I had wondered how Gafcon, the conservatives who have been trying to remake the Anglican Communion in their own likeness, would respond to the call for reconciliation, and now I know.
Abp Suheil Dawani, June 20, 2018, to the Gafcon Conference: “the community needs to be able to celebrate the differences that it has, and accept each other through seeing Christ in each other, and not by imposing our own image of Christ on each other.”
Gafcon conference publication, June 22, 2018, “we urge Gafcon members to decline the invitation to attend Lambeth 2020 and all other meetings of the Instruments of Communion” unless the rest of the Communion comply with Gafcon’s image.
I commented a while ago on Most Rev Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, having fiercely condemned the divisive conservative movement in the Communion. He just did it again.
In a post for the Anglican News Service entitled “The ties that bind our Anglican Communion family”, he flatly contradicts a statement by Abp Nicholas Okoh, Chairman of GAFCON and Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Idowu-Fearon’s homeland. Responding to Adp Okoh’s statement that “the Anglican Communion is not determined simply by relationship with the Archbishop of Canterbury”, Bp Idowu-Fearon replies, “the relationship with the See of Canterbury is essential for Anglicans. You cannot be in the Anglican Communion without it.” Then, in regard to Abp Nicholas Okoh’s particular comment “we recognise AMiE as fully part of the Anglican Communion”, Bp Idowu-Fearon explicitly names both the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE), and the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA) in saying, “it’s not correct to say that they are part of the Anglican Communion if they are not in communion with the See of Canterbury.”
To put that in slightly more lay-accessible terms, they are drawing battle lines: GAFCON are claiming the right not merely to be in relationship with AMiE but to identify who is in the Communion; the Anglican Communion Secretariat is rejecting that claim. As a political analogy, it is rather like GAFCON have just announced that Taiwan, not the PRC, is the “real China” and should hold the Chinese seat in the UN.
Meanwhile, the Anglican Mainstream, Christian Conservative Daily, and Christian Today have all run the same story on it, under the title “Anglican Communion head slaps down rebel bishops”. Somehow, I cannot see GAFCON appreciating being called “rebels”.
I feel a lot of empathy for people like Abp Justin Welby and Abp Josiah Idowu-Fearon.
They spend a lot of time and energy trying to hold together extreme ends of a continuum, and get regularly slandered by both of those ends for not being at the “right” end.
In the linked interview, Abp Idowu-Fearon describes the whole issue of homosexuality in the African church as something fabricated by the intervention of extremist conservatives from the USA bent on fomenting division (see also this). To unwrap that from some of its theological jargon, he essentially accuses the conservative fringe of serving Satan rather than G-d, which is interesting given that he is theologically conservative himself.