), which split in 1873. Her church was led into Anglicanism when its pastor began exploring Church History.


Ryan Flanigan, Dallas, Texas
All Saints Dallas
Anglican Mission in the Americas (AmiA)


Rev’d Richard Crocker, General Secretary, EFAC (Global)

EFAC had an exhibit stand at the recent GAFCON gathering in Jerusalem, Many of the GAFCON conference delegates stopped by the EFAC exhibit and the response was overwhelmingly positive. We are now in regular contact with Anglican leaders from 31 countries and many of those either have or want an EFAC chapter. They have no doubt that EFAC will benefit their churches. But upon returning to the USA we have been asked, ‘Why is EFAC needed, since we have GAFCON?’ or, ‘Why was GAFCON needed, since we have EFAC? What’s the difference? Are EFAC and GAFCON competing? Or cooperating? Or does one make the other redundant? This article addresses these questions.

At GAFCON it was obvious that GAFCON and EFAC are related on a deep level. Many of the newly announced leaders of GAFCON—the Chairman, General Secretary, and Assistant Secretaries—were mentored through, or held leadership positions in, EFAC at some point. A recent article by Chris Sugden and Vinay Samuel demonstrates that the GAFCON movement itself derives from earlier work by emerging provinces in the Lambeth Conferences of 1988 and 1998. The character, growth and maturity of these provinces, in turn, developed to a great extent from the ministry of John Stott and EFAC. It would not stretch a point to claim that the prevailing churchmanship of GAFCON 2018 was evangelical. The style of worship, the biblical nature of the week’s events, the expository style of the teaching, and the extempore prayer expected in the small group times, would be familiar to those of evangelical background. This aspect made GAFCON very similar to EFAC, which is evangelical by charter. This brings us back to the questions: ‘Do we need both EFAC and GAFCON today? Is there an important difference between them?’

That EFAC and GAFCON are complementary, not competitive, becomes clear as we examine both organizations. Rev. Dr. Stephen Noll, in his Commentary on the 2018 GAFCON Letter to the Churches writes,

‘The GAFCON Assembly is an ecclesial body, a confessional body (every attendee subscribed to the Jerusalem Declaration), and a missional body … So the Conference is upper-case GAFCON and the movement that spans the Conferences and the ongoing structures and relationships that give it life, this is title-case GAFCON.’ (Emphasis added.)