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EFAC Australia

Anglican Communion

General Synod
Richard Condie reports and reflects on the recent meeting of General Synod

Introduction
In my experience, the General Synod (the national Anglican meeting that takes place once every three years) does not enjoy a great reputation. It is  known for strong, sometimes acrimonious debates about matters that have the potential to divide us. It is known as a forum for the lawyers, debating the minutiae of Canon Law. It is known for our less than admirable tendencies to align on political and churchmanship lines that highlight rather than unite our differences. So how is it that I came away from the General Synod meeting in Adelaide last month, feeling positive about the experience?
It wasn't just that the meeting finished a day early, which allowed Synod reps to enjoy the delights of South Australia's capital. Nor was it the excellent hospitality of St Peter's College and warm pastry treats for morning and afternoon teas. Nor was it the South Australian wine that we enjoyed with dinner. I think it was the positive spirit of the meeting which developed as we worked really hard to communicate and engage with each other.

Stephen Hale explains some challenges and opportunities facing the church he leads.

As the Lead Minister of a larger Anglican church, we’re seeking to work through a number of major challenges. Chances are if we’re facing these challenges others might be as well.
These are five big challenges/opportunities we’re wrestling with:

1. Regional/Local

We’re a classic gathered church where people come to us from all over the place. We have a great reputation and offer a full range of ministries for families, youth and young adults. We don’t have to work hard to get people, they just come to us. While we rejoice in this unique opportunity, we’re seeking to work out what it means to be a local church. We recently visit-ed our neighbours in Kew and they told us:
• we’ve heard you’re a great church
• we don’t know what you do
• you should advertise more
• no one is creating community around here


Peter Smith summarises a talk he gave at the February 2014 QLD EFAC Meeting in which he gives reasons why we should keep on contending for the faith we have received.

Introduction
Over in Western Australia the Perth Anglicans are divided over matters of human sexuality. The attempt to affirm same sex civil unions at the previous two synods is no minor issue.  Although the media narrowed in on the homosexual issue there is a deeper concern about the nature of Anglican authority. Is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ our supreme authority OR are we at liberty to determine our own identity and set our own agenda according to human reason? In other words, are we members of God’s holy, catholic, apostolic church ruled by God’s word or are we a human invention, a creature of our own thoughts and no church at all?
Since the re-formation of the Church of England in the sixteenth century there have been numerous stoushes about the nature of Anglican authority.  The newly reformed church under Cranmer rejected the Roman Catholic Magisterium. 1  In doing so, “They understood that they were restoring the church to its catholic and apostolic character and not replacing it with something new. For them the phrase ‘Reformed Catholic’ was a tautology.”2 Cranmer, under Edward VI established the Bible as the ultimate authority for resolving disputes and determining the life and health of the church.3
Under Cranmer, God’s word written, both Old and New Testaments, read in the Anglican way of OT promise and NT fulfilment in the gospel Christ, became the supreme authority. Cranmer, like Hooker who came after him, was not so naïve as to say “no authority” but the Bible. He understood that an honest reading of Scripture required humble submission to the authority triad of Scripture, a careful reading of tradition and the exercise of human reason (ascending rungs of a ladder with the Bible as the top rung or supreme authority).

 Richard Condie reflects on two GAFCON meetings and the contrasts between them.

A lot has changed in the five years since the first GAFCON was held in Jerusalem in 2008. The contrast between it and the second conference held on October 21-26 in Nairobi, Kenya this year was quite marked. Both conferences were inspirational, but in different ways: one to draw a “line in the sand” to deal with a crisis, and the other to mature a movement that is full of hope and forward facing mission.

Opening sessions of large conferences like this often set the background and tone for what follows. GAFCON 1 in Jerusalem opened with a recounting of the unhappy history of the Anglican communion since 1998. The story was one of a slide into liberalism, especially in North America, the dislocation of orthodox believers, civil action in the courts, and the failure of the Instruments of Communion to deal with the situation. It was a sombre stage for the work that needed to be done in defining Anglican identity, making a stand for truth and in charting a new course for the future.

Peter Smith challenges some aspects of contemporary worship and commends Cranmer’s way of encouraging the faithful.

The Anglican Church of Australia has undergone a profound liturgical revolution since the turbulent days of the 1960s.1 Whole dioceses and local churches right across Australia have been working towards more meaningful forms of corporate worship. For most, the innovations are driven by a desire to make the experience of church more engaging.2

Sadly, much of what passes for vitalAnglican worship today would be described by our Reformed Anglican forebears as Arian or Pelagian. Rather than helping people to feel good, the effect of many of the new service forms undermines Christian assurance. What is more disturbing is that churches once proud of their Anglican heritage have swept away the Reformed Angli­can liturgical heritage. A style of worship that reflects the doctrines of the medieval church period is flourishing today, including dioceses that pride themselves as orthodox.3

Kanishka Raffel reports on the second Global Anglican Future Conference held in Nairobi, Kenya in October 2013.

What was the "big issue" of the second Global Anglican Future Conference held in Nairobi, Kenya in October 2013?  Making disciples.  GAFCON II took as its theme, "Making Disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ".  As a gathering of more than 1300 Anglican Christians from 40 nations and 27 Anglican Provinces, GAFCON provided a rare and wonderful opportunity for fellowship among those engaged in the same mission around the world.  We gathered as Anglican Christians who proclaim the same Lord by the power of the same Spirit in accordance with the truth of the same biblical gospel, yet in many different contexts.

In the majority world, gospel proclamation takes place in the face of increasing opposition from militant religionists, Islamic, Hindu and Buddhist.  Meeting in Kenya so soon after the attack on the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi provided a sobering reminder that for many of those present at the conference, discipleship and evangelism are pursued in the face of daily threat and violence. 

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