Anglican Communion

EFAC. GAFCON. What's the difference? Are both necessary?

EFAC. GAFCON.

What's the difference? Are both necessary?

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.)

Similarly, EFAC is confessional: it operates with a Basis of Faith that is distinctively evangelical in nature. EFAC is also missional: it works to spread the biblical gospel of Jesus Christ. And, it is ecclesial: its very name references the Anglican Communion. EFAC aims to serve and build up, by biblical teaching, the Anglican family of churches, which we understand in a wide and generous sense. EFAC is not, however, ecclesial, in the way GAFCON is. It does not gather primatial councils or appoint episcopal leadership for provinces departing orthodox beliefs. Sugden says that as a recent political coalition, ‘GAFCON is rapidly institutionalizing’.1 EFAC is not; it will not match GAFCON’s ‘ongoing structures’ beyond those minimally required by its 1961 Constitution. EFAC is, rather, a resource to leadership, wherever it may be located, encouraging and developing biblically faithful teaching and mission by its activities in teaching, theological development through the Theological Resource Network, publishing online and through partner organizations. It desires the development of the more informal fellowship or partnership envisaged in its name. Therefore, EFAC and GAFCON are complementary, not competitive, pursuing different, necessary vocations.

Structures aside, another difference is that EFAC is distinctly evangelical, whereas GAFCON is not. GAFCON includes all who count themselves Anglican, whether inside the formal charity called the Anglican Communion or not, and confess biblically faithful Anglican teaching, whatever their churchmanship. EFAC is deliberately evangelical. The recognized EFAC brand allows EFAC to minister to evangelicals both inside and outside the GAFCON network among those evangelicals who are not persuaded by the GAFCON approach. Thus again EFAC and GAFCON are complementary, extending each other’s work for the Gospel. In the USA, where evangelicals in both TEC and ACNA are part of EFAC-USA, EFAC is a bridge between GAFCON and non-GAFCON evangelicals. Historically, EFAC has also formed a bridge between evangelicals in the different expressions of Anglican life in South Africa. EFAC is active in areas not represented at GAFCON and supports evangelicals whose orthodox commitments are under pressure from unsympathetic or hostile leadership. EFAC provides a link between beleaguered evangelicals in certain provinces and the wider Communion, and a partnership between evangelicals in one place and those in another for the sake of mission.

In this world of walls and chasms, bridges are vital, and so, as a bridge, EFAC offers hope for the future. The Archbishop of Sydney, Glenn Davies, President of EFAC Australia and Assistant Secretary to GAFCON, said it best upon hearing about the relaunch of EFAC, ‘It’s about time!’ EFAC and GAFCON have the same goal of promoting the biblical gospel of Jesus Christ, but in different ways. Both are necessary.

EFAC. GAFCON.
What's the difference? Are both necessary?
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.)
Similarly, EFAC is confessional: it operates with a Basis of Faith that is distinctively evangelical in nature. EFAC is also missional: it works to spread the biblical gospel of Jesus Christ. And, it is ecclesial: its very name references the Anglican Communion. EFAC aims to serve and build up, by biblical teaching, the Anglican family of churches, which we understand in a wide and generous sense. EFAC is not, however, ecclesial, in the way GAFCON is. It does not gather primatial councils or appoint episcopal leadership for provinces departing orthodox beliefs. Sugden says that as a recent political coalition, ‘GAFCON is rapidly institutionalizing’.1 EFAC is
EFAC. GAFCON.
What's the difference? Are both necessary?
Rev’d Richard Crocker, General Secretary, EFAC (Global)THE CABOOSE
1. https://www.efacglobal.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/GAFCON-reports-Sugden.pdf
THE CABOOSE
ESSENTIALS -SPRING 2018
PAGE 18
not; it will not match GAFCON’s ‘ongoing structures’ beyond those minimally required by its 1961 Constitution. EFAC is, rather, a resource to leadership, wherever it may be located, encouraging and developing biblically faithful teaching and mission by its activities in teaching, theological development through the Theological Resource Network, publishing online and through partner organizations. It desires the development of the more informal fellowship or partnership envisaged in its name. Therefore, EFAC and GAFCON are complementary, not competitive, pursuing different, necessary vocations.
Structures aside, another difference is that EFAC is distinctly evangelical, whereas GAFCON is not. GAFCON includes all who count themselves Anglican, whether inside the formal charity called the Anglican Communion or not, and confess biblically faithful Anglican teaching, whatever their churchmanship. EFAC is deliberately evangelical. The recognized EFAC brand allows EFAC to minister to evangelicals both inside and outside the GAFCON network among those evangelicals who are not persuaded by the GAFCON approach. Thus again EFAC and GAFCON are complementary, extending each other’s work for the Gospel. In the USA, where evangelicals in both TEC and ACNA are part of EFAC-USA, EFAC is a bridge between GAFCON and non-GAFCON evangelicals. Historically, EFAC has also formed a bridge between evangelicals in the different expressions of Anglican life in South Africa. EFAC is active in areas not represented at GAFCON and supports evangelicals whose orthodox commitments are under pressure from unsympathetic or hostile leadership. EFAC provides a link between beleaguered evangelicals in certain provinces and the wider Communion, and a partnership between evangelicals in one place and those in another for the sake of mission.
In this world of walls and chasms, bridges are vital, and so, as a bridge, EFAC offers hope for the future. The Archbishop of Sydney, Glenn Davies, President of EFAC Australia and Assistant Secretary to GAFCON, said it best upon hearing about the relaunch of EFAC, ‘It’s about time!’ EFAC and GAFCON have the same goal of promoting the biblical gospel of Jesus Christ, but in different ways. Both are necessary.

We most need to seek Christ

 Essentials interviews Archbishop Kay Goldsworthy

Being a diocesan bishop is a demanding ministry, and all the more given the current declension in Christian adherence, belief and practice, which means that clergy and laity alike are fervently hoping that their bishops will have some wisdom and energy for the challenges Christian churches face. Kay Goldsworthy was installed as the eighth Archbishop of Perth on 10 February 2018. She is not an evangelical, but many evangelicals serve in her diocese, and as she takes up this metropolitical see, evangelicals here and across the country are keen to see what her priorities, convictions and attitudes are, and what kind of leadership she will offer. In this short interview, Kay has graciously and gladly given us some insight into her initial thoughts and responses to the opportunities and responsibilities of her new role.

Ess: How are you settling back into Perth?

+Kay:I am loving being back here, closer to family and reacquainting myself with people, parishes and places, as well as discovering new places and meeting new people.

Ess: What are your initial priorities as Archbishop of Perth?

+Kay: The first priority is to prayerfully listen to the Diocese. It has been an unsettling time and in God’s gracious providence these times of careful listening are allowing hope and healing for this new season.

Ess: What do you see as the greatest challenges and tasks for the Christians in the churches you oversee?

+Kay: There are various challenges for our parishes. Those in the rural and remote areas of the Diocese face particular concerns as communities and populations shrink. Many city parishes are seeking God for new direction in sprawling suburbs and communities who see the church as irrelevant. Hope is ever present even in small congregations. It is wonderful that so many men and women are in ministry formation and study. The challenge of speaking, living, being faithful to the love of Jesus are very real, and a great responsibility for all of us.

Ess: What do you think we most need if we are to face those challenges and fulfil those tasks?

+Kay: We most need to seek Christ in and for our own lives and communities, and I believe to find and celebrate the common ground of Jesus’ love for the world together.

Ess: What is your vision of an ideal diocese? What will you be working for the Diocese of Perth to become?

+Kay: An ideal diocese? Where is that? Perhaps the ideal diocese is the one which follows Jesus to the cross and into the transforming love of his resurrection which is freedom from fear and freedom for life, confident in the Father’s love.

Ess: What motivates you to take on the tasks of an archbishop?

+Kay: This has been an answer to a call of Christ’s Church. The Holy Spirit is a wonderful and surprising motivator for us all in our ministry.  I am one among many. With you a Christian, for you a Bishop.

Ess: What would you like to say to the EFAC community?

+Kay: It is good to be with you. Thanks for your welcome. I look forward to us being a sign of Christ’s unity and a force for his love to be known. Please pray for us all; that Jesus’ love will be received, lives transformed and grace abound: ‘For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died.  And he died for all, so that those who live might no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.’ (2 Cor 5:14-15)

A Tassie Update

Bishop Richard Condie has had since March 2016 to find his bearings in the Diocese of Tasmania, and to take up the challenges of episopacy. This article is adapted from an address he gave at the 2017 General Synod EFAC Dinner, where Richard offered an account of his joint endeavours in collaboration with his clergy and people.

In June 2017 the Diocese of Tasmania launched a new vision for our future ministry together, but it would be a mistake to think that this was a new beginning. It is rather the fruit of a longer journey that began back in 2000, when Bishop John Harrower was appointed Bishop of Tasmania. He had a vision for ‘every Tasmanian committed to Jesus Christ’’, and declared the diocese to be ‘the Missionary Diocese of Tasmania’, with every Anglican challenged to live as ‘a missionary disciple’. He brought in a new era with new patterns of Christian community, an expectation of missional leadership, a stated aim to be willing to take risks for the gospel, a missional ecclesiology, and a deep culture of permission giving. The mood in the diocese moved from ‘no’ to ‘yes’; from what was, to what could be; and from maintenance to mission. It was a time of huge change in the make-up of the clergy and in the embracing of lay ministry. John also cleared up the mess of historic child sexual abuse and internal dysfunction. He really brought in a new season of health and vitality. I can recommend following a bishop who is a missionary! Perhaps we could make bishops out of more returned CMS Missionaries to go and sort out the dioceses of Australia. So, fast forward from 2000 to 2016, and the diocese was ready again for a new phase, open to new leadership. I have never been in a place so open to being led, so appreciative of direction, and so receptive to ministry. All of which I put down to these foundations which had been laid.

A New Vision

I have had a long association with St Jude's in Carlton which has a history of strategic planning. Back in the 1990s Peter Adam used to say that it was only St Jude's and the Soviet Union that had a five year plan. So in the first 12 months in Tasmania I set about developing a plan for future ministry there. I began with my own observation, that the Diocese of Tasmania desperately needed confidence for the future. They had been hammered by sexual abuse scandals, the Royal Commission, and rural decline. And so I began to talk about confidence in God, confidence in the gospel, confidence in the Scriptures, and confidence in the Church itself. In the third week on the job I gathered the clergy together and I asked them what they thought the Diocese needed. The answer was disciple-making and evangelism. We really needed to find ways to make and grow Christians. And of course we needed leadership.

About this time The Vine Project came out from Matthias Media. It was a Godsend for us because it articulated a strategy about how to disciple people. Not just that we should do it, but how we could do it. So that year I bought a copy for every clergy person in the diocese, and we devoted our clergy conference to it, teasing out the practical implications for our parishes. After all this listening I wrote a draft vision for the diocese, and took it on a roadshow of consultations and focus groups. It was written and rewritten many times in the light of this feedback.

In June 2017 we launched our new vision: A church for Tasmania, making disciples of Jesus. That is, we want to be a church that is for Tasmania, for the benefit of those outside the church. We want to be for it, not against it. For business, government, arts, media, education, healthcare, families and individuals. We want to see each of these areas flourish. But with this is the conviction that the unique contribution we can make is making disciples of Jesus. There are many good things we could do as a church, but if we are not making disciples, and we are not really being the church; not really doing what we can do to be a church for Tasmania. As important as indigenous issues, euthanasia, climate change, refugees, the definition of marriage, and domestic violence are, they must be in response to and as a consequence of the gospel call to make disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Convictions

Usually vision statements have a statement of values, but we wanted to make ours a statement of convictions. Five convictions drive our vision:

  1. Jesus Christ is the head of the Church…
  2. And he has sent us to make disciples…
  3. By word, prayer and service…
  4. Supported by fruitful godly leaders…
  5. God being our provider, and us stewards of his gifts.

Our Mission

The mission is fourfold:

  • To build a network of confident, flourishing parishes;
  • To develop partnerships with Anglican agencies and schools;
  • To grow missional chaplaincy in hospitals, aged care facilities and prisons; and
  • To be a people of blessing in our communities.

Flourishing Parishes

To accompany this mission we set a new standard for each of our parish centres. Each one should have: active disciple-making pathways; active ministry to young people and families; transformative public worship aimed at discipling; a transparent culture of safety for all; avenues of intentional prayer; a commitment to world mission; and leadership for well-trained, biblically orthodox clergy.

Some progress

Let me tell you some things that have happened over the last year. We began by employing a Director of Ministry Development. This was based on the principle of putting your best resources into the biggest opportunities, rather than the biggest problems. The Director is to focus on helping parishes achieve growth and vitality. Stephen Carnaby, a local clergy person with a strong track record of leading change, joined the team in this role. We try to quarantine him from the problems so that he can focus on ministry development.

We also established a Pathways program which is being rolled out in parishes across the diocese. It aims to help parishes work out what steps they need to have in place so that people can move from being outside the church to being disciples of Jesus. The parishes that have embraced this are already seeing growth. At the date of writing nine parishes have been through the program, and there are plans for more to join in the year ahead. We have seen growth in the use of evangelism courses, both The Alpha Course and Christianity Explored. The new rector of Wynyard ran three Christianity Explored courses, involving 60% of the congregation and some outsiders. Now all of them are in Bible study groups for the first time ever in the life of the parish. We put a small portion of the proceeds from sale of property into a New Ministry Development Fund. We managed to gather up enough to put a full-time rector into the parish of Circular Head. God has really blessed this ministry over the last year and a half. It has grown from about 20 people with no children to having over 90 people in the congregation a few Sundays ago, along with a thriving children's ministry.

We have been pouring effort into our clergy as well. We now have well-established cohorts of clergy in different stages of ministry: emerging leaders, new rectors, senior ministers, ‘fourth quarter’ ministers, chaplains, and so on. These are peer learning opportunities that allow ministers to gather together for tailored learning, with people of the same stage of ministry. Almost every full-time clergy person now has a ministry coach, and we have trained up a dozen local coaches to support them in their ministry. God in his kindness has allowed us the opportunity to plant two new churches in Tasmania in the last 12 months. Partnership with BCA has enabled us to plant in the southern beaches south of Hobart, and in Brighton, one of Hobart's northern working suburbs.

One of the delights of living in a small place like Tasmania is the opportunity to make a contribution to wider Tasmanian community life. As the Bishop, I have been able to have op-ed pieces in the paper on the atonement, during the Dark MoFo Festival in 2017, and more recently on redress. I been able to contribute to community debates about euthanasia and the redefinition of marriage. It is an extraordinary opportunity that we are trying to embrace with both hands. Of course there are many challenges as well. Small churches that are struggling along in places where there is decline and the loss of industry. And we now have the challenges of funding redress, with painful property sales. But all in all we feel like the Lord is blessing this season of ministry.

I recently had the joy of reporting to our synod on this vision. We have been measuring parish performance around the seven areas that we expect our parishes to attend to. It is a simple tool of giving a red, orange or green light, against each of the criteria. I'm pleased to say, that with only one exception, each of the areas showed positive growth over the last 12 months. The old adage, ‘you measure what matters to you’, has helped keep us focused. I'm very grateful to God for calling me into this ministry in Tasmania, for laying such wonderful foundations through Bishop John's ministry, and preparing such a fertile field for the growth of the gospel. Please pray for us as, as we pursue our vision, to be a church for Tasmania, making disciples of Jesus.

Making Redress

You may have seen media reports about the measures the Diocese of Tasmania is taking to acknowledge and make restitution for evils uncovered by the recent Royal Commission. Bishop Richard Condie explains the approach his diocese is taking and why.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has done a great service to our country. With compassion and courage, it exposed the dark secrets of sexual abuse in institutions including in the Anglican Church. The Royal Commission shone its light on the Diocese of Tasmania and we are thankful for their work brining to light the evil deeds of the past. We may never know the full extent, but perhaps up to 200 children were sexually abused and assaulted by clergy and leaders in our Diocese. This is a tragedy of monumental proportions. We, like many Dioceses, have done much to address this in the years since we began to acknowledge what had happened. Many years before the Royal Commission, we began to put our house in order. We have worked hard on the selection, training and accreditation of our workers, and more recently working on full compliance with their recommendations. The Diocese of Tasmania is particularly in the debt of our former Bishop John Harrower who worked tirelessly in this area, commencing his ministry with a formal apology to survivors. Right across the Australian Church we should remain grateful to the Royal Commission for exposing the breadth of this blight in our history. They have held us accountable and shown our sins for all the world to see. 

It is right and proper for us to make amends for these sins. Making restitution for wrongs is a Christian idea. It first appears in Exodus 22 where if a man steals an animal and if it dies or is sold, then he must make amends by repaying 4 or 5 times the value. Or if he borrows an animal and it dies he shall make full restitution to the one from whom it is borrowed. The stand-out example in the New Testament is Zacchaeus, who when he encounters Jesus, pledges to repay four times the amount of anything that he had extorted out of vulnerable people as a tax collector. So the notion of providing redress, to in some way make restitution for the wrongs committed in the past, is our Christian duty. Providing redress payments to survivors of abuse in our church, will provide a measure of restorative justice for those survivors. It will show them the recognition that they deserve by our acknowledgement of the wrongs committed to them, and that they will find the emotional and financial support that they need.

The National Redress Scheme

In a 2015 report the Royal Commission recommended a National Redress Scheme for all institutions. Their hope was that an accessible, independent, fair, accountable, and efficient scheme would be established to allow as many survivors as possible to access redress. It was acknowledged that many survivors would not want to contact the institution in which they had suffered abuse, so it was vital to have an independent scheme. Thankfully the Federal Government announced a scheme along the lines of this recommendation in November 2016. It began operation on 1 July this year and will run for 10 years. The Redress Scheme will provide payments of up to $150,000 assessed on a case-by-case basis, a provision for legal costs, and up to $5,000 towards counselling. It will also provide an option for survivors to receive a direct response from the institution in the form of a personal apology. The Anglican Church in Australia has given its full support to the National Scheme and has developed a company which will provide the vehicle by which Anglican institutions (dioceses, schools and agencies) can join the scheme as a group. Many of these organisations have already indicated their willingness to join such a company and the national scheme.

The Challenge for Tasmania

In some dioceses the prevalence of child sexual abuse has been greater than others. Sadly this was the case in the Diocese of Tasmania, and as mentioned above, we may never know the full extent of the damage done. But we do know that for every survivor who gave evidence at the Royal Commission who had previously come forward to the institution in which they were abused, there were two more who had never been to the institution. This indicates that the size of the problem is much bigger than we first imagined. We had already provided redress through a Diocesan scheme called the Pastoral Support and Assistance Scheme to 55 survivors of abuse. If our Diocese follows the Royal Commission pattern we could have 150 survivors, and maybe even more, who might come forward to an independent scheme. With an estimated average payout of $76,000 from the Scheme, and those previously provided a payment under our old scheme being able to re-apply, the estimate of our liability under the new scheme could be in the order of $8 million. That is the mid-point our actuaries predict, but it could be as high as $14m or as low as $6m. The estimates coming in from other Dioceses around Australia are truly chilling. While the larger wealthier metropolitan Dioceses might be able to fund their liabilities out of operational budgets, unless many of our rural and regional Diocese take some radical proactive action, their liability may have catastrophic effects on their future financial viability.

Collective Responsibility

I have been arguing in Tasmania that we have a collective responsibility to address this. The Diocese as a whole must respond to the challenge of funding redress. Without the cash reserves to fund it, we have had to turn to realising our assets to make sure we can meet our obligations. In June our Synod decided to divert 25% of our Diocesan and Parish investments from the previous sale of property, and 25% of the net proceeds of sale of over 100 properties towards establishing a Redress Fund.

More than once during the lead up to the Synod people expressed to me that we should not have to pay for the sins of others that we did not commit. I understand when people outside the church feel this way, but I am disturbed when I hear it from people who are members of the church. My contention is that this comment shows a profound misunderstanding of the Christian gospel. The very heart of the Christian message rests on an innocent one who suffers for the redemption of many. Jesus Christ paid for the sins of the whole world, sins that he did not commit, so that he could provide restoration and forgiveness. It seems to me the costly sacrifice that the Diocese is making is exactly the heart of our discipleship. Every parish in the Diocese will contribute in a costly way, some by losing part of their income, some by losing a much loved building, and some by making direct financial contributions which will curtail the work of ministry. The Diocese will have to makes adjustments as well because the diocesan investments being levied have been supporting youth and children’s ministry and new ministry initiatives.

It is a costly business, but doing the right thing usually is. Jesus called us to “deny ourselves and take up our cross daily” to follow him. In various ways we are responding to that call. We do hope that preserving the balance of the proceeds of sale of property for Parish use, will mean that we can find new sustainable models for ministry in the places that lose buildings, and that the future sustainability of the Diocese will be secured. Already many creative ideas are emerging, but we are under no illusions that the days ahead are going to be easy.

One of our particular challenges is managing community expectations. Rural communities in particular are attached to their churches buildings and have a strong sense of community ownership, even if they never attend a service. This is intensified when a cemetery is attached to the church property. The level of community grief is understandably high. We cannot expect them to share a sense of collective responsibility for righting past wrongs.

A Spiritual Challenge

In some ways what is happening must been seen as a spiritual challenge for us. I believe that it is no coincidence that we learned of our redress obligations, and then realised the sacrifice we would need to make, just days after we concluded a season of lament and repentance for past wrongs. We had set aside Lent this year to acknowledge before God our failures to protect children, to keep families safe from violence, our misuse of power, and our failure to care for the first people of Tasmania. I had visited 45 of our 48 Parishes during Lent to lead a simple prayer meeting, and what I witnessed over those 40 days was quite profound. People owned up to the sin and failures of the past, and prayed about their resolve to address each area positively. It seems that God has called us to “produce fruit worth of repentance” (Matt 3:8), in this very particular way.

While it is incredibly hard, and the media attention has been intense, we believe God is in this; that he has called us to this moment of costly obedience, and that it is a direct result of our prayers of lament, repentance and resolve. Our prayer now is that survivors of sexual abuse will find healing hope and wholeness through our sacrifice, and that maybe even some will be restored to the Lord Jesus. Whatever the cost, and whatever the outcome, we are prepared to do what is necessary to follow him.

General Synod 2017

General Synod was held in sunny Maroochydore. If you’re going to have to spend five and half days in Synod sessions from 8.30am to 9pm this certainly helped to make it a better experience. On four of the mornings we met in table groups to join in the Daily Office as well as respond to the four Bible Studies delivered by Bishop Michael Stead (Sydney), Dr Matthew Anstey (Adelaide), Dr Dorothy Lee (Melbourne) and Dr John Dunhill (Perth). The group I led was animated and we had wonderful interactions as we engaged with the Scriptures and prayed together. This helped set the tone for the day and was one of the factors as to why I would say it was a good General Synod. The Primate chaired well in his relaxed but clear way.

Synod dealt with a lot of legislation: the Child Safe Canon; Episcopal Standards; The Redress Scheme; screening of volunteer leaders and many other matters. Substantial motions were passed: upholding marriage as currently defined; instructing the Doctrine Commission to produce papers on a range of issues related to human sexuality; giving an apology for domestic violence; investigating and possibly commissioning research on domestic violence in churches; child safety; assisted dying; gender balance on General Synod bodies; and the Reformation.
Matters related to the Royal Commission dominated proceedings. On the one hand Royal Commissioner Robert Fitzgerald commended the Anglican Church on leading the way in establishing comprehensive policies and procedures in relation to Professional Standards. On the other hand the flow-on impact of the National Redress Scheme was sobering to consider. Of the people who have had private sessions with a Commissioner only a third had had previous contact with the institution where the abuse occurred. The Commonwealth will operate the National Redress Scheme. Once an assessment is established with an individual the institution in which the abuse occurred will be invoiced for the cost of the payment to victims plus legal and psychological costs. Given that seven dioceses are currently assessed to be financially unviable, the flow-on impact of this will be massive in those dioceses, but in reality it will be substantial in all dioceses. The consequences of the sins of the past are being visited upon this generation.
Evangelicals had a good General Synod. At my first General Synod in 1994 there were only three diocesan bishops who were evangelical: those of Sydney, Armidale and North West Australia. Today it is a very different scene. All of the clergy and a majority of the laity elected to the Standing Committee as well as the Primatial Election Board were evangelical. Many long-term stalwarts of these boards didn’t seek re-election!
On the Tuesday evening we had 100 people at the EFAC Dinner. Given that the Dioceses of Adelaide and Brisbane had their own dinners this was wonderful response. Bishop Richard Condie gave a rousing address on his new Diocesan Vision. This, in fact, was probably the best speech given at the Synod!
My sense is that the future is going to be very challenging for all dioceses. Some of the structural changes that have been talked about for decades may be forced upon us. That, in itself, may not be a bad thing. God is at work in and through the Anglican Church. There is much to be encouraged about, but massive challenges also lie ahead.

Stephen Hale
Bishop Stephen Hale, Chair of EFAC Australia, judges this year’s General Synod a good one for Evangelicals.

GAFCON 2018 in Jerusalem

The third GAFCON has recently concluded in Jerusalem, and people you know may have returned with stories and ideas. Here three of the Australian delgates share something of the conference, its life and its concerns.

Katrina Holgate is Rector/Priest-in-charge at St Matthew’s Guildford, Perth Diocese.

It is said that the Fifth Gospel is the land of Israel—the sights, sounds and smells of the land that Jesus walked. Well, attending GAFCON in Jerusalem in June was so like that description. The sights, colours, music, accents and teaching were a joy to behold, remarkable. What better way could there be to celebrate 10 years of GAFCON than to be among the 1 950 delegates from 50 countries, representing the majority of the world’s Anglicans? The vibrant colours of the African women dressed so beautifully, celebrating life in their national costume, even Mothers Union representatives were wearing MU printed fabric. Chatter and laughter filled the conference centre; phones and cameras captured moments that will be remembered for years to come. The music was terrific, especially the Nigerian choir who inspired and led us to praise our Lord and Saviour for four of the five days. Each new day they led us in their vibrantly coloured costumes, which matched the celebratory conference music.

But there was serious business to be done in amongst it all, so Bible studies and teaching were very much part of the conference. We all became well-versed in the call of the conference, ‘We will proclaim Christ faithfully to the nations’, a call that should be on the heart of every Christian. To serve that purpose nine ministry networks were launched to be a driving force of GAFCON into the future. These networks are:

  • Youth and Children’s Ministry
  • Church Planting
  • Bishops Training Institute
  • Global Mission Partnership
  • Intercessors Fellowship
  • Lawyers’ Task Force
  • Mothers' and Women's Ministry
  • Sustainable Development
  • Theological Education

Words cannot fully capture the wonder and historical significance of this amazing conference, but video might add something where my words leave off. I recommend that you watch parts of GAFCON 2018 by visiting the Conference Video page in the Jerusalem 2018 section of the GAFCON website. There you will find all the videos taken in open session, as well as many of the interviews live streamed during the week. By the grace of our Lord Jesus, we were blessed and privileged to have the opportunity to attend GAFCON 2018. Praise be to God for his faithful people.

Kanishka Raffel is the Dean of St Andrew’s Cathedral, Sydney Diocese.

The third Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) held in Jerusalem at the end of June was a gathering of Anglican Christians (including 316 bishops, 669 other clergy and 965 laity) from more than 50 countries around the world. A truly global gathering in the City of David where Jesus preached, was crucified and rose again, and poured out his Spirit on his disciples for the preaching of the gospel to the whole world. It was a privilege and a joy for me and Cailey to be among the participants.

The conference theme was ‘Proclaiming Christ Faithfully to the Nations’. Each morning began with Morning Prayer and Bible exposition from Luke 22-24, looking at the dramatic final hours of Jesus’ life and the stunning victory of his resurrection. The Bible teachers for the morning sessions came from Uganda, UK, Chile, Australia and Singapore. Our singing was led by a Nigerian choir, in colourful costume and joyful praise. Our discussion group comprised members from Congo, Nigeria and USA. Plenary sessions were themed around God’s Gospel, God’s Church, God’s World and God’s Strategy. Again, we were served by speakers from around the globe - Nigeria, Rwanda, Canada. Elective seminars covered topics as diverse as the uniqueness of Christ; the clarity of Scripture; engaging with the Buddhist and Islamic worlds; marriage and sexuality; the work of the Holy Spirit; nurturing new Christians; equipping every Christian for ministry and many more.

The context of contemporary global Anglicanism is one in which issues of human identity and sexuality have come to be the touchstone for deeper issues of the authority of Scripture and the shape of repentance and godly living. Tragically, a deep chasm has been exposed. Some Anglican churches (notably in America, Canada, Scotland, Brazil and most recently, New Zealand) have rejected the teaching of Scripture on such matters and embraced understandings and practices that contradict the teaching of Scripture. Biblical Christians cannot affirm that it is loving or faithful to distort or reject God’s Word in this way. On the contrary, the truth that sets us free is precisely, the truth that God has preserved in his written Word for his people in all generations. Jesus said, ‘if you love me, obey my commands’ (John 14:15, 21, 23).

In affirming faithfulness in marriage between one man and one woman, and chastity in singleness (Lambeth Resolution 1.10), GAFCON represents more than 70% of the world’s Anglicans and the unbroken teaching of Scripture throughout history. The departure of some Anglican churches from this biblical standard not only fails to serve and love the wider world by obscuring God’s truth; but it has also rent the fabric of fellowship between Anglicans. In America and Canada, hundreds of Anglican clergy faithful to the Lord’s teaching in Scripture have been deposed and removed from their ministries. Congregations have been forced to leave their church buildings. Whole dioceses have been forced to leave their denomination. Tragically, the existing global Anglican institutional structures have failed to uphold godly discipline, to correct error or defend the faithful.

GAFCON affirmed the urgency of Jesus’ worldwide mission (which can only proceed on the basis of his true, holy and life giving Word); and called on those parts of the global Anglican family who have abandoned the one, holy, catholic and apostolic faith to repent of their error and return to fellowship. The conference statement, ‘Letter to the Churches’ reflects the contribution of every Anglican Province present at the conference and was unanimously affirmed. Can I commend that letter to your attention (find it on the GAFCON website)? It reads in part:

‘The uniqueness of Jesus Christ lies at the heart of the gospel: “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). The gospel confronts us in the midst of our confusion and sin but it does not leave us there. It includes a summons to repentance and a call to believe in the gospel (Mark 1:15), which results in a grace-filled life. The ascended Christ gave his Spirit to empower his disciples to take this gospel to the world […] As members of Christ’s body, they are sanctified in him, called to live lives of holiness and to be salt and light in the world […] Yet faithful proclamation of this gospel is under attack from without and within, as it has been from apostolic times (Acts 20:28-30) […] We dedicate ourselves afresh to proclaiming Christ faithfully to the nations, working together to guard the gospel entrusted to us by our Lord and his apostles.’

 

Eugenie Harris attends Geraldton Anglican Cathedral, the Diocese of North West Australia

The shenanigans that occurred in Texas when The Episcopal Church (TEC) invited a 27-member choir from Rwanda to tour are worthy of a Netflix political drama. The talented Anglican Church singers jetted in, but before taking the stage they were presented with a document that required signed agreement with TEC’s inclusivity protocol.

The Bible-believing choir was not able to agree and so the US Church abandoned them. No accommodation, no food, no airfares home….nothing. It required intervention at the most senior levels in the Church of Rwanda and Rwandan Government to organise their rescue and repatriation.
I include this shameful episode because it helps explain the context for the Global Anglican Future Conference in Jerusalem in June. This was the third gathering of the Gafcon movement - set up in 2008 to promote Bible-based, mission-focused ministry in the Anglican Church. It’s a much-needed body providing vital Christian fellowship and support for churches in the worldwide Anglican communion that wish to remain orthodox in their faith despite threats from within and without the church.

What a joy it was to join in Jerusalem with some 2000 bishops, clergy and lay people, including many from the Global South, representing some 70 percent of worldwide Anglicans, for Bible studies, prayer, praise, discussion and deep fellowship. It was like a foretaste of the new Jerusalem in old Jerusalem. There arose in me a wonderful sense of relief to be amongst a great cloud of witnesses, united by the gospel, driven on by the desire to proclaim Christ crucified in an increasingly dark world. We may feel like our church is little and swimming weakly against the tide of the world. But Gafcon is testament that we are not alone and we should never doubt the truth of God’s good Word.

The Bishop of Lango, Uganda, the Right Revd Dr Alfred Olwa opened the conference with a stirring call to take a firm stand for Jesus and the true gospel.

‘None of us here can escape the responsibility of proclaiming Christ faithfully to the nations so that people — when they come to Jesus in repentance and forgiveness of their sins — will escape the judgement of God. They will escape hell.

‘We need to remember that Jesus was tried and rejected, later resurrected. He lives and is going to come back. There is only one Jesus. King Jesus. One story from our God.’

Archbishop of Nigeria, the Most Revd Nicholas Okoh followed with a warning about the need to discern and combat the false gospel. We should not ‘distort the gospel in order to take away offence, for the gospel without offence is an empty gospel,’ was his impassioned plea. Praise God, and pray for, the many African church leaders who have such a clear and uncompromising commitment to the gospel, despite often enduring poverty and persecution.
One of my highlights was the Mothers Union (MU) luncheon. I felt rebuked that my prayer life had been so parochial, so uninformed and unaffected by the trials of sisters and brothers in other nations. Take, for example, my prayer partner who had received word that a church elder had been abducted by Fulani tribesmen. “May he not be beheaded,” was her petition to our Lord. Then there was Nigerian MU elder stateswoman Mama Gloria—the wife of Nigerian Archbishop Ben Kwashi. Her life is an extraordinary testimony to faith in the Lord Jesus. Early that morning she had become a mother again, to an 11-month-old boy, orphaned and delivered to her home when his own mother was shot dead. There are now 50 children (plus a group of older teenagers) living together in the Archbishop’s residence, in humble dependence on the grace of God.

To help guide continuing reform and renewal of the movement, the conference delegates produced a Letter to the Churches—a pledge to proclaim Christ faithfully to the nations and guard the gospel entrusted to us by our Lord and his apostles. I commend to you gafcon.org online resources, including the Youtube channel. I have listened over and over to these magnificent talks, gaining incredible encouragement. My prayer is that you too may be spurred on, marching forward, looking to Jesus the perfecter of our faith.

Using Cranmer as your prayer-coach

Peter Adam points out that the Reformation sought to reform the praying of the church, and Peter seeks to continue that reform in our lives today.
Peter Adam is Rector Emeritus of St Jude’s Carlton. Vic.

We all need help in our praying. Let’s enrich our prayers by getting someone to coach us. And a good person to do so is Thomas Cranmer, the Reformation Archbishop of Canterbury. One of his most significant contributions to the welfare of God’s people was showing people how to pray, and providing good models for prayer. We might no longer use the prayers he provided for us in The Book of Common Prayer (or perhaps you still do), but he can still challenge and coach us in our prayers today. 3

The Reformation was about reforming and renewing doctrine, as it was about reforming and renewing ministry, daily life, church life, education, the structure of society, and much else. It was also about reforming and renewing prayer, and this included who prayed, to whom people prayed, what they prayed, why they prayed, and how they prayed!