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EFAC Australia

Anglican Communion

Peter Smith shows how Cranmer marshalled the words of his opponents to speak the truth in love.

Since the decisive break with Rome in the sixteenth century, scholars have debated the doctrinal stance of the Church of England. Did the first Archbishop of the newly formed C of E, Thomas Cranmer promote a Roman Catholic theology or was he a reformer or something in between? For much of the twentieth century Anglican scholarship championed the idea that the English Reformation was worked out as a kind of via media—a middle way between the extremes of the Continental Reformation of Calvin and Zwingli and the Church of Rome. A classic approach to the via media promotes the idea that the Church of England was able to reject the distasteful doctrines of the European Reformation (Calvinism) and embrace the best of Roman Catholicism without compromising the newly formed Church of England. The result—a pleasant middle way for a church that is afraid of excess– not too hot, not too cold. Various wings of the worldwide Anglican church make the claim that the nature of our history licenses a particular style of churchmanship—albeit half way between Rome and Geneva however this is interpreted!

 

On June 22, 2008 over 1200 Anglicans gathered in the city of Jerusalem for a week of prayer, Bible study, consultation, discernment and planning for their future. The Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) had begun. The number of people who made their pilgrimage to the land of Jesus' birth was impressive, but when measured against the number of Anglicans represented by the 300 bishops present, the significance of this conference is brought into sharp relief. While statistics of Anglicans in England are often quoted as being 25 million, it is well known that only about 1 million people are regular church-attending members of the Church of England. By contrast Nigeria has 20 million church-attending Anglicans and Uganda has 10 million. These latter figures far outweigh the number of the active Anglican membership in the West. With the worldwide number of church-attending Anglicans being estimated at 55 million, 75% of these were represented by the bishops and archbishops attending GAFCON.

The new EFAC Queensland Chair talks to Wei-Han Kuan.

Lynda Johnson is Assistant Minister at North Pine Anglican Church and the EFAC Queensland Chair.

Lynda, you and your husband Chris work together on the team at the North Pine Anglican Parish in Brisbane. Tell us what that’s like.
Chris and I met while we were both studying at Ridley in the 1980s. I guess you could say that our life together has always been about shared ministry. It seems to work well for us. We have complementary gifts, which means that as a clergy couple, we’re not duplicating each other. I have been ordained for eleven of our twenty-five years together. Apart from three years working in a different parish when I was first ordained, we have always shared in ministry. We bounce things off each other all the time, whether it’s about pastoral needs, or thinking strategically about a ministry issue. It’s hard to imagine life any other way. We feel very blessed.

Is North Pine typical of churches supporting EFAC in the Brisbane Diocese?

It is hard to describe a typical EFAC-supporting church. We are all different. However, here at North Pine we believe that under God our growth can be attributed to faithfully proclaiming the Bible and not watering down the message of salvation through repentance and grace. We are actively trying to empower every member of our church to grow in ministry and to know and exercise their spiritual gifts. And, we are committed to our vision—Bringing people to faith in Jesus Christ, and growing together in Him—and excited about our parish plan. We are so amazed at the people we’ve got in this church and feel privileged to be able to minister alongside them. They are very gifted and focussed and united about our goals. We are currently committed to adding to our staff team with the appointment of a youth minister, and are working to see that become a reality in the near future. It’s a very exciting time for North Pine.

What can you tell us about EFAC in Queensland?

What is GAFCON?

The Global Anglican Future Conference was an 8 day conference in Jerusalem, with 1148 lay and clergy participants, including 291 bishops from across the globe! The estimate is that 70% of the world's Anglicans were represented.1

There was a sense that this was an historic time in God's plan for his church. There was the recognition that there was a steadfast need to reclaim and re-proclaim the authority and truth of the scriptures, as the true ground for Anglican formularies and practice. There was a sadness that GAFCON was necessary.

This is an edited version of an address at the FCA (Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans) UK launch by Peter Jensen, Archbishop of Sydney and President of EFAC Australia, 7 July 2009.

Ominous and foreboding words are being said about the FCA by those who wish it ill – they say it is schismatic, it will divide the church, it is a power play.

These changes are at best misunderstandings or at worst political posturing.

Let me say this as clearly as possible.

The FCA exists to keep Anglicanism united, to enable those whose spiritual existence as Anglicans is threatened to remain Anglicans with integrity.
It exists to keep orthodox, biblical Anglicanism inside the fold at the highest level possible; to gather up the fragments, to unite them. It exists so that evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics and mere Anglicans can continue to be Anglicans without compromising Biblical truth.

With persuasive power, the culture of the West has adopted and promulgated anti-Christian belief and practice. It confronts every Christian with the choice of submission or harassment. It pretends to be the true heir of the Christian faith, that it now possesses all that was worthwhile of Christianity, and that the entire structure of Christian thought can disappear into the receding past.

In the name of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit:
  1. We, the participants in the Global Anglican Future Conference, have met in the land of Jesus' birth. We express our loyalty as disciples to the King of kings, the Lord Jesus. We joyfully embrace his command to proclaim the reality of his kingdom which he first announced in this land. The gospel of the kingdom is the good news of salvation, liberation and transformation for all. In light of the above, we agree to chart a way forward together that promotes and protects the biblical gospel and mission to the world, solemnly declaring the following tenets of orthodoxy which underpin our Anglican identity.
  2. We rejoice in the gospel of God through which we have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Because God first loved us, we love him and as believers bring forth fruits of love, ongoing repentance, lively hope and thanksgiving to God in all things.

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